Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
June 1, 2003

Horse Sense:
In an earlier test conducted by Panhandle Performance, the SysteMAX II intake outshined many other top-name intakes on the market. We featured that test in our Sept. '01 issue ("Balancing Act," p. 69), using Tech Editor Houlahan's 347 stroker as the guinea pig. His engine topped out at 433 hp and 431 lb-ft of torque on an engine dyno. Needless to say, we're hoping to improve on those numbers with our 349 stroker.

When we last left our 349 short-block at Panhandle Performance in Lynn Haven, Florida, it had been stuffed with a Lunati stroker kit's crank, rods, and pistons. Everything was looking good, and we couldn't wait to get back and witness the installation of the Lunati camshaft and Holley SysteMAX heads and intake.

While Panhandle's Mark Biddle had planned to order a custom cam, he found an off-the-shelf grind that he liked just as well in Lunati's 51099 camshaft. With a 112-degree lobe center, our cam utilizes a split-duration pattern with 228-degree intake and 238-degree exhaust duration specs. Installed at 1 degree advanced, the intake centerline is actually at 111 degrees. The camshaft sports an actual lift of 0.576 intake and 0.544 exhaust. Mark says this cam should reward us with good street manners yet provide nice power up top with our long-runner SysteMAX II intake. Furthermore, Mark split the duration at 0.050, a little more toward the exhaust in anticipation of a small shot of nitrous and for a little more extra power at high rpm than if the cam was a single-pattern grind.

Mark and his partner, Adam Day, were pleasantly surprised at the flow numbers they were able to get from the Holley SysteMAX heads. Panhandle hasn't had much experience with the 17-degree heads but was impressed with the results. Adam treated our heads to a Stage III port and polish job that included full intake, exhaust, and combustion-chamber porting, and Panhandle's competition valve job. The Holley heads were supplied with Ferrea EV-8 stainless 2.02/1.60 valves, chrome-moly retainers, and 0.600-inch dual-lift springs. Panhandle used different locks and seals, and changed the inner valvesprings for a better fit and more spring pressure.

Panhandle also treated our Holley SysteMAX II intake to a port job. A Stage II porting brought the average runner flow up to 317 cfm. As is usually the case, the No. 5 cylinder had the lowest flow number at 308 cfm, while No. 8 boasted the highest at 324 cfm. Well, enough numbers-let's put this thing together.

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