Since we're building the engine for our bracket-racer project it must mean the car is ready to go, right? Well, not quite. While we have made some progress on our '67 Barracuda's floors, chassis, and suspension, we still have a long way to go before it's ready for the track. We still need to finish our rollcage, swap our windows for polycarbonate (Lexan) replacements, install a stout rearend, build a transmission, as well as plumb and wire the car.

There are several reasons, however, why we will be building the engine at this stage of the project. First, we will need the engine and transmission in place to complete our plumbing and wiring, as well as to fit our headers and motor plate. Second, we were tired of the parts taking up shelf space so we decided to bolt the engine together. Third, and most important, having the engine ready to install will motivate us to get off our butts and complete the car!

Those of you who have been following our project will remember that our objective for this car is mid-10-second elapsed times. Since our Barracuda will weigh in at just about 3,000 pounds, we'll need an engine that produces in the neighborhood of 600 hp to achieve our goal. Knowing that it's easier to slow a car down than speed it up, and wanting to be able to run mid-10s even in hot weather, we'll shoot for a power more in the 650hp range for this build. We also want to ensure this engine has the endurance to last multiple seasons of racing, so we'll need some strong parts, especially in the bottom end.

The budget for our entire car is about $10,000, so we'll utilize some used items and some good factory parts as well. Since the engine of a drag car is its most abused component, we'll be spending a significant portion of our budget on this motor.

When deciding what engine to drop in our 'Cuda, we first had to consider what we had available. Our goal of 10-second elapsed times pretty much dictated big-block power, and we just happened to have a 400 big-block available that didn't cost us a dime. Since making 650 hp from 400 cubes would be tough, we decided to match our 400 block with a forged 440 crank that we also had at the shop to net a displacement of 451 ci. We've found the low-deck 451 engine to be a powerful and durable combination, also making plenty of torque to get our 'Cuda moving. This combination does require that the crank's main journals be turned down to the main journal size of the 400 and some clearancing of the block in the main-webbing area, but other than that, it's a straightforward build since several manufacturers offer pistons for this application. our block would need to be machined, and for that we sent it to Chenoweth Racing Enterprises.

You may remember the guys at Chenoweth since we have featured their main girdle in several of our engine builds. What you may not know, however, is that the Chenoweth shop offers full-service machining and is extremely Mopar friendly. We chose to send our block to them for their "block-in-a-bag" service, which includes fully machining the block for a racing application on their state-of-the-art equipment. This service is a great option for those who don't have a trustworthy machine shop in their area or for those who want to know they're getting the best quality machine work for their money. The block-in-a-bag service includes fully blueprinting the engine block, decking and squaring all surfaces, boring and honing the cylinders with torque plates, and line-boring the main journals. All the work is done on new Rottler equipment, which can hold tolerances much more accurately than the antiquated equipment found in some shops.