It's in the COMBINATION! by: the Clunky Driver
Wednesday, 28 February 2001 08:00

It's in the COMBINATION!
by: the Clunky Driver

Hotrodding is an art only a few can master. Sure, some of us can get lucky now and again, but only a handful of people can really be called a hotrodder.

Back in the fifties and sixties, if you wanted to modify your ride,
YOU had to do it. It was you that had to solve the mystery of the carburator, or the intricacies of cam and ignition timing. Sure, tuners eventually sprang up, but if you didn't know what you were getting in to, your car would probably slow down. Or worse, break!

Decades later, things have changed quite a bit. With the onslaught of computers and electronic fuel injection, things literally became BOLT-ON. Installation of larger throttle bodies, cams (mild), turbos and exhaust systems, are now straight forward and simple. The computer would compesate for the necessary fuel needed for those mods. Even if you just made your choice by reading a catalog or magazine, chances are your car would at least be driveable. It's kind of like the car has a SELF TUNING program (which it does). The modern day hotrodder CAN literally be CLUELESS and still enjoy the mods he or she had installed.

That wasn't quite true before. If you installed too large a carb, or a single plane high-rise manifold along with a cam that only spec'd out at 220 degrees duration with a lobe separation of 114 degrees... well, you'd end up with a pig!... That drank gas like it was going out of style and couldn't get out of its own way to save its life! Nowadays, the computer can change the spark curve enough to compensate with the lower incoming air velocity and feed the extra fuel needed. Sure, the car would still be slow, but today, it wouldn't be unbearable to drive. Throttle response would be ok, gas milage would increase slightly, but overall, very liveable.

But the car is still slow you say. Well, I never said the computer could make up for poorly chosen parts. It's still the COMBINATION of parts

and proper INSTALLATION and PREPARATION that'll make a powerful package. Factor in a good DRIVER and you now have a fast car.

Generally, there two ways to build a quick car. One way is to break open the catalogs and magazines, then just BUY all the expensive parts and have any mechanic install the parts. With trial and error (and lots of mulah), you'll eventually go fast.

The second way is a little tougher. You sit down with books or read tech articles online (like at DRP), read message boards from all kinds of sites, set your budget and target ET, set the purpose of the car (race or street), choose your parts with the WHOLE PACKAGE in mind. Let a good mechanic, whose well versed in BASIC automotive technology and practices, install your parts, as well as tune the car. Then, TEST,TEST,TEST. Then, TEST some more. Experiment with driving styles and find out what REALLY works. Then, finally, you'll have a TRUELY fast ride.

The moral of the story? THINK before you purchase and install that Vtec controller on your car while you still have a STOCK cam, or installing that Sparco strut tower brace thinking it will make your car hook better (dream on). Common sense WILL go a longer way than your wallet.

More HP to you all...
C U @ D Strip!