When it comes to engines, small-blocks used to be small, and big-blocks used to be big. Today, the term small-block doesn't necessarily mean that an engine is small. Mopar guys are lucky now since stroker kits, aftermarket heads, and numerous other aftermarket parts are made specifically for the small-block Chrysler engine. We remember when building a small-block Mopar meant using mostly factory parts because that's all that was available. Since the small-block Mopar is gaining popularity as a foundation for big cubic inches and big power, we decided it would be fun to feature the small-block Mopar in this year's engine challenge to really show what Mopar's LA engine is capable of.

If you've been following our engine challenges you know the basic rules. We try to encourage the builders to make big horsepower reliably and do it on pump gas, while sticking to a tight budget. For this year's small-block challenge, engine displacement will be limited to 410 ci and all will have to run on the same 93 octane Rockett Brand fuel, but otherwise we're pretty much letting anything go. Like in past years, we're sure we'll see engines built strictly for high power, but since the price of the parts is factored into the power the engine makes, it will likely take a combination of good power and economical parts to win.

This month, we'll introduce you to the builders and give you a peek at the engines they're building for our third annual engine challenge.

Diamondback Engines
Richmond, Texas

Diamondback Engines was formed by business partners Dave Schultz, Dallas Schultz, and Damon Kuhn because they recognized a need in their area for a quality-oriented, Mopar-specific performance shop. As drag racers, the guys at Diamondback design and build each engine to their customers needs, paying the same attention to detail when building their street engines as they do when building race engines. In addition to their full-service engine shop, Diamondback also builds transmissions and carburetors, and has a retail parts store.

For this year's engine challenge, Diamondback Engines will be putting together a 408ci small-block. Engine builders Damon Kuhn and Dallas Schultz will be using an Eagle stroker crank in a factory 360 block to achieve their 408ci displacement. Brodix B-1 cylinder heads should provide plenty of flow for big power, and a Diamondback 750 or 950 carburetor will handle the fuel mixing. As of this writing, the engine isn't complete, but the guys at Diamondback guaranteed their engine would be dyno'd and delivered to the Mopar Nationals by the deadline.

Indy Cylinder Head
Indianapolis, Indiana

The name Indy Cylinder Head is synonymous with Mopar power. The guys at Indy recognized the need for Mopar-specific aftermarket parts before most, designing some of the best heads around for Mopar applications. Since then they haven't looked back and have been engineering heads, intakes, blocks, and numerable other parts for all Mopar and AMC applications, even the new Hemi. With so many new and cutting edge products, we wonder when these guys sleep!

While we expect big power from a name like Indy Cylinder Head, the crew at Indy was undecided about how to approach this contest. One approach would be to build a powerful engine, highlighting their parts and building prowess, and not worry about the cost factor. Another approach is, of course, to build an economical engine and go for the win based on cost. Turns out the guys at Indy built one of each and will decide which engine to bring based on each engine's in-house dyno results. Both engines will displace 408 ci, but the budget engine will use cast-iron heads, a stock oil pan, and other budget goodies to keep costs down. Their potent engine is an all-out powerhouse that should churn out some impressive numbers. We'll have to wait until the Mopar Nationals to see which one they enter!