Price Of Late-Model Performance
I always get this question from one of my performance colleagues in the industry: Why do I always write about early small-blocks and TH350 transmissions? He believes that the '60s through '90s are dead and gone and all we should be writing about is LS-based engines with electronic everything. I keep telling him that I answer the questions sent to me, and he keeps scratching his head!
This week I dove headlong into late-model performance by getting a screaming deal on a brand-new GM Performance Parts '07 6.2L L92 Gen IV small-block crate engine, completely dressed with the front accessory drives, exhaust manifold, truck EFI manifold with electronic throttle body, and ignition coils and wiring. I purchased this engine to modify and install in our '80 Malibu wagon race car to step it up in bracket mode and hopefully run 10.90 Super Street. With the proper camshaft, an Edelbrock Victor Jr. manifold, an 850 Holley, an MSD 6LS ignition controller, and good headers, the engine should make around 580 hp on pump gas. This will get us down to about 10.70s at 124 mph in our 3,300-pound wagon.
This all sounds great doesn't it? Sure, until I researched the rest of the components I'll need to dress the engine and do the swap! Every time I wrote down another part and ran the price through my friendly mail-order performance store, I was coming up with $300 here and $400 there. I plan on making the engine mounts myself, and if I have to I will make the headers myself. However, when you look for a pan, manifold, ignition, SFI damper, electric water pump, LS2 starter, camshaft, and adjustable valvetrain, it all starts to add up.
One of the reasons we continue to hang on to our original small-blocks is the availability of inexpensive parts out there. We pick up parts from one of our friends, swap meets, manufacturers selling off the older stock at ripping deals. As long as money is tight out there, we're going to have our early small-blocks for years to come.
I'm very excited about this engine swap and the minimal changes to get a completely stock engine to make this kind of power. I love the looks on people's faces when they peer under the hoods of our cars, wondering how they can run so fast with so little modifications. I'm sure hoping this will be another one. I guess I better put in a little overtime to pay for the swap!
Q My 18-year-old son drives a '55 Chevy Pro Street Car with a 540 big-block with a 4L80E trans. We do some bracket racing, and it has run 11.10 at 126 mph. Well, going through Tech, they have you rev the engine up to 3,000 rpm, then idle, then shut the electrical cutoff switch-but it didn't shut the car off. I run a one-wire, 100-amp alternator with the one wire going into the car to positive distribution block and the battery mounted in the trunk. When we race, I run a wire to the switch from alternator and disconnect the wire into the car's distribution block. The car will then shut off. With it set up this way, it won't charge the battery or keep systems running, right? Would different wiring or going to a 140-amp alternator help?
A You have found the problem fitting within the letter of the law in the NHRA rulebook. The only way to prevent the engine from running on is to isolate the alternator from the power feeds to your accessories. You've done this by running the alternator power wire to the battery side of the battery shutoff switch. By the rules, when you shut off the main battery shutoff switch, it is to kill all power in the car. The heavy-gauge wire running up the car to the alternator is still hot. Even though the engine dies when you cut off the switch, with it wired this way the alternator is charging the battery when the engine is running. The alternator is always connected to the battery.
When I wire in a remote mounted battery and shutoff switch, I will run a fine-stranded 6- to 8-gauge wire from the battery to the charging lug on the back of the alternator. For protection, I will run an 8- to 10-gauge fusible link at the battery. This smaller-gauge fusible link will melt if the main feed wire to the alternator gets to ground. This will prevent fires and problems in case of an accident.
This is the best I've come up with for the "All Kill" shutdown rule with the battery shutoff switches. This will keep the tech man happy and protect your car in case of mishap. Enjoy racing your very cool '55!