Jim Smart
July 1, 2001

Engine compartments are as personal and individual as the people who dress them. This means there is a world of ideas out there for your restomod project. Your objective should be not only tasteful execution between the shock towers, but function as well. Not only does it need to look good, it should run just as well when it's time to slam the hood.

We're bringing you a smorgasbord of engine detailing ideas and tricks designed to make the most of not only your budget, but your individual talents as well. This is an opportunity to make the most of what you have.

Dress Code
When you raise the hood, you want to be proud of your efforts. Bolting on snazzy parts doesn't hold much water if they clash or are just downright tacky. Aesthetics is about grouping together the right combination of parts and workmanship. For example, stock painted valve covers with an aftermarket air cleaner look ridiculous. A stock air cleaner with aftermarket valve covers looks absurd, too. A long fuel hose routed from the pump to the carburetor looks sloppy. Chrome can look downright cheesy if it's installed where it doesn't belong. Admit it. Some of us install too much of it. Rusty bolt heads or exhaust manifolds detract from an otherwise sharp engine compartment. Bright yellow spark-plug wires mated to a stock distributor cap and wire holders don't cut it either. Our message here is compatibility. Ask yourself, does it match?

One area we often see overlooked is the area of accessories and components. Enthusiasts fit otherwise grand engine bays with doo-doo components-remanufactured power-steering pumps, alternators, air-conditioning compressors, water pumps, and more. There's nothing wrong with remanufactured parts unless you install them as-is from the rebuilder. Let's look at what can be done to make your "reman" components look better.

Form And Function
Form and function speak well when they get together in your engine bay. This is why the Shelby Mustang engine bay worked so well 35 years ago. Cast-aluminum Cobra valve covers not only looked sharp, they kept oil and rocker-arm noise inside. The open-element Hi-Po air cleaner allowed greater quantities of air with the awesome look of a racer. The dual-point Autolite ignition was clean and functional, providing a consistent spark through 6,500 rpm. Beneath the air cleaner was a 715-cfm Holley carburetor designed for high-performance driving. A large alternator pulley kept the dynamo revs down while yielding a racy look.

Do you see our point? Form and function. Shelby's people had it mastered a long time ago. This is what you want to achieve with your engine room. When we think about carburetion for a bitchin' restomod, thoughts turn to Holley, Edelbrock, and Carter performance carburetors. But did you know the Autolite 4100 four-barrel carburetor from Pony Carburetors outperforms these carburetors in nearly every arena? The 4100 is a fiercely reliable carburetor that needs virtually no maintenance throughout its service life.

When Ford engineers went to the drawing board approaching 50 years ago to design the 2100 two-barrel and 4100 four-barrel Autolite carburetors, they over-engineered them in every respect. Fuel leakage is virtually impossible, because these carburetors are one solid casting with integral fuel bowls. The accelerator pump is fully adjustable. Remove the air horn and adjust the floats even with the engine running. Choke adjustment is a cakewalk. The greatest advantage behind the 2100 and 4100 is simplicity.

Check out the photos and captions as well as the tips and tricks detailed in the sidebars below.

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