Michael Galimi
October 1, 2008

Blowers, Turbos, compound boost, and nitrous are all thrown on top of the modular engine because it's easy. The overhead camshaft family of Ford engines respond so well to unnatural breathing, that it becomes common on the pages of your favorite automotive magazine. If you stop to consider the enormous amount of attention placed on the '03-'04 Cobras, Three-Valve modular power in the S197, and the hot Shelby GT500s, as well as the limitless combinations of pushrod Ford engines, the Two-Valve modular engine starts to get lost in the mix-especially naturally aspirated buildups. This month, we remedy the situation for naturally aspirated fans as we cover a stout little Two-Valve engine buildup.

The task to build a nasty little N/A engine rested on the shoulders of Livernois Motorsports. One way to describe the Dearborn Heights, Michigan-based facility is to call it a super shop. A huge building houses a full machine shop (including crank balancing and all aspects of machining), a CNC center, engine-building clean rooms, an engine dyno, a cylinder-head porting room and clean assembly room, two chassis dynos (Mustang dyno and Dynojet), a Detroit Speed Shop showroom, and a massive installation center. Essentially, Livernois is many shops rolled under one roof.

Modular crate engines are a common occurrence for the Livernois staff, and they told us to pop in whenever we were in town. We took them up on their offer, and since something is always going on, we followed along during a normal day's work. "We carry a lot of the short-blocks and cylinder heads in stock, on the shelf," says head engine builder Mike Schropp. "This allows the customer to call up and work with the tech representative and pick the short-block and head combination that works for both his application and budget. With the products on the shelf, we can usually take a short-block and head package and have an assembled engine available in less than a week. Custom engines usually average three to four weeks."

We arrived days before the NMRA event in nearby Milan Dragway, and Schropp was prepared to put together a potent little Two-Valve engine. Luckily for us, the customer was willing to let them put it on the shop's engine dyno to show it off for this story. The dyno is constantly used to R&D parts and evaluate changes to Livernois' engine programs. A part of the nickel tour was also checking out the CNC machine that works nearly nonstop, stamping out modular and LS1 cylinder heads.

The CNC machine had just completed a run of Two-Valve heads that featured Livernois' newly designed port job. The intake and exhaust ports are the same, but the combustion chamber featured a new shape that has provided as much as 22 hp more over the old combo. The Stage 3 port job and combustion-chamber work are available for both Romeo and Windsor heads. Schropp offered some insight to the new head design. "We've improved the efficiency of the combustion event," he says. "The stock Two-Valve engines suffer from a chamber design built around emissions and mixture motion. The stock head has always hindered performance at higher levels. With this new small chamber with increased quench, we've seen very good improvements in detonation resistance, timing requirements, combustion efficiency, and power output." He also says the new combustion chamber lowered brake-specific fuel consumption (BSFC), bettered EGT readings, and required less timing. The rest of the engine is fairly standard practice in terms of a Two-Valve buildup. A stock block was used and modified with Livernois oil drain backs.