Finding Information: I am asked alot about where to find things about individuals cars but unless I know off the top of my head I refer most people to there local city library as they hold a vast amount of workshop manuals and reference books on all models of Holdens. A lot of people don't even know where there local library is let alone ever visit it!
6 Cylinder Coversions: Sunbirds are a popular 6 cylinder conversion for people but some don't alter the suspension or don't even know what to use. The best springs to use are the HQ springs but you must shorten these properly otherwise your front will sit-up slightly. You should also use gas shock absorbers for a stiff but comfortable ride. If you have trouble finding 14 inch wheels to suit, then the HT/HK/HG use the same stud pattern as the 4 cylinder Commodore and the Sunbird.
Extra Power and Economy: We all know how to put carbs and extractors on your car to achieve more power but the secret to all performance engines is in the head work! The basics are larger valves, ported and reshaped chambers which with the right cam produces oodles of horsepower. This can of course lead to other problems like conrods bending, pistons melting, bearings colapsing etc. so a good engine must be a strong engine and unless you are experienced then you should leave it to an engine builder who can run you through things like line boring your crank and decking your pistons. If you want power and economy then this is easily achieved in older engines by letting the head breath and not going overboard. 35% increase in both is easily possible!
If you don't want the thermo fan then a flexi fan can be a cheap alternative. These fans straighten as the revs rise thus reducing friction and increasing HP, these are available at all leading parts shops.
Air cleaners could be causing your fuel bills to be higher than what is possible. Your engine needs the least restriction without comprimising the filtering effect, a good quality filter is a must and could increase your power as well! If you are not in dusty conditions you could set your car for a K&N but remember to get your car tuned as it could cause it to run to lean in the mixture
Your oil can also be a HP robber and you should always use good quality oil and change regularly. Good oil also helps to keep your engine running cooler as it reduces friction and your engine is designed to run at a temperature of around 82 celsius, hotter than this then the tolerances between parts vary and power loss occurs.
If you want your engine to rev a bit easier then you could get your flywheel lightened, although it dosen't add power it lets the engine rev a little more freely and makes it more responsive. To give you an idea of how much you can take off them, my stock V8 flywheel was from memory around 32 lb and when lightened was 21 lb which is lighter than a standard 6 cylinder unit.
Even the pressure in your tyres can contribute to more economy. When I travel I usually run a higher pressure in my tyres as this helps in 2 ways. First it gives better handling as the more pressure in your tyres the firmer the ride but dont over do it, around 36-38 psi is usually perfect compared with around town I run 26-28 psi as this gives a more comfortable and softer ride.
5-Speed Toyota Box: Most people refer to the Toyota Celica box when dropping a 5-speed into ther Holden which is ok but the Supra box has taller ratios which suits the your six or eight cylinder Holden and is just as strong! Remember when buying your adaptor bellhousing that there are two types, a push clutch(early models) and a pull clutch like on Commodores!
V8 Manual: Having trouble finding a clutch fork for your 253 or 308 V8?
I did and used an early Toyota Corona 12R clutch fork with minor grinding and presto ( very easy to do). You could even do this with a file it is that simple. Beware if you are doing an engine transplant that you check your sump for clearance. If your engine is set further back it improves handling and braking. Most crossmembers are made to accept manual and auto boxes but you may have to chang things like speedo, centre consoles and driveshaft.
Better brakes VB-VL: A good update for VB-VL 6cyl, are the front brakes from a VNSS, I bought the 298mm and vented calliper setup for $200 from a local wrecker, It was amazing the difference they made. (thanks Andrew, see Parking Lot).
Rust areas: Rust attacks all cars unless they are made from aluminium or fibre! The places that are most vulnerable to rust are the places where dirt buildup happens and where normal washing doesn't remove these deposits. Some of the places are as follows
Bottom corners of doors.Some model Holdens rust in certain areas such as HK/HT/HG utes are bad for chassis rust just behind the cab. EH Holdens are bad in the front guards where the seam is.
Metal Gear drives: This was sent into me and I hope it may help if you ever have a similar problem!
