In this issue, we feature three aluminum-block crate engines that offer a dramatic decrease in weight. If you plan on doing a little more experimenting than what a crate engine allows, there are options for you to purchase a bare aluminum block to build up as you choose. Dart offers blocks for Ford and Chevy in both iron and aluminum, which we've listed below for your perusal.
|Engine: ||Material: ||Weight: ||Retail price: |
|SBC ||iron ||205 lbs ||$2,711 |
|SBC ||aluminum ||95 lbs (110 lbs lighter) ||$5,517.81 |
|BBC ||iron ||260 lbs ||$2,886.17 |
|BBC ||aluminum ||136 lbs (124 lbs lighter) ||$6,266.75 |
|Ford ||iron ||167 lbs ||$2,817.21 |
|Ford ||aluminum ||85 lbs (82 lbs lighter) ||$5,578.90 |
Price per pound lost (average): $28.80
The weight of an aluminum fuel cell is less than the stamped steel of the stock fuel tank, but a lot of the benefit comes from limiting the amount of fuel you put in your car.
If the car is primarily used for short trips and racing, using a 10-gallon fuel cell is easy, but might be a bear on the street. A 20-minute session on a road course should not consume more than 5 gallons. At the dragstrip, it's even less. With fuel weighing in at 6.2 pounds per gallon, carrying less can decrease your weight substantially.
|Tank: ||Part number: ||Price: |
|Year One factory tank Chevelle, 20-gal ||FA46 ||$199 |
|Summit, plastic 16-gal ||290108 ||$169.95 |
|Summit, aluminum 15-gal ||293215 ||$175.95 |
|Summit, aluminum 10-gal ||293210 ||$165.95 |
|Summit, plastic 8-gal ||290103 ||$99.95 |
|Summit, plastic 5-gal ||290101 ||$94.95 |
|Summit, aluminum 5-gal ||293205 ||$139.95 |
Price per pound lost: $7
Weight savings can look cool, too. As long as you aren't solely into the sleeper look, you'll love the look of a clean set of race seats. Not only is this a place to spare some pounds, but it's the best thing you can do to control your car. Twisting the wheel of a 35-year-old car is hard enough without the deficit of using a 35-year-old seat. Sagging springs, no bolstering, and that poke in the thigh from where something came loose sure won't help your driving abilities.
Corbeau offers a basic, nonreclining seat as well as more cozy, adjustable seat backs. Both are significantly lighter than the stockers. At a hefty 32 pounds each, the '68 Camaro factory seats don't offer much for support, and can be easily traded in for a race seat without losing comfort. These seats come in black, yellow, blue, red, or black micro-suede. The A4, a reclining model, can be covered in a black/grey combination micro-suede, or even black leather for an additional cost.
|Seat: ||Weight: ||Price: |
|New stock seat ||32 lbs each ||$400 |
|Forza ||20 lbs each ||$229 |
|Forza (wide) ||22 lbs each ||$259 |
|A4 (reclining) ||25 lbs each ||$320 |
Price per pound lost: -$14.25 (negative number-the seat pays you to buy it!)
Wheels are a large contributor to unsprung weight and rotational mass. Reducing the wheel weight is like killing two birds with one stone. Unfortunately, it takes superior design (read: expensive) to be able to remove mass from the wheels without sacrificing their strength.
The loss of rotational weight will directly affect the performance of your vehicle more than general weight loss. Removing weight from anything that accelerates rotationally-as well as linearly-pays a double dividend, because there are two inertia types here that impact performance. Many people have attributed higher mph trap speeds and quicker road course lap times solely to changing the mass of their wheels.
Forgeline is a leader in low-mass racing wheels, and their wheel production begins with a computer simulation that can test for weak spots before it's even machined. Once it proves to be an excellent design, a basic shape is forged from 6061-T6 aluminum with a 6,000-ton hydraulic press. After that, the wheel is machined and heat-treated to be 40 percent stronger than cast aluminum.
The wheels may be expensive, but to get the combination of weight savings and strength, there is a hefty price to pay. But like we said, light wheels pay a double performance dividend, so the price per pound won't actually reflect the true benefit.
|Wheel type: ||Weight: ||Price:(each): |
|15x8-inch Wheel Vintiques steel ralley ||30 lbs ||$92 |
|17x8-inch Wheel Vintiques aluminum ralley ||32 lbs ||$515 |
|18x8-inch Forgeline S03P aluminum ||18 lbs || $1,000 |
Price per pound lost (steel to S03P): $34.64
We hate to say it, but there is a lot of weight sitting in the driver seat. For some vehicles, between 20 and 200 pounds can be lost from the car by adjusting the nutritional intake and exercise output of the driver!
|Engine: ||Material: ||Weight (pair): ||Retail price (pair): |
|SBC ||iron ||104 lbs ||$784.08 |
|SBC ||aluminum ||46 lbs (58 lbs lighter) ||$1,136.96 |
|BBC ||iron ||140 lbs ||$1,338.12 |
|BBC ||aluminum ||58 lbs (82 lbs lighter) ||$1,970.62 |
|Ford ||iron ||98 lbs ||$830 |
|Ford ||aluminum ||46 lbs (52 lbs lighter) ||$1,136.96 |
If swapping blocks is a little too expensive or involved, changing out cylinder heads is a great alternative. Not only does this shed front-end weight, aluminum heads typically have a higher octane tolerance than iron. The huge number of choices compared to iron also means (with the right choice) you can bag some extra horsepower in the deal through improved combustion efficiency. Aluminum heads aren't just for full-race applications either; they come in a wide range of sizes and performance goals. For half the weight, without half the cost, this is the best weight saving investment.
Price per pound lost (average): $6.56