project sipster faster


Project Sipster Part 6

Power to the Peeps

by Dave Coleman
Ok, Power to the Peeps was my original title, but it got changed to something more meaningful, more immediately understandable, and slightly less clever before it was originally published. This story is, for the most part, my original draft, with nothing edited for clarity, logic or truth. Much better that way, if you ask me.
Somewhere in the middle of the LA/Orange Country sprawl there's a forgettable little suburb called Westminster, and in the middle of that burg is a barely noticeable little repair shop called MD Automotive. To the untrained eye, it's a perfectly innocuous place to get your brakes done, but to those in the know, this is a performance mecca. The shop's affable owner, Mark DiBella, has worked on everything from your mom's Camry to Group-B supercars, and yet his willingness to hang out with guys like us means every automotive publication in Southern California has him on speed dial.
Project Sipster MD Automotive
When we drop in to use his dyno and camp out for our week-long Diesel tuning adventure, we have to move an NSX, a Skyline GT-R and a 350-hp supercharged, Honda-powered Lotus Exige out of our way just to get to the dyno. We already know the Sipster's old engine made 33 hp and 41 lb-ft of torque and struggled to drag the Sipster to 60 mph in 22 seconds. And we know the new TDI engine we installed 2000 miles ago at CWS Tuning knocked that down to 9.8 seconds. After a few yanks on the dyno, we learn that performance came from our new output of 98 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. 
Tripling our horsepower ain't bad for a week's work, but we've got that 0-60 in 7 seconds goal breathing down our neck. Time to turn the screws.

When Cam Waugh swapped out our simple, mechanically-injected Diesel for our fantastically complex, computer-controlled turbo Diesel, he opened up a world of opportunities for us. The computer controls every relevant tuning parameter on the engine (boost pressure, injection quantity and injection timing for example) and it can be re-programmed right through the diagnostic port. Better yet, we don't have to know what to do with any of these parameters, we just have to be smart enough to handle an e-mail account.

Project Sipster MD Automotive

Two weeks ago, in preparation for this adventure, we purchased a box from Bora Parts called the Flashzilla. Now, magically, when we want more power, we just call Mark Malone, the British Columbia-based owner of Diesel Inside, and he e-mails us a file that we can upload to the Flashzilla. Then we plug Flashzilla into the car's diagnostic port and wait a few seconds while the computers talk to each other. 
Supposedly, Malone's standard stage-1 tune for our engine is good for 20 more horsepower and a noticeable improvement in fuel economy. That's right, one e-mail and you get both power and fuel economy. We've been around long enough to know when something sounds too good good to be true…
Amazingly, this one isn't. Minutes after recording 98 horses, we e-mail the Sipster and it immediately spins the dyno to the tune of 120 hp and a shocking 239 lb-ft of torque. Two hundred thirty-nine! Flabbergasted, we head out to test the fuel economy claim. 
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011 9:41 PM
240 ft/tq ??? Damn, that's a lot of torque for that little bucket ! Awesome.
Thursday, January 27, 2011 4:11 AM
Was there so much torque that it twisted the chassis off the line?

/FF quote :[]
Thursday, January 27, 2011 7:16 AM
So much win.

I love this build-up series. But what's up with the cheesy "2 Fast, 2 Furious" body kit in the last picture? (Okay, I know it's more aero-dynamic, but good-Gawd man!)
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Thursday, January 27, 2011 7:16 AM
Entertaining and grassroots as usual Dave!
yo vanilla
yo vanillalink
Thursday, January 27, 2011 7:53 AM
so what'd she run at palmdale? 9 seconds flat? :P

still love this series. i think i like it even more because i like vw's but i know you guys don't!
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Thursday, January 27, 2011 7:54 AM

As with all high-end productions, this one was filmed slightly out of sequence, so you may see some sneak previews like that bumper if you look carefully. That body kit is the same one you've seen stuffed in the inside of the car on the pictures of the car cruising across Canada. Its really just a stock Golf bumper and some factory Cabriolet parts. More aero details will finally be revealed in an upcoming installment. Trust me, they aren't pretty...
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Thursday, January 27, 2011 7:59 AM
Dude, the first picture is pretty old. That's my BNR32 GTR in the background and it hasn't been at Mark's for a couple years. I need to bring it back because the A/C is no longer working. The freon's gone.

So what are the ultimate goals for project sipster? 6.0 second 0-60 and 330 ft-lbs?!?
Thursday, January 27, 2011 8:13 AM
Isn't that Jay Chen's NSX project from the last few issues of SCC?

Not to hate, but why on earth is that ugly old Honda 4 hole wheel on Sipster?
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Thursday, January 27, 2011 8:24 AM
1: yes
2: It's very aerodynamic. You ever seen a pretty 70 mpg car before?
Thursday, January 27, 2011 6:58 PM
Dave, RE #2:


Thursday, January 27, 2011 10:36 PM
Dave, if you're open to ideas as how to make your little Rabbit a bit more fuel efficent. I may suggest you removing the passenger windshield wiper (the driver's all you need when it rains). I know it's not much, but every little bit helps. remove the rear bench and all the insulation; and maybe even the front bumper; get rid of it....and keep those ugly Honda wheels on....lol
yo vanilla
yo vanillalink
Friday, January 28, 2011 3:03 AM
That looks like an OEM bumper to me, though from a 90.5-92 mk2
Monday, January 31, 2011 10:06 AM
BTW, don't forget that another opposite of gasoline engines is that more fuel = higher EGTs, especially if more fuel came from longer injection events.
Monday, February 07, 2011 7:01 AM

As far as improving aerodynamics - You might want to consider a "Kamm Back" extension. It drastically improves the aerodynamics of hatchbacks in particular. Check out this link for more info and a how-to:


Another trick you might want to try is covering up the rear wheel wells to be flat with the body line.

I've owned both a 1985 Golf Diesel and now I own a 2002 Jetta TDI - I can really appreciate this project! I've even had my shifter break on my old Golf and repaired it with a zip tie!!!!!!!!!
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