But what made the car go like shit was when we put some gear drives into it, it went REALLY bad, after checking everything else 50 million times, recoing the carbie, new power valves and all sorts, it just didn't want to start and when it did, it would stutter, flood, pop through the air filter (we assumed too much gas jumping into manifold and spark setting it off) and when it did go right as soon as we put load on the engine it would pop a big flame out the carbie and die (POP without fail) we figured out the problem and that was that our cam was not dialed in properly. We also figured out that it was REALLY hard to dial it in too (Backyard mechanics eh?) our gear drives had a big hole in it for the locating pin, but the pin was small, and we first thought to put it in the centre. After buying about 5 sets of gaskets and a proper steel degree wheel, and a different set of instructions, we got it right AND NOW IT KICKS ASS.
One thing we learned is that there is an allowance of around 4 degrees each way from the cam centreline in which the powerband slightly shifts from more bottom end power to more top end power (it was a while ago so I cant remember which way, our cam had a 106 degree centreline and our cam is dialed in at 109 degrees, the 3 degrees we have is for the bottom end) but the motor still revs to 6500 (its not my motor so he can rev it to what he wants) with good power all round, takes off like a rocket, really responsive.
Tunnel Ram: Thanks Andrew.
Tunnel Rams, due to the design of the tunnel ram manifold, the HEI large Distributor cap will not fit, the way to get around it is to use a smallcap from the early points dizzy, or from the newer VN Style Dizzy, and use the Rotor (Bosch P/N GB786) this rotor is the right size for the dizzy cap, and has the same size bore as the dizzy shaft.
Fuel Economy: I am recieving alot of emails about economy so I have decided to write this little piece on achieving better economy. First of all you need your engine in a good state of tune, this can be overlooked with modern engines because they are so foregiving they can be out of tune quite a bit with out sounding 'rough'. These are the main items that concern economy.
Airfilter: Always keep your air cleaner clean and free from dirt build-up, replace regularly depending on the conditions that you drive in. The more dust then the more often you need to replace the air cleaner. anywhere from 5,000 kms to 20,000 kms
Head: To get the best economy gains then your heads need to be be allowed to breath just like Brocky did with the early Brockodores. Yella Terra head improved heads will deliver vast improvements in economy, I can attest to this as I picked up 3 seconds in the 400m and a third less fuel consumption on a 6 cylinder Commodore.
Exhaust: Second to the head for economy using extractors also doubles for power with gains of around 10% - 15% of both on early cars and a bit less on later cars but you must make sure that there is no restrictions in the entire exhaust. DON'T oversize the exhaust as you will loose torque and loose economy, the exhaust should reflect on the performance of the engine and larger diameter can raise horsepower but it can drop torque while too small will restrict horsepower and strangle the engine.
Tyres: Inflate the tyres harder for trips and this can increase the economy up to 8% in some cases and it doubles to give better and more direct handling (34psi - 38psi).
Oil: This again can increase both economy and power as less friction inside the engine equates to more of both. Like the air filter you should change oil regularly and depends on your driving to the frequency. Always use good quality oil as this can make a difference to the life of your engine, heat produced, friction, longevity of oil life, power and your economy. I change my oil every 5,000 km and my filter every 10,000 km
Oil filter: This is really covered above and should be kept to without exception as the extra expense of good oil is worth it in the long run. When ever I buy a car this is something I always change within the first 2 weeks for my own peace of mind.
Windows: Yes the hot day and driving with the window or windows down can increase fuel consumption considerably, espeacialy if driven at pace.
Air Conditioner: I know it's obvious but I had to include this as I know myself on a hot day I just have to turn it on but now cars use the same unit for producing heat on a cold morning for defrosting the windscreen and thawing the bones.
Sunroof: The sunroof is just like the windows I already mentioned.
Performance from the early engines: I will add to this I hope as I get more time and get time to think of what should be here. Apart from some the normal things people do there are some not so well known things that should be done to add that extra peace of mind or to gain that extra little bit of grunt. This is a few of those.
Line Drilling the Crank: The Holden crank has only one oil outlet per bearing which in performance situations is not enough so this is good idea which helps keep things cooler and reduces friction which increases the life expectancy.
