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Miscellaneous Tech Letters

Aug 20, 2002

Project Street Mini
In your first article, you indicate that 225/35/18s where mounted on TSW wheels. Have you experienced any rubbing problems? I am hoping to mount 225s on a 17" wheel. Any suggestions? What offset are the TSW's?

By the way great articles. It has been great to see that the mods that I have done to my S4 and plan on doing to my wife's Copper S have been featured on your project cars. Keep it up.

Dion Davi
'01 Imola S4, '03 BRG MCS

Dion, the TSW Revos on this particular car were built with a 40mm offset. Thus far we have noticed no rubbing problems using such a large wheel. If you do decide to mount 17-in wheels they will clear even more easily.Mounting 225mm wide tires won't be a problem as long s you go with a 7.5- or 8.0-in wheel width. Good luck with the car!


Fiat 2.0 Tweaks
I have a Brazilian car, made by Fiat, known as Marea turbo, which is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, five cylinders and 20 valves. The turbo system is a Garrett TB 28/10, and all system is controlled by a Bosch Motronic M 2.10.4, which has an Air Mass Sensor, limiting the air supply at 408 cfm. Every time that I go over this limit, the engine gets emergency and cuts the gas feed.

My question is how can I eliminate this Air Mass Sensor, such way that I can get more power and torque? I would appreciate any kind of suggestion you want to give me in order to improve my engine performance.
Sydney Zucchini

While we here in the States have not had the pleasure of tuning or tweaking Fiat's 2-liter turbocharged five-cylinder 20-valve engine, our friends over in England have had great fun with them in the last few years. Rather than eliminating your Air Mass Sensor, why not give it a thorough going over with the help of L&M International, a performance tuning company in England that specializes in these great engines?

Go to its Webpage at or write to L&M International Ltd., Unit A1, The Ebor Works, Chapel Lane, High Wycombe, HP12 4BS England; phone: 44-(0)1494/538-899; fax 44-(0)1494/539-470.--Genevieve Obert


Peugeot Fans Unite
It's always great to see letters from Peugeot owners in the U.S. automotive press. Although somewhat of a minority, the 300+ member Internet-based PCNA group is a great source of information exchange. Jaime Thomas' letter (ec, June 2000, pg 165) mentions two items I am familar with: parts availability and Peugeot project cars. I would like to direct him and all Peugeot fans to a few websites helpful in both those areas. I have established the following webpages:

Parts and more:
Mailing list info:

Peugeot Club, NA (PCNA):
My own project car:

Jim Lill
PCNA Founding Member


Che Bella Geek-o
Geez, I'm a long-time reader of european car (from the days of VW&Porsche) and absolutely love your magazine. But that "Che Bella" cover Ferrari (ec 02/01). Oh my God! What a geek-mobile! What an automotive abortion! What sacrilege! (Enzo Ferrari is doing about 7500 rpm in his grave!) It should have been titled "How to Turn a Ferrari into a Viper!" Aftermarket wheels, messing with brakes, geek seats, jumping lowrider stereo, stupid windshield decal--the only thing missing was a cover photo with an ugly chick with plastic boobs leaning over the hood in a G-string and european car would look just like "Hot Chicks and VWs" magazine! (And, of course, you'd have to use the word "sano" at least 20 times throughout the article describing each atrocity inflicted on the car to make it the geek-mobile it now is.) I'll bet that car is now in Pacoima, cruising around a Carl's Jr. lot with the bass vibrating the windows and hurting the ears of drivers across the street. If there was any justice, Ferrari would send a hit team from Maranello to slap around the owner and take back his keys! Ecccchhhhhh!

Otherwise, great magazine. Keep up the great work. And please don't do this ever again. I really don`t want to see a 911 lowrider or a 308 chopped into a pickup truck.
Lance Novak
Studio City,California


Headliner Woes, Part I
I have a 1988 Saab 900 turbo three-door in pristine condition, but the headliner is sagging and I want to correct it. Do you know of a company that will make a custom headliner of stiff plastic so it will never sag? I want really good work.
Quinn S. Kurz
Brooklyn, New York


Headliner Woes, Part II
Do you know where I can buy a solid ceiling liner for a MKII Volkswagen? I have a 1988 Jetta GLI and the ceiling liner has given way.
Guillermo Matos
Laurel, Maryland

To find solutions for restoration-related problems such as yours, we often turn to the pages of Hemmings Motor News, the ultimate classifieds. We were able to quickly find several companies offering headliners for Saabs, and one for Volkswagen. While vacuum-molded, rigid-plastic headliners are available for certain GM applications, we were unable to find them for European makes.

