In the Words of Freiburg­erÉ

Hot Rod - - Contents - hHOTROD. COM/ David-Freiburger

I nor­mally write my col­umn about stuff that’s big-pic­ture or philo­soph­i­cal, but I just did some­thing I’m re­ally stoked about, and this time I just want to tell the story. See, I love en­gines, and I host the Engine Masters show on Mo­torTrend On­De­mand.com. Steve Brulé, Steve Dul­cich, and I get to play with en­gines, bust all kinds of myths, prove some truths. I re­cently had a scheme that my co­hosts weren’t re­ally down with, and so­cial-me­dia fol­low­ers like­wise thought I was stupid. I went with stock heads and huge cubes.

Re­cently, I talked Blue­print En­gines into sell­ing its 598ci big­block Chevy as a short-block rather than only as a com­plete engine, which is what they were do­ing. What makes the 598 great? It’s a low-deck engine (stock 454 deck height), un­like the pop­u­lar Chevy 572 engine or the com­mon 632ci com­bos that are 0.400 inch taller. That ex­tra height means more weight, a tougher fit in the car, cus­tom head­ers, and a ded­i­cated in­take man­i­fold (or in­take spac­ers).

The 598 with a stock deck height uses reg­u­lar parts, so I imag­ined a sce­nario where some­one has an av­er­age 396, 427, or 454 in his ride and wants more ev­ery­day power. The stan­dard an­swer would be a roller cam, trick heads (su­per ex­pen­sive for a big­block Chevy), or a su­per­charger.

What would hap­pen if that per­son used ex­ist­ing parts on top of a 598ci short-block? We ran the 598 at 10.2:1 com­pres­sion for pump gas us­ing bone-stock, Gen VI, iron, rec­tan­gle-port heads. The cam was a cheap hy­draulic flat-tap­pet with 230/236 du­ra­tion at 0.050 tap­pet lift and the in­take was a used Edel­brock RPM dual-plane. It was fed by one of the new, low­priced 850-cfm dou­ble-pumper Brawler carbs from Hol­ley. Guys guessed I’d gen­er­ate any­thing from 350 to 450 su­per-lame horse­power. Ul­ti­mate an­swer: 550 hp—weak for 598 cubes.

But I was look­ing for 700 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm and a peak of 720 lb-ft at 3,500 rpm. The engine never made less than 620 lb-ft on the way to a low-rpm horse­power peak of 4,700 rpm.

Peo­ple gripe that we never build low-rpm street en­gines. Well, here’s a deadly one. The lu­di­crous torque opens up a world of ques­tions and op­por­tu­ni­ties. On the up­side, you could re­tain a three-speed trans and not have to pay for over­drive be­cause you could have a very high (and com­monly stock, there­fore free) 3.08:1 rearend gear and the 700 lb-ft would have zero prob­lems pow­er­ing through it. You can have a large and tight torque con­verter, which adds drive­abil­ity over a loose con­verter needed for a higher-rpm combo. And the small-cammed 598-incher idled at 600 rpm with a light load and sucked 12 inches of vac­uum for power brakes.

The only ques­tions would be how you’d man­age to ever hook up the tires and if you care at all about fuel econ­omy. But you could shred tires from any speed, re­mov­ing all care about mpg.

It was an un­con­ven­tional build, but re­ally only an am­pli­fi­ca­tion of how Cadil­lac, Buick, and Pon­tiac were mak­ing big torque in the 1960s. Worked then, works bet­ter to­day; cu­bic inches still rule. Come to think of it, this col­umn is kind of philo­soph­i­cal af­ter all. Are you into turbo torque or the sim­plic­ity of nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gines? Are you a horse­power guy or a torque guy? Help your­self de­cide by watch­ing the episode of Engine Masters on Mo­tor Trend On­De­mand.

[ Stock iron heads on a 598ci short­block. No one does this, but

maybe they should. We later stacked some

killer Brodix heads on it for 800+ hp on

pump gas.

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