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mtn MegaDork
9/17/18 3:01 p.m.
Joe Gearin said:

I'd like to nominate the Type IV VW engine that Porsche put into the 914.   Great little cars, with fantastic packaging, good (but quirky) styling, and great handling for the time. 


The shift linkage, and that powerless lump of an engine really let the rest of the car down.   

On that note, I'm going to nominate a highly contentious candidate: The FA20D/4U. This is not a performance based assessment/indictment, but a feel based one. The engine and mapping are a complete letdown to my buttmeter. Every time I drive one, and I've tried numerous times to love them, I just come away completely unimpressed. 


Note: I know there are ways to fix it, but this is based on stock feel.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
9/17/18 3:54 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

To be fair, Pontiac didn't market the Fiero as a sports car when it was released either.  It was a 2 seater-- Mid engine four cylinder runabout.  2M4 

They sold it as a sporty errand hopper and commuter.  It wasn't until the 6 cylinder car came out that they chased the "sports car" crowd.  So, although the Iron Duke was a pretty pitiful engine for a sports car, it was perfectly acceptable for a commuter. 

It's a shame the Fiero never fulfilled it's potential.  It was a cool idea, and pretty striking when it hit the roads in 1984.    

Stefan GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/17/18 4:19 p.m.

In reply to Joe Gearin :

It had to be marketed as an "economy" car because that was the only way it could get approved, to help with Pontiac's CAFE numbers.


wspohn Dork
9/18/18 11:02 a.m.

Indeed, they only got the Fiero approved because they called it a commuter car. They would never have received approval for a pure sports car. They were on a limited budget so had to cheap out on design and scrounge bits from existing cars - Citation front cradle moved to the back and Chevette front suspension.  They snuck the V6 option in there as soon as they could when sales started out well, and by the 88 models had a whole new suspension .....and then threw it away and cancelled the model.  Another GM coulda been.

Did it all again 30 years later with the Solstice, which was never intended as anything but a sports car and turned out much better...until they screwed up so badly that it went down on the bankruptcy fall out (along with the rest of Pontiac - too bad they never marketed a Chevrolet labelled version - they might have had more compunction about ditching it).

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
9/18/18 4:28 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson said:

Loving the re-boot of this thread, and love the fact I appear to have been the person to call out the Triumph Stag V8 way back when.




I called it out 1988.  Okay, I was alone in a 15 deg f  unheated garage washing parts at the time, plus trying to figure out where I would find another rod without a void in it and cursing in two different languages but I called it out nonetheless.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
9/18/18 5:14 p.m.
frenchyd said:
loosecannon said:

Can the engine in the Classic Mini be considered a performance engine? I know they have a long history of racing but that's more due to the amazing packaging of the car less on that dud of an engine that has only 3 main bearings and shares it's oil with the transmission, right? Am I a heretic? I love classic Mini's BTW and was the co-founder of a Mini Club but those engines just can't seem to make decent power without blowing to smitherines. Kinda reminds me of Classic Beetle engines, also pretty fragile as you approach the 100 hp/litre mark. (I have one of those, too and now realize I have a thing for really crappy performance cars)

If you know the history of the Austin motor then you know it was a slow cheap development of an engine that originated in the 30’s as a low volume cheap motor.  

The performance extracted from that chunk of iron was remarkable, enhanced by the cars it was in.  Both the Mini and the Sprite/Midget  were brilliant solutions to cheap, affordable, fun. 

Give the British their due, they created a whole class of cars for people on a less than GRM budget. 

The same goes for the Triumph 1500 in the Spitfire.

That sid, I think much of that engines problems were related to the terrible build quality.  I recently experienced my friend's moderately warmed up 1500 street engine.  Unlike the 1500 in my Spitfire which sounds and feels like it's going to explode when the tach approaches 4K RPM, his engine revs happily to the red line at 6K.   It's amazing what a bit of balancing can do.

Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
9/19/18 7:39 a.m.

Somewhere up thead someone mentioned the awful Triumph 1500 that was fitted to Spits and later Midgets.  God that was an awful lump of an engine for anything, let alone performance options.  I just related this tale over in the 'recommend and engine remanufacture' thread.


I have nothing useful to ad, just an anecdote about 're-built' engines.  Back circa 1990, pre internet, when adverts were all in newspapers there was a guy at work needed a new engine for his Triumph Dolomite.  He bought a 're-built' engine from a local company with a list of what was new.  Rings, bearings, gaskets, cam etc.etc.  He paid for it to be installed in the car.  After instillation, just before start up they went to fill it with oil and discovered the 'rebuilders' hadn't even drained the black tar from the sump before before pressure washing the outside and hitting it with a spray can to complete the rebuild.  Sure he got his money back on the engine, but was now out two removals and installations after he bought  a cheaper used engine from a junk yard which at least came with a warranty.  Actually this reminds me I need to relate this and another story int he worst ever performance engine threadsurection.  

What I didn't say there is the second engine he got was a low mileage one from a junk yard which only lasted him six months before a rod went on that one too.  I had a 1500 Spit at the same time and went through several junk yard engines on that as well.  The rods were utter sh!t.  They would bend or the big ends would elongate in even in normal use.  I remember trying to make a usable set of rods by measuring up several core engines.  Not one rod was perfect.  I think they were made of left over cheese or something.  Now, I'm sure these engines work fine when everything is matched and built perfectly, but the truth of late 70's / early 80's BL and it's supply base was that if a part was even vaguely the right shape then it was assembled into a car.  Then add in cheap economy cars that the owners couldn't afford to maintain perfectly, then pass it through a couple of owners and it's a miracle that any Triumph engine has survived to the present day. 

I had a friend once I moved to the States who ran an IT TR7 with the also much (rightly) maligned slant 4.  He ran the stock engine that he bought the car with for several seasons.  He saved up and took it for a professional IT quality build.  Once the engine builder stripped it down he called the owner.  He'd never, ever seen such a low quality engine.  No two pistons or rods were even remotely the same dimensions let alone weight.  The only upside was once new parts were found, matched, balanced and blueprinted he had a massive massive bump in performance, way way beyond the normal IT spec balance, blueprint and match type build.

So I think that even more than some of the Domestic engines of the 70's, E36 M3ty British 'Designs' were probably hampered more by the utter total lack of quality or care than by poor design.

frenchyd SuperDork
9/19/18 7:46 a.m.

In reply to Ian F :

Few people seem to understand what was going on in England in the, 60’s, 70’s, &80’s 

Labor  and management  didn’t trust  or really see the need of each other. Management focused on solutions of the past such as cost cutting and holding wages down in a vain attempt to recreate the returns of the past when 1/3 of the globe was British. 

Labor looked at failure after failure of management and their own inflation reduced wages, and launched strike after strike.  

As a result anything labor could get away with they attempted. Management retaliated with predictable results.  In the end they both lost.  

Quality control  was the number one victim. With Germany and Japan the countries that picked up the  slack.  

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
9/19/18 8:11 a.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

Oh I'm well aware of B-L's labor and QC problems.  Which is sort of the point - the engines were not inherently bad by design, they were just built that way. Back in those days, few companies were building "real" sports car engines.  The Italians are the only ones that come to mind.  Everyone else was making do with warmed up (sometimes) passenger car engines.  A practice that continues to this day.

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