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Old 10-09-2001, 12:10 AM   #1
Burner
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Lightbulb Link ECU vs TEC II vs Unichip

Let me start by saying I'm a brand new member to this site and from what I've seen it is awesome! I love the technical debates that I've read and I hope this thread will yield more insight and knowledge for everyone . . .

Like many other members, I have really been stuck in trying to decide which aftermarket ECU to upgrade my new WRX to. Despite the fact that Shiv has had terrific success with the TEC II and Cobb Tuning/APS has also had good success with the Unichip, I can't help but think that the Link may be a better solution. Unfortunately, I've had a lot of problems finding detailed information on the Link ECU. I know many people complained about "idle control" issues with older units, but my understanding is that the latest version, series 6 I think, solves this by including a temperature compensation in the maps using the stock IAT sensor.

From what I have been able to find out, I believe that the following information is accurate for the Link:

First, it is designed to be a direct replacement for the stock WRX ECU (it fits into the Subaru spec ECU box and uses all pre-existing electrical fittings). It is easy to swap the stock ECU back in.

Second, all maps are fully modifiable by the end user in real time.

Third, in other countries like Australia and England, the Link appears to be the standard ECU solution.

Fourth, the Link ECU includes "autotune" which I believe uses a wide band O2 sensor and user set Lambda values for the A/F ratio to provide auto optimized maps. These maps can then be manually tweaked. Perhaps this capability could remove or minimize the need for dyno time and provide easy map adjustment with future upgrades.

Fifth, the newest Link includes hookups to a PC for data logging/monitoring as well as tuning.

Sixth, it also includes the old proprietary hand held unit for performing monitoring and tuning.

Seventh, the Link provides variable timing advance/retard and factory knock sensor integration (an additional knock sensor is available from Link as well).

Eigth, I understand that the Link offers "on-boost" closed loop capabilities with the stock wide band O2 sensor.

Ninth, I belive that the Bourne Possum Link comes pre-programmed with a "conservative" default map for the MY01 Australian WRX which I think is equal to the MY02 US WRX.

See here:

http://www.possumbourne.co.nz/Perfor...perfommain.htm

Tenth, I believe the Link is probably about 800-1200 dollars in cost, although I am not positive. If so, it would be very competitive with the Unilink and much less expensive than the TEC-II.

Eleventh, Bob Rawle who appears to be one of the top Subaru tuners in England using the Link gives a high level explanation of the various models and their capabilities here:

http://www.brdevelopments.com/link.html

and

http://bbs.scoobynet.co.uk/Forum9/HTML/003007.html

also

http://bbs.scoobynet.co.uk/Forum9/HTML/003134.html

and

http://bbs.scoobynet.co.uk/Forum9/HTML/003215.html

In an old link on i-club a member even describes why he likes the Link so much:

http://www.i-club.com/forums/showthr...light=link+ecu

Finally, here's a terrific example of the kinds of successes I have read about from people using the Link:

http://www.mrtrally.com.au/performan...DynoReport.pdf

***********************************************

Here's what I would like to know:

Has anyone on this forum had success using the latest version, or earlier versions, of the plug-in Link ECU - series 6?

Has anyone carefully explored the various capabilities of the Link in comparison to the TEC II or the Unichip?

Would anyone on this forum be able to provide more details on the Link and it's setup?

Could the Link ECU be a better option for many of us than TEC II or Unichip since it comes with default maps, can be "autotuned" and can be easily changed as upgrades are added?

Shouldn't we be considering the Link more seriously?

Thanks for everyone's feedback in advance . . .

Andy
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Last edited by Burner; 10-09-2001 at 01:23 AM.
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Old 10-09-2001, 12:57 AM   #2
geremy
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Yes, we should be considering it. I know a few of us who plan to do just that...however it seems that no body in the US has actually used the unit yet.

I have heard of one problem with the Link Plug'n'Play (though I never verified it, so I could be wrong) but the pinouts on the stock ECUs are different between US and AUS WRXs. We would (will!) have to modify our stock plugs or build an adapter.

Now I'll just sit around and wait for Xeno's reply, as he's big on the Link unit also.

One other thing is that on MRTs price list (well, the last one I received), the link plug in play was listed as 1500 aus, which at roughly 1.96 aus to us, comes out to under $800, plus shipping (plus a lil extra for Mastro , gotta support your local shop).

