Accelerated Breathing or Product Evolution

You know the feeling when you have a cold and your nose is all plugged and it’s a doggone burden to even breathe? Well, I imagine that is kinda how your vehicle must feel day after day with the stock intake and exhaust system that it was born with. It doesn’t stop there, because if it’s turbocharged, it just might have a terribly restrictive intercooler to boot. With all of the backup in airflow, it’s a wonder your vehicle even moves, and with you behind the wheel demanding more performance to move around that Sunday driver in front of you, the situation is only exasperated. It’s no wonder why the mileage is not really quite what that window sticker said your ride was supposed to get.

Many moons ago, when I worked in the Installation department here at Banks, folks would often ask what we do to get more power and economy out of a vehicle. I simply explained it like this: You have a fantastic athlete under the hood, that being the engine, which is designed and bred to be a winner. The factory tells that athlete that he has to wear an extra heavy backpack and carry arm and leg weights. Next, they tell him to run a marathon, but he has to run the race with a piece of tape over his mouth and an index finger up one nostril. What do you think will be the outcome of the race for the poor fellow under these conditions?

I told customers that while we could not do anything about the added weight, we could effectively remove the tape from this athlete’s mouth and tell him to stop picking his nose — just breathe as God intended him to do. Some people asked whether the problem could be solved with a chip? Yeah, that’s like taking that same athlete with the same problems as previously described and telling him that he needs to drink five or more pots of coffee and a six pack of Monster drinks and then run the race. Forget that it’s a machine for a second and think about what that would do to a person. It’s worse-case scenario for motorhomes. There, you put a house on an engine that was designed for a van or truck, fill it up with all your stuff, and hook a boat or car to it. Whew…

We’ve been taking a systems approach here at Banks for forever and a day. Automotive performance starts with the engine’s ability to inhale and exhale unlabored, and even better yet when it’s done with cooler, dense air. Only after you’ve taken care of that part of the equation can you add tuning enhancements. This way, the attributes of the tune can be fully realized, liberating the athlete under the hood. An unexpected and added bonus to a less asthmatic vehicle is better fuel mileage, which in today’s world is on the top of everyone’s list.

This past weekend, we took those same “suck it in/spit it out” principles and applied them to a rather different kind of vehicle for Banks: a Mitsubishi Evolution. Being that it was a “skunkworks” project, why not do something besides a diesel truck? We’re gearheads, and we are supposed to color outside the lines.

The Evolution is a perfect example of a highly tuned, factory-engineered rocket on wheels that is already way too fast for its own good, but could we do more? We started by replacing the stock exhaust system with a CAT-back three-inch mandrel-bent system that used a straight-through muffler. Next, we removed the factory intercooler and the turbo compressor outlet pipe. We replaced the EXTREMELY restrictive stock cooler with a thicker core that incorporated larger air tubes and finished it off with a larger diameter compressor outlet pipe that had fewer bends. We dropped in a free-flowing air filter, shut the hood, and then started ‘er up. The result: low and midrange power that sucker punches you into the rear seat with little effort.

Upgraded intercooler, left, and the stock version
Beefy intercooler and compressor outlet on Mitsubishi Evolution
Thin black strips on stock intercooler — talk about restricted airflow!

Ease on the throttle and provide a little boost, and in a blur you are propelled to redline. With each shift, you’re already in the sweet spot of the next gear. And all of this was done by just improving the way the car breathes; no tune…yet. That’s the next step. And what did the owner think? He raves that it’s a different car now and much more fun to drive. For an Evo, that’s saying a lot.

So there you have it, Banks principles applied to yet another car (and a different than usual one for us). Could this be a new product area? No…maybe…yes…maybe…

Check out the following articles on maximizing airflow for improved power:

Airflow — The Secret to Making Power

How Air Flows

Why Big Density Makes a Big Difference

First Air, Then Fuel

Airflow Equals Fuel Economy

Cool Air Equals Power

Making Your Motorhome Better Than New

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