How to Build a High Performance Engine

by Dan Ferrell

In crossing the line to take your stock engine into high performance range you have several options and hundreds of products from which to choose. However, your best alternative is to increase airflow according to your engine's fuel system capacity. Installing a modified component--going for a racing camshaft or a bigger carburetor for example--means matching power output in other areas. Focus on the most important systems to transform your everyday engine into a high performance machine.

Select the high rpm camshaft adequate for your engine. The best way to go is to install a complete camshaft kit; otherwise check with your auto parts provider or manufacturer whether you can use the current valve lifters, springs and related components. Also, make sure the new camshaft will not decrease clearance between pistons and valves.

Select a high performance distributor and ignition coil according to the ignition system in your vehicle. A single-point distributor for example may be replaced with an aftermarket performance unit. If your ignition system is computer controlled, you may choose a new high-performance control module; just make sure it will let you pass the emission test if required by your state.

Install a new high performance carburetor only if you have a V8 engine with this system. High capacity engines are the only ones to really benefit by this change. Match carburetor air-flow capacity to your engine displacement, maximum rpm and volumetric efficiency. You can select among spread bore, "double-dumper" and dual-feed carburetors.

Select a high-performance intake manifold carefully. Some new aftermarket intakes not only help you increase engine power but fuel economy as well. Look for a single plane intake with better low- and mid-range performance and good top-end efficiency. Choose a low weight aluminum unit and, unless you want to take your vehicle to a car show, go for a simple design.

Install new exhaust tubular headers or dual exhaust to increase flow capacity and horsepower. Check your local regulations since some states do not allow the use of tubular headers with catalytic converters.

Consider switching to glass pack or turbo muffler to add extra flow to the exhaust as well.

Tip

  • check Remember to fine tune your engine to extract all the extra horsepower after making modifications.

Warning

  • close Make sure your engine is in excellent condition before beginning modifications. Increasing power output could prove fatal for an engine with worn or failing systems unable to handle the extra horsepower. Modifying or removing the emission control system in your vehicle may be illegal in your state. Always make sure that your engine modifications conform to the latest federal, state and local regulations.

About the Author

Since 2003 Dan Ferrell has contributed general and consumer-oriented news to television and the Web. His work has appeared in Texas, New Mexico and Miami and on various websites. Ferrell is a certified automation and control technician from the Advanced Technology Center in El Paso, Texas.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Photo courtesy of Morven at Commons Wikimedia.org.