AutoSpeed in 2008

Posted on December 17th, 2007 in Driving Emotion,Opinion by Julian Edgar

This is my last blog post for this year: new posts and AutoSpeed articles will both resume January 8.

So what have we got planned for 2008?

Firstly, the new editorial approach that we’ve taken in the last 12 months or so will be strengthened and consolidated. In short, that’s a move that is in keeping with the rapidly changing times. 

Consider these points:

• Countries are now seeking to isolate themselves from the volatile politics of world oil by embracing alternative automotive fuels like ethanol, CNG and LPG. Sovereign energy self-sufficiency is of greater political and strategic importance now that at any time since World War II.

• The increasingly solid evidence being presented by scientists for global warming is making a huge impact not only at the ballot box but also in big company boardrooms around the world. Decreasing energy consumption – and so fossil-fuelled CO2 emissions – is likely to become the watchword for all human activities, including transport.

• Tightening legal restrictions on driving fun are already all around us. Having a modified road car with enormous power is becoming an increasingly silly aim, suitable only for dyno boasting competitions. On the other hand, having a frugal, responsive, good handling and technically advanced car is as rewarding as it has ever been.

• The car manufacturing industry is in its time of greatest philosophical change since the 1930s. Hybrid petrol-electric cars are now being actively developed and/or marketed by every major car company in the world. That represents an incredible change in just the last 5 years. With the legislated clean-up that’s now also occurring with diesel engine emissions, it’s quite easy to envisage a situation where, world-wide, traditional petrol engine cars will be in the minority of new cars.

In the context of these points, to keep on running articles about 350kW supercharged V8 modified road cars and the like is not only short-sighted, it does you all a disservice.

(On a personal level, this is an almost exact re-run of what was happening when I first started automotive journalism. Then, about 15 years ago, engine management was being introduced on all new cars. And, with that development, oh boy, was the automotive world ever changing! But at the time, nearly every modified car magazine continued writing about engines with carbies and points. It took years before the modified car media embraced the changing technology. But anyone with half a brain could have seen the writing was on the wall for the old technology, and that encouraging readers to stick with outdated ideas was doing them no favours.)

So for AutoSpeed, huge, thirsty and enormously powerful modified engines are out – we won’t be covering them.

But articles on techniques that improve car and engine efficiency – aerodynamics, turbocharging, intercooling, intakes, exhausts, headwork, tyres, suspension and brakes – are right on the money. Especially if those techniques are talked about in the context of cars that are already highly efficient….

We’re also really excited about another development for the coming year. Why? Well, we’re going to be presenting stories on a whole bunch of new electronic modules dedicated to do-it-yourself car modification.

Long-time readers will be familiar with the electronic kits developed by me in conjunction with Silicon Chip magazine and sold by Jaycar Electronics, but the new modules will be better again. So how will they be better? In short:

• They won’t be kits but instead be fully built and tested circuit boards, ready to be connected and then put in a box or simply wrapped in heat-shrink and placed up under the dash.

• They will be able to directly drive big electrical loads like fuel pumps, solenoids, radiator fans and the like. Or, if required, they will be able to operate relays or switch LEDs or warning lights or buzzers.

• Taking into account their high functionality and fully built status, they’ll be very cheap.

• They’ll be small, near-impossible to kill and be very simple to wire into place and set up.

The brain behind the electronics is eLabtronics, the company with which we developed the Intelligent Intercooler Water Spray Controller some 8 years ago. That product, still available, combines intercooler temperature and engine load sensing with a predictive ability that allows the intercooler spray to actually come on before it is even needed!

This time we approached eLabtronics with a proposition that they’ve very happily taken up – to build a single electronics module that can be software developed to have a myriad of different functions. By standardising the hardware, eLabtronics can make the product in greater numbers, bringing down prices. And by using software reprogramming to produce different modules, the designs can still be fully optimised for their particular functions.

We doubt that there will be any kind of modified car anywhere that can’t make good use of one (or more) of these planned modules.