Last edited by geremy; 10-09-2001 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 10-09-2001, 05:14 PM   #3
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bump
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Old 10-10-2001, 12:00 AM   #4
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bump!

What's the difference between the Link and the PossumLink? Is the PossumLink just preprogrammed, or does other hardware go along with it?

I'd be very interested in a system like this - expandable, programmable. For most combinations of hardware you simply have to do your own tuning to get the most out of it - or take it to somebody else every time you add a mod.

PEACE

OUT
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Old 10-10-2001, 12:03 AM   #5
geremy
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I believe possum is just the name of the company that makes the link ECU, so possumlink or possum link or link are all the same.

And the same company makes knocklink and all the other link products.
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Old 10-10-2001, 12:22 AM   #6
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All right, are you ready?
The link is a good choice for the price you pay. But, they are really limited to what you can fool with. The fuel and ignition map thing is totally normal to be able to fool with, but there are alot more things that you can't fool with on the link.
The resolution isn't as good as a Haltech or TecII. Meaning there isn't enough different points to change the fuel or timing. There might be a point in the map where you need to add more fuel, but you can't because there isn't a point to adjust.
I went through the same thing you are when i bought my Haltech.
the Haltech is really sweet. It can adapt to any stock engines trigger system. The Tec uses the multi tooth wheel on the crank, but the Haltech can use the stock one on the motor so there is less part to install and hook up.
the haltech is also a real time ECU, it will actually change the second you change the number.
the Haltech can control anything on the motor, like the idle motor, or boost contoller, or what ever you need it to control.
Datalogging is a feature that all stand alones have, or better have.
Map are no problem because there are a lot of them out there for the EJ20. I have a few with different injectors.
The price is $1300. One of the cool things is that it can use alot of the stock sensors, so it can be easy to hook up.
I am in the middle of making an adapter to hook up the Haltech to the Stock wiring harness.
The auto tune thing will only work to get you close, because there is no way that reading the o2 sensor can build a perfect map. There is a lot of lag between the o2 and the adjusting of the map. Can you pic the air fuel readings to have it autotune by? This would be a important thing. Not just a fixed o2 reading, but a bunch of readings at different rpms and boost pressures and so on.
There are a lot of cool things that you can set up on the Haltech like anti lag, boost controller, shift light, turbo timer, nos, and lots more. I know that you can't hook all these up on the Link.
The Haltech Kicks ass! Let me know if you want one!
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Old 10-10-2001, 12:41 AM   #7
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Actually, the Link is manufactured by a company called Link Electro Systems, Ltd. They are located in New Zealand and their web page is here (unfortunately they provide very little info):

http://www.link-electro.co.nz

It is my understanding that the newest Link plug-in computers come with a default and conservative WRX map built in from the factory. However, I believe that the PossumLink has a custom default map provided by an Australian company called Bourne. Here is their link:

http://www.possumbourne.co.nz/Perfor...perfommain.htm

I also decided to call a tuner tonight who advertises the Link in the US. Apparently he has been building race cars with Subaru engines and using the Link computers for over two years with very good success. I learned some really interesting info:

1. Series seven of the Link computer should be coming out in full production within the next month or two. So far only about 20 prototypes are in the US. This new version has all the capabilities of the Link Plus computer but is a full plug in unit.
2. This new Link computer has full PC integration for configuration of all settings with a powerful software interface. Check out this link to get an idea of the software: http://www.link-electro.co.nz/pclink...CLink_Tute.pdf
3. I was surprised to learn that the price will probably be around $1600 US, the older Link computers are the ones that cost less.
4. I am told that the new computer is being designed for the US market and will have the appropriate connections to the standard WRX ECU wiring harness.
5. The computer supports two simultaneous maps on board, for example one for performance and one for economy.
6. The computer also supports an integrated hand held adapter for programming.
7. No dyno is required for tuning. The computer will automatically adjust itself, using the wide band O2 sensor, for optimum performance based on desired values, sometimes called Lambda, that can be manually entered by you.
8. Once the default goal settings have been configured by you, then an "autotune" feature can be enabled to allow the computer to fine tune itself to your Lambda values within a broad range of variables.
9. After the "autotune" is complete, the computer will still automatically adjust various parameters, while the engine is running, but to a lesser degree than during the "autotune" process. This is very much like the "learning" capability of many stock ecu computers.
10. It is possible to monitor all of the changes in real time on the Laptop PC.
11. It is possible to upload/download predefined maps to the Link computer at will from a laptop.
12. The Link computer will use the existing knock sensor with success.
13. The tuner I spoke with suggested that just the addition of the Link computer, plus improved boost values, would yield 275 HP without any problem and very high engine reliability.

