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Some of this week's Letters to AutoSpeed!

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Front Undertray

I have been reading through your series on underbonnet airflow and undercar trays on the Maxima turbo and also Prius - fantastic stuff and an area of car modification that is too rarely touched on. I recently fitted a front mount intercooler to my JZA80 Supra and had to ditch the factory under-radiator tray as it curved up to meet the front bar and would not fit on with the FMIC in place. As such I've been trying to get some clues on re-forming this tray and also the concept of forming a car-length series of trays. I know there are some problems with blocking cooling to the engine and trans sumps and of course the exhaust would probably be too hot to allow this tray to be made out of ABS - but materials aside, do you think this is a worthwhile pursuit? Have you seen this done before and can you offer any advice?

Chris Carpenter

All the advice we have available on that topic is in the articles we’ve run on it – the three part series starting at Undertrays, Spoilers & Bonnet Vents, Part 1 and the two part series starting at Modifying Under-Car Airflow, Part 1 . Also note the use of undertray vortex generators as covered in Blowing the Vortex, Part 4 .

Another Exhaust Butterfly

In your Nov. 12 "Reader Response", Ritchie from the UK inquired about exhaust cut outs. I've been running an electronic QTP valve on my modded 93 Legacy Turbo Wagon for 6 months. No probs - it takes about 4 seconds to close or open. And on the latter the spool-up is noticeably faster. While louder, it's not too bad as there are two resonators after the down pipe.

Bob Hoye

Olde Time Economy

Julian Edgar's recent article My Commute bought to mind an old car of mine that, when pressed, really pressed, could return 90 mpg. Now I know Julian does this daily, and in comfort, and probably in comparative safety. But many lightweight small cars driven appropriately will do this. The keywords are "small" and "driven appropriately".

Back in the 80's I was seen about town in a Datsun 1000 station wagon. Horrible little piece of shite, but with a worked over 1200+ engine it certainly wasn't the slowest car out there. Drum brakes and transverse leaf spring front end made it a bit dodgy at the outer reaches and passenger safety had a lot in common with a push bike. Worse actually, it featured a non collapsible steering column aimed straight to the heart...

But stripped to the basics, as it was, it weighed maybe 600 kg. Maybe.

So there I am in the 80's and in the middle a fuel strike. And with a desperate need to get to Wollongong from Padstow, and back, and on the smell of an oily rag. The caper was simple - pump up the tyres to 50 psi, lean the mixture screw back a half turn and set the idle closed. The rules to driving were simple, don't rush and don't use the brakes. Oh, and full throttle, low revs. Simple rules, but try and stick to them.

Not using the brakes means judging your coasting, even in traffic, with precision. It’s about not wasting energy. Julian’s Honda does it for him with regenerative brakes. Mind you it also means not using the brakes on a downhill run, something I was not brave enough to do at Mt Ouzley, I mean 90 mph in a Dato 1k is a bad thing... And not rushing means on the flat loaf along averaging maybe 45 or 50 mph, take your time enjoy the scenery. Bump the engine in gear, accelerate to 55, back in neutral, let the engine die, coast down to say 35, do it again.

But trust this: 90 mpg, or 3 litres per 100 kilometres, is something your average farmer can do, if the effort is put in, if the car is small enough.

Well, that’s my words of wisdom today, I had better go to work. (In my 7 metre long 2 tonne 8 seat limo that has twin air conditioning systems that gets 12 miles to the gallon, or 23.5 litres per 100 klicks, in Sydney traffic, with just moi in the back. I need to examine my life...)


Overseas Too

I suspect that your online publication reaches beyond Australia. Please consider the cars that also appear in the North American market when you feature DIY articles and stories about modified cars. Thanks for an excellent publication.  I am so tired of the juvenile and superficial content of most current performance auto mags.

Lawrence Newman

Scan Tools

Just read your article on scan tools (see Scan Tools) and am surprised that you omitted the biggest selling scan tool in the world - the Launch X431 - go to or have a chat to LaunchTech Victoria (ph 03 9532 3288 Bill Mahoney) or EastCoast efi on This is a magic bit of kit, 32 bit processor, Bluetooth, Windows Linux, fully supported in Australia (only scan tool people to have staff here in Aust.) used by a number of dealers and top repairers.

Keep up the good work.

Doug Webb

Fuel-Efficient Jaguar

Just as a matter of interest regarding My Commute. We just bought a 1990 Jaguar XJ40 as a runabout for my wife. The main reasons for buying were: price - $13,000 for a fully optioned luxury Australian-delivered car in immaculate condition. Servicing - I do all my own maintenance, and parts for this model are very cheap and easy to obtain via the internet. Depreciation - it's $13,000 so we don't stand to lose too much money if we run it for 4 or 5 years and keep it in reasonable condition (although at that price you could dump it at the tip after five years and still lose less money than the depreciation on any new large Australian 6 over the same time).

An added bonus is the fuel consumption, we live in the country and so fuel consumption is always an issue. We have been stunned to find that at 110 km/h with the aircon always on and pretty well loaded up, this large 4.0 litre sedan will use 7.1 litres per 100K's. This is much better than we were ever able to get out of our new 2003 Commodore 6, or our new Hyundai Tucson and Santa Fe. If we were driving in a city I would expect a worse result, but still for a 16 year old car with 200,000 + k's on the clock, that is pretty good.

Overall, taking into account servicing costs (I can't service a new car myself due to warranty requirements), interest, and depreciation, I think that the Jag is much better value than a new car (even a hybrid).

Jon Rothwell

Falcon Project Car #1

I think your new format is great. Before you do any EF Falcon modifications can you have a dyno done stock standard, then have another at each significant modification so graphs can show the real result.
Shane Quinn

The Falcon will be dyno'd each step.

Falcon Project Car #2

Great to see your "new direction" - I had 1996 EF 11 Futura 5 speed manual and found some subtle mods for low $$ such as a camber kit to increase negative camber to -1 degree and a set of Pedders Touring Black shocks made for a nice touring set up which worked on the rough Gold Coast Hinterland roads.  Bendix Ultimate brake pads on the OE discs were worth the money and avoid that nasty scraping noise of metal pads (but the AU11 I now have brakes better again so bigger discs must help).  A 2.5 inch exhaust from cat back only due to $ constraints gave a nice note but I would have liked a good set of headers. 

Please do your project mods one step at a time and evaluate each step so we readers can get a valid cost to benefits result. 

I felt that a diff ratio drop to at least the 3.45:1 a la XR6 would have helped a lot.  Too costly for me to do but I think that a gearbox rebuild with the closer ratio set of the V8's T5 would have been beneficial.  (I once had a 4.2 V8 Commodore with M20 box rebuilt with M21 close ratios and it was a much nicer car to drive, although the 2.54:1 first gear would not help the drag racing set.....)

My other car is a TJ Magna Sports auto so please keep the info flowing on your Verada; these are a great car for very affordable money and should respond to some handling tweaks - like how about relocating the battery to the boot to remove some of the weight off the front end as a cheap mod and perhaps upgrading the rear sway bar to reduce the inherent understeer somewhat. 

Anyway, keep up the good work and your re-emphasis on normal cars and less bling mobiles works for me.

Robert Junor

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