And finally, in 2008 we’ll be making some major changes to the website. We’ll be introducing much greater facility for reader interaction (including with other readers); opening-up AutoSpeed to easy access by far more people; enabling easier content searching and linking; adding some more features and generally streamlining the site for better use by you.

As we’re fast heading for our tenth anniversary, I want AutoSpeed to keep being innovative, occasionally provocative, relevant and useful.

9 Responses to 'AutoSpeed in 2008'

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  1. Ben said,

    on December 17th, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    Good on you Julian! It’s good to see a car enthusiast’s site that recognises the world has changed. I just wish the car manufacturers would recognise this, and start producing small, lightweight, sporty cars that don’t cost the earth in either sense of the term. I can’t afford a Lotus Elise or new MX5!

  2. Howard said,

    on December 18th, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Top form! I’m looking forward to the new electronic projects. Having used with great success, previous units like the Digital Fuel Adjuster and the Speedo Corrector (for a 4cyl tacho driven by a 6cyl ecu), I’m really looking forward to seeing what becomes available. Are you prepared to adopt reader’s ideas at all?

  3. Julian Edgar said,

    on December 18th, 2007 at 7:59 am

    Always happy to have reader ideas emailed.

  4. Darren Roles said,

    on December 18th, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Hopefully there’s some information coming about modifying both venturi & injected LPG systems fitted to petrol & diesel engines?
    I can’t find much around at the moment other than fitting a turbo and/or increasing the compression.

  5. Julian Edgar said,

    on December 18th, 2007 at 8:21 am

    We expect to be doing some stuff on LPG.

  6. OttoAu said,

    on December 18th, 2007 at 8:37 am

    Your going Green!

    Nothing wrong with that….

    NOW we can have some stories about the greenest fuels of the lot………LPG



  7. Bob Jay said,

    on December 18th, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Good to see an end to mega KW reporting but don’t forget the mainstream Australian 6 Cyl and mid size 4 Cyl car enthusiasts; “Fred Falcon” redone on later models and expanded to cover sensible improvements to Commodore, Magna and Camry for example. Personally I am over the never ending power and speed emphasis of many Motoring journalists but some subtle drivability tweaks for my new (second hand) BA XR6 would interest me a lot. Merry christmas to you. Bob Jay

  8. Rhys said,

    on December 18th, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    I have had this site bookmarked for quite a while now; however it seems it is increasingly moving towards alternative transport and vehicle propulsion. This is obviously great considering it is very relevant at these times, except what the site was known for ‘back then’ seems to be in the process of being lost. There used to be new and used car tests published all the time, which were different from the norm’ of what the stereotypical journalist would write. Also the write ups of different technologies and systems to do with vehicles not only in the future but for now at the present.

    My point really is that while 2008 seems excellent for AutoSpeed it would be very disappointing if what made AutoSpeed better then the rest so far, was lost.

  9. Julian Edgar said,

    on December 18th, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    Rhys: you don’t change by staying the same.

    Specifically, re new car tests – the number of manufacturers who won’t now lend us cars is as long as my arm. That’s what happens when you write blunt test that are ” ‘different from the norm’ of what the stereotypical journalist would write”. As always, we will keep covering new cars when we can access them.

    When grey market Japanese imports were booming, we drove nearly all of them. That market is dying and while we’re still interested in driving the grey market imports we’ve not sampled, there certainly aren’t many of them.

    We will keep doing stories on “different technologies and systems to do with vehicles not only in the future but for now at the present”.

    With finite resources available, it is inevitable that a change in direction will result in some stories that we’d previously have run no longer being covered. But you can rest assured that the type of stories that have proved very popular long-term will be continued.

  10. Darin said,

    on December 18th, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Interesting, very interesting! I’m in agreement with the comments & posts re. finite resources and alternative technologies. I’ve followed Autospeed on a casual basis for a number of years and I’ll be very intersted to see where it all goes. I’ve also had an interest in HPVs/alternative vehicles for many years, and even one stage had lofty thoughts about designing and building a solar bike for the race through the red centre. The idea is not entirely dead! Also I’ll be very interested in any material on LPG as I’ve been considering changing my turbo car over but info is a liittle thin on the ground. Good luck with it all Julian and Merry Christmas to all.

