We'd like to congratulate all the participants in our Hemi Challenge, especially Chuck Lof
Those of you who have been following our Hemi engine challenge are aware that all of the competitors tweaked some serious power from their 500-inch elephant engines. All the engines in the competition made at least 650 hp, with the top engines pushing well past the 700hp mark. our competition had the added twist of factoring the horsepower and torque the engine made into the price of the engine to determine who made the most power for the dollar. Our idea was to demonstrate the variety of components and building techniques the builders utilized to make great power, while keeping the cost at a reasonable level. This year we congratulate Chuck Lofgren and his team from Lofgren Auto Specialties in Cedar, Minnesota, who squeezed the most power-per-dollar from the smallest cubic-inch engine entered in the competition.
We want all our readers to know this was a very close competition. While some of the builders obviously went for peak power numbers, others were intent on keeping costs down and shooting for the best power-per-dollar. To calculate the power-per-dollar of the engines, we used third-party retailers to price all the major components of each engine. Labor was assumed to be equal and couldn't really be judged accurately, so it was not factored into our formula. Even with engines topped with cylinder heads from Indy, Stage V, Mopar Performance, and a set of factory cast-iron units, as well as induction ranging from dual Edelbrock carburetors to a single Holley Dominator mounted on an Indy single plane intake, our top competitors were separated only by decimal points. Regardless of the combination, all of these engines performed very well, and we would be happy to have any of them in our cars.
While all our competitors used the same Mopar Performance block as required by the rules of our challenge, what went inside the block was very different. Since the competition was based on the cost of the parts, as well as the power made, exotic, pricey pieces were kept to a minimum in most engines. Each builder concentrated on putting together a solid combination, spending extra money where they thought it would help the most. Some utilized special friction enhancing coatings, while others opted for dual-carburetor induction.
Starting with the Lofgren entry, we'll give an overview of each builder's techniques, as well as the parts they used in their engine. Look for in-depth breakdowns of the engines and their components in future issues. We're sure you'll agree that all of these builders have earned some well-deserved respect when it comes to building a potent street Hemi. We're also sure you'll be impressed with the diversity of parts and techniques used by the builders to make their power.
| J.D. Engine and Machine |
900 Spencer Ave.
Columbia, MO 65203
|Indy Cylinder Head |
8621 Southeastern Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46239
|Hemis Only |
4131 South Main St.
Akron, OH 44319
|Lofgren Auto Specialties |
18130 Dahlia St. NW
Cedar, MN 55011
131 W. Lang Ave.
West Covina, CA 91790
|Mid America Racing Engines |
1945 W 18th St.
Washington, IA 52353
|Muscle Motors |
2085 Glenn St.
Lansing, MI 48906
Nothing draws a crowd like a Hemi screaming up to 7,000 rpm. Check out the videos on the r
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Lofgren Auto Specialties
Our top honors in this year's engine challenge go to Chuck Lofgren and his team for their potent 485ci iron-headed Hemi. This engine made more than 725 hp during its judged dyno pulls and pulled strongly all the way past our 7,000-rpm limit for the competition. Due in part to an aggressive cam profile, this engine had 4.0 inches of manifold vacuum at 1,000 rpm, which probably limits the use of power brakes, but are you really concerned with power brakes when you have some 725 hp on tap? Chuck used a stout bottom end, consisting of an Eagle crank and rods, combined with Mopar Performance pistons, a Melling oil pump, and Milodon oil pan to keep everything lubricated. To keep costs down, Lofgren's utilized a used set of '68 casting, factory Hemi cylinder heads, which were massaged for optimum flow. One of the tricks utilized in this engine was the use of custom nail-head Ferrea intake valves that Chuck says were good for significantly more cylinder head flow on the intake side. Cam Motion provided the bumpstick for this engine that not only made good top-end power, but had very broad torque and power curves. Topping off the combination was an Indy single plane intake with a Barry Grant 1090 King Demon carburetor. Lofgren Auto Specialties did a great job of nursing very respectable power from this economical combination of parts to lead the competition in this year's challenge. Chuck says this combination will retail for $22,900 carb to pan.
