Getting out and about

Subaru tuning... ...close to home... Clive Atthowe Tuning

Not too long ago someone told me that I should get out more. Sitting in a room with fluorescent lighting and driving a car that’s going nowhere, day in and day out, isn’t good for your health. So I decided to take a day out. Where should I go? I know, I’ll visit Clive Atthowe in Norwich and take a look at his rolling road. Hey, it’s still a day out.

Clive and his two guys, Dan and Dan, operate a Dastek 4WD rolling road and specialise in diagnostics and re-mapping. They do a lot of Subaru engines and it was more than a little bit interesting to see Clive and Dan checking out a typical tuned Subaru Impreza STI.

Subaru turbocharged flat four... ...makes good power...

The car had originally come in for a re-map having been fitted with a lot of bolt-on tuning bits including some new exhaust manifolds and an induction kit. Although the headline figure wasn’t far off what might be expected, the lower rpm range was pretty dire. Clive reckoned it was the new exhaust manifolds, typical eBay purchases, which were causing the problem. The owner went away and re-fitted the standard exhaust manifolds and then came back for a comparison. The stock manifolds, with the induction kit still fitted, transformed the engine. Taking a look at the boost curve pretty much told the whole story.

...once the stock manifolds are re-installed

The new manifolds from eBay stopped the boost from building until the engine got to 6000 rpm and then there was a tiny increase over the stock manifolds. Look at the curves and you will see that the trade off wasn’t even worth starting to consider.

It was good to get out and talk to Clive about the problems of running a rolling road and various problems that you encounter in the day-to-day running or a business. His problems were pretty much a mirror image of the ones I come across on a regular basis, water leaks, oil leaks and bits dropping off. It’s nice to know that I am not the only one struggling from time to time to get it right.

I plan to visit Clive again soon with a more in-depth look at how he goes about mapping a Subaru WRX. Might even be next month if I can get another day pass from here.

The Vizard Lecture

For younger readers who don’t know the man, David Vizard is one of the biggest names in automotive journalism that has ever existed. David made his name here in the UK in the days when I still had dark hair and the misguided perception that I knew something about engines. To quote the man himself: “It’s not true that back it the day I used to drive chariots – I only used to work on them.”

David moved to the U.S.A and made a big impression over there in motoring magazines with his curious attitude that the best way to test things was to measure them. Then he would often go on to improve them using his Superflow engine dyno, everything backed up with solid dyno results, not just an opinion with the magazine’s editor keeping one eye on the advertising potential.

I recently attended David’s seminar in Swansea (see, I am getting out more) which was sponsored by PPC magazine. All attendees had to sign a non-disclosure agreement so sadly I can’t tell you much about the course or what I learnt from the various speakers – and I did pick up some really interesting information. What I can tell you is that my eyes were opened to the idea that two people can have totally opposing views and still both of them can be right!

One example of this is where you mount the injectors. Dave Mountain says they get good gains on their engines with outer injectors – most of the time. “It’s engine specific” was the way he described it to me. If you have only ever run a K Series on double injectors you would say that it doesn’t work and you would be right. But on other engines I have personally seen massive gains. The one thing I took away from the seminar was that there are not many hard and fast rules; you have to do the development and find out what works on your particular application. All in all a very interesting week-end and it proved to me that people are right – I should get out more!


I don’t often take on carb jobs these days unless it is something really interesting, like the Riley that was even older than I am. The engine was highly modified and sported triple SU carbs and a very interesting advance mechanism for the ignition. This was basically a lever on the steering wheel that moved the dizzy backwards and forwards.

Classic Riley... ...on triple SU's... ...and real clockwork ignition.

You might regard this as very early computer-controlled ignition and in this case the computer is located between your ears. You have to look at the engine rpm and think about the load you are going to apply and then advance or retard the ignition accordingly. We set the ignition for maximum power and then altered the lever set up so that it could be advanced from there. Basically you advance on light throttle and then retard back to maximum power on full throttle.

Another feature was the gear change selector, again on the steering wheel (or very close to it). You select the gear you want, and then depress the clutch, and it changes gear for you. It’s called a pre-select gearbox and it certainly makes for an interesting drive until you get used to it. I would not say that the rolling road session was a total success but it made for an interesting afternoon and a change from the usual keyboard pressing routine.

Saker GT

Saker sportscar Lemans car looks... ...with Subaru power

I can’t say I am a big fan of the Subaru engine (see above) but I do love these Saker GT cars which use the Subaru engine. This one was a fairly routine mapping job but I thought you might like to see some pics of the car. It’s the nearest I will ever get to mapping a Le Mans car!


MGB now with a healthy gearbox

Regular readers might remember the MGB GT that had the gearbox ripped apart on the rollers. Well it made it back and happy to report that all went well this time round. One happy owner, and one happy rolling road operator.

K Midget

Another returnee was the MG midget that lacked full throttle. The answer was to replace the throttle pedal with one from another model that hangs down, rather than pivoting from the floor (see picture). This allows full throttle and after a few miles of loosening up, the engine is doing 200 bhp. I can remember back in the day when one lunatic put a 1500 pre-crossflow in a Frogeye and had 85 bhp. Everyone condemned him at the time saying that this sort of power in a Spridget chassis was just a step too far. How times have changed!