Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
April 1, 2004
Mike Ulrey has been restoring Ford distributors, Ford Holley carburetors, fuel pumps, and Top Loader four-speeds for the better part of 20 years and is well known in the hobby. We sent Mike a PerTronix, cap, rotor, and other small hardware from NPD. Our restored distributor showed up just in time for dyno-testing. Mike's distributors are curved for the engine specs and are completely rebushed, cleaned, painted, and ready to go.

The Dyno Test
I've been involved in dozens of engine and chassis dyno tests over the years. But while I've seen my share of broken parts, dyno mishaps, and poor performance results, they've always been on someone else's engine. This is the first time I've been in the dyno room with my own engine bolted to the water brake. To say I was a bit nervous isn't far from the truth. Will it break? Will it be down on power? Will there be some gremlin that prevents us from making a full pull? All the dyno tests of the past flooded through my brain. Did we gap the plugs right? Did we get the right oil? Is the carburetor set right? I was starting to sweat.

With John doing the safety checks in the dyno room, his partner, Gil Alfaro, manned the controls on the other side of the glass. With a couple of pulls on the carb linkage by John, then a "thumbs-up," Gil lit the fuse and, after two quick pops through the carburetor, the 289 barked its presence to the world. While the 289 was breaking in and warming up, John checked and set the timing, and made sure everything was good to go for our power pulls.

When we showed up at A&S Motorsports for our dyno session, the 289 was already bolted to the dyno stand waiting for spark plugs, oil, and a restored distributor. John already had our restored and modified Autolite 4100 Pony carburetor in place (more on this when we detail our engine). After screwing on the filter and dropping 5 quarts of dinosaur juice in the 289, John primed the engine with a drill motor.

The first test went to 6,000 rpm. It resulted in some dismal numbers due to miscommunication about the amount of advance in our new distributor. After setting the initial timing to give us a true total advance of 36 degrees, the little 289 really woke up. Our second and third pulls netted 278 hp at just over 6,000 rpm with a nice, flat torque band from 3,200 through 5,800 rpm. We wanted to break the Hi-Po power number (271 hp), and we did. Sure, it would be nice to make more power, but realizing this is a show vehicle (that's also quite light), this nearly 300hp 289 will surely make our hardtop scoot.