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TECHNOLOGY & TIMES HAVE CHANGED FOR THE BETTER

By John Novak

These days everything is going digital. 28 years ago when I started to write the Tech-Notes Column for CRUZIN' Magazine, my first article was on carburetors! With all of my electronics background and knowledge of mechanical and electronic fuel injection, one would think this is where my heart is; still nothing has the personality of a carbureted engine. That imperfect balance between cylinders, the lag when the throttle slams open, and the over rich and lean conditions is what gives every performance engine that sharp edge between ripping the hood off with an explosion of power, or falling flat on its face. Yes the new technology has all the advantages of power, reliability and fuel economy, but lacks the thrill of a living beast that wants to kill you when you are not looking.

Technology has brought us more power than we ever thought possible on pump gas, but with that has stripped off the illusion of magic and given us vanilla reliability. Given the choice of an old school high lift, long duration solid lifter cam in an over carbureted Chevy 302 that doesn't idle well under 1,200 RPM and can't get out of its own shadow until the engine's revving at well over 3,000 RPM - you know, the kind of engine that loves to be revved into the Twilight Zone where the valves jump out and dance on the hood before you shift, or a sequentially mass air flow computer controlled engine with twice the torque that runs with the effi ciency of a Swiss watch. I will choose the monster every time. Today the new cars all look alike, in most cases you could swap logos and no one would notice the difference. Are all of the designers working in the same dimly lit room? I also really miss the days of walking into a parts house or speed shop where they knew your name and as much about your project as you did. With that said, the quality of components today is light years ahead of what we had even ten years ago. Pistons out of the box are within 1/10 of a gram of each other. Connecting rods are works of art. The new gauges made to look "Vintage" actually work and are accurate! Everything you could think of is available off the shelf, or should I say over the internet. The quality and selection brought to us over the internet is beyond what any one local supplier could ever stock. So what I'm getting at here is that we really have the best of both worlds to choose from today. Those of us wanting to run a carburetor can order up a new carb that is infinitely better than those old porous and shifted OEM castings we were trying to dial-in years ago. The older "Performance" carbs were bigger but, just as poorly cast and trying to match two of them for a tunnel ram was enough brain damage to make you forget your own name. On the other hand, everything including the custom wiring harnesses are available to run electronic fuel injection in just about anything you can think of, and those new performance carburetors are amazing right out of the box.

Yes, the technology and times have changed, and I would say for the better! Just as the parts world has changed, so has the information that we receive. Long gone are the volumes of books on the shelf loaded with dated information within. Someone instead has posted a video on the internet showing you exactly what you want to do. Print media is also fading away, as we all have smart phones and tablets to search out what we want to know, when we want it. I too want to move more into the digital realm and provide longer articles with lots of photos on a more regular basis than the printed hard copy has allowed. Video product reviews would also allow the actual installation and performance to be experienced in more detail. Archiving articles and information becomes as easy as uploading the files to the web and linking the files to a searchable web page. Sharing information on a forum in real time is amazing. The ability to network and find others involved in the same projects can be the best resource of all.

Let's embrace the coming change, and use it to our advantage to recreate the past in better ways, or move forward into areas new to all of us. After all a "Hot Rodder" is all about Change! Wherever that takes us in the future...

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