Consider for a moment what it might take for an engine to make 150 horsepower per liter of displacement. It's an impressive ratio, but not necessarily implausible. It'd be nice to have, but hasn't the tuner community already been there, done that? Well, it depends a lot on context.
In the era of 10-cylinder, 3-liter powerplants, Formula 1 engines were said to produce twice this level, over 300hp per liter. Put a snail on just about any OE Honda mill and instantly 150 per 1,000cc doesn't seem so inaccessible. A stock block 1.8 GSR at 10psi will typically deliver about 270, which equates to exactly 150 per liter. But a normally-aspirated street motor that must try to make efficient explosions on crap 91 octane West Coast gas? Now that's a reality TV-style challenge.
Obviously it will take revs to meet this power goal. It will also take just the right combination of parts. Finally, it'll take the right person who has the experience and is up to the challenge. We found that person in Larry Widmer, owner of Energy Dynamics, or Endyn, in Fort Worth, Texas.
Widmer is one of those people you would have to label a character. He is old-school V8 from the '70s and '80s era of Vic Edelbrock, Richard Petty, and Roger Penske (yes, Penske is that old), among others. As a drag racer, he competed in what is today called the Pro Stock class. In road racing, he made engines for nearly every successful Ford-based NASCAR team of the '70s and '80s, plus a few Indy Car engines. As a tuner, his motors-specifically the headwork-have won an Indy 500, a NASCAR title, and multiple Pro Stock titles. He's also worked for Toyota, General Dynamics, MSD, and most importantly, himself.
He is also a cancer survivor who greets such grimness with a defiant middle finger every morning. Today, he is doing what he loves, Honda engines, and "doesn't give a you-know-what if anyone thinks I haven't done what I've said I've done, or if I'm full of shit." Quotes like that just scratch the surface with Widmer, so instead of the usual tech story routine, the real substance of what makes this project engine tick will be described by the man himself.
This is one of the keys to Endyn's success, a custom-built 1000CFM flow bench. The locatio
Honda Tuning: Larry, we want to build a normally aspirated engine that can produce 150hp per liter [on an engine dyno]. It has to run long term on 91 octane gas, idle well enough to drive air conditioning, get decent mileage, and deliver the kids to school, as well as traverse the drag strip. Can it be done
Larry Widmer: I can do it. All my street engines are just that, street engines. They have to start in the morning and run all day. I stand behind what I make.
HT: You sound like you've done this before.
LW: I've been building engines since I was a kid racing karts. I built a '65 Mustang small block into a big block stomper, and by the time I was 20, I had a Ford factory-sponsored drag team. When Ford pulled out of racing, I started to do NASCAR heads for Penske and the Elliot family. I've done heads on the 4-valve Cosworth, 2-valve Fords in NASCAR and Pro Stock, and of course these lawnmower engines. Today it's nearly all Honda. Those engines are the best factory engineered things I've seen in 30 plus years of doing this.
HT: Where should we start?
LW: I think a Dart block is a great foundation. They have a B20 version with a tall deck, so I can put longer rods in, and it's strong as hell.
Think Widmer knows a thing or two about Honda heads? Likely, considering the amount of hea
HT: Why the Dart block? We're not going turbo (yet - wink, wink).
LW: Like I said, Honda builds an incredible engine. Only recently have high-end race engines started using machining tolerances as tight as Honda's factory production pieces. But to get 300hp, we're going to need more displacement than any stock B-series block is capable of. We'll have to buzz it higher than a stocker, too. That leaves us with 2 block options: we can either sleeve an existing Honda block, or use a purpose-built Dart.
HT: Why a sleeved stock block and not just a stock block?
LW: A sleeved open-deck block isn't as rigid as we'd like for the horsepower and RPM we're going to generate. But stock B-series cranks are incredibly strong; I've seen them on 800hp turbo motors. What actually happens is the crank keeps things together while the block flexes, so we need a rigid block and that's what the Dart provides.
HT: Still, why not sleeve a stock block? Isn't it a lot cheaper?
LW: Yes and no. The cost of a Dart block is less than most people think, and there are problems with sleeving.
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