Mike Ware of Muscle Motors had some tricks up his sleeve for the engine challenge. After overcoming several difficulties during the dyno pulls, Mike attained a respectable 666.5 hp from his entry in the challenge and a very streetable 5.9 inches of manifold vacuum, but we have a feeling he wasn't going for the peak horsepower lead. Mike's combination of economical parts, combined with respectable horsepower and torque numbers had what it took to earn a very close second place in the contest. Muscle Motors utilized a great combination of off-the-shelf parts, combined with their own Private Label crankshaft and connecting rods, to build the most economically priced engine in the competition. Trading power for cost, Mike utilized Mopar Performance aluminum cylinder heads on his engine. Steel heads would make more power because of their thermal efficiency, but the aluminum units actually retail for less money. Diamond pistons and a Competition Cams solid flat tappet camshaft and matching springs were installed in this engine and topped off with a King Demon 1190 carburetor mounted on an Indy single plane intake. Muscle Motors retail price for this engine is $17,150 complete.
J.D. Engine and Machine
Jeff Dickey and his team from J.D. Engine and Machine hold the title for making the most power in our competition. Jeff's tunnel-ram-equipped Hemi blasted its way to a best pull of more than 728 hp and 615 lb-ft of torque to lead the field in terms of power. Even more impressive is the fact they did it with a hurt engine. At least two valvesprings were weakened to the point of valve float, causing power to drop dramatically above 6,700 rpm and probably costing Jeff top honors in our challenge. Even so, J.D. Engine and Machine made a respectable third place showing and topped the field with a power-brake-friendly 6.75 inches of manifold vacuum. Jeff utilized a solid combination of economical parts, including an Eagle crank and rods, Diamond pistons, and a Comp cam and lifters to achieve his goals. He topped off his combination with Stage V Engineering aluminum cylinder heads. Jeff and his team concentrated on cylinder head flow, compression, and induction to achieve their power numbers and were the only competitors to utilize a tunnel-ram intake. The Indy dual-quad unit matched with a pair of Holley 750 Dominators did its job as his competition-leading power was still climbing when valve float took its toll, limiting his peak power to 6,700 rpm--300 rpm shy of the limit set by the rules. We're sure this combination with a new set of valvesprings would have impressed us with even higher numbers. While the tunnel ram and Dominators made great power, the induction setup was also the most expensive in the competition, taking away from the power-per-dollar rating and landing Jeff in third Place. Jeff and his shop can build as much power as your budget allows and will retail this potent street Hemi for $22,000 complete.
West Covina, California
Holding the honors for most power with a single carburetor, and coming in fourth in the power-per-dollar competition is Speed-O-Motive's entry, which made some 722.6 hp and 618.8 lb-ft of torque. Manifold vacuum for this engine was 5.0 inches at 1,000 rpm, which would certainly allow power brakes if desired. August Cedarstrand of Speed-O-Motive was probably the most laid-back competitor we had--making only minor ignition timing changes to his engine during the dyno pulls. Utilizing Eagle crank and rods, combined with Ross pistons and a Competition Cams custom-ground camshaft, their durable bottom-end was topped with Stage V engineering street Hemi cylinder heads and an Indy intake sporting a Barry Grant Race Demon carburetor. The only technique utilized by Speed-O-Motive that could be considered exotic was their extensive use of metal coatings as both friction improvers and heat barriers in their motor. These special coatings have been shown to improve both power and endurance, but the gains come at the cost of dollars. Speed-O-Motives retail price for this Hemi is $17,900 complete and includes delivery to any of the 48 states.
