Camshafts are rubbish. At least, compared to the technology from Koenigsegg’s Freevalve offshoot. The concept is a relatively simple but ingenious one - by ditching the cams and instead electronically-controlling a series of pneumatically actuated valves, much more freedom is opened up.
You’re given far greater control of valve lift, opening them more to increase performance or less for better efficiency. Granted, a camshaft with variable valve timing can also do this, but in a far more limited way, with the change dependent only on engine speed. Freevalve, on the other hand, can alter the valve profile on the fly as it sees fit, taking into account multiple parameters including engine temperature, drive modes and even how the driver’s behaving.
More mainstream manufacturers have played around with this technology in the past, but with much of the car industry setting sights on electrification and ditching further internal combustion engine developments, only Koenigsegg is pushing it. Oh, and a guy called Wesley Kagan.
He’s been busy converting an NA Mazda MX-5/Miata to run without camshafts, documenting his work on YouTube. Kagan used the stock cylinder head as a starting point, adding a mix of bespoke and off-the-shelf parts to convert the valves for pneumatic actuation. The redesigned head runs on a programme he wrote himself, and yes (after several days of tweaking), it runs and drives nicely.
Kagan admits his coding knowledge isn’t exactly tip-top, so to realise the full potential of his setup, he’s pledged to make both the code and his CAD work available to all.
We are in awe.