Expensive petrol

Posted on May 29th, 2008 in Driving Emotion,Economy by Julian Edgar


“By pretending it can control prices, the Government is continuing to peddle the lie that it can control everything. It will also perpetuate the illusion that the way we have lived in the past – driving big, inefficient cars – is the way we should live in the future. Prices signal otherwise.”

Another Car

Posted on May 27th, 2008 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

Bought a car the other day.

Regular readers will know of my pictured Peugeot 405 diesel turbo, a car that I have discussed in AutoSpeed and which has been modified in an effective – but very cheap – way.

In the short time that I have owned it, the 405 has proved to be a very good car – extremely comfortable, competent handling, excellent ride, and very economical. With the boost, intake, exhaust and fuelling mods, driveability improved dramatically. For example, the time to go from 80 – 100 km/h in 4th gear was halved. It was this sort of change, rather than a massive increase in peak power, that made the car so much nicer on the road.

In fact, the 405 has been doing everything that we’ve been asking of it – and turning in fuel economy figures of 5.5 – 6.9 litres/100km.

So why the change of car? The greatest problem with the 405 is its old diesel injection system. It’s a purely mechanical system that controls fuel and turbo boost and fuel injection timing. That makes it simple to tune – all you need is a screwdriver and spanner – but it also considerably limits the modifications that can be made.

The giants finally stir

Posted on May 21st, 2008 in diesel,Driving Emotion,Economy,Ford,Holden,Mitsubishi,Opinion,Toyota by Julian Edgar

In August last year I wrote:


Read it again.

Less than a year later:

–  Mitsubishi manufacturing in Australia has gone broke

– Holden has said that within 2 years it will release diesel, hybrid and possibly four cylinder turbo versions of the Commodore. The company may also build smaller cars in Australia.

– Ford has released a ‘going on as the same’ FG Falcon, and then – oops, gosh, the world has changed! – announced a diesel engine version within 2 years.

– Toyota has said that they’re eager to build a Camry hybrid in Australia.

I wrote then :

The local manufacturers – especially Holden and Ford – need to show with locally developed product in the showroom that they can produce cars that appeal to more than Ford/Holden performance car enthusiasts, that they not only understand but also actively embrace the significant social change that is now occurring. Otherwise the Australian car will continue down the road to anachronistic irrelevance – it’s already on that path and accelerating as fast as its powerful and thirsty engine can take it….

At last, at last, Holden and Ford are stirring. Hopefully it won’t be too late.

EGR now very important…

Posted on May 20th, 2008 in Driving Emotion,Economy,Engine Management by Julian Edgar

Today’s AutoSpeed article – EGR Comeback – is far more important than an initial glance might suggest.

In fact, it is the first of three stories that we will have on exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), a technique that is increasingly important in the chase for better emissions and fuel economy.

Japanese car sales drop

Posted on May 17th, 2008 in Driving Emotion by Julian Edgar

“Japanese vehicle ownership has fallen for what is reported to be the first time since World War II as the multi-billion dollar industry battles a shrinking population and the waning popularity of cars.”


Finding the Shortcomings

Posted on May 15th, 2008 in Driving Emotion,pedal power by Julian Edgar

As I canvassed in this blog, my wife Georgina and I have been thinking of going pedal touring. Carrying 3½-year-old son Alexander in a Burley child trailer, we originally were going to use recumbent trikes, machines that are stable and have a very wide range of gearing.

But getting the trikes to any distant location is an expensive exercise, so we reluctantly decided to instead ride Brompton folding bikes. (Disclaimer: Georgina’s business sells Burley trailers, Brompton bikes and Greenspeed recumbent trikes.)

The advantage of the Bromptons is that they can be folded into such a small package that on an airline flight they cost nothing at all to take with us. In fact, flying within Australia on Virgin Blue, we can take along two bike trailers, two bikes and all our camping gear – and pay not one cent extra over the three fares!

Internal engine cleaning

Posted on May 12th, 2008 in diesel,Driving Emotion,Peugeot by Julian Edgar

In recent articles in AutoSpeed we’ve covered the major benefits of water injection. Without recapitulating those articles in full, water injection can improve power, lower fuel consumption and reduce exhaust emissions.

As recounted in one of those articles, the high pressure water injection system that I developed was tested on both my Honda Insight and Peugeot 405 diesel.

However, I haven’t left the water injection system installed on either of these cars – the Honda’s would have needed too large a water tank (the water injection was being used continuously in cruise) and in the Peugeot, the water injection system did not reduce post-turbo intake air temps as effectively as squirting the spray straight onto the intercooler core.

Your Favourite Car Maker

Posted on May 8th, 2008 in Driving Emotion,Ford,Honda,Makes & Models,Mitsubishi,Opinion,Toyota by Julian Edgar

The other day, on learning that I am an automotive journalist, someone asked me what is my favourite make of car.

I must admit the question rather stumped me. It did so for two reasons: firstly, I can’t see how any impartial automotive journalist could ever admit to having a favourite amongst car brands, and secondly, I am not even sure how anyone can logically have a favourite car maker.

I’ve owned cars made by Alfa Romeo, Audi, Austin, BMW, Daihatsu, Holden, Honda, Rover, Saab, Subaru, Toyota – and many others. I’ve driven cars ranging from Rolls Royce to Porsche to Ferrari. I’ve also driven many Mazdas, Mitsubishis, Volkswagens – and so on.

And really, despite brands developing their images based on specific advertised criteria, I have to say that the idea that certain brands have certain attributes is largely a myth.

Change in Journalism

Posted on May 6th, 2008 in Driving Emotion,Opinion by Julian Edgar

An interesting ABC TV Media Watch this week  on the future of journalism. (See it here.)

I guess it’s particularly fascinating to me, as AutoSpeed this year reaches the ripe old age of ten. For close to a decade (and so two-thirds of the time the Web has existed!) my full-time job as a journalist and editor has been working for this specialist website.

These days, like probably many of you, I read all my ‘newspapers’ on line and watch most of my ‘TV’ online.  (Inverted commas because they’re not really ‘newspapers’ and ‘TV’ are they?)

So what do you think of the future of newspapers (and of course, by implication, magazines)? And what do you think of the very important point made by the presenter that quality journalism needs a financial model that in the past has relied on the huge advertising revenues generated by newspaper classifieds?

One point that I think the program missed is that the breadth and reach of the web allows far narrower targeting of audiences, so making viable media that would otherwise not exist. I am quite sure that if the audience for AutoSpeed was limited to just a country like Australia, it would be too small to make AutoSpeed viable.

But what is the future of newspapers and magazines? What forms will (and should) automotive and popular journalism take?

I Hate Car Maintenance

Posted on May 5th, 2008 in diesel,Driving Emotion,Peugeot by Julian Edgar

I love modifying cars but I hate doing car maintenance. Even something as simple as an oil change I despise: I sure wouldn’t last long working as a mechanic.

But every now and again I need to do what I hate: maintenance.

In the most recent case it was a noise that developed in the engine bay of my Peugeot 405 diesel. It started, I thought, after I repaired a leak in the plastic power steering fluid reservoir. The fluid level had been dropping and then I noticed a crack near the outlet pipe. I took a punt and used a soldering iron and filler rod (cable ties!) to plastic weld the crack closed – the repair worked perfectly.

With new fluid in the reservoir, everything seemed fine.

But then a whine started up in the engine bay. Initially it was just audible, but it got louder and louder. It varied with engine revs, being just able to be heard at idle but being very loud indeed at 3-4000 rpm.