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Some of this week's letters to AutoSpeed!

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Turbine Meltdown

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Your article in 2000 about the Chrysler Turbine Car (The Chrysler Turbine Car) had some bad errors. The author, Mark Olsen, states exhaust gas temperatures of 5000 degrees F (2800 degrees Celsius) – what he is saying is that the turbine engine puts out 5000 degrees F (2800 degrees Celsius) at full load. I’m not sure where he gets his info from but Chrysler states that it’s actually 500 degrees F (280 degrees Celsius). FYI, the hottest portion of the engine is 1700 degrees F (950 degrees Celsius) and, when idle, the exhaust is around 170-190 degrees F (95-106 degrees Celsius). That is a little less then what a standard V8 puts out. This author should NOT ever write a story on automobiles if he doesn’t know what he is talking about. I suggest that the article be fixed, so as not to confuse new readers.

Jimmy Owen II

Thank you for pointing that out – you’re right. Article now fixed.

Story Suggestion

I am writing to you with a suggestion for a future article that could be of great benefit to owners of the Nissan 200SX. There is a clear weak point in the transmission. The auto ‘box only seems to be good for 300 bhp (223kW) and the manual ‘box seems to get quite delicate at around 370 bhp (275kW) and outright break at 400 bhp (298kW). Now, I was wondering if you could make a technical article into replacements/upgrades for either ‘boxes. Currently, there is very little in the way of alternatives for the automatic that I know of and not much more for the manual. One alternative that people off have sourced is a 300ZX (Z32) manual gearbox with a custom bell-housing and propshaft. It’s pretty good value at £1300 (AUD$3232) but has to be ordered and imported from the US with a lead time of about six months. Now, I know this would be no different from sourcing something from Australia, but I think the Australians seem to be more into their 200SXs than most other places and would hope there are a few more alternatives over there.

I really enjoy reading your technical budget-minded articles, as these seem to give you far more insight into what’s going on than just buying something expensive to bolt-on.

Daniel Rose
United Kingdom

We’ll see what we can dig up on the subject. Can any readers can offer some further info?

Cynical Honda

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Re Honda Civic VTi, I agree the Civic is a great car. It's a pity Honda Australia treat the Australian motoring public like a pack of ignorant idiots and don't include the full airbag package which is standard in other markets. Very cynical indeed. Not impressed Honda.

Michael South

You’re right – and Honda isn’t the only company doing it!

Flare Spotted!

In regard to letter 'Flare Finding' (Response). I am cursed with a bizarre love for my Datsun 1200. THE website for 1200 people is A search here will help find flares that would be close to those required for a Corolla of that vintage. Also, Jeff Taylor of JTS performance (Sydney based) is reputed to have universal flares for sale:


Matthew Hopson

Mighty Miras!

Being a subscriber and knowing that you enjoy Kei Cars as much as I do, I thought this might interest you...

I'd love to see the suspension setup on these - It'd be great to get my Mira's suspension tuned to this level.

Tom Eastlake

Vortex Valve Scepticism

I noticed this today - the Vortex Valve. A supposed fuel-saving, performance-enhancing and all-round magical device. It’s a thing you put in your intake path and it swirls the air, shaping it for easier entry to the valves - or so the explanation goes. I'm naturally sceptical, as any enthusiast probably would be, but all the same, I'd love to see a proper before-after test. I'm sure I wouldn't trust any they've got on their website. I wonder if they'd give you guys one for some testing? and

Simon Nieper
New Zealand

We have seen similar products on the market. At present we don’t plan to test these devices but, as always, if you’re interested in purchasing but you’re a bit sceptical we suggest first organizing a money-back satisfaction guarantee - if possible.

How to Minimise Fuel Consumption

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I am going to buy a Toyota Corolla fitted with a 1490cc VVT-i engine. I would be very grateful if you could explain to me how to drive the car in order to have better fuel consumption? It is to be noted that the car has an automatic transmission.

Randhir Moorghen

See our series at...
Fuel Savings - Part One
Savings on Fuel - Part Two
Savings on Fuel - Part Three
Savings on Fuel - Part Four


I read with interest the advancing technology in today’s cars. Ford, for example, comes with the six-speed auto and Holden comes with the MRC suspension. These are only small examples. How much are these things going to cost when they break or need replacing ten years or so down the track? How much is it going to cost to replace a damper on the Calais? The humble three-speed auto reco was maybe AUD$600 fitted and lasted forever if looked after. The Ford four-speed I have seen at AUD$2000 fitted and lasts for maybe 200,000 clicks if looked after - and this is progress? It is anyone’s guess about the six-speed. I have seen estimates at AUD$10,000 and who knows how long it will last.

Stability control. Overall a good thing, but is it taking the responsibility away from the pilot?  Can this create a "Why should I worry, the car will look after me" attitude, such as is prevalent with ABS? I guess that the manufacturers must cater for the masses, most of which are generally uninformed. I remember an RACV survey years ago that concluded that 80 percent or more of vehicle drivers had no idea of how their vehicle worked. A significant percentage didn't even know if their car was front or rear drive!

Thank you for your time and keep up the excellent work

Mark Naish

Some good points – it’ll be interesting to see how much it’ll be to maintain one of these cars in the future. And, yes, stability control does bring the risk that you mentioned but, overall, it’s gotta be a good thing for the average person – even better with some education on how it works. Incidentally, many people still have no idea that ABS intervention will cause a brake pedal shudder!

Pass on the Pug

Re Peugeot 407 HDi Touring ... A test that really tells it how it is. And this is from a person who has owned and highly respected two Peugeots (okay, so it was a long time ago and they were used 504s) but my family has had Renaults and later Pugs. The very thing that Peugeot used to be brilliant at - cars that just got better the more you drove them over a wide range of conditions and distance - seems to have absolutely disappeared. Mind you, the poor vision around A pillars also afflicts other cars too, but the 407 seems particularly bad.

Six weeks spent in a C5 turbo diesel wagon in the UK showed me that Citroen has been able to stick to its core values - brilliant ride with composed handling, surprise and delight features that really grow on you, some points of difference that have merit as you gain familiarity and the capacity to cover large distances in absolute comfort and composure - yet it has managed to move forward in those areas that used to hold it back. So why has Peugeot seemed to turn its back on its traditional values and not managed to provide a new set of compensating characteristics?

Dull as it may be, it makes my current TL Magna seem like a desirable proposition (okay, so 2003 was a bad year for my business!). I am now looking for a new company car and with about AUD$50,000 to spend, guess what won't be on my list? Makes a 380 drive-away at AUD$26,000 seem like an attractive proposition - dull but surprisingly competent. But I really wish there was a Pug worth having in my driveway.

Not this time.

Declan Power

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