High Volume Oil Pump: This is needed in particular if you do the above and not to be confused with people saying High Pressure oil pump. It does what it says!
Porting the Head: The older heads were rather badly made, not as bad as some other makes but still not at all as good as they could be for real power. With the cast covers for the head bolts running through the inlet and exhaust tunnels these were so restrictive and are the first things that need to be removed. After they have been removed then you need to insert sleeves which weren't in the very early XU1 heads but it was found that under the extremes of heat could cause the heads to crack. Valve sizes should be increased and some mild porting needs to be done to remove the sharp shoulders and to make for a smoother entry and exit for the gases, too much or not enough is a problem. Think of it like blowing out a candle from half a metre away, wide mouth wont reach small mouth hasn't enough power and when you have it right if you put a finger in the way it obstructs. There are many experts who have been doing this for years and the flow bench is helpful here as it can meter the slightest difference. Remember that these heads do have limitations (eg. non crossflow head), it is near impossible to achieve more than 315 bhp from a red motor that is normally aspirated.
Combustion Chamber: The combustion chamber is an important area which so many people miss when talking about power gains. Some early heads in the 6 cylinder Holdens had badly shaped combustion chambers like the 179 for example and once again an expert could help here. Shiny combustion area improves performance! Don't let your engine get fouled by carbon build up as it robs power.
Extractors: These are a must but you also must make sure that the entire exhaust has a free flowing nature as it is a waste of time adding extractors if you have half a dozen roughly and mis-sized pieces of pipe under your car. Never oversize the exhaust as this will loose you some low down grunt which is needed for quick take-off. So many people talk about there 2 1/2 inch system which actually produces less power than a 2 inch system on there car, every car is different and if you have a say a mild head, extractors and a larger carb on a 202 then you don't need over 2 inch in fact probably 1 7/8 inch - 1 3/4 inch would probably work better.
Dyno Tune: I believe this is the best for any performance car as the car can be tuned for every engine speed but it is hard on engines espeacially if they are getting worn or old. I can still remember the shock of a guy at Aussie Tune in Sydney when I took my daily driven 186 Torana into him which could put out 225 horsepower to the wheels, this was more than his stroked race car. Ahh those were the fun days of driving down the motorway to Penrith at 138 mph and the engine singing at 6500 rpm. By the way it could quarter in under 13 seconds and the Ford club stopped racing it as it was humiliating there little 351's.
Opel 4 and Starfire: The difference between these engines is easy to tell as the the Opel has the carb and exhaust on the drivers side and the Starfire has them on the passenger side. The Starfire was in fact a 6 cylinder with 2 cylinders removed!
Wind Noise: This can be a real pain but it is easy to fix sometimes as shown below. The window guides can slip down on older cars and create a huge noise when travelling at open road speeds! Wind down the window, pull out the window rubber then as you wind the window up pull the rubber up at the same time. Simple eh!
Changing oil: Fill the oil filter before installing. This is often overlooked and can save your engine life as if you don't spike the oil filter it could cause bearing damage. Good oil should always be used such as my two favourites Valvoline and Penzoil and make sure they are the more expensive synthetic or at least semi-synthetic which have better qualities than the el-cheapo oils.
1) Run engine untill warm, turn off engine.
2) Slip large enough catcher under car and undo sump plug.
3) Drain for about 5 minutes and remove oil filter.
4) Replace sump plug.
5) Pour oil into filter - wait for it to settle and repeat another 2 times.
6) Smear a little oil on the rubber ring on the filter - helps seal it.
7) Quickly screw filter on until it touches the seal.
8) Tighten only to recommended specs - 1/2 to 3/4 turn - DON'T OVER TIGHTEN.
9) Replace the oil with about as much as you took out - wait for it to settle and chack levels.
10) Run engine at idle only - when oil pressure has returned check the level again.
11) Fill out the sticker with date and mileage and put on inside of windscreen.
I change my oil every 5,000 kms and my filter and oil every 10,000 kms, I also change both when I buy a car as this way I know for myself when it has been done.