Anyone who's built or driven a race car or fast street car can relate to this scenario. With the car built and tuned for racing, the excitement of driving it is nearly overwhelming. The car launches and pulls harder than anything you've driven, at least for several races. Once you get used to the quickness of your new car or more powerful engine, you hone your reaction times and dialing skills until you and the car become a competitive racing package. then it happens. The car that used to be a thrill to race now seems like it's on a leisurely drive to the store. Did the car slow down? No, the driver just caught up with it so the adrenalin rush is gone. The hard launch is expected now rather than surprising, and going 140 mph in the quarter just doesn't seem fast enough. It seems that no matter how fast we make our cars, we always want more. This scenario is what led us to our latest engine project.
Friend and co-racer Jeff Manning had built his '91 Daytona to run low 9s, but after a few years of successful racing he needed to go faster. When another racer offered a set of slightly used Brodix B-1/BS cylinder heads at a great price, Jeff couldn't resist. Sure, the heads needed freshening, and the purchase meant an appropriately matched short-block would need to be built, but in the name of speed Jeff decided to start the project.
One of the great things about this engine build is that it involves very few exotic parts. We started with a 440 block from a '67 Chrysler New Yorker that was parted out due to rust issues. We've found with the right preparation, a stock 440 block will handle up to about 800 hp in a light car with good reliability. Remember that with traction being equal, a heavier car does put a bigger load on the engine and will find any weak link; if your car is upwards of 3,200 pounds, an aftermarket block may be necessary to safely make this kind of power. Our engine is going into a tube chassis '91 Daytona, which weighs in at around 2,600 pounds in race trim, so we feel we'll be safe making up to 800 hp with our 38-year-old factory block. Another nice feature of a used block is the hundreds of heat cycles the block has been through in its life actually serve to stress relieve the block, making it less prone to cracking or fatigue. Of course, the best feature of a factory block is the cost and availability. We bought the entire car this block came from for $400, then sold the interior, rearend, and the rest of the stuff we didn't need for $250; then sold the remaining hulk to the scrap yard for $45, which left us with a 60,000-mile engine and transmission for the whopping sum of $105. Now we can spend a significant amount of money to machine block and still keep our budget well under the cost of an aftermarket unit.