We always knew water/methanol injection systems like those pioneered by Snow Performance worked well on boosted applications, but we were pleasantly surprised to see how much power they free up on naturally aspirated engines as well. On our NASCAR-inspired 430ci stroker engine for project Max Effort, a fresh out-of-the-box Snow Performance MPG Max kit dropped the air intake temp by 25-40 degrees during dyno testing and gained 21 hp and 16 lb-ft of torque. And that was without any real tuning time. We saw similar results in the Aug. ’11 issue on a street/strip Fox Mustang where Snow Performance water/meth injection with pump gas supported the same horsepower on a high-compression race engine as 113-octane race gas. We can’t think of a single other 15-minute bolt-on that can do that. But there’s more. Snow calls it MPG Max for reason: properly wielded, a water/meth kit can increase your fuel mileage as well.
We prove this on a regular basis with project car tuning and parts testing: The performance potential of any car is suspect if it hasn’t been tested. Basically what we mean is that almost any performance modification you do to an engine is not optimized out of the box, and every change you make can negatively alter a previously perfect tune. We’ve never failed to pick up significant power from a half day of tuning on a chassis dyno. The good news is that in most cases the price of parts is minimal; subpar tuning and timing are more often the biggest culprits causing power loss.
Dollar for horsepower, there’s nothing that beats nitrous. Nothing. Want to add as much as 450 hp to your race engine? Done. With the proper fuel and tune, nitrous can add astronomical amounts of power to your rod without annihilating your bank account or your engine. Novices should begin with a basic plate-type system and small doses, since small shots are relatively easy for a healthy engine to tolerate. But when you start getting aggressive, make sure to factor in additional costs for good fuel, a bigger fuel pump, or expert tuning. Both are central to whether your engine lives or dies under spray.
Carbs are not created equal, and most factory offerings pale in comparison to even entry-level stuff in the aftermarket these days. One of the biggest benefits to having a carb is the superior emulsification properties, and while the OE gave up on carbs decades ago, the aftermarket has been hard at work creating a machine that not only blends fuel and air better, but does it more consistently. Plus, they’re easier to tune than even before. Holley’s Street Avenger carbs, for example, are well below $500 and feature a quick-change vacuum secondary for easy fine-tuning, four-corner idle adjustment, built-in fuel filters, and clear fuel level sight glasses for easy, no-mess float adjustments. On top of that, they’re superlight, thanks to aluminum construction and have an industry-first limited lifetime warranty. Also be sure to check out offerings from Edelbrock, Demon, and QFT’s feature-packed line of Slayer carbs—all under $500!
You can get away with unsupportive stock seats on the dragstrip, but the moment you start asking your car to go fast in any direction other than straight ahead you’ll find yourself fiercely clutching the steering wheel in an attempt to keep yourself in the seat while driving. Trust us, you can’t do both effectively. Sport bucket seats are designed with specific bolsters that are intended to help keep you planted in place during aggressive cornering, which frees you up to control your car and enjoy the modifications you’ve made. The less you move, the more control you have. Companies like Corbeau (Sport Seats shown), ProCar, and even Summit Racing have some excellent sport bucket options that look at home in any modified vintage car. But what about getting them into your car? Luckily, all three of those companies have bolt-in mounts for most popular models of cars and trucks and quite a few oddballs as well.