Tuning the A-Series Engine David Vizard British car owners are more apt to wrench on their own cars, but what to do when you want to go beyond what the Haynes manual can give you? For years I’d seen this book advertised, but not having a Mini, I couldn’t bring myself to take the chance on it. Bigmistake.
Vizard shatters the myths and makes sure you get all of the theory along the way. The A-series engine is the example, and he’s built a reputation around it, but his techniques and your learning go way beyond this single family of engines. He has a unique way of highlighting the gems of wisdom right in the flow of the text, so if you want to skim a chapter to see what you’re going to be reading he makes it easy for you. The obvious way to write a book like this is to give a specific modification and explain briefly why this is the best way to build the most horsepower, but the author avoids that philosophy. He gives you the choices he’s seen others make and works forward fromthere. He pools all of the misinformed home tuners’ tricks and sorts them out one topic at a time. I had a real need to get a recommendation on what filters to buy for an engine I'm presently rebuilding. Rather than make you start at page 1, Vizard engagesyou in each chapter, and as you realize how much you’re learning about automotive theory, you’re drawn to move on to related topics and keep teaching yourself more about the relationship of all your engines’ parts and the changes you’re making.
The filters the book guided me to were not going to be a cheap solution, but in reading the pros and cons of what’s out there, I verified that running my street engine with Weber DCOEs and no filters definitely wore it out much more quickly, and the flush mounted filters I’d used prior to that were true power robbers. Choosing the filter, ends up involving the carburettor ram pipes (with their own 16 page chapter) and the author’s very clear in pointing out the power losses that occur if the ram pipes are removed.
He does this with more than just anecdotal tales of motors he’s built, though there are tales to help remind you of his experience. He provides countless graphs where he tests real solutions on real engines. Sometimes the gains are as little as 1 hp, but remembering the base power of a Mini engine, you have to appreciate that these changes will add to a noticeable change. Want to know what you’re getting when you pay someone to port and polish a head? Vizard doesn’t just explain the theory, he shows some great tricks you won’t find in other books.
Ever hear of a Rimflo valve? Evacusump? Vizard doesn’t evangelize about these specialty items, but he shows you how they can help. Some other surprises include coverage of supercharging and turbos, nitrous, and tuning for economy, something all of us might need to do with the inevitable rise in fuel prices. I’ve read Kas Kastner’s Competition Prep Manual for the Spitfire and would never want to berate the expertise in there.
But this is a whole different level. This is a 520 page full-sized hardbound textbook, the kind you used to have to lug around thehalls of high school. But the difference may be, that this book was written for you. Finding a book that moves your knowledge about something you love, so far forward, is very rare. Don’t wait until after you make all the mistakes before you read this book.
Written By: Karl Aldinger
Article Date: Dec 31, 2005