After the first big step comes the second big leap. Big leap? Yep, a massive leap of faith in trying to find the right engine tuner and having faith in trusting they will do the right thing by you and your car.
Finding the right tuner for you and your ECU of choice is like treading a mine field while being blind folded and people bombarding you with directions. There are some great tuners and workshops out there and some not so good ones.
A lot of tuners often times only have experience with one type of engine or ECU and these days it’s usually a turbocharged engine as well. Not many tuners out there have good experiance with NA tuning or high compression engines. Certainly there are a couple of workshops that deal with Honda’s but not many of them do much in the way of engine tuning or tune it all for VTEC.
I looked around for a workshop that had tuning experience with NA cars, had a good reputation and were familiar with my ECU of choice (which was practically everyone, seeing as I have an Autronic). This was a very difficult search as no matter what workshop I was really considering had heard about a number of unhappy customers previously (some of them AE86 people too no less)
But I did eventually find one. I went with a work mate one afternoon to pick up his then R33 GTS-T (he has since sold it) from UNIGROUP engineering. I had a brief chat to resident tuner Yavuz at the time and asked his opinion on which ECU I should get as I hadn’t really made up my mind yet. At the time I was seriously considering a Haltech E8 or an Adaptronic. Yavuz suggested instead of a Haltech I spend the extra couple of dollars and get an Autronic instead. Again after much supporting research, thats what I ending up with.
When it came time to tune the car there was only once place I had on my mind, UNIGROUP. When I booked the car in I spoke to Yavuz at length regarding what I wanted and what I was going to do with the car. When I told some of my mates where the car was going to get tuned many of them had used UNIGROUP before and spoke very highly of them.
When I turned up I again went through all the details, showed Yavuz what I had and what I wanted. He listened to me, looked around the car then advised me on what is the best course of action to get the best results with what I had so far.
He didnt disappoint either, everything was working perfectly when I picked up the car. So after taking a leap of faith I got exactly what I wanted.
The car is ready to go. Its got a nice tune on it, nothing too fancy and spun the rollers up to a nice 86rwkw. Now this may not sound like much, but a mild Silvertop 20-valve and OEM Blacktop 20-valve make almost the exactly the same power figure, and they have quads and more aggresive cams than a standard smallport with stock intake!
The cams as I found out, are really the main bottle neck in the head. Being only 232-degrees in duration they really weren’t helping with the power production. They would keep making power up until about 6500rpm then it would start to taper off, which after talking to some mates and looking around the internet I found that is most common with standard smallport cams.
So how does it go? Well I can tell you it goes damn hard! I went for spirited drive the night I got the car back, and there was power everywhere! Previously I would go into certain corners in third gear to keep the revs up, this time I was keeping it in fourth gear as there was so much more torque and power available, and there was no slow down or having to kick back down a gear on corner exit.
Second and third gear (when used) were incredible! There was so much pull at almost any RPM! So much so that I chased a good mate in his EVO 8 MR up hill (who is no slouch behind the wheel either) and sat up his trumpet the whole time. I dont know who was more suprised, me or him!
So a lot of potential had been unlock with the car and there was still more to come! I am yet to hit the track with the car how it is, and I should be doing so very soon. I am keen to see how much it has changed since I was last at the track and see if I can improve what I had done previously.
So stay tuned for part 3 where all the engine work will have been completed..
Photos courtesy of respective owners. photos are merely a representation of the above described events, some of these events may or may not have happened or even been performed by me…. and I’m sure if they did it was done in a controlled environment on a private road…. Constable.