We definitely hit the jackpot in Vegas. We didn't win at the tables, or even in a casino for that matter. Instead, we won at the place most hot rodders would call home. The Strip. Or, more precisely, the 11/44-mile asphalt strip, that is, and the winnings we received were not in dollars and cents, but in e.t. and mph. A few months back we set out to test a GM Performance Parts (GMPP) 572cid crate engine and see what it could really do. So first we tested it on Westech's Superflow 901 engine dyno. The results we got were outstanding. This beast cranked out over 700hp and 710 lb.-ft. of torque all on pump gas. And it did so with a hydraulic roller cam and at an rpm that's perfect for the street (5,800 max). But all that power don't mean diddly unless you put it in a car. So we searched high and low until we found a Camaro suitable to handle that much power and then asked our long-time friend and fellow racer Mark Mahood and his crew at Mahood's Collision to drop the engine in for a drag.
Installation Made SimpleBuying a crate engine today is practically a guarantee that the rest of your project will be that much easier to finish. With a package like this one from GMPP, you get the complete engine, from carb to oil pan, from distributor to spark plugs. All you'll need to install it are some motor mounts, hoses, exhaust, and oil. The crate engine we used also came delivered already run-in, so we could have been racing immediately if we'd wanted to. Even though our installation went as smooth as glass, there are a few things to watch out for when installing a giant beast like this. The first would be oil pan clearance. Most crate engines come with pans that'll fit just about any chassis, but check before bolting it in. Next is distributor-to-firewall interference. This is an easy one to check, and can be corrected with a small-cap distributor if needed. Also check header fitment and be sure you've got a cooling system that'll be up to the task. The same radiator that cooled your warmed-over small-block might not cut it with a brute like this under the hood. Of course, there's also driveline durability issues when installing an engine that makes tons of torque. And you'd be sort of wasting your time dropping this thing into a car with a bone-stock rear suspension and wimpy tires, that is, unless burnouts and broken driveline pieces is what you're after. So, before you drop the cash for a monster motor, research your project and make your car able to hack it.
Donor CamaroSome of you might be familiar with Mark Mahood as the owner and driver of an unmistakably bright, yellow, blown-injected alcohol burning, small-block powered, A-Gas '69 Camaro. Although Mark makes his living banging sheet metal in his body shop, he also likes to occasionally tackle some high-perf mods as well. He's also a local guy, for us anyways, so we contracted with him to install this engine in one of his customer's Camaros, which we "borrowed" for our test. The car's owner, Doug Bullard, a hard-core gear head himself, was more than happy to give up his ride for a month while all this testing went on. As long as he got to be the one sitting behind the wheel for the whole thing. A fair trade, we thought as well.
Bullard's Camaro is not your everyday streetcar. In fact, it could never be legally driven on the street in its current form. However, running 9-seconds on the pump with a stock crate motor requires an extra-ordinary car. And this Camaro fit the bill. Traction was our number-one concern, but the Camaro offered up plenty of it, thanks to its giant M/T slicks and brutal drive train. Since Bullard ran a big-block Chevy in his car before, dropping the crate engine in it was a pretty easy swap. The only item that we were concerned about was header clearance because of the tall-deck block and its raised-runner heads. But it turned out that Bullard's original headers fit fine and everything bolted up like it came that way. One of the coolest results of this test was that the GMPP crate engine made Bullard's Camaro run almost as fast on 91-octane as it ever did running 108+ octane race gas in his high-compression Rat before. We probably could've run even faster, but the torque converter in Bullard's Powerglide stalled way too high and the engine was past its horsepower peek before it left the starting line. And when he shifted into high gear, the engine never had a chance to drop down below its torque peak and pull through for the best run possible. This really showed up on the chassis dyno, where peak horsepower was on par with what we'd expect to see from a car like this, but peak torque was down substantially because the engine never revved low enough to make it. Ideally, you'd like to have a converter that stalls below your torque peak and then "flashes" past, pulling its way towards the horsepower peak, which is typically 1,200-1,500 rpm higher. Bullard's converter flashed to 5,800 rpm, which is where this crate motor topped out. So he had to shift into second gear as soon as he let go of the trans-brake button. We'd bet that this car would've run .2-.3-seconds quicker if we'd had the correct converter, but deadlines kept that from happening.
Chassis Dyno Session TwoWe're always dyno testing engines outside of cars but wanted to try things the old fashioned way this time and see how much power this brute could get to the back tires. We lined up a test session on our in-house Dyno-Jet chassis dynamometer in the Primedia Tech Center to see what numbers it could muster. As we mentioned before, Peak power was right where it should be, about 30 percent less than we saw on the engine dyno. But peak torque numbers fell short because the engine never revved low enough to make it! On the engine dyno, peak torque was down at 4,600 rpm. But if we recalculate the chassis dyno figures we observed, using the engine dyno's numbers at the horsepower peak rpm (635 lb.-ft. @ 5,800), and whack off about 30 percent, you get 444.5, which is pretty darn close to the figures we saw, (421 lb.-ft. actual). On the chassis dyno, just like on the track, it's very important to optimize your combination for the best results. Regardless of our lack of optimization, we still had a kickin' time runnin' 9s out of the crate and on the pump!
Power And PerformancePower To The Rear WheelsThe chassis dyno revealed that our combination was not ideal, but it was still a lot of fun.
|HORSEPOWER ||= ||492 (-30%) |
|TORQUE ||= ||421 (-41%) |
Performance At The Strip, Las Vegas, Nv 11/21/03The 11/44-mile tells the tale. Any time you can run this quick with a pump gas motor right off the trailer, you're doing good.
|60-FT E.T. ||1.417 |
|330-FT E.T. ||4.092 |
|1/8 MILE ||6.283 |
|1/8 MILE MPH ||112.51 |
|1000-FT E.T. ||8.241 |
|11/44 MILE E.T. ||9.953 |
|11/44 MILE MPH ||128.53 |