July 1, 2006
Our search for 500 hp led us to Pro Power parts and final assembly at Carl McQuillen's Racing Engines. Here, the McQuillen's crew poses with Frank's affordable 506-horse small-block Ford.

When my longtime friend, Franky DiGiorgio, called last summer, he started telling me about his latest super Ford project. He's always wanted to build a Cobra kit car, and he had dreams of stuffing a stroked Windsor small-block into the thing. He was looking for 500 horses with a mild compression ratio so he could just pull up to a gas station and use pump gas. More importantly, Frank likes to stretch a dollar, especially since he's a young father with a family to support. So his small-block Ford wasn't going to have a limitless amount of money poured into it. Building 500 hp on a budget? It sounded like a great story for us to cover.

To get his project started, we suggested that Frank call our buddy Wild Bill Devine because he's the lead salesperson at Dale Metlika's Pro Power parts house. After a few questions about the goal of the project, Wild Bill prescribed exactly what Franky needed to make his dreams of pounding down the street in a Cobra stormer a reality. Pro Power has a seemingly limitless selection of stroker kits with crank, rod, and piston options that allow you to select the parts combination for your exact applications. More importantly, with the collective experience that Dale and Bill offer, you know you're getting just what you need without spending money on high-dollar "race parts" that provide no additional benefit to your goals.

This was far from Frank's first trip through a parts book with dreams of a hot small-block Ford in mind. He had lots of experience putting together Ford small-blocks, and as such he wanted to start with a production block. He found a Ford production 351 Windsor block that was manufactured in 1969.

"The desirable early model year 351 Windsor blocks are designated by the 'DOE' prefix on the casting number," Franky says. "These are good, old blocks that-as long as they aren't hurt-can save you a bunch of money. This block costs me $150-compare that to the $1,000 aftermarket Ford blocks that are out there. With the right parts inside, this will easily hold 500 horses."

With the block selected and sent off to the machine shop, it was time to pick the right parts from Pro Power. While you can get away with less, Frank just couldn't hold himself back. Having destroyed a stock 5.0 block a few years ago, he decided to err on the side of caution and went with an upgraded "racing" stroker kit from Pro Power. After the credit-card numbers had been cleared, we asked Dale to detail the kit he was supplying to our boy Franky.

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"Franky's kit has a 4.100-inch stroke and 4.030-inch bore-this comes out to 419 cubic inches. On Frank's request, we did a forged kit, which is what we call our 'Racing Kit.' The 419 Racing Stroker Kit is for engines requiring strong components for a racing application. A strong Prime One 4340-forged crankshaft, heavy-duty rods, and power-adder-style pistons make this kit the best choice for high-horsepower or high-revving racing engines. These kits are designed to fit any 351W-based block application. They will support up to 1,200 hp using nitrous, turbochargers, or superchargers. Custom kits can be made to handle more power, so your readers can contact us about their specific needs," Dale said. "Users of these kits would benefit greatly from aftermarket blocks from World Products or Dart, as the components would outlive any stock block. Typically, these kits require a little grinding to fit, due to the larger counterweights and size of the H-beam-style connecting rods. Minor clearancing at the bottom of the cylinders is required to clear the rod journal big ends as they swing around. Each block is different in thicknesses and casting, so make sure you grind in the proper area and the proper amount, giving approximately 0.040-0.080-inch clearance."

Each component of Pro Power's Prime One line of engine components has been expressly designed to offer customers high-end performance and bargain prices. Its Prime One crankshaft offers a 4.100-inch stroke and is precision, non-twist forged from aircraft-quality 4340 steel in high-pressure molds. They are heat-treated, stress relieved, and shot-peened, and they also feature nitride hardening on the journal surfaces for wear resistance. The Prime One H-beam rods (6.200-inch in the application) are shot-peened and stress relieved, X-rayed, sonic-tested, and Magnafluxed to ensure durability. They feature 71/416-inch ARP 8740 capscrew bolts, precision cap-alignment sleeves, bronze bushings for full floating pistons, and are 100 percent CNC-machined to exacting tolerances.

