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Some of this week's Letters to AutoSpeed!

26 October 2003

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Tweaked Too

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I read with interest Julian Edgar's article "Tweaking the Shift". I too had an L4N71B auto that was lacking in responsiveness (ie poor shift pattern properties). I modified the vacuum modulator rod as suggested and discovered there is an adjustable modulator valve sold by Auto Pro in Sydney. I used both the new valve and the lengthened rod as a means of adjusting my shift patterns. The result - bloody wonderful. What a transformation! I thought such response was only available with more modern boxes. It definitely went from slush to slick!

Mark Avramovic


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I am the co-founder of the New Zealand Ford Laser Club, an active forum member at and I am writing with regards to the AutoSpeed article entitled "Buying Used - Mazda BFMR 323/Ford KE Laser 4WD Turbo". There are a few discrepancies in the article that are based on some rather predominant myths about these cars (in Australia, at least) that require a bit of clearing up...

Firstly, the article mentions that the BFMR Familia and KE TX3 turbo 4WDs were first released in late 1987. While this is correct, the first Familias and Lasers of this body style were released in January 1985.

Contrary to your article, the Ford Laser was sold in Japan as the KC model and later as the KE model, parallel to those sold in the Australian and NZ market. However, although the Turbo 4WD was officially "released" in Oz and NZ with the advent of the KE model in 1987, it was a whole different story in Japan. Over there, the KC model was available in Turbo 4WD from October 1985 onwards, and were in fact produced on the very same production line as the Familias. Only a total of 965 were ever made - I own one of these rare cars and know several other people in New Zealand who do as well. While they are relatively easy to find in NZ with a bit of searching, they are very rare in Australia with only one or two making their way there as "grey imports".

So therefore your article does tell the truth, but only half the story!

Japanese market Lasers/Familias with the B6T turbo engine received slightly more power than their Oz/NZ counterparts, with 110kW of power and 195Nm of torque running on 100 octane fuel.

The quad headlight front was standard only on the KE TX3s assembled in Australia. None of the Japanese market ones, nor the KC model, ever received these lights, and this (among other things) is one of the best ways of determining which market the car was originally destined for.

If your readers wish to seek further information and/or discussion about these cars, they are invited to browse the following Australian/NZ Ford Laser & Mazda Familia forums:
And my personal site:

Edward "Orion" Wong
Co-Founder, Ford Laser Club of New Zealand (TX3 NZ)
New Zealand

Damn Drone!

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I urgently need some advice on exhaust sizes. I drive a '95 S14 200SX with CAI and a boost increase of 0.3 Bar. I recently fitted a 3" SS free-flow exhaust system in the following configuration - two small straight-through mufflers and one large rear muffler with a very mild "S" type kink inside. I have no cat fitted in the system. The performance increase was amazing, but I can't take the drone of the exhaust - especially at low rpm for everyday driving. I would like to keep the system for later race days, so I thought of replacing the pipe leading to the rear muffler, (just after the second small muffler) with a 57mm pipe leading to a large rear muffler, splitting inside the box to give twin 48mm outlets. Would you recommend this as an effective way to decrease the noise levels? I don't have the cash to replace the entire system again, so I would just like to replace the rear muffler and the pipe leading to it with something different for daily driving. Please help - I'm really desperate on this one!

Gordon Pieterse
South Africa

This is a scenario that sometimes is unavoidable and there's no easy answer. We'd try adding a cat converter and/or maybe a VariFlow technology exhaust butterfly as featured in AutoSpeed. Variations in pipe diameter - as you've mentioned - can also help. Trial and error is the only way you'll fix it.

Accord On Its Way?

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I find your new car reviews a very valuable resource for information. I find them unbiased and it helps me make a determination on what vehicle is worth the money. I have tried to locate a review on the new Honda Accord Euro. Are you in the process of doing such a review?

Benjamin Salvemini

Glad to be of help. And, yes, we have a couple of Accord Euro tests coming up - stay tuned!

Soarer Seeker

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I'm currently looking around for a new car and I've been focusing mainly on a Toyota Soarer twin-turbo. I have read all your reviews already on them, but was wondering if there's anything I should look out for before handing over my precious dollars. One car that I am thinking about is a '91 Soarer 2.5-litre TT 6-cyl - is there anything specific to this model?


We have heard that the 1JZ turbochargers aren't particularly durable and often require a rebuild. Aside from that, the digital dash can give troubles and that's about it. A great car for the money! Check out "Toyota Soarer Twin-Turbo" if you haven't already.

Worthwhile to Insure?

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I have enjoyed the articles you have been writing on the Nissan Maxima you own. I am considering buying an older import myself now that there are so many cheap 15-year-old imports available. One thing I was unsure about, though, was whether to insure it. Do you insure the Nissan Maxima or is it too expensive for a car that was so cheap to buy?


Apart from the mandatory insurance cover you get with your rego fees, the AutoSpeed Maxima has only third party property insurance. Comprehensive insurance premiums on cheap cars often don't make a lot of financial sense. We can't stress enough the importance of third party property insurance though.

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