Last month, we got the ball rolling on a special World Products 454 small-block engine that is destined for SUPER CHEVY's Road Tour Camaro--a vintage Second-Generation F-body infused with the latest in contemporary performance trends and technologies.
We started with the latest in big-cube small-blocks--World Products 454ci combo--but wanted to add a 21st century twist. So, a call to FAST (Fuel Air Spark Technology) hooked us up with one of their electronic fuel injection systems, controller and data logger.
The injection system caps an already impressive breathing system on the large-displacement small-block. The cubes come from a 4.000-inch stroke and 4.250-inch bores. Extracting 454 ci from a normal Mouse engine would leave the block with opaque cylinder walls, but World Products uses their own Motown block casting. It's designed with extra built-in bulk that promotes not only gonzo bore diameters but added strength and improved cooling capacity.
To ensure those big, hungry cylinders get enough to eat, World Products drops on Motown 220 Lite aluminum heads, which get their designation from the large, 220cc intake runners. The valves are big, too, measuring 2.125 inches on the intake side and 1.600 on the exhaust. With 58cc chamber volumes and dished pistons, our 454 has a pump-friendly 11:1 compression ratio.
FAST's electronic fuel injection system is tailored to feed the combustion chambers of the big-inch small-block, drawing air through a 1,150-cfm four-barrel-style throttle body. The system is remarkable for its simplicity, mounting to a modified World Products single-plane carburetor manifold.
Interestingly, our project engine wore one of the first prototype throttle bodies from FAST, so everything about it and its subsequent performance on the dyno was uncharted territory for us, FAST and World Products.
The engine was originally configured with a carburetor, then converted in the span of a few hours to the injection system. Other than a slew of sensors and a return line to the fuel tank, swapping a carbureted engine to EFI doesn't take a rocket scientist.
And while tuning the system for optimum performance doesn't require a rocket scientist, either, it demands someone who is as competent at a computer keyboard as with a carburetor, according to FAST's Jay Rohrback.
"Fuel injection is a tool," he says. "How well you use that tool determines the performance results."
Other tools supporting the injection system include FAST's electronic controller, a data logger, and a digital ignition system. The speed-density air metering system permits on-the-fly tuning adjustments, which is complemented by wide-band tuning capability, too.
"With a laptop computer, the engine's performance can be monitored and adjusted at any moment," says Rohrback.
And while tuning can certainly bring out horsepower that was buried in an inadequate air/fuel mixture, fuel injection doesn't necessarily increase horsepower to a great degree.
"If the airflow through a carburetor and throttle body are roughly the same, then the engine will make roughly the same power," says Rohrback. "But the tuning capability of EFI nets more power in the long run. The fuel curve can be easily optimized through the entire rpm range, producing noticeable increases in torque and power."
That is essentially what we found on World Products' in-house engine dyno. Horsepower peaked at 567 at 5,500 rpm, with torque registering at 559 ft-lb at 4,800 rpm. A similar, yet carbureted, version of the Motown 454 is offered by World Products with a rating of 530 hp and 540 ft-lb of torque.
We should note, too, that the camshaft in our engine was a one-off ground for us by Comp Cams.
Compared to World's carbureted 454, the power numbers indicate a healthy jump, but the numbers don't tell the whole story. Overall, the power curves were more robust than initial runs with the carburetor and start-up idle were superb--must-have drivability traits as we hit the road with our Camaro. The more robust power curves reflect seat-of-the-pants performance improvement in the vehicle.
Torque registered above the 500 ft-lb mark from 3,000 rpm on, and horsepower hit 400 by 4,100 rpm and crossed the 500 threshold by 4,700 rpm. Both power curves show strong, progressive arcs that are easily duplicated on the street with the same pump gas used in our tests.
World Products' Bill Mitchell was pleased with the dyno results of the first-time fuel-injected Motown 454.
"They are great numbers, but I think we're only scratching the surface. There is a lot of potential--more than we had time to explore with the deadlines for getting the engine ready for the Camaro," he said. "We'll definitely be playing with this a lot more."
And when it comes to playing, SUPER CHEVY will be doing plenty of it once that fuel-injected 454 small-block is finally nestled between the front fenders of our Goodmark-built Camaro. You'll definitely want to pick up the next few issues to see how the car comes together.
We'll see on the road with it this summer!
It used to be a warehouse for imported spices. Now, the 45,000-square-foot facility on Long Island is the new manufacturing and dyno facility for World Products.
Founder Bill Mitchell recently consolidated his operations, bringing all his work under a couple of roofs in Ronkonkoma, New York--after an extensive airing-out of the sinus-clearing spice odors.
"There was spice dust everywhere," says Bill Mitchell, Jr. "Even after the place was hosed down and painted, you could still smell it."
The new, larger facility dwarfs the old engine-building shop and triples the number of engine dynamometers.
And speaking of dynos, they're from Super Flow and they're all new, too.
"I used to complain about the bottleneck caused by just one dyno," says Bill Mitchell. "Now I complain if none of the three is free."
Well, we all have problems.