Cadillac Hot Rod Fabricators (CHRF) has the goods to adapt Cadillac's otherwise transversally mounted Northstar engine to just about any longitudinally mounted application. They also have some pretty trick essential and problem-solving parts like engine mounts, hot-rod friendly intake shrouds and cam covers, oil filter relocation adapters, and even overdrive transmissions modified specifically for the application.

We visited CHRF for the nitty-gritty go-fast speed stuff, and learned how, depending on tune, the Northstar will churn a healthy 295hp in stock form. However, bolt CHRF's cams in place, ditch the stock exhaust for a tuned tubular system, and the Northstar starts whipping up 375 to 380 horses. For stage two, shop owner Alan Johnson suggests mild headwork and 11:1 forged pistons to bump that number up to 410-415hp. For the third stage, Johnson runs low-deck forged slugs, forged I-beam rods, stock-ported heads, and pressurizes the intake by 5 pounds with a 177ci Roots-type Weiand blower. He says that combo with stiff springs and the cams works out to about 525hp.

Now get this: bolt a 256 Roots-type Weiand blower on in lieu of the 177, top it with twin throttle bodies, and net about 650hp. Mind you, this is on race gas; less boost and street fuel will net about 600 horses. Johnson also mentioned that several of his applications make in the 800hp range with twin turbochargers spinning up to 20-pounds boost. Of course, boost levels like that require octane levels far higher than what's available at the corner store, so they might not jibe well in the weekend cruiser.

We'll keep the introduction short, as real estate comes at a premium and we've got lots to show off. We even scrounged up some Cadillac OHV history to further solidify the parallels between these two engines. There's enough here to get any die-hard speed freak's mouth watering. Now get to it!

The Overhead Cadillac:
The Stuff of Legends
The Northstar isn't exactly Cadillac's first venture into high tech. Along with two V-16s, a V-12, and early ventures into hydraulic lifters and a pre-war automatic transmission, Cadillac made a name for itself with cylinder head technology. There's a name that goes along with that history, and it has quite a bit to do with our hobby.

Way back in 1930, the year Cadillac introduced its first V-16, GM appointed a young Ed Cole as ward of Cadillac. By 1933 he graduated head of his class and started as a lab assistant in Cadillac's engineering department. He ascended the ranks and eventually oversaw Cadillac's wartime involvement--a position that netted him chief engineer status following the war. His post-war pet project: a short-stroke, high-compression, overhead-valve engine--a first of its kind. Cadillac introduced it in the 1949 model year.

The following year Cadillac proved overhead-valve skeptics wrong by placing 3rd, 10th, and 11th in the 24 Hours of LeMans. Needless to say, the engine's power to weight ratio and technological advancements caught on big with the hot rod crowd. The burgeoning aftermarket picked up on the trend, and by the early-'50s, companies like Evans, Edelbrock, Sharp, and Iskenderian tooled up for speed parts. By the close of the '50s, Cadillac increased its V-8's displacement by 59 ci and doubled its power output.

So when Cole transferred to Chevrolet in 1952, nobody doubted his objective: design a lightweight, low-cost V-8 for the Chevrolet lineup. Its code name: the Chevrolet small-block. While no parts interchange between the Cadillac and Chevy, many parts look eerily familiar. More than one parts scrounger bought a Caddy timing cover while looking for Chevy parts.

Ed Cole's legacy at Cadillac still shines through in their achievements. The Northstar is merely the latest chapter. So whenever anybody chides the overhead-cam Northstar for being too "high tech," remind 'em of Ed Cole and his "high-tech" overhead-valve Cadillac V-8.