Has anyone else started researching to find out more info about the Link? At this point, I think research is the key . . . keep the ideas/thoughts/suggestions coming . . .

Andy
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Old 10-10-2001, 12:49 AM   #8
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the new link sounds cool, but is the resolution improved? By the time the new one comes out there will be new programs for the Haltech which will make it even better. Hope the link comes out soon.
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Old 10-10-2001, 01:07 AM   #9
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Jeff,

Thank you for your response regarding the Link and your recommendation for the Haltech. I will spend some time looking into the Haltech to better understand what it can do. There is a really good web page that describes the capabilities of the new Series 7 Link ECU here:

http://www.sandstallion.com/link_wiem.html

I have been told that the new ECU will mirror the capabilities of the Link Plus ECU listed on the bottom/second half of the web page.

It appears that it may have most or maybe all of the functionality you are referring to . . . let me know what you think - what are the differences you can see.

I think the Link offers control of the the waste gate, the idle speed motor, etc. I think it also provides some emissions controls and will control the water sprayer for the intercooler or NOS if you want it. I believe the computer can be programmed/updated in real time with either the Laptop serial hookup or the separate proprietary controller. It is my understanding that the Lambda values define goal air/fuel ratios for use in the autotune program. These ratios are then fine tuned using the wide band O2 sensor while driving the vehicle. Once the autotune completes, the computer keeps fine tuning on its own during regular driving. Does this make sense to you (I'm not really too sure how its supposed to work)?

What kind of resolution does the Haltech offer? How do you tune it? Do you need a dyno? Thanks for your input in advance.

Andy
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Old 10-10-2001, 01:23 PM   #10
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Hi,

I am a link user with an old-style WRX...

The new link has 10 load rows over 3bar absolute.. thats proper mapping up to +2bar of boost (which should be enough ). RPM speed sites are still 500rpm, but now up to 10k rpm is catered for.
The ECU still interpolates between sites, and fueling is adjustable in 8bit resolution. Timing is currently to one degree, but this may change to 1/3 degree in future firmware. I presume this is what you're refering to in terms of resolution. finer timing control is potentially of benefit when mapping to the limit on an engine dyno, but is of questionable benefit to most users / mappers.

Auto tune still uses a lamda goal system for different rpm/load combinations and The link is a plug and play solution, but I wouldn't recommend the out of the box map used in conjunction with autotuning to anyone... it will still need mapping. Having said that, I do use the lamda mode for minor tweaks to the base map to take account of day to day variations in conditions.

I did post a good link to Bob Rawles' description of the new features.. in his opinion, it is good enough to replace his Motec M48 Pro in his own car, so it should be good enough for most!.

Add in effective knock control, PC interface, data logging, and additional outputs for shift lights, water sprays etc and you are looking at a cost effective and safe device.

The old link is 'cruder' in terms of the number of load rows (6 vs. 10), and problems with idling etc are all things of the past with later firmware. Not recommended if you intend using over 1.4bar boost as that's the maximum load row!.

Hope this helps..

Cheers,

Alex
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Old 10-10-2001, 02:15 PM   #11
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The Haltech has 32 bars to play with for 3bar map. That is why there is more resolution. The timing is the same 32 bar map with 1 degree incriments. Rpm range is 10k or 16k with 500rpm incriments.
For $800 i would take a link over a unichip, but for $1400 price range the Haltech is the way to go.
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Old 10-10-2001, 02:24 PM   #12
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I dont' know where you guys are getting these prices...EVERYWHERE I've called its between 1550 and 1650...

The link that is...
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Old 10-10-2001, 02:26 PM   #13
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Opinions-- everyone's got one!
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Old 10-10-2001, 04:07 PM   #14
bvl
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Several references above to Wideband O2 sensors and auto-sensing.

That is not auto-tune...auto-tune works with the OEM narrow sensor, and its fairly good until it gets hot (which is quickly), so its overall use for those who are tuning on boost on the street is questionable...BTDT with a Link ECU for a different car. You throw O2 readings out the window, and tune to EGT, injector widths, and knock as needed.

