Book Review By Robert Benton
I was a little skeptical at first at what Vizard had to offer beyond what I thought was a very complete "How to Modify Your Mini" book which I have had for well over a decade. I had heard that Vizard’s "Tuning the A-Series Engine" was quite the wealth of information but having never read it myself or known someone who had read both the "Modify Your Mini" and A-series engine books I was not in a big rush to buy the "Tuning The A-series Engine". When I got the chance to get a copy, I was first impressed with its size. It was quite thick and handsomely hardbound. Upon opening the book I was immediately impressed with an extensive table of contents, broken up into logical sub divisions.
The test of the book is written at such a level that it will allow people with little knowledge of the A-series engines and engine tuning to develop and grow their skills, while still being able to maintain the interest of those but probably the most expert engine builders to find interesting, ideas, techniques and technical information on every page.
The technical information in the book goes well beyond the " How to Modify Your Mini" information in that it seems to delve deeper into some of the “why’s” and “how’s” of what is being done for performance and economy.The charts and diagrams are easy to read and understand and the cutaway pictures are very helpful in visualizing what is being described.
David allows the reader to simply read recommendations and techniques that they can apply to their engine, but his writing permits and even seems to draw the reader in to wanting to understand the reasoning and physics behind the modifications or component selections.
David does an excellent job of presenting not only different levels of performance and economy improvements for all levels of budget and ability, but also presenting alternatives to given components or methods.
In general, the text also seems to be a bit less dated than my 1991 printing of the "How to Modify Your Mini", covering more modern components and technologies. This is especially useful when dealing with bolt on performance such as manifolds and air filters where technology can make some pretty significant leaps in a several year period.
If there is one fault with the book, I would say it would have to be the layout of the text and pictures. The three column approach for the text is not so much a problem as this is the way the "How to Modify Your Mini" is presented, but this text also include vertical and horizontal lines that act to separate the text columns and also separating picture captions from the flowing text. I found when I was trying to read the actual book text, it was many times interrupted by pictures, charts and captions making it difficult to have a smooth flow and causing the reader to search for where to pick up with their reading. This issue also carried over to picture captions which were not only broken between pictures on the same page, but also pictures on separate pages. I would not have expected this from a book on its third edition and numerous printings. I don’t know whether previous editions shared this problem, but it was quite distracting at times causing me to reread several sections.
All in all, "Tuning The A-series Engine" is a valuable reference for anyone of any skill level who want to better understand the A-series family and the available options for performance and economy. Even the most knowledgeable veterans of the A-series will more than likely find useful information as well as varying viewpoints on tuning and performance. For my low to moderate understanding level of the A-series, this text performs a valuable service in providing basic technical information on these engines as well as numerous directions forward for tuning. The book also provides me the opinions and years of experience from experts in tuning these engines to help temper, support or refute varying ideas and opinions of myself and others and guide me in what I choose to do and not do to my vehicles. This book will get a well earned spot in my small but growing library of Mini related literature.