Ok, not sure I follow Mr. Russels comments completely but, here's my take.
Micheal is right in his basic premise, and we should all listen to his
IMHO Please! - Tribological (friction, wear and lubrication) advances in
piston, ring and cylinder materials have pretty much kept pace with the other
advances in engine technology, although clearly the engine management
capabilities have really advanced in the last decade. Kevin Cameron, the
editor at Motor Cyclist wrote a series of great articles (as all of his
articles are of course) on cylinder/piston/ring performance advances in
engines over the last 40+ years. Advances have allowed racing engines to run
from around 5000 rpm in the 50's to 18,000 rpm + now. That's 300 rev's per
second. Amazing. I have a hard time wraping my brain around something
mechanical running that fast. The advances in piston ring material and the
they are designed to deform and seal under compression or combustion pressure
was fasinating reading - if you're into that stuff :) Cylinder wall
material and finish is designed such that the grain structure will minimise
friction (and wear), and allow ever high piston speeds (which is the limiting
to HP generation). But, engine management plays the biggest part in engine
performance increase (and emmisions decrease) over a wide operating range.
No raw fuel running down the cylinder walls these days.
So, should we all run out and switch our Healey's to fuel inj? Why did we
buy these cars in the first place? Go buy a Miata if you want modern
engine/engine management/suspension/etc. Or maybe one of those smokin' hot
cooper's. sweet car.