Streamline design

The motor industry gets a great deal of prominence, mainly for its technological ‘advances’.

I specialise in race engines, but sometimes undertake work on road engines. It’s clear that engine bay design trends in the automotive industry directly affect UK dealers and engine specialists.

Those engaged in production engine re-manufacture have told me how very ‘quiet’ trade is. Many feel it will pick up again, but I’m not so sure because I think the underlying cause has been building up for some years. I am beginning to think it’s got less to do with macroeconomics and more to do with design trends.

Fully integrated engine-transmission packages are now the ‘norm’ in cars. They are complicated to fix when they go wrong and extremely time consuming to work on. Main dealer overheads and thus repair costs are high. In many cases it is cheaper to sell the car than fix it, even if the fault is quite commonplace. The car will inevitably end up for sale, adding to the huge glut of ‘new’ second-hand cars on the market.

Because of this knock-on effect it’s not hard to see why new car sales for many marques are poor. Manufacturers are inadvertently upsetting the balance of the very trade they depend on.

Some serious design conclusions should be drawn from this — right now.

Manufacturers should give as much priority to ease of maintenance as they do to, say, meeting emission controls. At present they do not, almost without exception.

Engines should be designed ‘military style’ so that a ‘pack-change’ can be completed within hours rather than days. The engine will be changed immediately for any internal fault.

The support for engine rebuilding is straightforward to organise and, if streamlined, the cost of the replacement core unit will be minimal compared with an on-site repair.

Guy Croft

Guy Croft Racing Engines