When we first announced the parameters and rules for the 2003 Engine Masters Challenge, the rumblings and rumors about the best-possible combinations began immediately. While the overwhelming number of bets were being placed on the broad-based Chevy market, we heard about the benefits of the Mopar 440 and the Hemi, too. There were a few very knowledgable gearheads I spoke with at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show who didn't hesitate for a moment after looking over the rules, and the first words out of their mouths were "Look out for the Buicks."

Long known for making insane torque at low rpm levels in bone-stock shape, big Buick V-8s have long been a mainstay of the underground street racer. Boasting 500 ft.-lbs. of torque with the capability to ingest gobs of nitrous, the stock Stage 1 Buick 455 was the perfect weapon for the street digs. In modified form, we've seen big Buicks dive deep into the 9-second zone in street trim, and we featured an 800-horse twin-blown Buick on the cover of our September '99 issue. It remains a favorite cover around here, and the man behind that engine is back for more; namely the Engine Masters Challenge.

Bruce Kent of San Dimas, CA, is a well-known West Coast Buick enthusiast who always shows up with nice cars, a great laid-back attitude, and a kind demeanor. He's the nicest guy in the world as long as you're not staging next to him at the strip. The Buicks he builds and pilots are always deadly quick, and it's not just local hype. He and partner Dave Benisek have owned their class of choice (called Street Eliminator) at the Buick-only GS Nationals (held in Bowling Green, KY) for three of the last four years. It would have been a 4-year sweep, save for a single faulty plug wire that cost them the final round. Kent drives Dave Benisek's '74 Buick Apollo (an X-body car, like a Chevy Nova) powered by a Kent-built 470-inch Buick engine. The car is limited to 10-inch tires, and has run a best elapsed time of 9.96 at 135 mph. While a 9-second all-motor Nova-type drag car may not sound too fast to the regular readers of this mag, consider the minimum weight in the class is 3,800 lbs. Suddenly that 9-second run is looking pretty good, isn't it?

Suffice to say Bruce Kent knows how to make serious Buick horsepower, and he does it all in addition to running his own industrial mold making business. The racy Buicks are "just a hobby," but obviously it's a hobby Bruce Kent takes very seriously.

For the Engine Masters Challenge, Kent wanted to team up with the Buick parts source at TA Performance, and work his magic on the most aggressive aftermarket Buick parts offered. The teaming of Kent and TA Performance offers Buick enthusiasts nationwide a good look at the engine of their dreams: a max-effort 92-octane all-motor 470-inch monster that will crank out nearly 800 horses and make broad power from 3,000-6,500 rpm.

We wanted to show readers this engine for several reasons, and we feel it typified everything we love about the Engine Masters Challenge. It stands as a well-researched powerplant with all intentions of setting the bar for Buick enthusiasts, and all of its parts can be readily obtained or easily duplicated. It would require no mods to bolt right into any 68-72 Buick A-body, and it would become the terror of many towns across America if that same car could put all the power to the pavement.

So, follow along as we document what may be the premier Buick pump gas street engine in the country. Since it's based on a stock block/stock crank combination, it should be relatively easy to duplicate and of course, all the parts are out there if you want them. Sure, you'll have to find a cylinder head expert capable of crafting the ports to flow what Bruce Kent's do, but the flow numbers are here for you to shoot for. The bar is set, and all we've got left to wait for are the competition dyno numbers from this big Buick. Naturally, there are 49 other builders looking to shoot down Bruce and his Stage III masterpiece, but after reading the story, you'll see what a big job that's gonna be. Let's jump into it!

TA Performance
16167 N. 81st St.
AZ  85260
Cometic Gasket
CP Pistons
PO Box 1907, Dept. PHR
CA  93275
Eagle Specialty Products
One Royal Purple Ln., Dept. PHR
TX  77365
3406 Democrat Rd., Dept. PHR
TN  38118
1507 NW Northwood Dr., Dept. PHR
IA  50021
Holley Performance Products
1801 Russellville Rd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101
KY  42101
Meziere Enterprises
20 S. Hale Ave.
CA  92029
Barry Grant Inc.
1450 McDonald Road,
Dept. MMFF
GA  30533
Total Seal Piston Rings
AZ  85027