Crossfire Hurricane
American Car|March 2017

The L83 Crossfire-injected Corvettes are the red-headed stepchild of the 'Vette world... but why?

Dave Smith

Time has not been kind to the Chevrolet 'Crossfire' fuel injected engines. They have a very poor reputation – at one point the system earned itself the nickname 'Ceasefire' injection – and they have been consigned to the Eighties history bin alongside Betamax video and the Sinclair C5 as devices that promised much but somehow fell way wide of the mark. But was it deserved?

Through the latter half of the Seventies, new laws governing fuel consumption and emissions saw Chevy's 5.7-litre small-block V8 struggling to even achieve 200bhp. Yes, they sounded the part, but for a nation of petrol heads who were buying 400bhp+ big-block muscle cars just a few years previously, merely making the right noises wasn't enough. The Corvette was America's beloved sports car, but if a Datsun could have your trousers down at the traffic lights, that was an embarrassment too far.

Computer-controlled fuel injection had been introduced on some Cadillacs, but it was very expensive and teething troubles were never far away. The next step came in 1980, when Chevrolet introduced the computerised engine control module, or ECM, with OBD1 diagnostics (though OBD1 seems to be an unofficial name given to any ECM diagnostics system prior to the introduction of the standardised OBDII in the late Nineties). This was another kick in the unmentionables, as it required a particularly basic computer – remember, this was around the time that the Spectrum ZX81 was the latest word in home computing – to control mechanical devices like carburettors, which were never meant to be computer-controlled, bolted to an engine that was designed at a time when a computer with even the puny processing power of OBD1 would have filled a large van. The OBD1 computer broadcast its diagnostic information at 160 bits per second, or about 20 bytes. To put it in context, Darren took the excellent photographs you see on these pages. Each photo, as a raw JPG, is about 20,000,000 bytes of information, and even my shonky home broadband can download that in a couple of seconds.

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