Jim Smart
March 1, 2007
Photos By: Benton Jackson

Special Thanks to Marvin McAfee, from MCE Engine, for his technical expertise and knowhow.

When Blair Jennings of Santa Barbara, California, called Marvin McAfee at MCE Engines in Los Angeles, his voice and story were familiar. Blair's father, Allan, who passed away many years ago, once collaborated with Marvin on his engines. They enjoyed a terrific friendship and working relationship centered on fast cars and the scream of high-performance Ford engines. When George Folmer, Parnelli Jones, and Dan Gurney were cutting apexes in SCCA Trans Am competition approaching 40 years ago, Marvin was building competition engines for people like Blair's father-and Blair was there to witness it all through the eyes of a child. After losing track of Marvin for the better part of a lifetime, Blair rediscovered him through a recent story in Mustang & Fords.

At his Santa Barbara shop, Blair had a 427W stroker all in pieces for his '66 Mustang Street Trans Am car that was under construction. He didn't know where to turn for engine-building expertise until he read about MCE Engines in our magazine. That's when he called Marvin for a long-overdue hello. Stunned by a call from someone he hadn't seen in 36 years, Marvin was eager to shake Blair's hand. He was also saddened by the loss of Blair's father and a friendship that quietly slipped away over time. Inspired by that friendship, Marvin did something he and the MCE team don't normally do. He chose to build Blair's engine using parts MCE Engines didn't specify to begin with. MCE Engines has a house rule: All parts must be MCE approved. Blair was the rare exception. Because he and his father were treasured friends, Marvin broke his own rules and worked with what the younger Jennings brought him.

Blair wanted what was almost impossible to achieve-an all-out racing engine with good street manners. We're talking Webers, a radical cam-shaft, big Edelbrock Victor heads, and a dry-sump oiling system. Marvin and the MCE team felt like Blair might be off his rocker. They took his dreamy-eyed idea and looked at what could be done with it.

Formula For Big-Inch Success

Blair did the right thing when he ordered his 427W stroker kit, opting for a Probe Industries 4340 super-strong steel crank, H-beam rods, and forged SRS flat-top pistons. Edelbrock Victor heads were an excellent choice for Blair's 427W, yielding 2.08/1.60-inch valves, large ports, and 62cc chambers designed for better quench, i.e., rapid flame travel across the top of the piston.

Blair dreamed of having Weber carburetion-something his Bow-Tie buddies did not have. But Weber carburetors are not easy to own and maintain. They look terrific, and under ideal circumstances they perform extremely well. Webers are as close to fuel injection as you can get with a carburetor. Marvin's concern was the minimal clearance Blair's Webers would have beneath his Mustang's cowl-induction hood. It wasn't just a performance issue, but a safety one as well. Because fuel vapors, called "stand off," tend to form immediately above each carburetor at high rpm, the risk of ignition in a confined area is what concerned Marvin most. He knew from years of experience that Blair needed a lot of room above his Webers. This remained a challenge for Blair as of press time.

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