About the only thing better than having horsepower is having more horsepower than the other guy expects. That's why "sleepers" are so popular and well-disguised nitrous setups find their way into so many cars. It's great to pop the hood on your fine-looking Corvette to find a mint, stock-looking engine compartment. The casual onlooker might think, That's a sweet original, but it's a shame he went stock instead of high-performance. But why not have both?
That's the very course of action suggested by the masters of horsepower at Recon Automotive Remanufacturers in Philadelphia. They're the guys who build all of the stock and performance crate engines for the biggest and best retailers and mail-order catalog companies in the country.
We sent Recon a worn-out 396 big-block motor and asked what they thought they could do with it. The company's performance guru, Joe Giove, thought it would be cool to build a serious ground-pounder in a totally stock-looking package. He oversees Recon's high-performance department, which builds all kinds of crate engines for the biggest names in the business. He agreed to build a motor that would be totally streetable, run on pump gas, and look and sound as stock as possible, with a mountain of horsepower and torque.
Recon sells its engines through all of the leading auto-parts retailers and catalog companies in the country. A specialty is its R&R (Remanufacture and Return) service in which they'll completely rebuild your engine and return it. Best of all, you can have it your way, by specifying exactly how you want your engine built. You can specify compression ratio, cam profile, and even specific brands of parts; they'll even do the same for a no-core crate engine.
We won't keep you in suspense any longer, so here's the bottom line: Our Recon sleeper motor ended up on the north side of 500 hp-503.22 to be exact-at a perfectly streetable 5,300 rpm. Even better was a monstrous 586.31 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. That sounds like a bet-winning, wheel-spinning, mind-blowing street sleeper to us. All this came on pump gas, with relatively smooth idle and the maintenance-free sound (or lack thereof) of hydraulic roller lifters.