Stalls – July ’89

Stalls – July ’89

by | Jul 26, 1989

An Open Letter to the New Jersey Chapter

It has recently been brought to my attention that Vic Lucariello is selling copies of articles I have written, for fifty cents apiece. I thought you should know that I will sell you limited editions  of  the  same  articles  for  only $1.50. Only by purchasing copies of these writings from the original manu­facturer can you be guaranteed the same level of quality and engineering that went into the article in the first place. Furthermore, I guarantee the article will be free from defects in materials and workmanship for six months (typesetting errors excepted). As a further service I carry a complete inventory of parts, so if some of your article is damaged you will not have to buy a whole new one. Does Vic Lucariello offer any of this? By now you should appreciate that these gray marketeers of articles don’t deserve your business, and I look forward to keep­ ing all of it for myself. Or else.

I have also been told that my name is being used in conjunction with the unauthorized resale of my articles. My crackerjack attorneys, Rakus,  Over & Goode, have instructed me to tell you that you cannot use combinations which include my name. Ifyou break it up it’s ok, such as “by Thomas B. Na St”, but otherwise we’ll have to break your bank account, if we can’t find your kneecaps first. Living in New Jersey, I’m sure you understand.

One last thing. The “Roundel” is threatening to reprint my more recent “Buying a 2002” article, so you proba­ bly don’t have to send me the $1.50 (or support those cost-cutting scoundrels which seem to breed in the vicinity of Peapack) . Instead, spend a quarter protesting the Roundel’s refusal to give its contributors’ the smallest honorarium, like a year’s subscription. How cheap can you get? Where do those guys spend your dues, anyway?

Thanks for listening, and don’t forget to write.

Thomas  B. Nast Columnist & Gadfly
Puget Sound Chapter ACA

The Unspoken Truth

K-jetronic is no substitutefor a car­buretor. It’s about time that somebody said it: K-jetronic sucks. I have driven countless cars with this injection system, and every one of them feels like it has  a  rubber  band  between  the  go pedal and the motor. Push the pedal down, it’s like  ringing  down  to  the engine room’s narcoleptic operator for more power; release the pedal, and the car just  coasts, the fuel trickling into the cylinders obliviating most of the otherwise-available compression braking. This does about as much for the joy  of driving as does an automatic transmission, and for the same reasons. There are many good reasons for the

K-jetronic’s existence. The most com­ pelling reason was the two barrel Solex carburetor on the late 2002s. The nic­ est thing to be said for these is that their bolt pattern is the same as Web­ er’s 32/ 36 DGV. The K-jetronic is a vast improvement over the Solex (just as the triangular wheel was a vast improvement over the square wheel, eliminating one bump per revolution). Other positive points: The K-jetronic is inexpensive, as Bosch fuel systems go. It is durable, at least durable enough to get through the 50,000 mile emissions warrant y with minimal claims. It is simple, rarely stranding the motorist (the “tronic” in a K­ jetronic was, for many years, a com­ plete misnomer) . It is simple because it is mechanical , which also meant Mer­ cedes would use it (a brief, bitter expe­rience with early Borsh electronic in­ jection soured Mercedes on the tech­ nology for about two decades). And it can hold emissions to pretty close tol­erances, which was why it was adopted by so many carmakers in the first place.

Unfortunately, its approach to emis­sions control is what makes it so unresponsive. When you open the throttle there is no rush of air and fuel like a carburetor gives you (thanks to an accelerator pump augmenting the rapidly opened butterfly). Rather, K­ jetronic meters in a more closely con­ trolled mixture, taking a few seconds to catch up to the changed demands. And when closing the throttle, it allows the motor to overrun as this produces far fewer pollutants than simply closing the throttle, which produces an emissions spike. (The spike was elimi­ nated on carbureted cars with a dash­ pot, which was usually the first control the owner removed .)

A properly tuned L-jetronic system is far more carb-like in performance. Because switches are placed on the throttle plate shaft, the injectors can be told to squirt in more fuel the instant the plate is shoved open. And overrun is eliminated by turning off all fuel flow during idle-condition deceleration , until idle engine speed is reached. The penalty is higher cost and higher con­ sumption, though the latter may be due to a more willing right foot.

BMW no longer uses K-jetronic, and its only appearance was on the 320i model. As these cars age and get overhauled, more and more of them hit the streets with carburetors.  It is ironic that the 320i engine performs best when backdated to 2002 configu­ration.  I interpret  BMW’s  abandon­ment of the K-jetronic as tacit agree­ment with my criticisms (Porsche has abandoned it also), and question why Audi, Volvo, Mercedes and other “pre­mium” manufacturers continue to use it. It’s fine in an appliance, but has no place in an automobile meant to be driven.

Well, never having seen a word of criticism in the automotive press about this efficient, sturdy and deathly bor­ing injection system, I have remedied the omission


This article was originally published in the July 1989 edition of Zundfolge