No replacement for dyno tuning. What would be nice is starter maps from a wide-band tuning session, which is usually what good shops will do.

I know you you feel about that Shiv...you are on record in more then one place regarding dyno tuning each indivudual car, as well as the Link's deficiencies in several worlds (Scooby, Miata )

Definately has merits. I am all for a Link that allows for user defined zones, though I personally would want to run her conservatively anyway.



- b
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Old 10-10-2001, 04:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by bvl

I know you you feel about that Shiv...you are on record in more then one place regarding dyno tuning each indivudual car, as well as the Link's deficiencies in several worlds (Scooby, Miata )
FYI, all the comments I have made regarding Links have been specific to the MiataLink, sold by Flyin' Miata. The FM Miatalink is based on an older Link board and is running proprietary software designed by FM. It's the *only* Link system on which I have extensive first-hand experience-- both on the street and on the dyno-- in NA and turbo applications.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the newer Subaru Links are better in every respect. But until I see and test one at length, it's impossible for me to offer my opinion on its relative strengths and deficiencies.

FWIW, most of the comments that people make with respects to different ECUs should be taken with a grain of salt. Almost everyone, myself included, has a preference based on experience, history, etc., Also, almost everyone, myself included, has not had the opportunity or time to become very familiar with every available system. Until one does, his ability to compare and contrast two or more ECUs is severely impaired.

My 2c
shiv
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Old 10-10-2001, 05:02 PM   #16
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Shiv is right, of course

Not many tuners or others have had an opportunity to try many different solutions for comparison purposes.

My comments are valid in that I know that the link works very well for me. I'm not saying that it is better or worse than other options 'cos I haven't tried them

Cheers,

Alex
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Old 10-11-2001, 12:20 AM   #17
Burner
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I had an opportunity to speak with another tuner earlier this evening who has widely used the older versions of the Link, I believe he said the Link 1, in the US. He was quick to point out that he has been using the Link equipment for many years on the 2.0 Subaru engine and has been very happy with it. He pointed out that this is the same ECU used by Bourne Racing (the PossumLink) and that it has served that organization very well.

I learned that a conservative base map, tuned with a special wide band O2 Lambda sensor, comes with the Link from the factory. Then, it is very possible to successfully tune the Link on the road using the AutoTune capability. Since a good map, from a dyno, already exists. I think this street driven tuning process may be similar to the process described by Shiv in another thread regarding dyno tuning versus street tuning found here:

http://www.i-club.com/forums/showthr...threadid=81056

I was told that the price would probably be around $1600 US. Seems to me that the value of having an ECU that is invisible and easily swapped back to stock would be a really good thing. What if the car needs to be brought in for some type of service? The aftermarket ECU can be removed and replaced with the stock one without a trace. Does the capability justify any extra costs?

One item I am still unsure about is whether or not the O2 sensor by the pre-cat is a true wide band (lambda) sensor or just a narrow band sensor. If it is wide band and if the new Link ECU can take advantage of it, this could be a really good thing for tuning . . . ? The tuner I spoke to tonight said the MY02 used two narrow band O2 sensors?

By the way, is anyone using the Autronic unit? It also looks like a plug-in unit that might be viable. How does its capabilities differ from other ECU's? Does anyone know how much it costs?

Andy
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Old 10-11-2001, 01:04 AM   #18
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Default Plug-in ECUs

A couple of things. In some many racing/rally series, including USTCC by the way, it is illegal to run a programmable ECU unless it fits into the stock ECU box. This means that a Motec would not be allowed while Link is perfectly acceptable. It's important to make these distinctions if we are to regard the popularity of a system in racing environments as a true representation of its merits. Such rules, as I understand it, lead to the creation of the plug and play ECUs from Autronic, Link and others.

RE: Autronic ECU. The plug and play ECU is not yet available for the MY02 WRX. For the last year, I've been working with the boys in Austrailia (supplying pin-out diagrams, ECU info, etc,.) on getting it done. It's taking a long time and it's still some time out. If the Autronic plug and play ECU is as functional as their SM2 and SMC stand alone engine computers, it should be a very attractive option for WRX owners looking for high-end engine management. Expect price to be above $2000. Not bad for a Motec equivalent that plugs right in.

RE: Link ECU. The new Link ECU should be available soon to US WRX owners. I believe they are going through some last minute tweaks. Retail price is expected to be around $1650 with the optional serial hook-up (for laptop interface) costing an additional $85. Needless to say, it would be hard (and real premature) to compare the two systems (Autronic and Link) at this time.

