The A-series engine is the small utterly stupid piece of cast iron that powers a whole range of cars that do not matter all that much to me like the Morris Marina and the Austin Allegro. However it also powers the prototype of the modern small car : the mini..
transverse engine, front-wheel drive and minimal body overhang, it all started here.
The engine is a very British quirky piece of engineering. Quirky is a nice term for rather odd: Siamesed ports make it a very different beast from anything produced today, the gearbox lives in the sump, and it runs backward because apparently the carburetor kept icing up when mounted in front of the engine. Hence they turned the engine around so it was cosy and warm now necessitating the use of an idler gear, an extra gear that serves to reverse rotation.
In a way it is equivalent of the Porsche 911, a conceptually wrong design that , over a period of over 40 years, has been hammered into submission by being very German about it. The difference being that the, Brits solved it (sort of) and went off for a swift pint.
The quirkyness aside , it does work well, even with all its drawbacks it is a very charming engine.. it just sounds.. plucky. because it is not the most sensible layout you can make some nice improvements with a bit of common sense and a few spanners and a hammer. If you really get into it you can get some very worthwhile gains, but sometimes you get some very unexpected results that will put your brain into knots and drive you up the wall.
when properly build and tuned you can get reasonable mileage as well as enough power, provided you try not to be like the above guys and try to drive the wheels off it..
As it is a lot of fun to drive and very manageable as well you actually tend to get pretty lousy fuel consumption most of the time.Mostly because you tend to be in go kart mode with visions of Monte Carlo.. Add to this that it is a pre-injection, pre-oilcrisis engine that is just as happy running insanely rich as on a tad more sensible setup, which means that a lot of people drive around using fuel at a rate that would make a F15 strike eagle proud. Still ,if you drive a mini sounding like it has a V8 under the bonnet smelling of old fashioned exhaust and oil you will be tolerated… drive a golf GTI with a drainpipe exhaust.. good luck
This blog concerns itself with the modifications of said engine ( partially into something totally different with a BMW background), flow testing heads, flow testing the flow testing and being generally anoraky and probably very confused as well.