NASCAR technology for the street sounds counterintuitive, but in reality the realm of ultimate pushrod race engines holds the secret to rejuvenating one of the best head designs ever created for the small-block Ford: the Cleveland. That’s because prior to the release of Ford Racing’s magnificent clean-sheet FR9 race engine in 2009, Ford’s NASCAR program had overt muscle car roots. For the three decades preceding the FR9, the engines powering every Blue Oval racer were essentially 351 Windsor blocks topped with 351 Cleveland-derived heads.
Thirty-plus years is an extraordinarily long time to go between racing engine changes for a manufacturer, but you know what that gets ya? A lot of time sorting out and fine-tuning to create fully optimized engines. For example Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford for Roush Fenway, finished the 2008 season with a series-high nine victories. Not too bad for a platform considered archaic by NASCAR standards.
That extended life also brought forth dramatically revised and near perfected versions of the original Cleveland heads, thanks to the efforts of Ford Racing, Roush Racing, and Robert Yates. The A351, B351, C302, C302B, C3, C3H, SC1 (Sprint Car 1), and finally the most radical, the D3. That last head was worked so well that it was used right until the FR9 bowed. Even cooler is the fact that all of them will technically bolt right onto any Ford Windsor or Cleveland small-block.
When NASCAR banned the use of canted valves on cylinder heads (the Cleveland’s signature design) in 1990, Robert Yates stepped in to revise the C302 head. The intake valve cant was removed and the angle was altered, but the traditional stagger arrangement remained. The new heads colloquially became known as “Yates.” Notwithstanding, Ford used recycled part numbers on some of the intake manifolds so there are Yates and C302 intakes that carry the same part number. That did lead to a bit of an issue with identification among those seeking the ultimate heads for their small-block Fords, since the pre- and post-Yates heads were quite similar looking to the untrained eye.
Of course all of those iterations were very specific application race parts designed for ultrahigh rpm use and regular maintenance. What the Ford world really needed was a head that took all of those lessons learned from decades of NASCAR competition, and put them into a street-friendly head—one that makes massive power, of course.
The foundation for Max Effort’s engine is Dart’s virgin 355-T61 aluminum block. The block
That’s where Troy Bowen at Ford Performance Solutions (FPS) saw a gap. There were updated Cleveland-style heads on the market, and Cleveland-headed Windsors are nothing new, but he felt there was power left on the table. His first iteration, known as the Avenger XTC 351, worked well, but a newer version, dubbed the Avenger XTC-R, blends original Cleveland and the best bits of NASCAR design into a head. That brings everything full circle—street to race, and back to street. That’s perfect for a car like Max Effort that’s a little bit Pro Touring, a little bit road race, and touch of NASCAR thrown in for good measure.
The craziest part of this build isn’t the awesome power production; it’s that this combination we threw together is designed to run on premium 91-octane pump gas. Read on to see how FPS makes it happen.
Rather than stick to a puny 358ci like NASCAR, we opted for 438 torque-building cubes from
Keeping the crank locked in place are Dart’s four-bolt billet steel main caps. The three c
Bowen opted for RPM-International’s Maxx-Pro billet I-beam rods, which are designed for li
We filled the Dart block’s 4.125-inch bore with custom forged Cleveland-style pistons from
There was only one area that required very minor clearancing for the 4.10-inch stroke. Bow
To take full advantage of the Dart block’s impressive oiling capacity and eliminate starva
The camshaft is a custom solid-roller from COMP Cams spec’d by Bowen with .673/.673 lift,
Since we want max reliability, Bowen opted for COMP Cams’ Endure-X solid-roller lifters. T
Fel-Pro PermaTorque MLS head gaskets seal up the bores when the specific-length ARP studs
Though standard Cleveland-style stud-mount rockers will fit the XTC-R heads, Bowen recomme
Because these heads are designed to accept stock Cleveland rockers, adding on the shaft ro
The 2.25-/1.68-inch valves retain the traditional Cleveland cant and stagger, with the int
Like their NASCAR inspiration, the XTC-R heads have raised exhaust and intake ports to smo
This is a close-up look at the awesome port work inside the Edelbrock intake by FPS. These
Ever seen a NASCAR intake retrofitted to port EFI? Topping off our Clevor is an XFI fuel i
You can’t quite see the back of the valve, but the C3-style Edelbrock intake does provide
For dyno testing we’re using a Meziere electric water pump to ensure we’ve got plenty of c
Macy’s a tuner who’s highly in demand, and now we know why; our XFI’s air/fuel/timing land
Speaking of tuning, Brian Macy of Horsepower Connection is the man who would extract every
Eric Weinrich of DYNO-Motive strapped the Clevor to his DTS dyno and handled the plumbing
Our MSD Pro-Billet distributor needs a little altering to become a cam sync for our XFI; s
To install the new cam sync distributor, Macy rolled the engine over to 50 degrees BTDC de
NASCAR forbids water/meth injection setups like Snow Performance’s Stage 3 MPG Max Boost C
In the end, the clevor was happy with 28 degrees of total timing and 12.5:1 air/fuel ratio
By the Numbers
Block: Dart 9.5 deck Race Series aluminum Windsor
Pistons: Ross Racing
Rings: Akerly and Childs
Bearings: Clevite 77 from Summit Racing
Balancer: ATI Super Damper
Timing Set: COMP Cams
Oil pan: Aviaid dry-sump
Oil pump: Aviaid two-stage dry-sump, Petersen pulley
Cylinder heads: Ford Performance Solutions XTC-R 351
Rocker arms: T&D Machine shaft rockers, modified by Ford Performance Solutions
Intake: Edelbrock 2863 C3 NASCAR, ported and EFI’d by Ford Performance Solutions
Gaskets: Fel-Pro throughout, Fel-Pro PermaTorque MLS head gaskets
Bolts/studs: ARP throughout, ARP stainless bolt kit from Summit Racing
Cam: COMP Cams solid roller
Lifters: COMP Cams solid roller
Pushrods: COMP Cams
Distributor: MSD Pro-Billet
Plug wires: MSD Super Conductor
Valve covers: Ford Performance Solutions polished aluminum
|On the Dyno
438ci Ford Small-Block