Performance Engine Building - Off-The-Shelf Steam

Easy 414hp Gain With a Little Boost!

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Let’s not kid ourselves; the fine art of cylinder head porting, along with trick engine-building techniques, can go a long way with closed-course competition applications. However, for the average do-it-yourselfer who wants big numbers, whether it’s on the dyno or at the track, we can take solace knowing that today’s manufacturers are producing components that will transform any weekend engine builder into a local hero. That’s right; we’re talking about a level of performance that was until recently reserved for those with deep pockets.

The recipe is simple: Start with a solid foundation, be it a mild or big cubic-inch stroker assembly and then add the induction of your choice. Given the caliber of cylinder heads and power adders available, it’s only a matter of deciding how far you want to go. In our case, we wanted to put together a blow-through supercharger combination that was mild enough for cruise nights yet powerful enough to throw down numbers on any given test and tune session.

This month’s featured combination is the first of a two-part series showing just how radical you can get. For the first rendition, we started with a standard 9.8-inch deck Dart Big M block; Dart built a limited supply of complete short-blocks as a test program and we were fortunate enough to get our hands on one. Don’t fret, even though this came to us complete, the internals are widely available from most speed shops. Inside, the rotating assembly consists of a forged Eagle Specialties 4.00-inch crankshaft, and forged Engine Pro 6.385-inch rods with Keith Black flat-top pistons.

Working our way up, we wanted a set of heavy breathers that would support upper-level horsepower while being able to evacuate the spent gases in a hurry. Our cylinder heads of choice were the Brodix BB-3 Xtras with its line of HV 2000 intake manifold. For the power adder, we went with Vortech’s Ysi supercharger and relied on our trusty Holley 750hp carburetor that’s been modified by The Carb Shop. At the center of our creation, we have a custom-grind COMP bumpstick, including a complete COMP valvetrain. With everything in check, our 454ci produced 2.1 hp/ci, translating into 965 hp and 877 lb-ft! It’s impressive to say the least, so follow along and see what it takes to replicate the combination for yourself.

The Carb Shop

To say we’ve been fortunate to work with The Carb Shop out of Ontario, California, would be a complete understatement. For the past several years, they’ve been an integral part of our blow-through supercharger coverage and, for a lack of better words, they’re the real heroes behind our successful dyno and track sessions.

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And if you didn’t already know, they’re gearheads well versed in building everything from performance carburetors to engines, even fielding their own cars down the dragstrip. It’s this type of R&D that has put them on the leading edge of blow-through technology. More importantly for your wallet, their custom-order blow-through carbs are very affordable and can be had for $840 complete or $450 by sending in your own to get modified. For more information, head over to

454 Buildsheet
Displacement 454
Bore x Stroke 4.250 x 4.00
Compression 8:1
Rod Center-to-Center 6.385
Piston Deck Height 0.000
Chamber Volume 119 cc
Rod Bearing Clearance 0.0025
Crank endplay 0.008
Piston Ring
Endgap 0.028 top, 0.024 second
Main Bearing Cap Torque 100 ft-lb (moly-lube)
Rod Bolt Torque 65 ft-lb (moly-lube)
Head Stud Torque 70 ft-lb (moly-lube)




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