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Performance Economics - Leading Edge

Evan Griffey
Apr 27, 2006
0605_turp_3z+leading_edge+editorial Photo 1/1   |   Performance Economics - Leading Edge

I came up with the above term at mile 4 of my 6-mile run and started typing before I stopped sweating. It has to do with bang-for-the-buck; not just in the selection of parts but in the selection of the platform, the epicenter of any project. We have been asked, "I have a 1994 Ford Escort GT. What's the best product I can buy for it?" Answer, "A 'For Sale' sign."

An obscure starting point is a pure curse because no matter what you do to a 1994 Ford Escort GT it's still a 1994 Ford Escort GT. A 1994 Civic EX Coupe can be found for $2,000 to $2,500; the same price range as an Escort GT but the Honda embodies exponentially more tuning potential.

Boost-on-a-budget in the plans? You may want to start with an early DSM. We came across a few '92-'93 GS-Ts (front-drive turbo models) in the $2,700 to $3,000 range and second gens could be had for around $3,500 to $4,000.

When choosing a platform it is good to know some of that model's quirks. For instance, early EVO VIII, clutch gremlins; early WRX, piston ring land failure in number three cylinder; BMW E36 M3, rear shock mount failure; classic Sentra SE-R, fifth gear pop-out syndrome; BMW 540i/740i, Nikasil blocks; early Acura NSX, snap-ring range transmissions and second-gen DSM 4G63, crankshaft walk just to name a few.

Knowing these things will help in the decision process. It's always key to pick the best possible candidate for the money. In most cases compromises will have to be made, but even these can be leveraged by knowing what your expectation level is for the car. If you plan to stick to BPUs (Basic Performance Upgrades), a solid engine is of prime importance. If you are going to push it and a performance rebuild is in the cards anyway, engine condition is of less importance, especially if you are mechanically inclined. Likewise, if you're into body work, a few dings won't put you off where the same dings would be deal-breakers for others.

An already modded car can be a double-edged sword, you get the mod at the selling price but, it could hurt you if it was executed poorly. Upgraded rims and tires are a great by-product but other, sketchier mods may be red flags. Remember all this during the test drive.

Even if you are looking at platforms in the $12,000 to $15,000 range these same rules of thought apply. The bottom line is to get the healthiest car you can for the money you have at hand. Once said car is in the garage you need to make informed decisions concerning its performance optimization. Performance economics impacts all aspects of the tuning experience and helping you in this endeavor has been Turbo magazine's mission statement for more than 20 years. Keep the faith.

Department of CorrectionsIn the January 2006 issue we ran coverage of the WRX vs. EVO Shootout sandwiched between features on the cars that had advanced to the finals-the Big Valley STi and the Dynoflash EVO. Unfortunately, we misrepresented the Shootout as an Englishtown Street Wars event sponsored by BFGoodrich. In fact, the Shootout was a stand-alone event held at E-Town the same weekend with title sponsor Exedy Racing Clutch stepping up with the purse money, $10,000 in hard cash. We try to support those who support our passion and we regret this oversight. I wanted to print this correction and give a call out to Bernie and the crew at Exedy.

TURBO@PRIMEDIA.COMSenior Vice PresidentJohn W. Cobb III

Executive Vice PresidentHoward C. Lim

EditorialEditorEvan Griffey -

Managing EditorCristi Millington -

Senior Technical EditorRobert Choo -

Copy editorBill Klein -

Editorial AssistantSharon Malm -

Contributing EditorsJohn PrescottMike KojimaAl MamoonRobert HallstromE.K. CozzeneHenry Z. DeKuyperKarl FunkeChris HarringtonPablo MazlumianJay Canter

Art Direction & DesignArt DirectorJoel Marasigan -

The International Automotive Group On The

Subscription ServicesE-mail to, or call 888/887-2654. For change of address, six weeks notice required. Send old as well as new address to TURBO & HIGH-TECH PERFORMANCE, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235.

By Evan Griffey
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