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Editorial : The Long way Home

28 October 2017 / by James van Zeeland (author) / Johndi Datacentre, Muse Studio
Great Ocean Road (photo: )
Great Ocean Road

When I first thought about writing this editorial, I imagined some of the favorite back roads I frequently took in the Toowoomba region of Queensland and the enjoyment of driving them. That enjoyment was, of course, the main purpose of taking them. In the ten years since I purchased a BK MPS 3 and first became involved in the community of owners that sprung up around Mazda's performance series vehicles a great deal of engineering knowledge was acquired by the community and a vibrant social scene waxed and waned. In that time Mazda's development focus shifted to their bread and butter offerings. Offerings that showcase impressive technologies; Skyactiv-X with it's spark controlled compression ignition will do a great deal to keep the internal combustion engine relevant as the entire industry looks towards a period of technology and regulatory upheaval, with electric vehicles being strongly endorsed by political forces and environmental advocates.

In another ten years time, the technology of transport may be in the throws of a radical shift. Personally I have my doubts regarding the practicality of electric vehicles. Moving emissions from tailpipes to power station exhaust stacks will achieve none of the environmental benefits these changes are supposed to facilitate. I have my doubts that we will find adequate natural resources to scale up electric vehicle manufacturing to the volumes required to replace all fossil fuel personal transport. Don't get me wrong - we need to make radical changes to society if we are going to head off global changes that our children will not be thanking us for. I have grave doubts we are approaching these changes appropriately. The challenges we face are not technical - they are rooted in our societies obsession with money and endless growth. But we can't endlessly grow - the planet is only so big and our appetite for growth is what will overwhelm it. Unless we make fundamental philosophical social change we will simply be deluding ourselves that we are taking appropriate action whilst avoiding the meaningful change that would actually make a difference.

What's this got to do with ozMPSclub? Well, it seems the industry is taking a detour. The destination may be the same - providing personal transport, but it remains to be seen if the enjoyment of driving a challenging back road will come along for the ride. If vehicles become truly driver less what space is there for the joy that we as performance vehicle owners have come to appreciate as the pinnacle of personal transport? Mazda seem to be taking a wise middle ground in their development efforts as they look towards the future. But for the performance vehicle market we miss out for now.

So until such time as an MPS renaissance, long term maintenance is what keeps us going. The performance market hasn't been standing still. When I first started looking at vehicle modifications to eek out just a little bit more of that elixer of enjoyment, the market was a very different place. Engine tuning was a difficult affair and the engine technology was new. People started popping engines, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. "Why is it so?" Because that's what you get applying old world performance tweaks to new world technology. Flash tuning didn't exist and the piggy back management computers that were common in the early days of MPS engine modding were not a refined solution. They did the job but they were evidence of how much there was yet to learn about the technology.

To be continued...

James van Zeeland + VIEW PROFILE


James van Zeeland

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