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Old 02-25-2020, 07:47 PM
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Auto Wear 'n Tear, via Ford vs Ferrari


In an early scene within Ford vs Ferrari, we're exposed to the notion that someone who owns a sports car is failing to maintain it properly due to driving it around like it's a standard-issue suburban vehicle, and that's not good for a sports car, you need to blast it around to keep it in shape.

Is that at all true?

My dad taught me that although some cars are built to better withstand being banged on, the process of slamming the accelerator down hard, yanking the chassis hard around corners, braking hard from high speed to get down to slower (or stopped) velocity, dropping to a lower gear and wrapping the engine to high RPMs to fly out onto the highway at 70+ mph, etc, that all that is invariably wear and tear on the vehicle. And that they aren't athletes, they don't built strength by putting them under duress.

Who has the right of it? Aside from the single limited acknowledged fact that an engine benefits from being driven long and hard enough to burn off carbon deposits and get the internal temp up to operating normal and remaining there long enough to get rid of various plaques and varnishes -- something you can do by driving calmly for a few hundred miles on the highway, btw -- is there any situation where a car benefits from being pushed to perform close to its limits?
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:00 PM
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I have no clue about the truth of this but I do have one thought that may simply expose my ignorance.

A car that is designed to be driven fast and pushed hard has certain component and features designed into it. Notably, it has a high performance clutch which is set up to be engaged and disengaged smoothly at high torque levels. Running a high performance car at normal cruising and around-town driving, it's not necessarily easy to work such a clutch smoothly without slipping or chattering.

Just an idea. Smarter people that I will be along shortly.
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Last edited by Alpha Twit; 02-25-2020 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:20 PM
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The tuning on an old high performance engine _could_ necessitate a more spirited style of driving than the tuning on a lower performance engine. However, all of the cars that I know of that were actually this way were tuned that way by the aftermarket. My friend's father had tuned his 327 to the point where if his wife spent an afternoon tooling around in it for some reason, he was going to have to change the plugs. I don't know the actual condition of the plugs when he took them out, but I would imagine they would probably be fuel fouled.
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:47 PM
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Didn't he say in the movie something along the lines of the guy's car was tuned to have a useful powerband around 5 krpm, but he wasn't shifting gears and only giving it 3000 or fewer rpms, so the force of full throttle at low rpms was causing extra wear on the pistons, rods, head gasket, etc?
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:53 PM
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It's called an Italian tune up. High strung performance engine are designed to run hard. To do so, they sacrificed low rpm, partial throttle efficiency/driveability. This can cause undue fouling and gunkifying.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:00 PM
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I have no idea if there's any actual science behind the concept of the Italian Tuneup, but the idea that a mechanic in 1963 would tell the owner of a sports car to drive harder every once in a while is certainly accurate.

That said, if the movie wanted us to believe that that was the only thing wrong with the car and that Ken Miles was in fact a competent mechanic, they overplayed the symptoms -- a car with fouled plugs might stumble a little or struggle at high RPMs, but it's not going to lurch around like it did and so annoy its owner that he would come scream at the mechanic immediately after a service.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:44 PM
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In the good old days, cars used carburetors. Fuel was not well-metered. I remember a lot of folks with cars from the 1960's (or earlier) noting that too much in-city slower driving and stop-and-go cause carbon build-up in the cylinders from running rich and having only -half-burnt fuel. mechanical spark timing also was an issue in proper combustion. Hence the comment about changing the spark plugs - pull them out and the white ceramic would be black with soot, the gap would clog up and the spark would be less reliable. the "folk mechanic" wisdom was to take it on a longish highway drive to burn all that off the inside of the cylinders. However, I doubt that stop-and-go driving would avoid or cure that problem no matter how hard you punched the accelerator; after all, acceleration was notorious for flooding the engine with excess gas to ensure power, so more unburned fuel (Hence the cloud when accelerating). The best treatment was steady fast driving.

I'm not a mechanic, this may have been standard urban legend BS. Today, fuel injection and electronic spark, with computerized optimization, prevents a lot of these problems and contributes to excellent fuel economy and far better performance.
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Old 02-26-2020, 12:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AHunter3 View Post
...yanking the chassis hard around corners...
No benefit to this.

Quote:
...braking hard from high speed...
This generates LOTS of heat which can cause brake fade in normal street-use brake pads. There are racing pads designed to work well when used this way. They barely function when cool (i.e., with “normal” braking). But those are for balls-to-the-wall racing, they aren’t used on high-performance street cars, so no benefit for said cars.

