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> the timing of those older motors is mechanical and set to be optimal when the motor is at a peak (or near peak) performance.

Not true with mechanical variable valve phasing/timing/shifting systems, famed (and defamed) as VTEC for Honda, but available in other alternative forms (and often recently and in milder forms probably due to Honda and Toyota patents gradually expiring), like Toyota: VVT-i (famous as VVT in AE86's 4A-GE engine), Suzuki: VVT (e.g on Swift Sport M16A engine), Ford: VCT...

Or it can be completely electronic thanks to direct injection gasoline engines, like Fiat MultiAir.

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