All eight of our challenge...
All eight of our challenge engines have been delivered to Comp Cams where they are waiting to be tested on the dyno. Which combination do you think will win this year's competition?
If we had an unlimited budget it would be easy to build powerful engines for each of our Mopars. We'd choose the best of everything, then pay an experienced engine builder top dollars to put it all together, and we'd certainly end up with a very fast, though very expensive, car. In the real world, however, we have budgets. When building an engine, we worry as much about the cost as we do the power and reliability. Sure, we might make sacrifices to one to achieve the other, but when it comes down to it, we want a powerful, reliable engine for our car, and we don't want to pay an exorbitant amount of money to get it.
The rules of the Amsoil/Mopar Muscle Engine Challenge were designed with this concept in mind. The dyno portion of our contest not only factors horsepower and torque, but the required multiple dyno pulls test the durability of each engine as well. By factoring the retail cost of the major parts of each engine into the power it makes, engines are scored by a power-per-dollar formula to determine the contest winner. This scoring method requires engine builders to pay as much attention to their finances as they do horsepower numbers, and gives our readers examples of real-world engine combinations that are available on a reasonable budget.
The next step in our challenge...
The next step in our challenge is to dyno the engines at CompCam's Memphis dyno facility. Look for the engine challenge results in upcoming issues.
This month, we'll outline the combination each of our builders entered in the challenge, and get their thoughts on what it will take to win this year's Engine Challenge.
|Diamondback Engines||Indy Cylinder Head|
|7723 FM 723||8621 Southeastern Ave.|
|Richmond, TX 77469||Indianapolis, IN 46239|
|Mid America Racing Engines||MRL Performance|
|1945 W. 18th St.||4651 Culley Ln.|
|Washington, IA 52353||Jackson, MI 49201|
|Muscle Motors||R.M. Competition|
|2085 Glenn St.||28648 Maple|
|Lansing, MI 48906||Roseville, MI 48066|
|Schurbon Engine and Machine||Speed-O-Motive|
|203 S. Clark St.||131 W. Lang Ave.|
|Maquoketa, IA 52060||West Covina, CA 91790|
When we spoke to engine builder Damon Kuhn about his entry in the contest, he stated that the rules of our contest caused a slight dilemma. He wanted to build an all-out engine to impress us with its power, but it would be too expensive to be competitive in the contest. So Damon compromised by using economical parts, such as a factory block and Eagle/SRP rotating assembly, and then splurged a bit by purchasing Brodix aluminum cylinder heads. His theory is an engine won't make power without the right heads, and the B1BA heads he chose should help his engine produce enough power to overcome their cost. On paper, this does look like a stout combination, but we'll have to find out how it performs on Comp's dyno before we really know.
Rather than building a big-inch...
Rather than building a big-inch stroker for this contest, Mike Liston decided to go for a win with a powerful, budget-minded 318ci entry.
Since the 318 is the most widely produced small-block and often overlooked as a performance engine, Mike Liston of MRL Performance decided to be different and show how much power the 318 is capable of. Knowing he had to keep costs down to overcome his lack of displacement, he utilized a stock '66 318 as the foundation for this build. Magnum cylinder heads were chosen for their power potential and relatively inexpensive cost, and budget internals were used as well. Though it may not make the power of a 408 stroker, this engine should place quite well given its low build cost. We're glad Mike chose to illustrate the 318 as not just an engine for your grocery getter, but as a true performance powerplant.
Mid America Racing Engines
Mid America Racing Engines has been in both previous challenges, and engine builder David Bruns impressed everyone when his budget-minded, 500ci big-block took the win last year. This year, David applied his techniques to a small-block displacing 410 ci, the limit of our contest. Stating he wanted to begin with the maximum displacement allowed, he used a factory 360 block combined with an Eagle crank, Scat rods, and Probe pistons. Topping off this combination is a set of Indy cylinder heads that were ported in-house. When asked what it will take to win this year, David stated he's following the same outline he used last year: build a durable engine with economical parts and make as much power as possible. We look forward to seeing this engine on the dyno!
Indy Cylinder Head
Engine builder Ken Lazerri of Indy Cylinder Head has plenty of experience making power. For this year's challenge, Ken was unsure whether to build a powerful engine highlighting the best of Indy's parts, or to build a budget engine and go for the win based on economics. In fact, he was so torn that he decided to build two 408-inch small-blocks and do the math himself to decide which would be more competitive. Each engine was dyno'd in-house, and power and costs were tallied by the rules of the contest. Although we'd love to see how much power Indy could make with an all-out entry, the numbers favored the economical entry, and that's the one they brought to our challenge. Though not built for maximum performance, we're sure this engine will have plenty of power to place well.
The Muscle Motors entry is...
The Muscle Motors entry is the only engine sporting Six-Pack induction. Will this give them an advantage?
When we asked Mike Ware of Muscle Motors what prompted him to pick his combination for this year's contest, he said actually the decision was easy. A customer already had an engine in progress that met the criteria of our rules, so with the customer's permission, Mike simply decided to enter the motor he was already building. He states that while this engine is smaller than the cubic-inch limit and has more expensive parts inside than he would necessarily use in a purpose-built dyno challenge engine, it is a good real-world example of a powerful street small-block. "Plus," Mike added, "it looks cool with the Six-Pack on top."
Randy Malik of R.M. Competition in Roseville, Michigan, probably wouldn't recommend an engine like this for one of his customers' vehicles. In fact, he says building an engine for a dyno contest is completely different from building an engine that will go in a car. Though built with quality parts, this engine should make enough power to warrant the best parts for improved durability. Stock rods and cast pistons will keep costs down, but wouldn't be the best choice for a regularly abused street engine. Randy claims his 406-inch small-block maximizes performance for the dollar and should be hard to beat when the competition gets underway at Comp's Memphis, Tennessee, dyno facility.
Schurbon Engine And Machine
Located in Maquoketa, Iowa,...
Located in Maquoketa, Iowa, Schurbon Engine and Machine is a newcomer to our competition.
Engine builder Scott Schurbon has long known of the small-block Mopar's propensity for economical power, so when he learned of our engine challenge he was eager to enter. He states, "unlike most brand-X engines, the small-block Chrysler, especially with the Magnum heads, can make loads of power using mostly factory parts." Inside his factory 360 block, he used an Eagle crank, Probe pistons, and RPM connecting rods for a displacement of 410 ci. Magnum heads were ported in-house, and the engine will be fed by a 1,000-cfm Holley atop a Mopar M-1 intake manifold.
When asked if he has a chance to win this year's contest, Scott would only say, "I guess we'll find out in Memphis."
West Covina, California
Speed-O-Motive has long been...
Speed-O-Motive has long been known for their powerful street and race engines. Can their small-block compete with the rest of the engines in our challenge?
Speed-O-Motive always brings something a little different to our engine challenge, and this year it's a 408ci small-block sporting Brodix B1B/AMC cylinder heads. The guys at Speed-O-Motive state they're always looking for creative ways to make power, and our contest gives them a reason to try combinations slightly outside the norm. While the Brodix heads aren't the least expensive in the contest, they're hoping they'll make up the difference in horsepower. Either way it gives us a good chance to see the performance of a not-so-ordinary combination.