The Mahoney-Tong Car Blog

Shiny Horns

Damn, I really hate the mess of vacuum ports on the stock 240’s intake manifold. All the unnecessary is going to be straight bypassed. While I was planning this and taking inventory of what I would need, I thought it would be trick just to see how the 2 billet aluminum air horns I got for my SUs would look. I’m way too much of a wimp to run filter-less, but I wouldn’t be opposed to purchasing a pair of screens and running pretty much open air horns until my L24 dies. I’ll admit, without a nice L28 waiting for me in the garage, I wouldn’t even be fooling around with the thought. Since that’s the case however…

- Jon Tong

RB Driftin’ Z

I love the original L series engines. They’re tough as nails, and they’re extremely easy to maintain. Personally, I even think they look cool. For their day, they made great power, but for today… not so much. I’m perfectly happy with mine, and I wouldn’t swap it out.

On the other hand, an RB straight six with dual overhead cams and the ease of mounting a turbo kit from everybody’s uncle is pretty appealing. Nissan’s RB series might very well be the perfection of their inline six engine. It’s such a shame that it’s no longer in Nissan’s production line.

With all the talk of the Supra and the FT-1 concept that Toyota is prancing around, they have constantly said that an inline six cylinder engine must me mate to the flagship Supra. It’s just in the Supra’s DNA. I am so disappointed that Nissan did not keep that same tradition.

Nissan had what was one of the best engines in the Z, albeit SOHC and not too powerful for modern day. Then they revamped the powertrain and delivered the most gratifying engine in the Skylines of the 90s with DOHC and turbos. They got it right, but then they gave up. Wait… What? Yeah, they fucking gave up. They let their RB series die. They let their straight six die. It didn’t matter that the inline six cylinder design is the most naturally balanced. It didn’t matter that it made great power and looked damn good. It didn’t matter that they’re a simple joy to work on for the enthusiast minded. Instead, they chose to carry over Infiniti’s V6 designs for the GTR and the 350/370Z. I know a bunch of people are going to say that those engines are pretty damn good, and start hating. Fine.

I’m not saying those engines aren’t good. 332 hp out of a 3.7L V6 from the ancient 2009 unveiling is still pretty damn excellent. I really don’t even need to post anything to defend the GTR’s heart aka Motortrend’s fourth fastest vehicle ever tested in a straight line. Okay.

It’s just that straight six tradition that’s lost. It’s sad to think that Nissan would just carry over another engine to save money when the Z series originated its glory and fame. It’s sad to know that as great as the GTR is, the engine was taken out of a sedan from Infiniti.

This video has an old s30 just dancing around the road with a tire smoking RB powerplant, and I dig it.

- Jon Tong

Tinkering with Valve Adjustment

I’ve been meaning to get to this for such a long time, and I just barely did it the other day. To save time and not have to turn the engine over a billion times just to get to the next valve, I suggest getting a piece of paper to write down which ones you’ve done so far. It would also be ideal to label them “intake” and “exhaust” so you don’t have to keep checking which is which. Anyway for those that are looking for the specs on an L series engine with a stock cam:


Intake .010”, Exhaust .012”


Intake .008”, Exhaust .010”

- Jon Tong

p.s. I also found that one of these keeper springs for the rocker arms is ridiculously loose! If anybody knows where I can get some for my L series engine, please let me know.

Perfect Elan?

Jay Leno’s collection is pretty hard to criticize. The man is known for having an insane amount of cars and for his own garage and crew. Don’t think for a minute though that he’s just a rich guy that doesn’t know about cars. He has personally wrenched on stuff like his Sunbeam Tiger from way back when before he was famous. He knows what he’s talking about, and he deserves to be a little eccentric.

This being said, this Lotus is exactly what I love about older cars that are somewhat modernized but not to the point where it kills the nostalgic feel. He’s still running trip carbs and has barely modified the looks. It’s almost perfect. The only thing I don’t like is the sequential gearbox. Personally, would have preferred a traditional manual transmission, but hey it’s not my car. I’m not paying for it, so he can have whatever he wants. Congrats on your latest addition, Mr. Leno.

