engine performance


When GM introduced the Gen III small block in the F-body, it rekindled a dying performance flame with its new-generation small block. While the Gen I small block actually kick-started the hobby and got it into gear, it’s the latest family of small-block engines that has grabbed the attention of enthusiasts everywhere—and for good reason.

Choosing The Right Cam

Cam-speak is a language all its own. Well, maybe not from a linguistic point of view, but it is a specialized dialect of car-guy talk. Although spoken by a good portion of enthusiasts, Cam-speak is really fully understood by only a handful of those same enthusiasts, as it is a very specialized, nuanced dialect. Those who do not speak the lingo can instantly be singled out. Those who are fluent in cam-speak are listened to intently, even when those listening do not fully comprehend whatʼs being said and how to apply it to their particular applications. Few within our ranks are particularly fluent in this highly specialized jargon.


When it comes to enhancing the performance and reliability of performance cars, it seems as if enough is never enough, regardless of the vehicle, drivetrain or chassis. Then again, when you consider the problems that often cripple our cars despite the inherent strengths or improvements upon them, it’s often the driver that has the most detrimental effect on everything above the pavement.


Alternative-fuel sources and hybrid cars are all the rage today. Everyone from major automakers to backyard inventors is pursuing alternative fuels and energy sources. While the ultimate goal is generally to eliminate dependence on foreign oil, for hot rodders there is also the desire to invent and create a better-performing engine.


Producing horsepower requires two major ingredients, namely, air and fuel. Of course, the two must be supplied in the correct proportions and at the proper time; but improving power is a simple matter of adding airflow. Naturally, additional fuel will be required once the airflow is improved, but the first item on the horsepower priority list should always be more airflow.

Keeping Your Cool

Even though we all dream of blasting through the desert at 130-MPH like Robby Gordon, most of our 4×4 adventures take place at a much more reasonable pace. Unfortunately for our engines crawling along a boulder strewn dry river bed or climbing a goat trail through a mountain pass does not always allow enough airflow to keep our engines cool with a belt driven mechanical fan. Belt driven fans are designed to keep your engine cool when traveling down a street or highway not while crushing boulders at 3-MPH and 1,500-RPM. So what can we do to keep our rigs from boiling over this summer? Follow along with us as we install a pair of 11-inch electronic cooling fans along with a programmable fan controller both from SPAL USA.

B-Series Bullseye: Part I

What can we say about VTEC Honda motors that hasn’t already been said thousands of times? Accolades have been bestowed upon the B-series Honda at an almost embarrassing rate—and we might add that all of its praise is well deserved. But we have already begun to turn our attention to the newer K-series motors, which by all accounts are even better motors than the B-series. They are sure to start a revolution of their own, but that is a discussion for a different day.

Dialed In

When it comes to performance, the devil really is in the details. Ever wonder why one engine makes more power than another, when both are seemingly identical? The answer to this very common performance question lies in the attention to detail. Basic performance elements such as engine tuning, spark timing curves, and, yes, even oil selection all come into play when you attempt to extract the maximum amount of power from your existing combination. 


What makes more power: carburetors or computers? While the ultimate answer is that a sophisticated electronic fuel-injection system will virtually always outpower a carburetor, the real question may be whether the power gains are worth the extra expense and complexity of installing an EFI system.

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