Calling one of the companies, we were told that the headliners droop because the foam used as padding between the cloth and the rigid support material decays, and that replacements typically last about the same length of time as the original before experiencing the problem again. We were also told that smoking in the car accelerates the problem.

We suspect there may be higher-quality foams available, though likely at higher cost, which would withstand the high temperature conditions of an automotive interior. You may find that you have to experiment to find a DIY solution. As usual, a web search engine returned many pages of results for "car headliner." For basic replacements, here are some companies we would try contacting:

Headliner Mart
4774 Sally Dr.
San Jose, CA 95124
(408) 978-5103

5475 Williamsburg Dr., Unit 8
Punta Gorda, FL 33982
(800) 343-4261
(941) 639-0437
Fax: (941) 639-0376

World Upholstery & Trim
(800) 222-9577
(805) 988-1848
Fax: (805) 278-7886

Hemmings Motor News
P.O. Box 100
Bennington, VT 05201
(800) 227-4373 ext. 550
(802) 442-3101 ext. 550
Fax: (802) 447-1561


Looking for a Cure for Sea Sickness
My question stems from Kevin Clemens "On the Line" editorial in the May 2001 issue of european car, titled "A Beater for all Seasons." Mr. Clemens states that a 1980's rwd Volvo can be fun with a bit of suspension tuning. My beater for all seasons is a 1989 Volvo 240GL (though I am still dreaming of a more cherished vehicle). Some of my passengers have become a bit sea sick as we roll around corners. Any thoughts or references for suspension tuning for these cars would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your assistance.
Mike McMullen
Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Those RWD Volvos can be made into pretty good handling car, witness the 242GT of that period. There are three letters you need to know: ipd. This small company in Oregon (800/444-6473; is filled with Volvo-crazed enthusiasts who have been helping others similarly afflicted make their Volvos go faster and perform better. At the very least you should look into upgrading front and rear anti-roll (sway) bars, and maybe going to uprated gas shocks from Bilstein, KYB or Tokiko.

If you drive your car everyday, we would avoid stiffer and lower springs, but urethane bushings will help keep things more accurate. Add a good set of performance tires (in 15- or maybe 16 in.) and you will have all the fun that a good handling car can bring, but still enjoy the living room like interior of your boxy old Volvo.


More Boost Please
I have been an avid reader of your publication since it was called VW & Porsche. I have owned two GTIs and an Alfa Spider. I recently purchased a Saab 9-3 with the 185-bhp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. I truly believe this car offers tremendous performance and value for the dollar. I have been following your articles on aftermarket chips for the Audi 1.8T very closely. I am not an engineer, but I understand my Saab 9-3's engine management processor is similar to the new Audi 1.8t's, where turbo boost, air-to-fuel ratio, etc. is controlled by the computer. Are there any aftermarket chips out there for Saab 9-3's which offer the type of performance increases similar to those of the Audi 1.8T? If so, who might be supplying them? My Saab dealer said there was an outfit in Canada which sells a chip that will boost performance to the 240-bhp range. Is this possible for a Saab with just a chip upgrade?
Newport, Rhode Island
P.S. I would love to see some performance articles on some Saabs!

Modern fuel injected engines use engine management systems that perform the same basic tasks: read inputs, make changes to fuel delivery and timing, then repeat. This is a simplistic view, but essentially correct. Your Saab operates the same way, with an added input for boost level. You mention a Canadian company; perhaps it's Accelerated Response Motoring in Missisauga, Ontario, Canada (416-636-8797; orders 888-767-7333). It offers a number of Saab upgrades, including an Abbott Racing Motorsports chip which reportedly delivers 35 to 65 bhp, depending on your engine. With that said, note that the U.K. chips and Canadian vehicles might not be compatible with your U.S.-spec car.



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