RE: Autotuning. It is unlikely that the factory o2 sensor is capable of providing accurate response under boost. This makes auto-tuning more of a driveability feature, improving performance during cruise, idle, low load, transitions, etc,. On-boost fuel tuning is still best done on a dyno. Same goes for ignition tuning.

My 2c,
Shiv
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Old 10-11-2001, 09:39 AM   #19
bvl
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I hope my comments were not taken out of context Shiv....I should have emphasized my agreement with you that each car is different, and while plug and chug upgrades are nice, the default maps are far from optimal for all cars.

My main point was the reference to auto-tuning
and wideband O2 sensors with the Link ECU. Your second post followed up that point: the ECUs are tuning off the narrow band, and its value is suspect at best under boost (as you and
others have said many times

Sorry if I inferred too much into the miata world. I did not intend too. I agree with you, even if I am a link lemming

For my WRX, I would be most interested in a programmable ECU that allowed me to fool with settings a bit to derive the powerband I want (which is conservitive, but without the factory restrictions of 1st and second gear boost limits, and conservative timing for 91 octane).

- b
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Old 10-11-2001, 09:47 AM   #20
JenisonWRX
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If the auto tuning on the Link is like the factory ecu...then its pretty much worthless...

I've had an experience already where the ecu just seemed to make it worse by trying to solve the problem.
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Old 10-11-2001, 11:08 AM   #21
Greenracer6
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Default ISR Performance

I ordered a Plug an Play Link two weeks ago from
ISR Performance (Pam Dowell)WRXGIRL, and she said that the shipping is taking longer than expected. I am paying $1085 which includes shipping and a hand tuning module.

Does anyone know what Version it will be? (Version 6)hopefully?

Bill
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Old 10-11-2001, 11:28 AM   #22
JenisonWRX
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Version 6 is for the 00...
After that...they stopped doing the 'version' thing...They now just call it the Plugin Link...or New Age Link I herd one vendor call it.

Greenracer...I would make sure that what your getting is the right one...cause thats just nuts. The hand tuning mod alone is 300. Every dealer I've talked too...everyone said the ecu was ~1600...and that does NOT include the handheld unit. Which each quoted me 300 on that.
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Old 10-11-2001, 11:35 AM   #23
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I spoke with Ben @ MRT Rally, he said that the Plug and Pay ECU was about $890 and the hand tuning module was $165

see:
>From: "Ben Taylor" <Ben@mrtrally.com.au>
>To: "Bill Green" <greenracer6@hotmail.com>
>Subject: RE: WRX-USA
>Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 17:52:04 +1000
>
>Hi Bill.
>
>Thanks for your enquiry.
>
>The Link ECU's are currently in production now after many months of road
>testing in the new MY02 WRX. Pricing is still to be confirmed but will be
>around AU$1700 (approx USD$890 at todays exchange rates). This is for the
>unit only, with the optional hand controller costing a further AU$315
>(USD$165 approx). Tuning is performed by the hand controller.
>
>The ECU is designed to work with the standard injectors, although unless
>you
>intend rebuilding your engine with a 2.2L stroker kit and running 24 PSi
>this should be fine! You will not need to replace your injectors below this
>level of performance. You can certainly adjust the duty cycle of the
>injectors, and the overall air/fuel ratio with the system though.
>
>I would recommend ordering the system directly through your local
>authorised
>MRT agent, as they will also be able to assist with fitting/tuning if
>required, and any warranty work should the need arise. Their price will
>also
>include shipping, import duties and local taxes. Check out the website at
><http://www.mrtrally.com.au/performance/dealers.htm> for more information
>and contact details.
>
>I hope this helps and look forward to your reply.
>
>Kind Regards
>Ben
>MRT Performance "We Rally, You Win !"
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Old 10-11-2001, 11:38 AM   #24
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Location: Louisville KY
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08 335i TwinTurbo
PSM 02WRX, 97 Dipped CRV

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Thats what he told me, so I found a dealer, ISR Perf.

890+165+shipping from ISR (California)
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Old 10-11-2001, 12:35 PM   #25
geremy
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Member#: 8300
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Tampa, FL
Vehicle:
2002 Impreza WRX
and '02 Honda RC51

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Allrighty now boys, It's time to plug and to play...make sure to give us many detailed reports...
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