Thanks Ed for the great diagrams! Love that sort of stuff. I was aware of the "generic" differences between FWD/RWD, but I guess I'm having difficulty with my two test subjects.
What I know or have experienced:
The Alfetta has close to 50/50 weight distribution. It has mild understeer which can be easily modulated with the throttle. I've never spun one, but did get sideways going way to fast on gravel
. If on tarmac, when pushing hard (I've run one on Sears Point Raceway - as a motorcyclist, I'm not big on going full-bore on public roads), you can get the rear to slide out ever so slightly into a semi-drift. Always brake prior to entering a turn, and throttle out of them and you will be grinning all day.
The Fulvia - haven't yet found the weight distribution, I'm sure you can tell me. Exhibits (IMO) oversteer (exacti-steer - might be a better term, as it goes exactly where you point it - exactly
!) I'm obviously using my usual comfort zone of braking first, then throttling through a turn - which, seems to work just fine to a point. If I'm not careful though, the car feels
like it's losing all grip simultaneously and is about to shoot off the road sideways (see diagram FWD #3 - only extrapolate the yellow footprint continuing straight off the road sideways).
So, I'm guessing it's perhaps my feathering of the throttle that needs working on? Is it okay form to be braking in the apex of a turn to bring in some understeer? That will definitely take some training to get used to I think
There are a couple of approaches with FWD. You can brake early and power through the turn, as you do now, but this will only work if you turn in early, use an early apex, and use the natural power-on understeer to take you back to the middle of the road. This will work better on sweeping turns, as you need enough speed to balance the understeer on the throttle. And I'll tell you that an early turn-in takes some getting used to.
The other techniques depend a lot on your comfort using all three pedals and/or using left-foot braking, and your level of comfort carrying braking farther into the corner than you do now. Carrying braking deeper into the corner obviously means downshifting while braking, which means heel-and-toe (or whatever you want to call that three-foot dance). The second you roll off the brake, the front end will unload and the tires will bite, which will rotate the car, and again let you balance the understeer on the throttle. This routine takes a lot of practice, and will probably make you a bit nervous the first couple of times you try.
And remember that FWD is very forgiving of mid-corner lift-off. In fact, if you really get crossed up mid-corner, lift off the throttle and the car will actually straighten itself out. Of course, this is incredibly counterintuitive if you're used to RWD.
You can also use left-foot braking, tapping the brake to set the suspension and stabilize the car turning into a corner, without lifting off the throttle. This is a classic rally technique pioneered by the Scandanavians in the '60s, and can be very useful in the wet or on loose surfaces. If overused, it will wear the brakes much faster, and on dry tarmac, it's very tough on the clutch. Personally, I only very rarely left-foot brake--only if I'm really pushing in the wet (which I don't do very much).
Shaun - are there more choices available for 13" wheels?? I was under the impression that they would be even more difficult than 14"?
There aren't a lot of choices in either 13" or 14"; it all depends on the size you need. Interestingly, the choices are worse if you want 70-series than if you want 80-series. As always, money makes a big difference, too. WIthout any question, IMO, the best 80-series tires, ever, are Michelin XAS. XAS were standard on Fanalones, and were optional on all Fulvia Coupes. My '74 X1/9 came on XAS and they were the best tires that car ever wore. Michelin has actually re-issued the XAS in several sizes, including Shaun's 165/80-14. They're not cheap
, but they should make 30k even with events, so they get amortized over several years (how's that for rationalization). ANd they're only in limited production, so they can be hard to find in the US; my set of five 185/80-13 XAS just arrived Monday from the UK; no one had that size in the US (shipping wasn't any more than CA sales tax would have been). 175/80-13 is the original Fanalone size, but Michelin didn't re-issue that size, so it was 185 or 165. With the rear springs back to stock, I'll be fine at the rear, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed about the front clearance.
I had a heavily modified Fiat 128 that understeered at the limit but could be made to oversteer by lifting mid corner then it could be brought back to neutral by modulating the throttle, great fun...
Yep; that works, as noted above.
My car has a similar stance to sfalfa's Fulvia. I think they came with some rake but also the front spring has probably sagged...
All S1 Coupes had a nose-down stance from the factory. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this may be more pronounced in the Fanalone, but it's very apparent in all of the Coupes (at least when they were new).