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Performance upgrades.....hmmmm


mako's Avatar
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07-25-02, 01:57 PM   #1  
Performance upgrades.....hmmmm

Joe- I've noticed that you're not too hot on snake-oil performance upgrades like K&N's, power chips, etc.......

I tend to agree, and that often they can do more harm than good.

For a general car, say, a 1990ish 4cy Jap car, or a 1990ish V8 pickup, what would you recommend as performance upgrades, whether a major or minor upgrade?

Just wunderin....


Mako

 
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07-25-02, 10:05 PM   #2  
Joe_F
Snake oil has no place in a performance vehicle or anything you want longevity on

It depends on what you are trying to accomplish Mako and what you start out with. You have to start out with a moddable platform.

Could you soup up a Yugo to run like a scalded cat? Sure, but what would you net by doing that? How much would it cost you?

Questions I have to ask you: What performance support is out there? Parts availability? Was there a stock form that was better? Is this platform reliable or will I spend more to mod it, only to find out the backbone is weak? Could I buy it in stock form for less money? Lots to ask to do it right.

On your Japanese car example, I would start out with the "sportiest" platform in that model range. So, if I were doing a Civic, it would be a CRX to mod as that is the "performance" Civic. It has all of the "heavy duty" stuff that Honda offers in stock form.

Let's take a typical mid 90's GM 5.7 truck, as I think that is what you are typifing:

1) Better exhaust....Flowmasters or Dynomax
2) Better gearing....depending on the application.
3) Better breathing...heads, intake, etc.
4) Better suspension...using HD parts
5) Better fuel system...but you need the "dry" side of the system (the intake and exhaust) to have any benefit. A common fallacy is to swap in higher flow injectors. In many cases all this does is to wash the cylinder walls with fuel and cause issues elsewhere.

There are literally thousands of websites, books and material on this type of thing, but simple economics will avoid problems and pitfalls.

I can tell you that the guy that "built" my 80 Trans Am project car/parts car (has a 1977 400) was about as clueless as they get. He chose a poor body to start with..not solid enough

Had he chosen the right condition body, he was on the money. He probably got the Turbo 301 car it was originally for next to nothing, and it was a Posi rear, WS6 car with 4 wheel disc brakes and T top and midly optioned. If the body were better, I would make it a "fun" car and keep it as is. I still might do that.

 
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07-26-02, 04:44 AM   #3  
Any pics of your Trans Am? Isn't that the body style of the one on Smokey and the Bandit?


I do see where you are coming from- I've always wondered why a new exhaust system or new oversized injectors alone would work- seems that they really don't without something else to accompany it.

Part of the reason I'm asking, is b/c I had planned on hot-rodding the pickup I used to have, until it got totalled. Since I now have the Cutlass, I may eventually drop a 350 (or heck, if it's only a Sunday driver, maybe a 400) in it in the next couple of years.

I'm hoping by that point I'll have a shop buddy to work along with me on this b/c I really haven't messed with this stuff before. I wanna do as much as possible by myself before handing it all over to someone else.

Until then, it's all dreaming.....

 
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07-26-02, 05:39 AM   #4  
Joe_F
Yes, all three are like the shape of Smokey and the Bandit II, the 1980 movie. The 1977 shape is similar to mine (same generation, different front).

I have a 1980 Carousel Red (read orange) Turbo 301 hardtop that my father bought for my mother in 1980 for their 15th wedding anniversary. It has 26,000 original miles on it.

I have a 1979 10th Anniversary Limited Edition 400 4 speed (one of only 1,817 ever made) Trans Am with 57,000 original miles. I got it in 1999 as a present to myself for finishing my MBA before I was 30 (My goal was 30, I finished when I was 28). I have tracked and spoken to every owner it has had on the telephone...some of them sent along papers and things they had pertaining to the car. It was a lot of fun to track down and talk to these folks....all of them wanted to buy it back from me. The car is in nice shape, it needs interior work. I am the Technical Director (soon to be webmaster) of the 10th Anniversary Internet Group, and I coordinate all research and vendor contacts with these cars. I'm currently working on getting a better reproduction leather interior (it is a one year interior with VERY intricate six color stitching) from a vendor, along with all the right interior stuff. I'm also working with the President and Owner of Phoenix Graphix on creating the 100% correct OEM fitted stripe kit that these cars need and deserve. I think I have succeded in getting them on board to do that. I spoke to the President on Tuesday and he was happy to hear of my persistence.

I inherited a 1980 Trans Am that was originally a code #15 silver T top Turbo car, but now has a 1977 400 from a LeMans with some work done to it. It has headers, Holley Street Dominator intake, Eldebrock manual choke carb, flowmasters, and definitely has had some internal work. Paired with a Turbo 350 that looks like it might have some mild upgrades too. The body is so so, from 10 feet away it looks "mint", but it's a real amateur paint job. I got it from a NYC cop (neighbor of the guy I commute to work with) as he bailed out on it because he bought a 2002 Mustang GT convertible and his wife said one or the other, so the Mustang won out. I get some other nice goodies with the car (I've picked up some of them) as well including another 400 engine. I got it all for free . This car has a 1977/78 front on it now. I will probably chop it up for parts, or I might do a low budget restoration on it and use it as a "fun car". The motor turns right on and barks like a rabid dog when you blip the throttle. It sounds violent and mean, almost demonic. Lol.

I have pictures on one of my websites, which you can look up in my profile here and eventually get to.

 
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