Jim Smart
April 1, 2009

Marvin McAfee of MCE Engines (Marvin's Custom Engines) in Los Angeles has a 289 small-block he wants to rebuild for a customer. The customer wants the same outward appearance of a 289, but he also wants more torque for peppy performance. And there's one other challenge. Times being what they are, there's not a lot of budget--the customer needs Marvin to build this engine as inexpensively as possible.

Marvin will tell you he doesn't build budget engines, nor does he start from crate engines because he doesn't cut corners. So how can you make more torque from a 289 without spending a fortune?

The block is a 289 casting from the Windsor, Ontario, foundry and engine plant, hence the "WF" marking. Most 289 and 302 engines were from the Cleveland foundry and came with a "CF" marking. There's minimal sludge thanks to clean oil and freeway operation. Engines get warm from steady open road operation, which reduces condensation and oil contaminant levels.

Marvin decided to order a trustworthy 331ci stroker kit from Eagle Specialty Products. Marvin didn't break the bank with his displacement agenda due to a cast steel crank (which is actually high-grade nodular iron), forged I-beam rods with ARP 3/8-inch bolts, and forged flat-top pistons with ductile iron rings. This gives our "289" the added benefit of added displacement via a pinch more stroke and a 0.030-inch overbore. Yet it costs virtually the same as machining the 289's 1M crankshaft and reconditioning its C3OE rods.

This month, Marvin is disassembling our 150,000-mile 289, performing an inspection, and determining what is needed. Machine work begins in earnest shortly. Next month, we're going to assemble the 289 using an Eagle 331ci stroker kit for more torque down low and more horsepower on top.