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Ultimate Streetcar Challenge: The Dyno

This year we had four all-wheel-drive cars, none of which could be easily converted to two-wheel drive for the dyno.

Dave Coleman
Feb 5, 2003 SHARE

Instead of changing cars, we changed dynos, camping out on HKS USA's all-wheel-drive Dynojet.

Its dyno is just as ruthless as ours.

All the USCC tests are ruthless, but the dyno, it seems, really has it out for some people. It's not the dyno's fault. Horsepower claims come with a bigger BS factor than any other, but bragging in the dyno room isn't wise. Case in point: Joe Privitier came to the party claiming 625 hp from his 3000GT. The dyno said 301. Ouch. Luckily, we scored on both peak power and power delivery, and the strong midrange torque of the Mitsubishi's twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 scored 33 valuable power delivery points. Despite having the lowest peak power, the 3000GT left the dyno room ahead of the MR2, 510, WRX, Type R and Laminar Viking.

All-wheel-drive Dynojets put a single roller under each wheel, leading to a somewhat precarious dyno experience. Imagine a 527-hp circus elephant balanced on a ball. It takes a lot of straps to stabilize all-wheel-drive cars. The Skyline was a particular challenge.

Equipped with an HKS torque split controller, the Motorex crew figured directing all the torque to the rear would reduce driveline loss and make a bigger number. But the R33 can only go about 90 percent rear biased, because the multi-plate clutch that sends power to the front wheels has enough pre-load to drag even when the computer isn't asking for torque. And the rollers on all-wheel-drive Dynojets aren't connected, so the rear wheels quickly outran the fronts. This overheated the clutch pack, causing it to suddenly grab, locking the front and rear wheels together, and lurching the car right off the rollers. This happened three times before we figured out it wasn't a fluke. Finally, nervously, with the stock Nissan torque split routine running unhindered, the Skyline ripped off an impressive 509-hp pull.

Dan Cokic has his own all-wheel-drive Dynojet back at Pruven Performance, so he knew exactly what to expect. In fact, we just stepped back and watched as he pulled onto the dyno, strapped it down, and drove the car himself. The surge of torque was so violent, the rear straps stretched several inches, nearly pulling the car off the rollers at full throttle and sending more than one spectator running for the door. Each car was allowed two pulls. The Eclipse only needed one. Five hundred twenty-seven horsepower. Wow.Mani Jayasinghe arrived promising to rule the dyno, and the two big bottles in his trunk suggested he would. The first pull was made without nitrous, just in case. It was a smooth, uneventful pull. Then he switched the bottles on. Afraid the extra power would overwhelm the tires, we piled a couple of monkeys in the trunk. A crowd gathered. Breath was held. Hammer down. The turbo spooled like before, the Supra squatted, and Mani pushed the button. The exhaust note changed subtly, then got rough and gravelly. Black smoke poured from the exhaust. There was confusion. Mani looked a little pale, but John Concialdi quickly pointed to a dislodged nitrous feed line. One cylinder lost nitrous, but still had fuel. No damage done. Mani ruled the dyno, but he did it on his first pull. Six hundred nineteen horsepower.

Peak Power
RANKCARPeakPowerScorePEANUT GALLERY
1Toyota Supra619100The nitrous was off
2Dodge Viper54175 I can't hear the turbos
3Mitsu Eclipse52771Nearly ripped the dyno straps
4Nissan Skyline50965Jumped off the dyno 3 times
5Acura Type R38426He swears that noise isn't rod knock
6Laminar SRX-736721And it only weighs 1700 pounds
7Datsun 51033912Smoked the tires! (rubbing on the fenders)
8Subaru WRX3082Running on 3 1/2 cylinders
9Toyota MR23082It's a 1.9-liter Corolla engine, what do you expect?
10Mitsu 3000GT3010That'll teach you to brag
Power Delivery
RANKCARPOINTSPEANUT GALLERY
1Toyota Supra100Lots of power, not too much lag
2Dodge Viper89No lag, but you need revs for a high score
3Mitsu Eclipse76Who says small engines are peaky?
4Nissan Skyline55Lag actually lost a few points here
5Mitsu 3000GT33What a comeback
6Subaru WRX16Subarus sound like Harleys
7Toyota MR210Better than a single-turbo rotary
8Laminar SRX-78Single-turbo rotary
9Datsun 5105Ditto
10Acura Type R0That's a big turbo, mister

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By Dave Coleman
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