Developments to Watch
FROM PUTT-PUTT TO VROOM! WITH THE TURN OF A KEY
Want to turn your stodgy car into a hot rod? Adaptive Technologies, a Port Hueneme (Calif.) company, has designed a system that lets you select the computer chip controlling your engine. Until now, speed freaks who wanted to tweak their engines had to crawl under the dash to swap the carmaker's engine computer for one that boosts power by altering the air-fuel ratio and the spark timing.
The new system, which costs $219, fits most General Motors Corp. cars and trucks built since 1984 and holds up to four different engine-controller chips. Adaptive says it takes 30 minutes to install, then all you do for more oomph is turn a key in the dash. You can choose a chip that gives you more power when you want it--or one that provides better fuel economy. Another can be a security chip that foils thieves by disabling your car's fuel and electrical systems. You can even choose one that limits engine power and then remove the key, so the kids can't get too wild on the way to the store.EDITED BY WILLIAM D. MARBACH