Technology is moving forward at a rapid pace, and we do our best to deliver the inside info on these new technologies to our readers as quickly and effectively as possible. When we heard about these new ready-to-assemble piston kits coming from Mahle, we had to get a closer look.

Under normal circumstances, pistons are far from being ready to install when you receive them. This is because of the fine-tuning most custom parts require before actually being installed into a working engine. Whether it be machine work on the valve notches, simple smoothing of sharp edges, or weight and balance machining, pistons normally see some type of effort and input prior to getting hung on the rods. These processes are not necessary with the new PowerPak piston kits from Mahle.

As various types of engine coatings have become more common, this step is elbowing its way into the regular list of "must-do" items accompanying new pistons. Many builders have seen the increased compression ratios possible with coated parts, and the benefits of friction-reducing coatings on piston skirts is well-documented. Sharp builders have learned how critical temperature control inside the combustion chamber is, and coated pistons (along with coated chambers and valves) go a long way toward keeping detonation at bay and making each pistons contribution to the torque at the flywheel more consistent from cylinder to cylinder.

Mahle pistons are much more common in European racing, and they are making a bold statement in domestic race markets as well. Their precision manufacturing and complete "ready to run" status is finding favor with race engine builders, and now this level of convenience is being made readily available to street enthusiasts as well.

Mahle's new piston kits are pre-weighed, completely finished, treated with both friction reducing and thermal barrier coatings, and shipped with pre-fitted pins. They are literally ready to be washed, have the rings (which are included) installed, and be hung on the rods ready for installation.

If you compare prices, you'll find Mahle's kits are more expensive than other manufacturers parts. When considering the time saved by not having to go through a lengthy preparation procedure prior to installation, and not having to wait for the parts to get coated, money can actually be saved in the long run. Mahle has begun releasing kits for the most popular domestic applications, and we took a look at one of its typical small-block Chevy kits; this one for a .040-inch overbored 350 or 327 (4.040-inch bore size).