The Richard that I’m referring to is Richard Maskin, president of Dart Machinery. Dick and I have been good friends since 1980 and we had the good fortune of running into each other at a local event last week. I hadn’t seen Dick in many years since he was Jeg Coughlin’s crew chief of his Pro Stock car. I think the last time we spoke at Pomona, I told him of a project I was working on with Flowmaster and Don Hardy of Hardy Race Car fame. We were building big-block Chevys to run in the irrigation fields of Northern Texas; these engines ran 24/7 for months at a time on natural gas. Don needed more torque at 1,800 rpm to pump more water and use less fuel in the process. We built a special set of custom headers and single exhaust system, this in combination with a very short camshaft gained about 50 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm.
Well, fast-forward to my conversation with Dick. He’s now working with Hardy on the same issue of building big torque at slow engine speeds. They are using the Gen VII 8.1L big-blocks as a foundation. Many readers have asked me over the years how to hop up the 8.1L big-blocks, and I’ve basically had to pass on these questions until now. Dart has released a bolt-on Gen VII cast-iron cylinder head that is brand new, featuring symmetrical intake ports displacing 308cc and a small kidney-shaped 108cc combustion chamber. Dart has stuffed a traditional 2.19/1.88 valve package in these heads and sold under PN 15400170. These heads are a direct bolt-on and match up to the factory EFI inlet manifold with much greater flow potential.
Now for the hot rodder in all of us, you can pick up an 8.1-liter out of the wrecking yard, swap out these heads, and bolt-on Dart’s new aluminum dual-plane intake manifold on top. The manifold not only lets you bolt on a standard flange model 4150 Holley carburetor, but also enables you to slide in a standard tall deck distributor to spark your Gen VII big-block. Up until now you were stuck with the restrictive EFI truck manifold, which would make a ton of torque, but you still had to deal with the late-model electronics to fire the plugs. These components will give you a very affordable foundation to have a 496-inch street performance big-block.
Why Dart did these cylinder heads was to build large displacement engines to re-power emission-constrained diesel yard trucks around the country. He has a 10.5L Gen VII big-block based on their Big M block, Gen VII cylinder heads, and the four-barrel manifold. When running one of these engines on Hardy’s water pumps and Gen Sets they are producing 221 hp at 1,800 rpm. This doesn’t sound like much, but at 1,800 rpm that’s 645 lb-ft of torque!
Dick has been at this performance game for much longer than I have known him and has single-handedly given affordable big horsepower to the masses through Dart Machinery. We’re all the better for knowing him. Thanks, Dick!
I have read your column for a long time and enjoy learning from it. I’m from the old school (68 years old) and still enjoy building good motors.
I have a ’52 Chevy car and a fair motor, but now I need some help. The motor is the following: 350 Chevy bored 0.030-inch over with 10.5 pistons, Dart Iron Eagle heads with 64cc chambers 2.02/1.60-inch valves, and Crane 1.5:1 roller rocker arms. The cam is an Edelbrock Performer RPM, with duration at 0.050-inch lift of 234/244 degrees. The camshaft produces max lift of 0.488/0.510 inch. The intake manifold is an Edelbrock Performer RPM, and the carburetor is an old Holley 3310 780-cfm with an electric choke. The fire comes from a new MSD ignition. I have a TH350 tranny behind the motor. The headers are Sanderson 2-inch, and have a 21/2-inch Flowmaster exhaust. The rearend is from an ’89 S-10 truck with 3.73:1 gears.