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Some of this week's Letters to AutoSpeed

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The Search for Prius Perfection

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I own a 2004 Toyota Prius and hate the way it tends to wander on the highway. Toyota says it's normal. I've had the alignment checked and changed to Michelin HydroEdge tyres and it's still not better. I hear you did something on Julian Edgar’s Classic Prius - anything in the works for the new one that might help?

Fred Bacher

Yes, we have modified the electric power steering on our first generation “classic” Prius and we imagine the modification would also work on the current model. Stay tuned for our article on the steering mod!

Better Brakes

RE: DIY Brake Upgrade, Part 2

Braking performance can be greatly inhibited by old brake lines that either bulge when pressurised (giving a spongy pedal) or swell internally due to age (giving a hard pedal). A good condition set of lines from a second-hand yard can fix this relatively cheaply, but a quality set of braided lines will give a firmer pedal and last longer.

Always use lines that meet or exceed the Australian standards - some imported lines do not. I also believe that cut-to-length lines are forbidden.

Check with your local Transport Authority prior to purchasing replacement/braided lines as regulations vary.

Andrew Vandreike

Pugnacious Pug

Re Peugeot 206 GTi 180 Road Test. Yes, the Peugeot GTI 180 has its issues - quality control, etc.

But have a read of Bang for Your Buck 2004 - Rick Bates (Neil Bates' brother) had the GTI 180 running as fast as cars twice its price around WakefieldPark.

I have had onboard electronic testing equipment on a GTI 180 and produced times of 7.4 seconds 0-100 km/h. Rick made some great comments about the car and I think, if you know what you’re on about, that you will also understand that this vehicle had its ECU restricted to 180 bhp for emissions reasons. I spoke with a UK Peugeot tech/race driver/developer who explained that he has had the pleasure of reprogramming the esp/spark timing/rpm limiting, etc to produce some brilliant results.

I own a GTI 180 and I have been rallying with my father for many years and, yes, it has its driver positioning and quality faults, but if you are a real driver you get used to it and adjust accordingly. Even race drivers compensate for their vehicles - and they’re designed around them. An experienced racer wouldn't deny the amazing characteristics this car displays when it's pushed hard. The Astra SRI is not even in the same league as far as handling goes. What is the point of all that power if you cannot deliver it to the ground?

Anyway, I am not a pure Peugeot man and I have had this vehicle on the ragged edge. I can show you its capabilities if you like. Again, yes, the pedals are close blah, blah - big deal. You get used to it. Yes, the auto wipers p&^! me off but the first thing people do is criticise. Come on – it was matching the same times as the VW R32 around Wakefield Park Raceway. You must admit that is pretty impressive.

Anyway, great review but the car really isn't that bad. I have had no quality or mechanical issues at all and have driven from Sydney to Melbourne. It's fine.

Michael McGrath

On an Odyssey

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I just read your test on the new Honda Odyssey (Honda Odyssey Luxury Test). I have been the owner of the Luxury model for around 2 months now and am extremely happy with it. My only complaint is the lack of a centre lap sash belt.

I’m not sure why the writer of the article has a problem reading the dash - it's one of the clearest and best looking dashes I've seen! Perhaps he should invest in some new specs...

Anyway, at the bottom of the article it mentions the Japanese spec model, which I was hoping would be released here. Will Honda really arrange to import one of these models if requested? My experience with Honda PR in the past has been that they don't offer much help with this type of thing. Do you have a number at Honda that I can contact regarding this?

Greg Parkes

We’re not sure whether Honda Australia can be tempted, but we can only try. Try contacting Honda PR through the local Honda website.

Forced Gas

I’d just like to ask your advice on a project I’m working on.

What I have is a 308ci Holden 1-tonne fitted with VN heads and a Gas Research twin mixer LPG set-up. I have bought a pair of VG30DET plain bearing turbos that I’m setting up to blow through the gas mixers. I want to use water to air intercooling to a) keep the inlet tract as short as possible, and b) give the engine radiator its best chance of keeping the gas fed V8 cool. It will be a daily driver, with a good spread of torque more important than all-out horsepower.

My first question is... Should I have any work done to the turbos, like extrude honing or relieving the internal wastegate?

I plan to use a pair of VG30DET intercoolers encased in aluminium with water pumped around them and through a small radiator. They’ll be mounted behind each headlight. Do you think these intercoolers will flow enough air or are they likely to cause a pressure drop?

Lastly, I’m currently running a Redline low rise single plane four barrel manifold with a GRA twin mixer adaptor. Do you feel this manifold will do the job or should I use a Harrop or EFI manifold with the top cut off and a larger plenum added?

Steve Baltzer

If you plan on making more than about 260kW we suggest modifying the turbos to ease backpressure. One approach would be to use a single external wastegate which is fed from each bank of cylinders. The stock Z32 300ZX intercoolers are quite restrictive – if there’s an affordable alternative we suggest taking that path. You might want to look into encasing a pair of Mazda Series 4 or 5 intercoolers, which flow better than the Z32 units. Re the intake manifold – hmm, sounds like you need to do a bit of experimentation!

Family Resemblance?

I’m hoping you can help with info concerning the Nissan VH45 donk. I’ve been told it shares the bell-housing bolt pattern with VG series engines and that it has the same crank bolt pattern as the VG and RB series engines. Is this true? I have a VH45 front cut and want to adapt a FS5R50A 5 speed (from a GQ Patrol) to this engine.

Any info appreciated.

Daryl Collier

Can any readers confirm?

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