HOT CHIPS

Powerchip of Melbourne. Powerchip was early into the market and has amassed a good depth of experience in both road and competition cars.

Proprietor Wayne Besanko is one of the movers and shakers of the industry and is always keen to have his products independently evaluated.

Part of his philosophy is testing the chips in competition. A high percentage of vehicles competing in Targa Tasmania and other Classic Rallies use Powerchip 'implants'. Powerchip supplies club-racers (Porsche, Ferrari, BMW etc) and production race cars (such as Chris Wiles' successful 1.8 TX3 Laser).

Some chip suppliers have distributors and dealers in many states, offering a drive-in drive-out service.

D.I.Y. CHIPS

Or you can do-it-yourself. DIY chips are arguably the way of the future. This concept has been developed by Powerchip of Melbourne, a company which now provides mail-order chips for most makes and models on the market.

The Powerchip philosophy goes beyond the concept of the against-the-stopwatch gains. Some of the advantages claimed are...

  • Increased rev limit
  • Smoother idle
  • Improved mid-range torque
  • Improved fuel economy
  • Pinging eliminated
  • Fuel change enabled - from Premium unleaded to unleaded or Super to Unleaded (older cars)
  • More throttle response in many situations
  • Faster getaway
  • Smoother shifting on autos
  • Increased top speed (by removing engine limiters)

Our job was to test the claims...

The Test

Australian Road & Track wrote the brief for this test concept. We conducted the

first scientific Chiptest in Australia - our 'Chips to Go' megatest in mid 1993 - now regarded as the benchmark for the industry.

The test program followed the same procedure. We selected a range of private cars. We used a stable test-ground for the performance testing - the unparalleled facility of Eastern Creek raceway in Sydney. We selected a range of test designed to prove whether the chips provided measurable gains. We conducted back-to-back tests.

We selected vehicles that covered a range of models, provided a variety of outcomes and represented popular market examples. From Holden (six and V8) to Porsche and BMW (including older models).

Previously, we undertook extensive dyno testing and also evaluated noise and emissions. Road testing covered city and country driveability and fuel consumption.

The technical testing of emissions outputs showed few significant changes. Even where cars run richer mixtures, they still fell well within legal limits. Cheekier exhaust notes failed to push the legislated Db limits.

However, dyno-charting proved there were useful gains in power and torque - particularly in the mid-range where most driving is done. Testing on a range of independent dynos showed clear gains throughout the power and torque curves in most cases. This tends to neutralize the arguments of knockers who claim chips provide small and 'peaky' gains over a narrow rev band.

And our driveability tests highlighted

LAP - CHIP: In the near future, it will be possible to program via lap-top in the car.

handy gains in smoothness from idle to getaway and gear shifting. During our acceleration tests, we were surprised by some of the outright performance gains provided by the Powerchip implants - surprised enough to re-run a couple of tests completely. In each case, the result achieved a second time around were completely consistent with the first.

The tests we used were selected to compare traditional acceleration standards as well as reflect everyday use - the in-gear intervals represent overtaking, hill climbing and short traffic busts.

Most of the cars employed had stage 11 kits, which combine the performance chip with a low cost air filter upgrade. Stage 111 kits insert a high performance exhaust system into the equation.

RIGHT: BREATHE-EASY: Filters improve breathing, and completements performance chips.

BELOW: Small but powerful. And 'invisible' to the bureaucrats.

AR&T SUMMER 1995 - 3

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