Our '66 Mustang, Project Street Fighter, has gotten a complete suspension overhaul and recently its straight-six engine was removed to make way for something new. We wanted something that was as reliable as a crate engine, but something that was still special. We didn't have to think very long to figure out the perfect engine builder for the job: Smeding Performance. When it comes to building crate motors, Smeding delivers quality custom engines at the crate motor price, with the savings to match.
You don't get good at something by doing it just once; it takes a lot of practice and repetition to become a master at your task. Ben Smeding of Smeding Performance attributes his success to this procedure. Ben's first career wasn't in the automotive business at all. He paid his bills with a job in the produce industry. He filled his spare time building cars for himself and worked with his friends on their cars. Since he was working out of his home garage, he couldn't do everything himself and had to outsource his machining to the local machine shop. The parts never came back how he wanted them; they were always just slightly off. Ben felt that if he had the equipment, he could do a better job himself. That light bulb in his head shined bright, and Ben started collecting the appropriate machinery. He ended up ditching the produce industry and started working for a speed shop to get closer to what he really wanted to do.
In time, Ben had enough side jobs and equipment that he could expand from his two-car garage to an 1,100 square-foot shop he built next to his house in Sacramento, California. Now with plenty of room to play, Ben started accepting more evolved jobs. He found himself doing high-end port work like cylinder head modifications for Pro Mod engines. At this point, Ben had one helper in the shop working with him, and more jobs than they had time for. It was time to quit the speed shop and work on the engines full time. He spent two years in his house-side shop until he decided to bite the bullet and move into a 3,300-foot commercial space in Rancho Cordova, California. He traded all his budget equipment for the latest and greatest. He took on another employee and started doing full engine building jobs. He worked on mostly high-dollar race engines with a lot of compression and rowdy camshafts. The pace set by these customers left Ben exhausted, since racers always want a little more even when there is nothing more to have. They often want things done while they wait. Ben says: "If you don't think you have enough time to do something, you won't enjoy doing it." He switched gears to the crate engine market and has found great success. At the first opportunity, Ben grabbed the shop next door to expand his facilities to 5,800 square feet. In this space he builds and tests his own line of crate engines.
When we approached Ben about building an engine for our project Street Fighter Mustang, he had several questions for us. When you're choosing an engine combination, there are a lot of factors involved. Ben said that most of the people who come to him think they know what they want, but actually don't. Based on the subject vehicle, transmission, and type of driving the customer will be doing, Ben can point them in the right direction. He will only run what he knows works because at the end of the day, it's his name on the line, not the customer's. In our case, we had a '66 Mustang with a five-speed manual that we wanted to drive hard at the track and on the street. Ben determined we needed a 427-inch small-block Ford. The "Cobra Special" packs 560 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque. It is a great fit for our project because we chose tall gears and love the idea of all power all the time rather than waiting for 4,000 rpm to hit the happy spot.
Here you can see the difference between Smeding's custom KB-piston (left) and a factory-st
The main bearing clearances are far tighter than most engine builders use. Smeding can do
Instead of using stocker I-beam cast-iron rods (right), Smeding uses 4340 forged steel H-b