With the exponential rate of progress in modern automotive technology, it’s easy to think that the humble driveway tinkerer is rapidly becoming a critically endangered species. But US Youtuber Wesley Kagan has proved that there is plenty of space in the future for the at-home mechanic by developing and engineering a functioning Koenigsegg-style Freevalve system for his NA-generation Mazda MX-5’s factory 1.6-litre engine.
Incredibly, Kagan only began work on the project two months ago and, following the successful running and driving proof of concept, has decided to release all of his plans, designs and coding free of charge, stating: “I don’t want money to stand in the way of technology”.
“I think this is something that’s pretty cool, and I hope you do too, and I’m excited to see what the world does with it” said Kagan.
Well, variable valve timing may have been one of the most significant developments in modern engine technology, allowing differing camshaft profiles to open valves longer and larger under load - or smaller and shorter for efficiency; however, the limiting factor is the static states of two differing cam profiles with no variability in between.
Conversely, Freevalve technology – championed by Koenigsegg in its Gemera hypercar - sees each valve actuator replaced by a tiny independent piston. Measured bursts of compressed air see each valve able to be operated independently and individually of one another depending on engine temperatures, performance required and the type of fuel used.
Infinitely variable lift durations offer a variety of benefits pertaining to efficiency and performance, as well as allowing for higher compressions, improved engine warmup times, whilst also opening up an assortment of interesting possibilities in a turbocharged application with the ability to bypass the turbo altogether. Not to mention the prospect of running on zero-emission biofuels.
While Kagan has decided to open-source his efforts by distributing all of his CAD designs and coding for free, he is committed to continuing development on his Freevalve MX-5 on his Youtube channel.
He also has a number of other interesting projects on the go, including a tube-chassis pushrod suspension, 60s-style F1 car built out of a Porsche Boxster – which is slated to receive a Mercedes-Benz V12!
You can watch the full video above to see just how Kagan got his cam-less MX-5 running.
Long live the DIY mechanic!