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.
This late-model 351W two-bolt...
This late-model 351W two-bolt main block has been girdled with a windage tray. It also has a one-piece rear main seal. Marvin blueprinted it to MCE standards, working oil passages and installing restrictor plugs at No. 2 through No. 5 main journals to improve oil distribution. He also notched cylinder walls and pan rails to clear rod bolts, and thoroughly inspected for cracks and other abnormalities. The No. 1 main journal does not get a restrictor plug. As you can see, the craftsmanship is impeccable. Marvin uses Glyptal coating from The Eastwood Company to seal unmachined iron surfaces.
Blair ordered a complete 427W...
Blair ordered a complete 427W stroker kit from Coast High Performance. We like the 4340 steel crank, H-beam rods, and forged 4.030-inch SRS flat-top pistons. Probe increases stroke to 4.170 inches to achieve 427 ci. Rod length center to center, is 6.200 inches, yielding a rod ratio of 1.48:1. Marvin has massaged this crank to MCE specs, micro-polishing the journals for better oil control, chamfering the oil passages for improved flow, with a precision balance job from both MCE Engines and Automotive Balancing.
At first glance, these don't...
At first glance, these don't look like Edelbrock Victor heads. They have been Marvin-ized with port work, precision fitment, Glyptal coating, and MCE's own black enamel. High-swirl 62cc chambers improve quench.