Project P38: ECU Re-Map by Tornado Chips

Being a speedy junkie, I have had re-mapped ECU’s on the majority of my road and motorsport cars. Our on-going Audi Project S4 has a reliable, darn effective ECU re-map by Superchips fitted. And previous rally, race, sprint, hill climb, drag and road projects have all had a “mapping” expert turn their hand to the ECU – to generate more power and torque with their laptop ignition advance/boost curve/fuel map wizardry on the dyno. But all those cars have been turbocharged… and as such Project P38’s 4.6-litre V8 is the first engine I have had re-mapped that’s normally-aspirated remarkably.

So… it needed a man who knows his N/A re-mapping and perhaps even more importantly, his quirky Rover V8 P38 onions. And talking to anyone in the Land Rover world revealed just one name – Mark Adams of Tornado Systems.

Mark is the creator of Tornado Systems/Chips and has been ‘the man who can’ with Rover V8 engines and their ECU’s for over 16 years, after a career in aerospace technology. His vast know-how and soft-voiced expertise make him a genuine pleasure to deal with, and he offers a wide range of ECU re-maps for Land Rovers, including for both the 4.0-litre and 4.6-litre Rover V8 engines (Lucas 4CU, GEMS & Motronic), as well as doing an awful lot of work with Nissan Micra rally cars etc.

Mark says: “The Range Rover Classic and P38 were quite powerful and spritely for their time. But latterly, the frankly anemic performance of the later model years relative to some of their competition inevitably led to frustrations on the part of their owners (indeed it did, Ed).

“Fortunately, we recognised the problem and have developed “re-chipping” solutions to re-program the ECUs to not only produce more power and torque, but better fuel economy too (and work with petrol and LPG converted models). We are now a one-stop-shop with an extensive range of performance enhancing Rover V8 (& other) products, and are always busy developing new product too (they are currently working on an awesome gearbox re-mapping program, Ed).

“The P38 responds really well to a software upgrade. Reasonable gains of 10-15bhp can be expected, with much smoother running, and a more eager feeling to the engine. Fuel economy too should rise 10-15% – assuming you can avoid burying the throttle, which is quite difficult after a re-map, as it’s very seductive indeed!”

Tornado offer three types of bespoke chip re-map for the P38: Performance, Economy or a middle-of-the-road mixture of the two. Guess which one we went for? Yup… maximum attack!

The bespoke re-map essentially includes:

  • Cranking fuel decreased to reduce the risk of flooding
  • Engine temperature re-mapping (also to reduce flooding risk)
  • Quicker, more progressive throttle response mapping, with a much larger mid-range torque (removing the well documented P38 ‘flat spot’)
  • Airflow meter re-scaling, allowing the correct control of part throttle fueling
  • Re-profiling the fuel map – improving low and part throttle economy and allowing free revving
  • Extending the fuel map over 5,500rpm
  • Idle shift lifting, for smoother running
  • Increased engine braking
  • Optional speed limited removal

In order to get the ECU re-mapped, you need to post your unit (which is coded bespoke to your car) to Mark, who then set’s to work with his soldering iron and computer gizmology. So, I got our pals John Kemp Land Rover to remove the standard ECU – which is a quick and easy job – and post the unit to Mark, who had it for about a week and posted it back, having worked his magic. John Kemp then re-fitted the unit et voila… ECU re-mapped.

So, what’s it like?

Well, it started straight up (which some ECU re-maps I have had done did not!), behaved as normal with all fucntcions on the car and the driving experience is drastically, ney, radically improved: Low down grunt and pick-up is noticeably more perky, the mid-range is like a different world to before with plenty of (smooth) pulling power where it used to be flat as a witch’s what-nots and there’s a whole lot more go at the top end too – as the P38 now wants to rev out, which is great, because it sounds marvelous up there, with the Janspeed exhaust blasting V8 to the hedgerows, and feels a lot more powerful.

I’ve not noticed any improvement in fuel economy, the opposite in fact… but that’s because (A) I went for the power chip and (B) I’m enjoying using the new-found bhp and torque, a lot, with a heavy right foot, everywhere. Mark is right… it is seductive! But I suspect the additional fuel economy is also there – as on part throttle, the car is so much more responsive, there’s lees need to load it up to get the big old bus moving. Win. Win.

Really great job Mark. Thanks! This ECU re-map and Tornado Systems come thoroughly recommended – breathing new life into an old dog like Project P38 with aplomb.

Re-Mapping Cost £385 + VAT (currently on sale!). Bargain!

Thanks

Mark Adams, Tornado Systems: Tel: 01694-720144

John Kemp Land Rover: Tel: 01953-601440 (fitting)

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