  11. Matt said,

    on December 19th, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Sounds like it’ll be a good year to come. Thanks for continuing to make an interesting, forward-looking publication.

    It sounds like electric cars will be racing forward next year, so I hope to see more coverage on them too. For example, Tesla are due to (finally) run production, and there’s the recent Electric Vehicle Symposium ( When will we see this stuff in Australia??


  12. Julian Edgar said,

    on December 19th, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    We have coverage of two DIY electric cars within the first month or so of 2008.

    We’ll definitely cover commercial ones as they are released.

  13. Mal Land said,

    on December 19th, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    I hope the info you’ll be providing on LPG covers injection systems.

    I’m building a modified vehicle (turbo charged small toyota V8) that I want to gas inject (not dual fuel) and am having some difficulty finding relevant info.
    The so called experts give me heresay not experience, or they’re very secretive.
    There’s always the feed back about running lean, burning valves & seats and destroying pistons or the lack of power running gas. This tells me that the systems that have been installed in the vehicles that have had the problems have not been set up properly. LPG has a higher RON than petrol & therefore if tuned properly should be able to develop more power.
    Gas also mixes with air better than petrol.

    I’m even considering building a test set-up prior to installing the engine into the vehicle.

    The websites I’ve visited give lots of pretty pictures and tell me what they’ve done but bugger all tech info.
    It would be good to find out who’s in Australia installing injected gas systems so I can talk to them.


  14. Julian Edgar said,

    on December 20th, 2007 at 8:05 am

    <p>Now, as I was saying….,23599,22952677-38200,00.html</p&gt;

    …and (but what a terrrible mistake to say that we have no emissions standards for cars! – or has CO2 become so dominant that the other emissions no longer count?)

    and today…

  15. Mal Land said,

    on December 21st, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Another myopic Australian Media Report!

  16. Kieran Clarke said,

    on December 21st, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    I think I’m more excited now about the coming Autospeed year than at any time since first subscribing. I’ve always found the site interesting and entertaining, but for me the shift towards new technology has been refreshing. Long may it continue.

  17. David said,

    on December 25th, 2007 at 2:19 am

    Time to remove autospeed from the bookmarks

  18. Mark said,

    on December 27th, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    AutoSpeed is definitely headed in the right direction.

    Just on the LPG point, I agree that the information available is poor indeed. Have a look at this site:

    These guys have worked out how to get the power and efficiency LPG can deliver from its higher octane, using the car’s original engine management. But they can’t get the investment they need to commercialise it. Could AutoSpeed do a story on this?

    Thanks guys.

  19. Johno said,

    on January 8th, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    My treat of the week is to have a look @ the Autospeed site and see what’s new!
    I’m also an LPG fan to the extent of 4 or 5 hundred thousand k’s – there should be an uprising against the impost of excise on LPG in 2012?!!
    Also the weight of modern cars is ridiculous, does a Corolla now weigh nearly as much as Dick Johnston XD falcon? Some flab comparisons could be very interesting.
    Please keep up the new car tests even if you have to hire them!

  20. Brett said,

    on January 9th, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Hi Autospeed,

    I have been a long time reader/subscriber. I have noticed for quite some time that we do seem to get regular reporting of car reviews, for example in recent times articles featuring the Mitsubishi Magna VR-X (first published in Sept 2000) and the Holden Barina SRi (first published in June 2002). I don’t object to you republishing these articles, as they do make for an interesting read. May I suggest you provide some value adding to them, to make them more relevant. Some suggestions might be:

    1) Pricing of these vehicles in the current used vehicle market
    2) Quoting fuel economy figures where not previously mentioned, quite important given current fuel prices.
    3) Modifications that could be made to these vehicles and expected performance/efficiency gains