Big cylinder heads, roller camshafts, and monster cubic inches help produce impressive power figures. Each month we test a variety of power combos using many of these cool parts to bring you the latest tire-shredding buildups, dyno results, and track numbers. But much of the engine-building excitement takes place outside the pages of the car-magazine world. These guys rely on combinations assembled in hometown garages and shops to develop huge power. No crate engines or catalog motors here. Just custom engine builds with off-the-shelf components to power their hot street cruisers and weekend haulers.
To scope out the action we spent plenty of time at the track, lurking around the dyno rooms, and on the street, searching for the best engines we could find. Cumulatively, we logged plenty of miles, but in the end we were rewarded with potent mills and the chassis to harness them. No boring powerplants here, only real-world, and only those that scorched our fancy, including machines that sported 800 horses with people who aren't afraid to drive them on pump-friendly petrol.
In the end, we had a difficult time whittling down to our favorites, but suffice it to say, we certainly found 10 of the coolest combinations; each of which stands out on its own and deserve full merit for its achievements on and off the street. We should note that most of our heroes prefer pump gas and, without a doubt, that's just the way we like them. Is there a pay-off to building something similar? You better believe it. With the big dyno numbers or killer e.t.'s, these guys are the envy of their neighborhoods, leaving us in daze, and pushing us to be more like them.
Mike Saiki '72 Corvette Mike Saiki's 700hp 377ci small-block- powered Corvette produces some very low e.t.'s with an easy-to-follow combo. Just use a relatively light car and steep gears, and build an engine combo that produces low torque to help traction and high rpm. Add in a 300hp nitrous kick, a real loose converter, and a set of Mickey Thompson rubber and dip into the 8s. As Mike puts it, "I roll out on the motor about a car length, hit the nitrous, and keep just a little tire spin happening so that the front of the car doesn't yank the wheels up."