Rose tinted glasses.

It’s been a few years since I built a Pinto engine, well a few decades actually, and these days I can’t help thinking you would be better off with a Zetec engine.  But the Mk 2 Escort I was looking at had a 2.2 Pinto engine and the owner wanted it that way because that’s the engine it was supposed to have.  It did look right I must admit.

The target power was 180 bhp and that’s a lot from a road going Pinto.  My fast road 2.0 litre engines used to make 165bhp with a sensible spread of torque.  Full race 2.1 engines made 215 bhp at best.  However this engine had a stroked crank with Fiesta diesel rods and a bigger bore to give it 2.2 litres.

The first power run on full throttle showed 178 bhp which was a pleasant surprise and that meant we could start trying a few things to get the best from the engine without worrying about headline numbers.  After sorting the fuel and ignition timing we were looking at a very creditable 192 bhp with 153 ft lbs of torque.

Bring out the heavy equipment!

The next step was to try a different intake trumpet length.  Needless to say I dug out some of my adjustable trumpets, even though on this throttle body you could not slide them into the body – the body was just far too short.  Initially we had three trumpets long and one shorter to clear the battery tray. After some promising initial results we took the plunge and cut the battery tray to clear number one cylinder’s trumpet.  The difference over the original tapered trumpets was well worth the effort, 197 bhp from a pretty flexible road engine is very impressive.   What’s more the torque had climbed to 164.6 ft lbs.  More often than not, when you look back in time, you tend to see things through rose tinted glasses but in this case the old Pinto really can still be made to do the business.  Hat’s off to Graham Bhar who built the engine.

Mini A Series

Traditional Mini... ...with a modern twist VW Golf Slave cylinder

Staying with the historic theme this stunning Mini has a 1445cc A Series engine with all the right race bits inside it.  The owner didn’t want anything other than traditional Mini engine bits so you want find any sixteen valve heads or five speed boxes on this one.   What you will find is a stunning ground up restoration with a lot of custom parts and modifications.  The clutch slave cylinder is one example.  A race clutch tends to bust the original seal so a Golf cylinder has been grafted onto the Mini housing.

The throttle body is also “interesting”.  It was robbed from a Volvo and fitted onto the original Mini log inlet manifold.  Two injectors squirt into the plenum area underneath the butterfly.  The other two injectors in the original positions do not do anything.

I have to say the idle was rough as a bear’s bottom but 106 bhp can’t be all bad news.  It was a pig to map too but we got there with it.  I have to say how much I admire some people’s commitment to a project.  From a bucket of rust to this standard in 12 months (and £17,000) yet to look at it you would not think it was anything other than a very tidy 1967 Mini.

Endurance Lotus

Paul Goldring runs a somewhat legendary Lotus S1 - these days mainly in Endurance events.  The car ran at Dubai for 24 hrs with just a couple of wheel bearing problems and some contact damage but finished right up there with much faster cars.  I know it had very little power because I had mapped it prior to the event.

Good luck to Goldring!Now the car was back with a fresh engine (still pretty much stock) as it was being prepared for the Barcelona 24 Hr race.   The trick with this type of racing is not pure speed, it is to keep going.  Essex Sports Cars who prep the car have modified it to take the S2 wheel bearings and fitted a much larger fuel tank.  It still has limited power but can probably run for 2 hours at a time.   I had the car back in here for another last minute check and then it was off to sunny Spain.   You always need an element of luck in any form of racing but I would not be too surprised to see the car do well again.  Fingers crossed!


V12 XJS - classy!I have to confess this is not my favourite car or engine for that matter but this example was in rather good nick.  It is going to be the subject of an editorial in a Jaguar specialist magazine so it was nice to see them doing it properly with a base run prior to engine mods.  Sadly it had an auto box so I did struggle a bit to get a decent curve.  The problem with any auto box is that it does have a habit of changing gear part way through a power run.   With the help of some extrapolation software we managed to get a curve but, as always, the power figure was a bit of a disappointment.   I often joke with people that part of my job is engine mapping while the other part is grief counselling.  Some days that joke isn’t so funny!

Big Z

Candy Red - Dave love's Candy! Big Red Z! EMR ALI's.

We all know that sports cars should be red but this 260Z was such a gorgeous candy red I couldn’t take my eyes off it.  The finish was truly stunning and the power wasn’t bad either.  Playing with the adjustable trumpets in place of the carbon ones we had a decent gain but as with Steve Kiddell’s 240Z it works much better with the air box on, rather than off.  Never mind the power or the build quality, just look at the picture and admire at the lines and the paintwork finish.

Lambo Doors

BMW powered Lambo replica

I know a lot of people (Will included) don’t like Lambo doors but you have to admit they look sort of right on a Lamborghini.  This replica had a V12 BMW engine and was running pretty sickly.   As delivered it made 200 bhp at max rpm, pretty sick when it should have made 300 bhp at stock.  The trouble with this type of engine is that you can never tell how many cylinders they are running on.  With one or two cylinders missing the resulting V10 is still pretty smooth.  To add to my troubles there was nowhere to put a lambda sensor and I was trying to set the mixture initially on power output alone.  I used to do it this way about 20 years ago but things have moved on.  I am mapping in the dark without my sensors.

Pulling off the injector plugs gave me a suspicion that the engine wasn’t firing on all 12 pots so the plugs came out of inspection.   That killed about an hour!   Sure enough several were not firing so a new set went in.  Next with the engine firing on all 12 pots the mixture was so weak it would hardly run the engine.   If someone had been trying to map it with some cylinders pumping fresh air into the exhaust it confuses the lambda (and often the dyno operator) no end.  Working blind I had it up to 302 bhp before we ran out of time.  The car will be back with some lambda bosses in the exhaust and then it should be a straight forward mapping job.