Last edited by Gary T; 02-26-2020 at 12:54 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 02-26-2020, 04:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snfaulkner View Post
It's called an Italian tune up. High strung performance engine are designed to run hard. To do so, they sacrificed low rpm, partial throttle efficiency/driveability. This can cause undue fouling and gunkifying.
An Italian tune-up (aka Mexican tune-up in certain parts of the country) has nothing to do with performance engines. The idea behind it is that you take the car out onto the highway or some long straight stretch of road somewhere and just stomp on the gas pedal, which will burn away carbon deposits on the spark plugs and will blow dirt and buildup out of the carburetor jets and other parts of the engine. The term is more commonly associated with an old car with a gunked up engine than a sports car, though running a sports car hard will also certainly blow the gunk out of it.

I should also point out that both Italian tune-up and Mexican tune-up are both considered to be a bit racist and derogatory these days.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 02-26-2020 at 04:14 AM.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
An Italian tune-up (aka Mexican tune-up in certain parts of the country) has nothing to do with performance engines. The idea behind it is that you take the car out onto the highway or some long straight stretch of road somewhere and just stomp on the gas pedal, which will burn away carbon deposits on the spark plugs and will blow dirt and buildup out of the carburetor jets and other parts of the engine.
The following YouTube video features an engineer looking at various studies regarding whether deposits on pistons and intake valves could be removed using that method.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C9Ie4BcYew



Below are the lines in the movie the OP is referencing.

Quote:
Customer: A month ago, this car was fun. Now, it won't even start. And when it does, it's 'Boom, boom, boom!' When I pull out of the driveway, the dog has a heart attack. All I'm asking is for you to make it like it was.

Ken Miles: Yeah, you've cocked up the inlet valves and the plugs. Nothing wrong with the car, just the way it's being driven.

Customer: The way it's being driven?

Ken Miles: Too much fuel, not enough spark. That's what's making her misfire.

Customer: You wanna run that by me in English?

Ken Miles: All right, sir. So... that there, that is a sport car. You have to drive her like a sport car. If you drive her like a school teacher, she'll clog up. All right? Try changing up at 5,000 RPM, not two. Drive like you mean it. Hard and tight. She'll run clean.

Customer: Are you telling me I don't know how to drive my own car?

Ken Miles: No. But if you ask me, this isn't your car. Your car's more a Plymouth...a Studebaker.

Customer: You and me have a problem, buddy?

Ken Miles: I don't have a problem. I had an MG. Mine just ran fine.

Customer: Screw you, you limey prick! I want my money back.

Ken Miles: Oh, behave. I'd give it to ya. But you haven't paid for last month's service yet.

Customer: This country, the customer's always right. You ever hear that?

Ken Miles: Yeah, yeah. Utter nonsense. Now remember, I've advanced the timing, so a smidge twitchy in first.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:21 PM
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At the risk of calling down lightning upon myself, I'd like to direct anyone who might be interested to an old Bill Cosby routine titled "200 MPH," from the album of the same name.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNS4TQ-vM1o

For those who will not follow that link, long story short: Cos meets Carroll Shelby randomly and the latter convinces the former to let him build him a custom sports car that will do 200 miles an hour. Hilarity ensues.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:34 PM
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Well, crap. I just listened to the version at that link, and it appears to be edited. Apologies for the seemingly pointless contribution. In the full version, at least as I remember it, Shelby tells Cos that the car he's built for him isn't built to just drive around town, but has to be driven at high speed from time to time to "blow it out." IIRC, he specifies that it needs to get up to 120-130 m.p.h.

Cos asks where he's supposed to find a place to do that, and Shelby replies, "Any side street."

Hence my thinking it was applicable to the conversation at hand.


ETA: I did misremember parts of it, but here's the part I was remembering from a different recording: https://youtu.be/BHbOrHG65uo?t=1440

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 02-26-2020 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 02-26-2020, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
An Italian tune-up (aka Mexican tune-up in certain parts of the country) has nothing to do with performance engines. The idea behind it is that you take the car out onto the highway or some long straight stretch of road somewhere and just stomp on the gas pedal, which will burn away carbon deposits on the spark plugs and will blow dirt and buildup out of the carburetor jets and other parts of the engine. The term is more commonly associated with an old car with a gunked up engine than a sports car, though running a sports car hard will also certainly blow the gunk out of it.

I should also point out that both Italian tune-up and Mexican tune-up are both considered to be a bit racist and derogatory these days.
I apologize if my post was a bit half-assed. But I was trying to say essentially what you did. But as far as I've been led to believe by an old Ferrari mechanic (who very well could have been full of shit)
Ferrari's in the 60's easily gunked up with normal driving due to certain engineering choices aimed at performance. Running them hard would blow out the gunk. Ferrari's are high performance and Italian, thus Italian tune up. Not sure how that became derogatory, though I can see it being used as joke in comparing an old junker to a Ferrari. But if it is, I apologize.

I've never heard it called a Mexican tune up and honestly that doesn't even make any sense. But I guess a lot of racist stuff doesn't.
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