We've had some time to look over the entries for the Engine Masters Challenge, and there was only one Pontiac-based powerplant entered. Byron McElfresh of Pacific, Missouri, has been playing with 350-cube Ponchos for several years, since they are abundant, affordable, and unwanted. As we've said (and recommended) before, Pontiacs of less than 389 cubes don't have a tremendous following, simply due to the increased power potential in the larger-cube versions.
Remember, Pontiac never made a "small-" or "big-" block--they used the same block dimensions from the small 326 all the way up to the 455. This "mid-block" design was a stout one--as was proven over and over again on the streets of America throughout the '60s and '70s. The Pontiac design served as the basis for the small-block Chevy (note the port configuration and stud-mounted rockers), and like its GM cousin, possessed tremendous potential. Only a few modifications must be addressed to make the bigger-inch (400-plus-cube) Pontiac V-8 a real street contender, and enthusiasts have always gravitated toward the larger-displacement engines.
This little 350-based motor will need more help! Luckily, Byron's experience with these powerplants will help, and he has some very definite ideas about what he's after. Since their introduction, Edelbrock's aluminum Pontiac cylinder heads have opened doors for Poncho fans and while they were designed to feed healthy big-displacement Pontiacs out-of-the-box, Byron's worked-over 350 can also take advantage of their engineering. Remember that Byron is not a professional engine builder. He's a hobbyist like so many of you fine readers. He's drawing purely from his experience and is on a tight budget. Many of his parts are factory items or aftermarket copies of factory items. This may be the closest to a factory engine we'll have in the Challenge, but that remains to be seen, as well.
So, with a solid game plan based on past experience and much math, Byron is heading into the Engine Masters Challenge as the sole representative of the Pontiac faithful. Can his design mods compete with the Chevy and Ford entries? Can this little Indian motor run with the big dogs on dyno day? Only time will tell, but let's take a look over his shoulder and see his parts choices. Compare these parts with the others we've shown you in previous buildups and calculate his odds of winning yourself. We'll certainly be keeping an eye on this one and maybe the competition should, too.