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Automania/Repair & Maintenance
AUTO QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR WEEK 51
by Bob Hagin
Q. We own a 1989 Hyundai Excel GL that we bought second-hand a few months ago because we got a good buy on it. Unfortunately it hasn't really lived up to our expectations and we've had to spend some money on making it right. One of the problems that we are now having to chase down is a steering wheel shimmy that is continuous at highway speeds. We've had the alignment checked, the old tires balanced, put on new tires and have checked the rims themselves to make sure that they aren't out-of-round. We've gone through two sets of front tires trying to cure the problem. Is there something that we haven't checked?
A. If everything else that you've covered checks out OK, there isn't much left except the steering system. The Capri of some years ago had the same problem and on the road, the cars would shimmy really hard and the only immediate remedy was to step on the brakes to straighten things out. The problem was in the mounting brackets of the rack-and-pinion steering. The rubber bushes would wear out and replacing them cured the problem.
Q. I own a 1987 Ford Bronco II with a five-speed transmission and a 2.9 liter V6 engine. It runs very well but I feel it suffers from a lack of power. I understand that a V6 engine is limited in its performance but what can I do to get more pep and mileage from my car? The car has 150,000 miles and I believe that the engine may have been rebuilt or very well maintained because of its relatively good condition. Please suggest some aftermarket products or inexpensive techniques to achieve my goal of a more powerful, smoother and more efficient engine.
A. It used to be axiom in street rodding that there's no substitute for cubic inches and cubic inches is what your Bronco lacks. The car weighs a lot (around 3300 pounds, as I recall) and the engine has a lot of miles on it. A complete rebuild would be a good place to start using modern speed equipment (camshaft, pistons, etc.) but you might well wind up with a vehicle that won't pass those restrictive California smog certification laws and tests. If you lived in another state, one that doesn't require engines to stay stock and "clean," you could get away with it but at 150,000 miles, it would be money ill-spent. If your Bronco is in good shape and you want more performance, clean it up, sell it and buy another (preferably V8 powered) SUV with more power.
Q. Some time ago your put a letter in your column from a fellow in Oregon that had found some sort of small sedan in a wrecking yard and had sent you a photo of it for identification. I requested a photocopy of the car and received it but even though I'm 87 years old and have been around cars all my life, I don't know what it was. You've never commented on it since and I've been wondering for a long time if you were ever able to figure out what it was and who had built it.
A. I must have gotten over 100 letters requesting copies of the photo of that car. At first I thought it was a mid-30s Datsun but several readers (including a committee from a British car club in Sacramento, CA) came to the conclusion that it was a 1937 Morris 8 sedan that acquired its left-hand drive by being delivered or modified in Canada. Several of them sent along corroborating photos out of automotive encyclopedias and I can only hope that some enthusiast rescued the little car before it was crushed. It's comforting to know that there is a cadre of auto historians out there who are willing to do that kind of research. Others who are curious as to what it looked like can get a photocopy by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to me and mark the outside of the letter with the words "Mystery Car."
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