Mid America Racing Engines
David Bruns of Mid America Racing Engines built what was probably the most streetable entry to earn fifth place honors in our competition. Even with the lowest compression ratio of any of the entrants, Mid America made a street friendly 666 hp and showed a very broad torque curve. Though manifold vacuum was a somewhat low 4.2 inches, this engine was making an amazing 530 lb-ft of torque at a low 3,000 rpm. Inside their Mopar Performance block, David utilized an Eagle crank with durable, though expensive, Manley connecting rods. JE forged pistons completed this tough rotating assembly, which was topped with Indy CNC ported aluminum cylinder heads and a single Dominator-fed Indy intake. An Isky cam actuated the Indy valves to provide a smooth operating engine with very reasonable idle qualities. Of all the engines tested in our competition, the Mid America entry was the happiest running on the 93-octane Rockett Brand fuel. This engine sounded as if it would run very strongly even on lower octane fuel, showing no signs of detonation during the dyno pulls. David utilized metal coatings on the pistons; relying on quality parts and accurate assembly techniques to make his power and give his engine the longevity to provide years of street use. The Mid America entry retails for $20,000 complete.
Indy Cylinder Head
There is likely no name more well-known than Indy Cylinder Head when it comes to making Mopar power. Whether big-block, small-block, or Hemi, Indy Cylinder Head has a reputation for manufacturing top-quality parts utilizing cutting-edge technology. More than thirty years experience have taught the guys at Indy how to make reliable power without breaking your automotive budget. Unfortunately, a wiped-out camshaft severely limited the power made by the Indy Cylinder Head entry, landing them a sixth place in our challenge. While their 649 hp was certainly respectable, we're sure these guys could have been more competitive if not for the camshaft problem they encountered. Manifold vacuum was a strong 6.5 inches, indicating the streetability of this combination. Indy used the smallest bore/longest stroke combination of any entrant and utilized a strong--and pricey--Callies 4.500 stroke crankshaft. Tough Manley H-beam rods connected to Arias small-dome forged pistons rounded out their rotating assembly. When it came to camshaft selection, Indy chose to use their entry for some research and development. Testing a welded and re-ground billet core with Comp solid flat tappet lifters proved to be their downfall as a compatibility issue caused several cam lobes to wear excessively, limiting the output of their engine. Topped with their CNC ported aluminum cylinder heads and a King Demon-fed single-plane Indy intake, their engine definitely had more potential than was shown in our challenge. Indy's price for this engine (without the camshaft problem) is a reasonable $17,950 complete.
Larry Sheppard of Hemis Only is probably one of the most experienced Hemi engine builders in the country. In addition to his engine building expertise, Larry serves time as a Top Fuel mechanic and clutch man. The 701 hp that his engine made was impressive, but we were more impressed with the contest-leading 639 lb-ft of torque that his entry made. This was definitely a solid engine and made these numbers after a dyno malfunction caused the engine to backfire, detonate, and collapse two piston domes, pinching the rings in the process. Even with a damaged engine, Larry's numbers, factored into the cost of his entry, would have certainly placed him higher than seventh in our challenge, but during the post-test inspection, Larry was found to be using parts that were outside the rules of the competition. Unfortunately, it seems the copy of the challenge rules that Larry received was missing the page that dictated legal crankshafts and lifters. While we will not be officially disqualifying Larry because the mistake seems to be inadvertent, we do not feel it would be fair to the other competitors to rank Larry's entry where it would have placed had he used legal parts. Nevertheless, we were impressed with the power and torque the Hemis Only entry made and wish we could have seen its true potential.
Mopar Muscle tech editors Steve Dulcich and Dave Young handled the tech inspections as eac
In addition to three drums of 93-octane fuel, Rockett Brand sent Vice President of enginee
We at Mopar Muscle were very impressed with all the engines entered in this year's challenge and would like to thank all the participants and sponsors of our competition. We encourage you to contact any of these professional builders regarding your next engine project. We found all our competitors to be true Mopar guys with experience building small-blocks, big-blocks, and Hemi engines. All our competitors have full-service machine shops and can help meet your needs, whether you want a turnkey crate engine or just need machine shop services. We congratulate all our competitors for bringing solid combinations to our challenge, as well as for their professionalism. We can only hope that next year's competition is as fun and exciting as this one.