I didnt have the benefit of going to a high school where the untapped potential of import cars was valued by its population of students. The hot cars at my school were the Ford Mustang and Chevy IROC Z or Z28. Being the type to cheer for the underdog, I never really liked either car. It was too easy. Running high 14 second (low 15 second) quarter miles out of the box, there was no challenge to making it faster. Install a pully kit or a set of Dynomax mufflers and you’d probably pick up 5/10ths in the quarter mile. Besides, the Mustang and IROC were never really great looking cars.. they just had the traditional muscle car stance and look to them.
So my friend (Ed) and I would read about all the Japanese imports that we could (remember, there was no internet at this time, yeah, I’m that old). I’d buy Car and Driver, Road and Track, and if I could find it, Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance magazine. The latter two provided us with an idea of where to start. For me, that starting point was the FC3S Mazda RX-7 Turbo II. For Ed, it was the Mitsubishi Starion. But that’s where Car and Driver and Road and Track ceased to be useful. Aside from their published “bone stock” quarter miles and 0-60s, they didn’t offer the evolutionary step into the world of import performance. There were no import “speed shops” like there were muscle car speed shops. There were not even that many owners of modified import cars, much less owners in general. Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance magazine offered a glimpse into the technology behind modifying cars with (relatively) advanced fuel injection systems and turbochargers.
Back then, Turbo & Hi-Tech Magazine was quarterly. It was published by Kipp Kington in Huntington Beach, California. I could never find it at any store except for the Crown Books store in the Laguna Hills Mall. I’d anxiously await the day when it would show up on the store shelf. I recall it would cost $4.95 (and this was at a time when Car and Driver was $2.95). It was a steep price to pay, but it was well worth it.
I credit the magazine for many things.. such as introducing me to HKS Performance Products and an article about high-flow air filters that I quoted from for many many years after that (a clean K&N outflowed paper and foam elements.. and if I recall correctly, a dirty K&N still outflowed foam, but not a new paper element.. however, the shocker was a cleaned K&N, one cleaned using their cleaning kit, would never flow as well as a new K&N filter). It introduced me to the fear of pulling up next to a Buick Grand National/GNX at a stop light. And it also opened my eyes to just how fast a nitrous fed Ford Mustang 5.0 liter was. It ultimately inspired me to work on my own car and to seek out the infamous street races in Hacienda Heights, Compton, and Gardena.
In the past few years, Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance became a news stand pamphlet. The last time I picked one up, it was probably about 50 pages (in its prime, it was about 150 pages). The covers were always uninspiring and they never gave me the same sense of excitement that I used to feel when I bought them in high school. Nevertheless, its sad to see it go.