To find out, we decided to configure a 360 short-block representative of a typical high-performance street engine. We had the ideal combination in one of our dyno mules. The basic block was a production '79 casting, bored .030-over and fitted with SpeedPro C116CP pistons-a flat-top hypereutectic piece that has proven very reliable. The block had been decked and squared to let the pistons sit flush at zero deck. The rods were resized stockers fitted with Milodon bolts, and the crank was the production piece, ground 10/10 in typical rebuild fashion. Nothing truly special here, although the block was fitted with main studs for an added measure of bottom-end durability. The bottom end is not unlike thousands of hot 360s powering street machines everywhere.

We anticipated the heads would like high rpm, and since our 360 was already fitted with a small solid grind, we elected to leave the cam previously used with this short-block. The duration was relatively tame (see cam specs, Table 1) considering it is a solid grind. That suited us well, since a lot of duration with our high-flowing heads would easily push the limits on the rpm capabilities of the stock-based bottom end. The W-2 specific items to complete the assembly included an Indy intake manifold, Crane Gold 1.6:1 rockers, tti 171/48-inch headers, a Milodon head-stud kit, and a custom set of Smith Brother's 51/416-inch pushrods. We also upgraded the oiling system with a Milodon pan to ensure adequate lubrication under dragstrip launching conditions. The cylinder heads (the subject of a previous Mopar Muscle article), are a set of fully ported, long-valve, open-chamber, econo castings (PN P4529995). These long-valve econo heads are essentially the race heads with cast-in rocker pedestals. The familiar 2.02-inch and 1.60-inch valve diameters were retained, and the finished product offered more than adequate flow (see Port Flow, Table 2). All in all, the swap was very simple.

Did the W-2s deliver? We brought the assembly to Johnson's Machine Service (JMS) in Monrovia, California, to test the combo on their DTS dyno. The engine crackled to life, and we set the total timing on the locked out MSD distributor to a conservative 34 degrees. With the temperature up from a little running time, the engine was shut down for a hot lash adjustment, and we were ready to run for the numbers. A partial pull revealed a somewhat lean mixture, so the jetting on our Holley 950 HP was bumped up a couple of sizes, and it was time to make some real power pulls. The 360 sounded very healthy up the range, as we pulled it over a broad range from 3,000-7,000 rpm. The result: 537 hp at 6,500 rpm and 467 lb-ft of torque at 5,100 rpm. The engine willingly pulled to 7,000 rpm; dropping only 8 hp over the range from peak power to the top of our test at 7-grand. Yes, it just wanted to keep pulling, and certainly would have stretched the rpm range too high for this short-block if we had gone with a longer duration cam. Torque production was stout over a broad range, showing over 390 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm and never looking back. No wonder the W-2 has a reputation that kills.