The Lofgren's teamwork and...
The Lofgren's teamwork and willingness to think "outside the box" really impressed us. These guys were true professionals, and their efficiency and attention to detail should be commended. As a side note, they made some 1.495 hp-per-cubic-inch with their 485-inch motor. Had they interpreted the rules differently and built a 500-inch motor, they theoretically could have made some 748 hp! Not bad for factory steel heads and pump gas.
Lofgren Auto Specialties - Chuck Lofgren
Chuck Lofgren and his team from Washington, Iowa, showed up in Memphis ready to compete. These guys were taking this competition seriously, and their professionalism was apparent to all. "A well-oiled machine" is the best description of how these guys efficiently prepped and tuned their motor during the competition. Chuck Lofgren and his crew have been avid drag racers for years and are true competitors. While they have built engines for their own race cars for years, it is only recently that they have begun doing engine work for customers. The Lofgrens love to race, and while at the Mopar Nationals competed in the wheelstander class with their 9-second street-driven Barracuda. Their love for competition was also apparent during the challenge; these guys paid attention to every detail of their entry and even brought a weather station with them to aid their tuning. Due to Chuck's interpretation of the rules, the Lofgren entry was the smallest engine in the competition at some 485 ci and probably contained the heaviest pistons of any competitor. It also had '68-edition steel heads that one of their customers refused to run because of a crack. The heads were repaired, and the decision was made to combine the factory heads with an aggressive camshaft and single 1050-cfm carburetor atop an Indy single plane intake to make their power.
Even while preparing their engine for the dyno pulls, the Lofgren team thought of just about everything. They used high-temp silicone to seal the headers to the head and also sealed the slip-tubes of the headers, stating more accurate air/fuel ratio readings and cleaner air in the dyno cell as the reasons. During the initial warm-up, they set the float levels only and were ready to qualify. Several minutes were spent consulting with Tim Wusz about the Rockett Fuel's burn rate and oxygen content before jetting changes were made. Though the size of this motor and the use of factory cylinder heads had some wondering if these guys would be competitive, it was apparent during their first pull that the Lofgren's were not only competitive, but real contenders. Each pull on the dyno netted additional power and torque as the Lofgren team fine-tuned their combination. They even ran an air cleaner with a paper filter for their judged runs and amazingly showed a slight gain in power. As we said, these guys paid attention to everything, including the turbulent air in the dyno cell. This is one of the first engines we've known not to lose power on the dyno when running an air cleaner. We even checked to make sure they didn't soak the filter element in nitro for two days prior to the contest; they hadn't. Needless to say, we were impressed when this motor screamed up to 725.4 hp and 596.3 lb-ft of torque (combined score of 1321.7) and kept pulling strong. This was the only engine in the competition that made its peak horsepower right at 7,000 rpm and seemed to have more in it. We actually made an additional pull on this motor to 7,400 rpm after the scored portion of the dyno testing, at the Lofgren's request, and it made 731.5 hp at 7,200 rpm. Of course the final pull was not legal for the contest, but it did serve to impress all in attendance.
Muscle Motors - Mike Ware
Mike Ware of Muscle Motors in Lansing, Michigan, has long been known both as a Mopar enthusiast and for his ability to make horsepower. Muscle Motors is a busy shop, but they still found time to put together a solid motor for our competition. Mike and the guys did encounter the setback of wiping out the camshaft during their precompetition testing, so when their engine arrived it had a new camshaft installed that required break-in. While this scenario wasn't directly addressed in the rules, we consulted with the other competitors and allowed Mike to run his engine for a break-in cycle before qualifying. Mike was the only competitor to run a Mopar electronic distributor in his engine, which caused problems during initial start-up. The engine initially misfired considerably, causing all to wonder if it would make the pulls. In the spirit of competition, the Lofgren team loaned Mike their distributor and plug wires so that he could compete. This was just one example of how everyone pitched in to make the challenge fun and exciting. Nobody wanted to see any of the engines fail to compete, and everyone worked together to achieve this goal. Mike's motor utilized single Dominator induction, as well as Mopar Performance aluminum cylinder heads.
Though not his fault, things...
Though not his fault, things just weren't going right for Mike Ware of Muscle Motors. A new cam to break in and a major ignition problem had Mike playing catch-up during his pulls. His best numbers came from his final pull, but certainly would have improved had there been more time for tuning.
