EM: When you came out with the Boss Nine, you had to go much further than just the cylinder heads. You had to come to terms with the complete package. Is that correct?
Jon: Right, it wasn't just the head. We had the head, the valve covers, two different intake manifolds, and the rockers. We had to get gaskets made and stuff like that to make a package that can be compatible with a factory or aftermarket 429/460 block. Most of the time when guys buy the parts, it is either a complete top end or complete engines.
At the time, we didn't think too much about building complete engines, but we have built a lot of them over the last few years. We use aluminum blocks or the Ford Racing blocks. We had about 40 new NOS 460 blocks, and we used every one of them to build the Boss motors. I'd say about half of the guys we sold the parts to use production passenger car blocks. We have a dyno test engine that is based on a reconditioned passenger car block that is making over 900 hp we have been using for 13 years. That goes to show how strong those blocks were.
EM: How would you characterize a customer who would be interested in the Boss Nine?
Jon: There are a couple of different kinds of guys. Some of them are guys about my age who always wanted one since high school. With these parts available, they finally have the chance to build one. We also sell quite a few to high-end hot rod builders, usually complete engines that go into high-profile cars.
EM: Where has the parts development gone from the introduction of the Boss Nine?
Jon: Going back to the Boss Nine, we had the four-barrel intake manifold first, but then we built the stack injection manifold. We bought a couple of used three-axis CNC machines to expand our manufacturing capacity. We don't use the CNC for the heads, but we machine all of our intake manifolds and valve covers.
EM: Are there other items in the works?
Jon: I have a couple of other things we have been working on. We have a billet aluminum oil pump for the big-block Ford. It is a gear pump, like on a big-block Chevy, and it is an inch and half higher so you can get rid of the big pocket in the front of the pan. It works better than the original G-rotor pump. With a wet sump, you can run a lot of crankcase vacuum in it without cavitating the oil, so it can make more power. If you put that pump and a vacuum pump on, you can make an extra 20 to 30 hp. The main reason we built this pump is to let you make the oil pan shallower in the front, so when guys build those hot rod cars, they can lower the engine in the front without hitting the steering racks.
I also have a fuel-injected intake manifold we are developing for both the Boss Nine and P51. It is kind of like the Cobra R manifold we ran on the 2013 Engine Masters mod motor. It sits lower than a carburetor, has a cross-ram look to it, and a cover over it. We have that in testing already, and it is way better than any four-barrel manifold.
EM: Where do you think the aftermarket parts are going as far as performance parts?
Jon: I really don't know. Certainly, the electronics are more and more popular. It seems like some of the smaller engines are not as popular any more. Whether a small- or big-block, it looks like it is leaning toward the larger cubic inches. When looking at big-blocks, you are looking at 500 cubic inches or more, or with small-blocks you typically see displacements of well over 400 cubic inches. With all of the parts available these days, it is very easy to do.
EM: You did a phenomenal job with the Ford four-valve at the 2013 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge; it has to add to your recognition as an engine builder.
Jon: That was probably one of the top five times in my life. From the start to the finish, everything went exactly as I planned. It doesn't happen that way most of the time.
EM: We appreciate your insight and congratulate you on your performance at the Engine Masters Challenge.
Jon: Thank you.