When insiders predicted that at one point the carburetor would go by the way of the Model T, enthusiasts cried “foul.” How could the carburetor, the staple of spark-combustion engines, go away? The alternative, fuel injection, seemed like another world away, a domain inhabited only by specialist technicians and hardcore geeks, and at that only for service. Even as enthusiast-tunable injection systems came about, the prospect of an injection system as affordable as a carburetor seemed like neverland.
Welcome to Neverland
A few years back aftermarket manufacturers started introducing comprehensive injection systems that literally took the place of carburetors. Splice a high-pressure pump in the feed line, run a return fuel line, weld a bung in the exhaust pipe, and voilà, fuel injection. Another generation introduced self-learning systems that literally, well, learned the parameters of an engine as you drove the car.
But the latest evolution truly promises to make the decision between a carburetor and EFI a difficult one. At the 2015 SEMA show several manufacturers introduced quite a few incredibly affordable injection systems; one, a self-learning job that includes a hand-held controller and needs no laptop, for $799! The price goes up with complexity with a dual-quad, and in one case a true port-style self-learning system. Though costlier than the simpler kits, their asking price pales in comparison to any conventional conversion system from the last generation.
So welcome to the future, a place where anyone can set up true fuel injection for not a whole lot more than the cost of a carburetor, a place where a lot of people who swore off EFI as intimidating and complex will eat their words.