Booster Masthead

Restoration Blvd.
December 2001

Columnist — Allen Wright

Post-AAIW 2001 Reflections: Duesenbergs, zMax, Spark Plugs Like Christmas Tree Lights, and a little Drag Racing

Ladies and gentlemen! May I present my thoughts and opinions on some of the products at the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas!

But first, thanks to Chuck Kennedy and White Industries for the invitation to their hospitality evening in the Duesenberg Room at the Imperial Palace. I noticed a lot more folks enjoying the party this year than last. This is a good thing.

I was impressed with Corteco gaskets this year. They had a great booth with funny videos. The most impressive part of the presentation was the testing of the head gaskets. Most head gaskets on gasoline engines will withstand about 400 PSI. Corteco claims that their head gaskets are good to up to 800 PSI.

Why is that important? Higher compression pressures tend to blow out head gaskets, especially on vehicles that are run on the bottle — that is, using nitro injections into the engine for a blast of extra power when needed. I saw one convention guy fall down in the casino this year, but I believe he was running on a different kind of bottle. Probably Jim Beam.

Back to head gaskets. I think Corteco will probably do all right but they need to sell the benefits. Everyone knows Fel-Pro is good quality and who is Corteco? They used to be Detroit Gaskets.

Every year someone comes up with a new spark plug design. This year I was introduced to an Asian fellow that may have been the most confused man I have ever met. This fellow’s spark plug had a ceramic tip that he demonstrated against Split Fire, Platinum Tip design, Champion, and others. All the plugs but his had a noticeable spark. His had a twinkling electrode that he claimed was more efficient. When he fired up his spark plugs, they looked like something you might use at Christmas on the tree.

He had posted signs that you could buy samples and I was tempted — until he told us that the price was $6.00 each. The next thing he did was produce a chart that showed his plug versus a Split Fire and a Bosch Platinum. Guess what? His plug performed about the same but needed to be changed every 20,000 miles.

One potential customer asked him why he should pay $6.00 for the plug and $1.99 for Bosch Platinum or Split Fire after a rebate. He said something about the retail of $9.99 per plug and began the demonstration again with another customer. One potential customer offered him $25.00 for a set of 8 plugs but he didn’t even respond.

Friday morning I walked by his booth and he was all packed up and gone. Probably ran out of samples.

I was walking by the booth of zMax and a young fellow named Ralph from Davidson, North Carolina asked me if I knew of zMax. We talked about the TV commercials and he gave me a sample containing the engine treatment and the fuel treatment with Linkite. According to the package, the Linkite micro-lubricating molecules soak into metal. A.J. Foyt said, "zMax made the difference. I am going to use it the rest of my life."

The other claims on the package are so impressive you would be a fool not to use it. I personally have never used any additives other than No-Smoke and gasoline injector cleaner in any vehicle I have owned. I believe that using good oil and changing it regularly and buying quality gasoline will pretty well handle your engine’s needs. I have also had the privilege of meeting A.J. Foyt and believe he is a credible individual and a fine gentleman. But as things go, money makes people say and do the strangest things.

The test of zMax with Linkite was begun on Monday, November 5 at 6:00 p.m. The vehicle for the test was my "Love Van #2," a 1997 Dodge Van, 318 V-8. For modifications I have a Flowmaster 3" exhaust cat-back, and K&N air filter. Everything else is stock.

The engine had to be warm before adding the zMax and the fuel level was supposed to be at a quarter-tank. All was ready. Test on.

I poured the bottles in and took off for a drive. I went to the dry cleaners, the fried chicken place, and Kragen to price the stuff. If zMax did anything, I wanted to compute the cost per mile. The kit is $39.95 and, according to the instructions, you add new zMax every 6,000 miles. That equates to .006658 cents per mile. If it lowers fuel consumption by the 8.5% it advertises, that alone is worth $39.95.

At 6:45 p.m., I left the Kragen and proceeded up State College Blvd. in Anaheim. Just for fun at State College and Lincoln I launched the van with a little bit of power. The couple next to me in a Toyota SUV — not wanting to let a big–ass van blow them off — started to pull up hard but traffic slowed down the challenge.

At the next light we went head-to-head. I jumped them off the line and stayed ahead of them past the grocery store before I shut it down. The van with 58,000 miles on it was running great. Could it be the zMax?

I got home and opened the hood and listened to the engine running. It sounded quieter. Could it be the zMax?

I got my chicken dinner out of the back and noticed the Coke had tipped over. Could it be the zMax? Or just a lead foot?

I am convinced that the zMax had an effect on the performance as advertised after as little as 30 minutes of driving and I wasn’t on the bottle — or even had a beer. I will relay the mileage improvement, if any, in my next column.

Here is a recap of the products on a scale of 1 to 10:

It was good seeing everyone in Las Vegas. For those who I didn’t get to talk to, here’s my own mini-update. #1: the wedding will be in 2002. #2: my son will be driving next year. #3: The Corvette is still in the paint shop, three years and counting. #4: I am thankful I am still working.

Boy, I hope my van starts tomorrow morning. Too much Linkite can be like too much nitro (the bottle).

Wishing everyone a happy holiday and peace and prosperity in the New Year.

Originally published in the December 2001 Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright December 2001 by KAL Publications Inc.

Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.