Just a Simple Wrench
by Ann & Jake Snyder
“Tuning for Speed and V8 Conversion”- how could we pass up a University Motors Technical Seminar with that title? We had previously taken a Tuning for Speed class and found it interesting and valuable. But with a Buick 215 taking up precious space just inside our garage door, the V8 aspect of the class was what really caught our attention. We were not disappointed.
The course was held Friday, February 21st through Sunday the 23rd. We got to Grand Rapids in our 73 GT just before midnight that Thursday, having each chosen to put in a full day at work and, as a result, experiencing “rush” hour traffic on our way through Chicago. But we and the other participants were all on time for the start of the seminar the following morning. We had previously attended sessions with several of the other participants- these “graduate” sessions have rather a “cult” following. John Twist seems to have accepted the responsibility of coming up with a new topic each year for his returning students. This year he added the expertise of Carl Heideman, who has written articles for Grassroots Motorsports on making your MG go faster, and Ted Lathrop, who has done some V8 conversions, including Bruce Wycoff’s white GT.
The first day of the course, John led us through properly tuning the car to avoid unnecessary power loss. He stressed the importance of consistency in your approach. When we met for dinner that evening at a local restaurant, we were seated, coincidentally, in an octagonal room. The second day, Carl discussed performance parts, some of which he has tested for their effectiveness using a chassis dynamometer. Kelvin Palmer has already written about conducting dyno pulls with his race car during a seminar that John and Carl conducted in September. And Carl frequently referred to Kelvin’s car as the most powerful that he has tested on the dyno. And on the final day of the course, Ted discussed V8 conversions, including gearboxes and suspension modifications. The final summing-up put modifications into an economic perspective- how much do you need to invest per hp. Interestingly, Carl’s first suggestion for getting more power from your car was the cheapest modification of all: simply to “Rev higher”.
So we enjoyed another winter getaway to Grand Rapids. We didn’t even have to drive through snow getting there or returning home. And we’re already wondering what John will dream up for us next year.