Why Go E85?

 Lloyd Philip's 300zx sitting pretty, filling up on e85. 

Lloyd Philip's 300zx sitting pretty, filling up on e85. 


First of all, why is e85 so damn popular? 

The short answer is 3 simple things

  • Price
  • Detonation resistance/Power
  • Can be used with stock components

Although there are many other reasons that e85 is becoming the go to race fuel we will focus on these main topics. 



In the beginning there was corn (Lol)

Ethanol hasnt always been popular,  it was looked at, as this corrosive, and unpredictable fuel by skeptics. Shops seemed to keep e85 at a distance. Partially because of the little knowledge they had about the fuel and partially because everyone assumed that you needed full braided steel lines and many other expensive supporting mods to even run the fuel.  The few that were giving e85 a shot were in some ways shunned for it, which put a massive damper on experimentation with this somewhat new fuel. Fast forward to today we now know that ethanol isnt coherently "corrosive" unless it has been accumulating water/moisture. Once e85 has accumulated moisture it can develop a slight corrosive nature which can be easily identified by a milky look to the fuel and a white powder on the inside of the fuel tank. You have to realize though that this does not happen over night, it takes time. If the fuel however is being stored inside of a pressurized fuel tank, the process of moisture accumulation takes even longer. Furthermore if you are driving your car on a regular basis with ethanol, you have little worries. 




Price of e85:

The average price of e85 is fairly cheap for the benefits it supplies. The cost is very comparable to regular 93 octane, and when you start looking at ethanol based fuels, and other race fuels such as c16 the price margin becomes very apparent. In the United States e85 can range between $1.40 and $3.00 depending on your state, compare that to c16 which is on average in the $16 range per gallon... sheesh.


Detonation Resistance & Power:

The beautiful thing about e85 is its detonation resistance. E85 burns much cooler then most other fuels. This cooler burn promotes a more efficient or "full" burn and decreases the cylinder temps inside of the engine. So it not only works to cool the engine but it allows for a much better combustion in order to support power. Here is an example. In the 300zx world its well known that the vg30de is a stout motor, but only in recent years have people started going the na-t route. So far the general consensus after numerous experimentation is that 400whp with the na (10:5:1) compression on 93 octane is the stopping point because of the risk of detonation. But if you add e85 to the mix you can find guys in the 500+ range with na (10:5:1) compression without pre-detonation, hell a guy by the name of Elliot Dawson has even pushed the vg close to 800hp. Not to mention e85 is in fact so good at cooling that it can even support a non intercooled setup on the 300zx motor up to around the 500hp range with stock twins from the tt. Even in Na applications e85 can allow for advanced timing, and a much more aggressive tune that otherwise would not be capable with pump gas. 

 Elliott's single turbo 300zx making 783whp tuned on  e85

Elliott's single turbo 300zx making 783whp tuned on e85


E85 can be used with a lot of stock components:

Ethanol and the 300zx fuel system mix very well. Stock lines, stock fuel regulator, stock twin turbo fuel pump, stock fuel tank, stock fuel filter ect will take e85 without complaints. now not everything on the 300zx will support e85 in stock form. For instance stock z32 injectors are not big enough to support e85. However 740cc injectors will, and can support enough fuel flow for around 600whp on e85. If you have an NA z32 and you plan to go na-t your stock na fuel pump will not support enough flow for even low hp on ethanol, We at Nickel Performance suggest atleast a walbro 255 fuel pump, however aem's 320lph, or walbro 450/485 fuel pumps will support much higher hp around the 600 range on ethanol, one thing to consider if you use the 450 pump is that the stock z32 fuel control module does not like the larger pump, and therefore will need to be bypassed. Another option for a high hp ethanol setup is duel pump systems, with either two walbro 255's, two aem 320's or a stagered setup with a walbro 255 for regular driving and a secondary larger walbro 450/485 pump for WOT(wide open throttle) pulls. 

Stay driven. 

By: Ocean Nickel


If you enjoyed this article, and are looking forward to more informative articles or updates on Nickel Performance and what we do, give us a like and a follow on facebook and instagram by clicking the icons below and checking us out. Thank you for taking the time to read this article, if you have any ideas for new articles or you want us to cover a topic we haven't addressed yet shoot us an email or message us through the social media outlets below.