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Saturday, September 13, 2008


The Fall of Great Eddy

About ten years ago, GReddy was an icon of the import performance world. I saw their logo everywhere - even people who didn't have GReddy parts on their car would put GReddy stickers on, hoping to impress people who didn't look under the hood. But I haven't seen their logo that much recently. Now I've found out that GReddy / Trust filed bankruptcy.

Some people have blamed cheap Chinese knock-offs for GReddy's decline. The knock-offs did steal the market for things like wastegates and blow-off valves, and some of Greddy's basic cast parts. And the market for performance parts has not been at its best in the past year with the economy going the way it is and the whole riceboy thing falling out of fashion. But I think there was more to GReddy's problems than that - GReddy's looked like a sitting target for quite a while, and it wasn't just the cheap knock-off sellers that took aim at them.

I've been active in the Miata parts market for a while, as the company I work for sells a plug and play ECU for Miatas. GReddy builds a turbo kit for Miatas, and I had the chance to see this kit more or less get shoved to the sidelines in the US market. This looks like it was something of a backwater for GReddy and they may have handled other particular projects better, but this may have a rather exaggerated demonstration of where GReddy went wrong.

GReddy jumped into the Miata turbo market early, with a basic, affordable kit for the '89-'93 Miatas with the 1.6. It was smog legal, but it was a pretty basic kit. No intercooler, and the only engine management was a rising rate fuel pressure regulator. Greddy also offered a piggyback engine controller called the eManage, in a couple different versions. The eManage Ultimate was a pretty advanced piggyback, able to control fuel and timing.

The trouble is, they stopped there. They didn't offer kits for the later 1.8, come out with a higher powered kit with an intercooler, or anything. When plug-in standalone engine management came out, GReddy ignored the Link, Hydra, and MSPNP systems and stayed with the eManage. Meanwhile, American companies like Flyin' Miata and BEGi started building kits that offered newer turbos, bolt on intercoolers, and many other advances over the GReddy kit, built these kits to fit the later Miatas, and backed them with better technical support too.

GReddy didn't take any steps to defend their position and stayed with offering the cheapest kit out there from a reputable manufacturer. They could have tried to take on the American tuners by expanding their range to fit the 1.8s, adding a kit at a higher price point that could compete on maximum horsepower, or otherwise try to hold onto the market. They just ignored Keith and Corky, possibly figuring that the higher price tag on the American kits meant that buyers didn't comparison shop between the two. This ensured they still had a niche in the Miata turbo market - until BEGi rolled out a stripped down kit within striking distance of GReddy's, and the option to later order more BEGi parts to upgrade it to the features on their more advanced kits. On the other hand, if you wanted to upgrade your GReddy kit, you bought the upgrade parts from BEGi or Flyin' Miata - or sometimes from the Chinese knock off sellers.

I can't say for certain if GReddy fought a better fight on other battlefields, but the Chinese knock-off industry and a sour economy aren't the only things to blame for this bankruptcy.

(It's worth noting that Greddy isn't actually gone at this point. Just in serious business trouble.)


Friday, September 12, 2008


Cecil Adams vs Brown's Gas

I've blogged about some of the dubious claims made by promoters of "Brown's Gas" or "HHO" before. Now it seems that master debunker Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope has gotten into the act, reaching a lot more people than I ever could. Check out the The Straight Dope about hydrogen generators here.


Saturday, September 06, 2008


Truth in cheeseBay ads

One of my favorite things to blog about (when I haven't found enough time to wrench on the Dart) is the myriad of questionable performance parts for sale on eBay. One common rip-off is the "electric supercharger," which is actually a marine bilge vent blower, in most cases. Usually the seller makes claims for these that are hard to back up. Not this guy. He posts a dyno graph of his product, and take a close look - the engine makes more power without the electric supercharger than with it!

It's worth checking out the auction for a couple other points. The dyno operator also made no effort to hide his contempt for the device, and the text is shot through with typos and bad punctuation.


Monday, September 01, 2008


The eBay gas bandits are at it again

Sometimes I like to troll through eBay to see what the latest swindles are aimed at people who hate high gas prices. A recent search for "gas saver" turned up 8,200 hits. Perhaps one or two of them may actually save gas. Most won't, but there are a few that were good for quite a few laughs. I've noticed we're seeing a lot more "HHO" generators, which I've covered quite extensively in the past couple months.

One that I'd hoped would be a good laugh parade was this Petro-Mag attempt to influence gasoline with a magnet. I was pretty sure I'd seen an EPA paper where they tested the Petro-Mag and found it did nothing. Close, it's the Petro-Mizer instead. Not that many of the guys selling these are particularly creative.

From the severely delusional category, this auction promises "Up to 30+ Better Fuel Efficiency Guaranteed! 60+ Ft. Lbs. of Torque! Up to 100+ Horsepower!" (All capitalization is the original ad's.) And they're promising all these gains on... a Toyota Paseo. Adding 30 mpg to anything is quite a challenge, and adding either that amount of torque or horsepower to a Paseo calls for a well engineered turbo kit, not a 5 cent resistor in a 25 dollar package.

The Tornado Money Waster, er, Tornado Fuel Saver is bad enough, but look at this knock-off. They're too cheap to even bend it to shape; they leave it up to the buyer. Presumably that's so they can blame the installer when it self-destructs and the engine sucks the pieces. It doesn't look very sturdy. Another amusing point: They claim it affects the transmission's shifting. Maybe that's because it steals so much horsepower you have to give the engine more throttle.

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