Electronic fuel injection packages great performance, sharp throttle response, reliability, fuel economy, and striking looks all in one, so it's no wonder hot rodders have flocked to it over the decades. Nevertheless, a significant segment of gearheads shy away from EFI. Some guys still prefer the familiarity and low cost of a carburetor, while others appreciate the vibe of a well turned-out period-correct restoration—the benefits of EFI notwithstanding. We respect that build ethic, and our many carb-based engine buildups and tech stories reflect that. Nevertheless, there are guys who like the idea of EFI, but when faced with the prospect of re-engineering their fuel system, push away from the table.
Project Nova is PHR’s 1968 Nova project car, which has a 400ci small-block Chevy with a CO
Edelbrock, a long-time leader in the fuel-injection aftermarket, has addressed this technical roadblock with its line of Universal EFI Sump Fuel Kits, which are available for 58-psi EFI systems as PN 3605, and for 49-psi EFI systems as PN 3607 (Summit pricing: $545.87).
Let's take a look at why these kits exist. An EFI conversion—irrespective of brand or type—typically involves three major operations: installing the EFI hardware and electrical harness, plumbing a fuel system, and programming/tuning the installed system. Recent developments have all but eliminated the hassle of programming and tuning, and Edelbrock's E-Street EFI with self-learning is a shining example here. Moreover, systems like the E-Street have reduced the job of installing the hardware and wiring, reducing the installation to a mere excuse for a weekend garage party. The only blockade: draining and yanking the fuel tank, installing a new pump (or even a new tank), plumbing one or more fuel lines with a pressure regulator, and wiring a power circuit to your new rear-mounted EFI pump. If you plan to go around corners seriously, you'll also have to fabricate a sump to trap fuel for high-g turns, or tap the credit card for a custom sumped tank. Of the operations needed to convert to EFI, the fuel system conversion has been the elephant in the living room. In the past, the aftermarket has simply glossed over the inconvenience, figuring that if you want EFI, you'll simply deal with it head-on. Now, thanks to Edelbrock, this is no longer the case.
Edelbrock's ingenious solution is to move all the plumbing and wiring for an EFI fuel system into the engine compartment. The idea for the Universal EFI Sump Kit started with the rationale that if your carbureted fuel system was strong enough to feed the power of your carbureted engine, then it could also feed your EFI conversion. Edelbrock's kit takes fuel directly from your existing mechanical pump, and fills an intermediate ⅓-gallon sump tank mounted in the engine compartment. Inside the sump is a high-pressure pump that supplies fuel at the appropriate pressure directly to your fuel injection system. Moreover, fuel flow into the sump tank is controlled by a leveling float just like in a carb's float bowl, and the returnless-style pump is internally regulated to make installation a breeze. Because it's a sump that completely immerses the pickup with fuel even under the hardest corners, you'll never experience fuel starvation the way many new EFI conversions do. It's diabolically simple and leaves us wondering why nobody else did it before now. But it gets better.
This hookup diagram shows how simple the Universal EFI Sump Kit is to install. It goes on
Although inexpensive, the Universal EFI Sump Kit is not a bare-bones "starter" system. It's got the goods to handle up to 600 hp—more than enough to feed 98 percent of muscle cars out on the street. (Higher power levels would require a return-style race fuel system, which takes you to another level.) Edelbrock also designed it to be compatible with EFI systems from other manufacturers, so you can mix and match with the EFI system of your choosing. (Edelbrock's kit comes with standard -6 AN fittings and an un-terminated wiring harness to connect to your EFI system's fuel pump relay.) You can choose between a traditional 49-psi kit and the 58-psi kit, which has become increasingly popular in returnless throttle-body–style EFI systems, the E-Street being one of them. (For those who want to make up their own fuel lines, Edelbrock also offers kit No. 36052, which contains only the 49-psi sump assembly, harness pigtail, and one 90-degree quick-connect fitting—Summit price $485.87.)
We walked you through the installation and tuning of Edelbrock's E-Street EFI back in our January issue. Project Nova, which features a 400ci small-block Chevy making approximately 520 hp, was taken to Edelbrock's R&D department, where Edelbrock's Mark Honsowetz had the E-Street EFI up and running in a couple of days. During that time, we documented the installation of the 58-psi Universal EFI Sump Kit for this separate story. If you're not as impressed with this kit's simplicity as we were, there may not be any fuel injection in your future, because it doesn't get any simpler than this!