Of all the subjects we write about in the pages of Mopar Muscle, the Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge articles are some of the most popular. Our readers seem to enjoy being educated about engines, and learning how eight engine builders achieve big power on pump gas and a limited budget. While the Hemis and big-blocks we've featured in past challenges certainly got a great response, it seems this year's small-blocks are just as popular, and for good reason. The small-block Chrysler mill is widely available, makes great power, and can be inexpensive to build. Since stroker kits are also now available for the LA engines, it's really no wonder so many enthusiasts are choosing small-blocks to power their cars.
Since all the engines must be delivered to the Mopar Nationals, if you went to the show this year you likely saw the engine challenge motors on display, and may have even spoken to one of the builders. The engines drew quite a crowd as people speculated about how much power these small-blocks would make. Engine builders were on hand to discuss their contest engines, as well as give advice about what engine might be best for your car; listening to these builders exchange information was quite educational. The diversity of the engines impressed us as well, with displacements from just over 318 to the full 410ci limit of our contest. Induction was varied as well-from single four-barrel motors, to Six-Packs, and even one with a tunnel-ram intake and dual quads! It will be interesting to see what kind of power these plants make on the dyno at Comp. Rumblings of each engine having over 500 hp were heard all weekend. We'll find out when we dyno.
Since the purpose of our challenge is to show that reliable power can be made on pump gasoline and a tight budget, we'll again be using Rockett Brand 93-octane fuel for our testing. We'll also be tallying the retail price of the major components of each engine and dividing that number by the combined power and torque of the engine for a power-per-dollar rating. In previous engine challenges, it has taken a combination of good power and good budgeting to win, and this year should be no different. Though each builder used his own technique to try to gain an advantage, we still feel the contest will likely be decided by decimal points.
Here's a peek at the combinations. who do you think has what it takes to win?