The FinalsThe Engine Masters Challenge competition has gained the attention of our readers, the automotive aftermarket, and many of racing's best minds. For 2003, our goal was to find the best-possible pump gas-urged domestic big-block 470-inch powerplant, and Jon Kaase of Winder, GA showed everyone how it was done.

Check out the power figures on his 460-based Ford engine. His final score of 1178.8 is a combination of the horsepower and torque averages between our target rpm levels of 3,000 and 6,500. The 745 peak horses show the engine is a model of efficiency, while a torque peak of 657.5 ft.-lbs. at 4,900 rpm backs up the power with grunt. Tested with a 14x3-inch Accel round air filter in place, and exhausting through a pair of Magnaflow 3-inch in/out mufflers, Kaase's Ford represents the pinnacle of what could be living under the hood of any late-'60s/early '70s street Mustang in the country with the Hooker headers he chose to run (they will fit an unmodified Mustang chassis).

The engine will be dissected and explored in detail (along with the second and third place winning powerplants) on our pages next month, but first we'll show you how the competition went down. For now, we'll share that the engine wore a set of Kaase's own (by design, not manufacture) Super Cobra Jet heads. Cast and sold by Ford Racing, these cylinder heads are available through your local Ford dealer, and fit our rules contention of being "factory replacement" parts. No mods are required to install them, and they share architecture (intake and exhaust patterns, along with rockers) with factory 460 heads.

Naturally, the heads are only one part of the puzzle, and Kaase's personal hand-finishing of these heads must figure strongly into the equation, but know the parts capable of winning the Engine Masters Challenge are readily available to you, and know the power potential living within them is evident on these pages. This is why the Challenge was created, and you can reap the benefits.

The 12 engines were all shipped to Westech from their respective Regional Qualifying sites. The engines were tested in an identical manner, and each builder was once again informed of the procedures to be followed. The engines would be loaded up on the dyno, with a safety checklist to be gone over prior to firing. Once the builder and the Engine Masters Challenge staff had approved the installation, the engine could be fired and brought up to our target temperatures. With coolant going into the engine at 160 degrees, we were confident the engines were operating at about 180 degrees, which represents a real number on the street. Oil temps were brought up to a similar level, and then the warm-up runs could be made.

The warm-up runs consisted of three pulls at 600 rpm per second, and served to both heat-soak the competing powerplants and ensure they were thoroughly heated up to replicate a street scenario. These pulls also provided preliminary data for the builders to see, should they choose to alter their tune in a 20-minute period to follow. Once the warm-ups were done, each builder was given twenty minutes to fine-tune the timing (through distributor movement only) or jetting (through freedom to change jets and air bleeds) to find their best score. Builders were not limited to the amount of pulls they could make during this time, but the clock would be their only nemesis. Some builders found power; others lost some. Some did both- finding a good tune, then making a last-minute change hoping for more, but ending up with less when the "real" pulls happened. This is racing, and in racing these things happen. In searching for the nation's Engine Master, such calls become the difference between making a name for oneself or learning an important lesson for next year.