- Jon Tong

Hot Oval Take Off

I’m not sure, if this is the same Beetle I posted about a while back in “Baja Bug Dream”. It’s damn similar, and I’m almost willing to bet it’s the same one! Just a badass little Bug, and can’t wait to get mine up and running now that I have so much experience wrenching on my girlfriend’s 1970. There’s quite a bit of work I still have to post about that too so stay tuned.

- Jon Tong

Noteworthy Trip

People ask me all the time if an old car can be reliable. The answer I always give is that they were new at one point, and when they were new people never asked that question. A properly maintained car can be pretty damn reliable. The thing is you got to know what you’re doing, and show it some love. This guy’s roadster is definitely feeling the love. To many more miles on your voyage!

- Jon Tong

Joey’s 510

Just in case anybody was wondering where my Enkei meshies wound up, they went on this beater 510 with an L20. This Datsun has seen multiple engines and gone through just about everything according to the owner. We became friends, and he is the one who sold me the deeper dish rims from last week’s post. I’m just glad my mesh wheels finally found a good home.

- Jon Tong

Japanese Aftermarket - Pt. 2
I don’t even know where to begin for this Nissan Laurel other than it’s one of the coolest vintage sedans in my opinion. Sure it’s got too many doors, but it also has Skyline taillights. Who wouldn’t like having an L28 with triple Webers? This lowered saloon sure looks like an unassuming toy ready to bark.
- Jon Tong

Japanese Aftermarket - Pt. 2

I don’t even know where to begin for this Nissan Laurel other than it’s one of the coolest vintage sedans in my opinion. Sure it’s got too many doors, but it also has Skyline taillights. Who wouldn’t like having an L28 with triple Webers? This lowered saloon sure looks like an unassuming toy ready to bark.

- Jon Tong

Oil Cooler and Hoover Bit

So, I got tired of wrestling with this little boxer outside. Using a dolly, my best bud and I brought it inside to the living room which was more than comfortable while jamming out to some tunes.

Getting down to the mechanical, there is some debate about the “Hoover Bit” which my girlfriend’s VW unsurprisingly was missing. The oil temperature gauge had been showing some skyrocketing temps practically since we got it, so I did some research on the oil and air cooling of VW’s design.

The cooling tin is annoying for starters, and why VW couldn’t design mounting points like screws in better places is beyond me. You always have to take half of everything off to get to a stupid screw that’s tucked away.

Anyway, the “Hoover Bit” is an L-shaped bracket that mounts to the side of the oil cooler and blocks off the leaking of cool air. Supposedly doghouse fan shroud will leak a ton of the air freshly supplied from the cooling fan out threw the side of the oil cooler without this “Hoover Bit”. Thus, the oil cooler will not be as effective as having the bracket and thus able to cool more air efficiently.

On the other hand, most VW experts I’ve talked to like John my Guru bud, Dave at Peninsula VW, and the guys at Bugformance have no idea what I’m talking about when telling them about this supposedly essential “Hoover Bit”. They tell me it’s unnecessary and usually thrown out. One of the mechanics at Peninsula VW said it wasn’t so much to trap in the air, rather it was to prevent the tin from rattling and provide another mounting point for the oil cooler.

I’m not sure if I buy that exactly, but VW stopped making them decades ago, and the aftermarket shrouds, cooling tins, don’t come with it either. You can get an aftermarket reproduction from Airhead Parts like I did, but there are other places that sell them specifically for the type of shroud you have. Note: the “Hoover Bit” is only for the doghouse design of the later VW flat-fours, meaning the engines with the oil cooler on the outside of the fan shroud and not directly inside of the fan shroud like the early version shroud. Also, the aftermarket shrouds from EMPI or SCAT have different molds and might need their own style of “Hoover Bit”. For example, I believe the EMPI style needs a large flat piece that would mount to the side too.

For anyone that’s interested, just search up “VW Hoover Bit”, and you can see what all the fuss is about.

- Jon Tong

Nabbing Carbs

I plan on using various parts from this set of polished SU carburetors I picked up last year. I don’t think I will be able to use the actual carburetors just yet though since the left (front) one has some issues.

The plan was to open it up and fix what was wrong, but the idiot before had to tighten one of the four screws extremely tight and completely round off the Philips cross pattern from the head. Total dumbass. Those screws don’t even need to be that hard, so I don’t even know what his/her problem was.

At least I can get started on plugging up all the vacuum ports on the intake manifold and fantasize about using air horns without filters.

- Jon Tong