I ALWAYS fill up my old 308-powered HZ wagon and Harley with 98-octane petrol. But on a recent road trip, I filled up with PULP at a roadhouse and noticed my engine started pinging whenever I overtook someone. Clearly that servo was selling low-octane fuel as premium. A few hours later, when I filled up with 98 again, the engine stopped rattling.
I felt like going back to that servo and giving them a piece of my mind, but what good would it do, complaining to a checkout person who has no idea what the servo owner has in his storage tanks? Maybe the servo owner doesnít know either; he simply gets whatever the tanker driver tells him heís putting into his tanks. But someone, somewhere in the fuel chain needs to be held accountable for selling falsely labelled premium unleaded.
In late-model EFI cars that tune and adjust the timing for different fuel octane ratings, most drivers will never know. But in old carburetted cars with vacuum advance and mechanical ignition curves, the engine will soon let you know when it starts drinking low-octane.
Iíd like anyone who gets a tankful of dodgy fuel to complain to the ACCC. Iím hearing good things about some of the results after complaints were lodged with the ACCC Ė like the recall of DSG gearboxes in VWs for instance. By the same token, if you regularly get good high-octane fuel from a service station, vouch for them online in a racersí group or forum. That would help all of us driving our high-octane-reliant street machines.
For all those that live under rocks, turbo conversions are everywhere these days, and Iíve been getting requests for tuner recommendations for turbo EFI combos. Every city has a couple of clever people with the smarts to build a boosted EFI motor and tune it. They donít need to advertise; they have a queue of customers waiting based on realworld results and word-of-mouth. We have featured many quick real turbo street cars in Street Machine, and I wouldnít hesitate to use any of the engine shops/builders mentioned in our stories.
I recently met a bloke from the Gold Coast who showed me some photos of his awesome collection of toys. One of them was a superb supercharged Maloo ute set up for 98 and E85. He said it was a wild beast on the street, with over 800hp on tap. I could tell he was passionate about his Holden, so I gave him an idea of its potential with a turbo, adding that it would easy be for him to convert his LS combo as it was already built for boost. With todayís technology, his Maloo ute could be made civil enough to drive down to Woolies, but could also hook up on sticky radials and go like a missile. I reckon Iíd be giving Mick Arnold a call at M&A Mechanical, as his beautiful blue Maloo ute (SM, Sep í16) now runs low sevens at 197mph.
Many Street Machine cover cars have a blower or a tunnel-ram sticking out of the bonnet. They do look sensational; however, from experience, if you want to drive and keep a modified car on the street, youíd best keep a low profile. Cold-air induction via a properly sealed front- or rear-facing scoop will knock two-tenths off your ET and give you an extra 2mph over the quarter.
It is basically free horsepower for a naturally aspirated engine. But there is clearly defined legislation on bonnet scoops, and there are some really sharp mechanical engineers who inspect and certify modified cars within the regulations. They will not pass dangerous or illegal cars Ė simple as that.
Bonnet scoops may be fitted to a vehicle provided they do not restrict the driverís vision and no point of the scoop rises above the horizontal centre-line of a 165mm-diameter sphere placed on the bonnet against the scoop. All edges at the front of a scoop need to be rounded, with a minimum radius of 10mm. The scoop canít be reflective or reduce the structural integrity of the bonnet, and must cover air cleaners. There are other criteria as well, like where the seat has to be and the head height for optimal line of vision.
So while sky-high, massive blowers sound fantastic in burnout competitions or at the drag strip, and look impressive in shows, chances are you will not get far on the street with them. Huge blowers and tunnel-rams are like birdseed for canaries on the street. What looks cool counts for nothing when you are sitting on the side of the road with blue and red lights flashing.
Personally, Iím loving the new wave of quick street cars with clean lines and nothing sticking out of the factory bonnet, like Quentin Feastís Torana or Phil Edmondsonís XB. To me theyíre the ultimate street sleepers.