Fortunately, since Franky wants to try his luck with a bottle again, the Prime One pistons are designed for power-adder applications. They are precision CNC-machined on low-silicon forgings, and feature heavy-duty pins, thick skirts, extra-thick decks, as well as dual deep valve reliefs to fit a wide variety of cylinder heads. They feature double Spirolox, pressure-fed pin oiling, are lightweight without sacrificing strength, and they are match balanced plus or minus 1 gram. Additional features include a pressure-relief reservoir between the top and second rings, CNC-diamond-turned skirts for tight clearance, better oil control, and high strength for street and racing engines. The plasma-moly rings are also included with all Pro Power stroker kits and can be sourced from a number of high-quality manufacturers. The rod and main bearings are also critical components to each stroker kit. Pro Power includes these with each of its kits.

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As delivered, Frank's stroker kit, which includes flat-top pistons, retails for $1,549. Pro Power also has 383ci (3.750 inch stroke x 4.030-inch bore) and 408ci (4.000-inch stroke x 4.030-inch bore) at the same price with flat-top pistons. Each of these kits is available with dished pistons for an additional $50. While our kit is externally balanced, Dale had new internally balanced crankshafts available for an additional $100. "Now, with all that said," Dale hypothesized, "I believe that Franky's requirements could be achieved easily at a more affordable price with any of the above lower-price kits, but my choice would be the street/strip kit because of the unique dual-valve-relief Prime One forged pistons. This gives a flexible combo for head fitment and a super-strong custom-type piston to handle nitrous down the road. Typically, you would see a stock block fail before you broke rods and/or cranks in a kit of this level."

Our Pro Power cylinder heads were two of the first units offered to the general public. They gave us peak flow numbers of 264 cfm at 0.750-inch lift after Carl McQuillen gave them a quick port tune-up.

While working on this project, Dale had an interesting offer. During the time it took to collect the block, all the parts, and get lined up with our machine shop, Dale had worked a deal to offer his own high-performance aluminum cylinder heads to the market. So, for the first time, you're going to get a look at the new Prime One 210F cylinder head (PN 575-21210). Like the Prime One line of stroker kits, this cylinder head offers the end user an incredible source for increased performance at a tremendous value. These aluminum small-block Ford cylinder heads have 210cc intake-runner volume, 75cc exhaust-runner volume, and a 60cc combustion-chamber volume. The 210F is designed for 2.02-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust valves, but you can stick 2.08-inch intake and 1.625-inch exhaust valves in them. They are machined for a half-inch head stud, and they come with hardened valve seats. The exhaust port is raised 0.250-inch, and they offer a 51/48-inch-thick deck surface.

Dale reported out-of-the-box flow numbers of 256 cfm at 0.700-inch lift on the intake and 180 cfm at 0.700-inch lift on the exhaust. As you can see in our accompanying flow-bench chart (courtesy of Carl McQuillen's Racing Engines), we got almost the exact numbers on the intake, but the exhaust was a little lower than reported. Of course, that could be because of the variance in flow benches. The bottom line is, at only $695 a pair (bare), the 210F offers an incredible value. Pro Power plans to offer this head-complete with components for a hydraulic-roller cam-for only $925 a pair. They were the perfect heads for Cheap Franky's project small-block.

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Dale says that a new CNC-ported version of this head will be available soon. It will flow 300 cfm/200 cfm at 0.700-inch lift and sell for $1,550.

While Franky had looked for ways to save money on his engine pieces, he realized he couldn't scrimp with the engine assembly. He wanted only the best when it came time to get his small-block Ford put together. That led us to Carl McQuillen and his McQuillen's Racing Engines shop. Carl has been a fixture on the performance scene for several years, and we've been looking forward to working with him and his talented crew for quite a while. Not only have they built race engines for top heads-up, street/strip, and circle-track teams for decades, but Carl has also been working on several engineering projects with General Motors, Delphi, and John Deere. When we first walked into his surgical ward-uh, we mean engine assembly room-we were presented with one of the most detailed, clean, organized, and brightly lit motor-building facilities we'd ever been in. This is a top-notch company, and we were honored that Carl let us hang out for a day and take some pictures while his team completed the job at hand.