Noticing the turbulent air...
Noticing the turbulent air in the dyno cell, the Lofgren team chose to run an air cleaner on their motor, actually picking up a slight bit of power. Their attention to weather, fuel capability, and their use of the data provided by Superflow's dyno netted some very impressive numbers.
Mike takes out some pent-up...
Mike takes out some pent-up aggression on the timing light. We're glad he chose to smash the light instead of the people who put on the contest, this guy is big. Even after a series of problems, Mike was able to tweak some solid numbers out of his engine. Though the peak numbers didn't show the potency of this engine, the torque and power curves were broad and respectable. This will be one heck of a street engine for some lucky customer.
After fighting an ignition problem and breaking in the camshaft, the Muscle Motors entry was ready to compete. During the first pull, the engine sounded a little flat, but responded well to increasing the jet sizes in the carburetor. Working well under pressure, Mike increased the jets for each pull with a substantial gain in power every time. Mike and Muscle Motors would definitely win the "most improved" award if we had one for the competition. it wasn't Mike's day, however, when he bumped the dial on the back of the timing light during his judged pulls, inadvertently taking some twenty degrees of timing out of the motor. Luckily, Mike realized what had happened and corrected it for his final, and best, judged pull. Mike's best numbers were 666.5 hp and 585.7 lb-ft of torque for a combined score of 1252.2. As stated, this engine kept responding to increased jet size to the point that Mike had installed the largest jets anyone at the competition had available. Since the air/fuel ratio still showed lean, we're sure this engine had more in it. In fact, had Mike had more time to play with ignition timing, he certainly could have improved his numbers.
Speed-O-Motive's entry was...
Speed-O-Motive's entry was competitive right out of the box with only minor ignition timing changes required to optimize the combination. This was a healthy engine with broad torque and power curves.
Speed-O-Motive - August Cedarstrand
you won't find a nicer, and more fun-loving competitor than August Cedarstrand from Speed-O-Motive in West Covina, California. August has one of the most positive attitudes of anyone we've met and was genuinely excited about competing in our challenge. Speed-O-Motive has a reputation for supplying their customers with great power for the dollar combinations, so our expectations were high. The builders at Speed-O-Motive chose single Dominator-style carburetion (as did most of our competitors), and Stage V cylinder heads and valve gear. Instead of off-the-shelf CNC ported heads, Speed-O-Motive decided that hand massaging the units in-house could gain them some power. They also extensively utilized metal coatings, both as a thermal barrier and to reduce friction. This combination looks good on paper, but would it make power? The answer was a resounding yes.
When Speed-O-Motive's engine was bolted to the dyno, it fired immediately and sounded very healthy. August chose to begin his qualifying pulls as soon as the warm-up was completed and made only timing changes during the competition, stating they had optimized jetting during their testing in California. Evidently the techniques they utilized worked because the engine made impressive power on every pull. Minor timing changes made minimal differences in peak power and torque with a trade-off occurring. Adding timing would increase horsepower, but drop about the same amount of torque and vice-versa. This engine was ready to compete as delivered and made its optimal combined numbers on its first judged pull. How about 722.6 hp and 618.8 lb-ft of torque for a combined score of 1341.4! This was the best combined power total of the single four-barrel entries and put Speed-O-Motive in solid contention to score highly in the challenge.
A quick check of the plugs...
A quick check of the plugs indicated the air/fuel ratio of this combination was nearly optimal. What can we say, the Speed-O-Motive entry was trouble-free and tuned nicely when it arrived for the competition. It looks like August and the California crew did their homework when it came to making lots of Hemi power.
That's the rundown on the competition so far. As we said, there is no clear winner yet. We'll be tallying the costs of the engines before the next issue, so stay tuned for the results. Remember that manifold vacuum will be factored as a bonus rating, so the builders who made the most peak power aren't necessarily going to come out on top. The idea of this competition is to provide a solid combination for the dollar amount spent, and to provide the readers an informative description of the Hemi engine and the engine builders who make the most out of this potent powerplant. Look for detailed inspections of each engine, the parts that went into them, and the builders who put them together in upcoming issues.
One thing we have learned for certain during this competition is, if you want a Hemi for your ride, you won't go wrong with any of the builders who participated in our challenge. We encourage you to contact any of these reputable shops to discuss options for your own Mopar. Special thanks to these builders for keeping the Hemi legend alive!