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Introduction (for those who dont care):

Hi. I'm currently developing a drag racing game in the style of the beloved Street Rod and I'm kinda new to cars in general. Im reading about tuning as is the main focus of the game but almost everything i find is more or less for modern cars (like computers and chips). I found some interesting articles about basic mods you can do to any car, but i guess is better to ask people who knows about it in case im missing something.

Question:

What modifications can you do to cars (specially the engine) from the 90's and back?

At this link there's a excellent explanation about the main modifications (https://www.hks-power.co.jp/en/basic_tuning/02.html) you can do to an engine, but I don't know if you can fit an intercooler or a turbocharger to a ford falcon from the 70's.

I want to know about not overly complicated modifications that i can include in the game (maybe take the concept and make it real simple) that would be fun to use.

Taking the link i provided, if i wanted to change the camshaft for example for a performance one, i dont want to put the options like:

1 - stock camshaft.
2 - sport camshaft.
3 - performance camshaft.

I would want something more immersive (but simple, this is key) like presenting a bunch of camshaft parts and then the player would need to pick the right one for the car's engine. Take this as an example:

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For example, take this info from a 1964 Ford Falcon:

Engine manufacturer: Ford Falcon Six 144
Engine type:spark-ignition 4-stroke
Fuel type: petrol (gasoline)
Fuel system: carburetor
Charge system: naturally aspirated
Valves per cylinder: 2

How would you present the modifications for that engine?

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I'd suggest a good starting point for you to look at is the tuning options available within the Gran Turismo games (4, 5 or 6, haven't played the earlier games so I don't know how the tuning options vary in those games). Lots of the time they don't allow you to do modifications you couldn't do in real life (due to restrictions of the type of engine etc.) but I think there are times where they allow you to do stuff that you couldn't in real life. To avoid this, I would say you'd need a real in-depth knowledge of each car you're going to put in the game (lots of research basically).

Once you've looked at those games (just look on YouTube if you don't own the games), I'd look at the tuning options from Forza Motorsport (4/5/6/7). There are more advanced modification options in these games - things like changing tyre width etc. Just have a look at those two franchises to get a good idea of the kind of things you can do. Obviously neither franchise will do it perfectly but it's certainly a good starting point.

From the top of my head, these are some of the modifications you should be able to apply to most cars:

  • Better, sticker tyres
  • Wider tyres
  • Bigger wheels (14 to 15 inch usually means an increase in tyre size)
  • Bigger brake discs/rotors (bigger in diameter or drilled/grooved)
  • Better brake pads
  • Metal braided brake hoses (better pedal feel, could be slightly better braking in your game)
  • Better brake fluid (so the fluid doesn't boil and give you brake fade)
  • Stainless steel exhaust system (headers/manifold, downpipe, catalytic converter, backbox/muffler)
  • Better clutch (quicker shift times)
  • Lighter flywheel (engine revs up and down more freely)
  • Induction kit (basically a better air filter to let the car breathe better, slight power increase, throttle response and better exhaust note)
  • Engine swap (could be complex to know which car can take what engine though)
  • Weight reduction (taking out rear seats, carpets, door cards, sound deadening material etc)
  • Chassis brace bars (increase the rigidity of the car, make it handle better)
  • Roll cage (increase rigidity, though increased weight)
  • Lowering springs (lowers the ride height, better handling)
  • Sport/race dampers
  • Thanks. Excellent info. Will take it into account. I have mostly done the "simulation" of the engine with clutch and all. I will look into including this things you mentioned to affect the car's response. – Jh62 Oct 25 '17 at 11:41
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You can add anything including turbos , intercoolers, fuel injection, nox injection - just takes money and technical knowledge.

If you want a relevant example of design progression look at the inline 6 cylinder Jaguar engine that dates back to the late 1930's or 40's - original power about80 bhp and when they finished using it 10 or so years ago it was at 300 or so bhp with all the latest tech... I will see if I can find the write-up...

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One of the most popular modifications on pre-injection cars is conversion to multiple twin choke carburetors. For example Weber DCOE carbs. Typically this involves changing the inlet manifold which will be specific to the engine on one side and generic Weber / DelOrto fitting on the other.

Another popular mod was adding a high lift camshaft, "port matching" the cylinder head (removing metal from the casting to reshape and resize the inlet and exhaust ports), adding larger inlet and exhaust valves and triple angle cutting the valves.

Tubular exhaust manifolding into a larger than standard bore exhaust was also popular.

In the days before ECU's and programmable ignition mapping, fueling changes were achieved by changing the choke, jet and emulsion tube sizes in the carburetors and altering the ignition advance curved involved stripping the distributor and fitting different sized springs and bobweights or adding or adjusting the stop on the backplate to limit the amount of advance.

Essentially everything that is achieved nowerdays by computer but done mechanically instead.

Other modifications such as brakes, suspension, wheels and tyres, etc remain largely the same.

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