Thanks Dick Datson for letting me put your info on my web page.
I have compiled this from the BlowThruTurbo group.
Dick runs the Yahoo BlowThruTurbo group.
He also has a book 12st Century Turbo,

My impression from decades of writing about supercharging and turbocharging
is that it is an endangered species. Yes, people buy new cars with "boosted"
engines, and they have professionals install super or turbochargers on late
engines, and they talk about them. But actually "doing" super or
turbocharging is a rapidly dying art form.

There are the obvious problems like lack of experience, or fear of
out-of-control costs, and bad information that kills the project early on.
Most of these concerns are easily avoided if an individual is really
interested in learning the skill.

Today you see two longtime subscribers to my newsletters giving updates on
their long running 6 cylinder turbo projects, an AMC and a Studebaker.
Clarence's AMC Gremlin 6 was first covered in our publication back in
November 1995, and Sal's Stude 6 in the December 1995 issue. Both successful
long running turbocharger projects. This is especially impressive when you
consider that most attempts are never even completed. As an editor, this is
easier for me to see, I'm sure, than for others. It gets to where there are
almost always signs up front in the first comments that a project is doomed
and will never be completed. Unfortunately, you cannot sway a man from his
dream. What I hope to do here is to try to avoid the sure pitfalls before the
dreams are ever finalized.

Speaking on a broad basis to start with, projects fail because they are far
too complicated. Its easy to build a wish list for your favorite turbo car
that is $10,000 long, but even if you can afford the expense, this stuff is
complicated. Directions are poor, function is not always what is supposed to
be, and bad choices up front destroy the effectiveness of those expensive
gadgets, even if they might have helped under some other set of

The most important rule to follow in boosting an engine is K.I.S.S. or "Keep
It Simple Stupid", as is said so often in our articles. The point is that you
can add ANYTHING later, and I have no objection to any of the new stuff when
properly and/or appropriately applied (though I'm accused of that). But as
editor, I see the disappointment in the projects-gone-bad from just throwing
fist fulls of money and gadgets at something that was "failed" from day one.

In this series I hope to stack the deck heavily in favor of succeeding, maybe
even in a big way. There are numerous ways to cut costs dramatically while
actually building long-term reliability into your project. Getting the power
is easy, but affordability and staying power are essential for a successful
super or turbo project. Building a successful boosted system yourself, as
opposed to buying it, is the world's best training -- and it gives you the
qualifications to go on to ever greater things. This is a subject where
there's no substitute for being directly involved.

Thanks to Clarence and Sal for their updates today. No, this wasn't planned,
but it was timely. You can have fun at low cost with fast, affordable cars,
engines and turbochargers. Lets hope more of you do. Dick Datson
As I pointed out in the first part of the series, do-it-yourself
super/turbocharging is a seriously endangered species. The primary problems
are the staggering costs and complications associated with boosting engines
in the traditional ways. This of course includes using fuel injection, a
computer and all the related items that go with the package. As an editor I
get numerous requests for help in trying to fix a super/turbo setup and in
most cases its impossible. What do you tell a guy that's spent thousands of
dollars making all the wrong turns and now is desperate enough to actually
ask for help? Nothing you can say is going to right -- or of any help.

This brings us to the starting line. The selection of the right
vehicle/engine combination is the most important decision you will ever make
on this project but is usually done based on appearances and peer pressure --
What's "cool", and not what's best suited.

Lets talk about engines in general for a moment. First I am referring to
older engines -- those with little or no emissions controls or requirements.
Generally that zero on 1968 and earlier vehicles and very little (if any) on
those through 1975. (25 years old). That of course depends on where you live.
If you live in a tough smog neighborhood, maybe you should consider a race
car or off-road vehicle.

Engines 25 years old or older (and some since) usually have the forged (or
strong cast) cranks, thick cylinder walls and lots of head bolts for good
sealing. That's the way they used to build cars in the U.S. Smaller engines
are preferred for all reasons. First they are stronger. I don't mean stronger
per cubic inch but rather stronger over all than the same engine in a larger
displacement. Short strokes mean more crankshaft journal overlap. Smaller
bores usually mean thicker cylinder walls (but not always) and stiffer blocks
(cranks last longer), and smaller bores mean more gasket sealing area and
more meat in many cases for those aftermarket studs to screw into. These are
the things you investigate before you pick your project car.

But keep one thing in mind, potentially the most powerful engine is always
going to be the engine that is the STRONGEST, not the one that is the
biggest. Cubic inches mean little if anything in high boost turbo
applications. You see 6-7 liter turbo engines blowing themselves up at
1.75-2.25 horsepower per cubic inch and 3-4 liter engines living well at 3 or
even 4 horsepower per cubic inch. Staying together is everything.

Every American manufacturer built compacts with small, usually strong engines
back in the 60's and 70's. We've seen many represented here -- Olds, Pontiac,
Buick, Corvair, Ford 6s and V8s, Slant 6s, AMCs and Studebakers. They come in
lightweight packages that make them ideal for drag racing, road racing,
circle track, hill climbs, rallies and so on. You've seen them everywhere
over the decades -- Daytona, Sebring, Road Atlanta, etc. They handle well,
drivetrain upgrades are cheap (not so for a 400 CID engine), and most still
don't go for outrageous prices as they aren't very 'collectable" as a group.

Many of the smaller engines are also suited for engine swaps into imported
pickups, rear drive sports cars, and various off-road vehicles. The
combination of a turbo V6 in a mini-pickup, or a turbo inline 6 in a sports
car is new Corvette/Viper performance levels at a Yugo price tag. There's
certainly something of interest here for anyone that wants affordable
world-class level performance. Next time we'll look closer at the engine
requirements. Dick Datson
The Real Advantage Of Smaller Engines: We have discussed the obvious
advantages of using used turbos over new ones. Its easy to save $1500.00 or
more in a twin turbo setup. No small change. But there's other big savings....

The next biggest ticket in a turbo project is surely the engine, and while I
have often lauded the advantages of small bore, short economy engines, there
is another advantage far more subtle. "Economy" car engines tend to be
skipped over by the typical "high performance" fan. Cars with engines smaller
that 5 liters tend to be far cheaper, as are whole engines, cranks and other
parts. A genuine wealth of "race car" parts few want. Break a crank and your
out $50.00 instead of hundreds. The same with other parts. Save now, save

Being that these smaller engines are less desirable as "performance" motors,
they are driven easier. Its highly unlikely that there is a sleeve in a
cylinder or maybe the rod journals have been turned to the max. This brings
up a very important angle that can save you big.

As all of you note, this newsgroup is made up largely of longtime AMC, Jeep,
and Studebaker people -- mechanics of the old ways. In short, we as a group
have long learned and used the process of "maintaining" engines rather than
going to a chain store and buying a replacement every time our engine's cough
slightly. Its not that easy for us for obvious reasons.

In short, we are (a fact) more inclined to check/test our engines and do
preventive maintenance. This of course is not isolated to our engines but can
be applied to any engine that has received decent care. You know that there
are Ford Falcons, and Buicks and AMC Hornets around that Granny has been
driving to church for decades. Buy the car and you are getting a turbo engine
that simply needs ring, bearings, and an oil system freshening. And perhaps
an examination of pistons, a leak down test, A valve job and so on. Things
you can do yourself.

There's a point to all this. "New" turbo race engines don't stay new very
long. You can spend a thousand or more easy on a basic "rebuilt" that may not
even be the same quality as the engine was originally. Or you can spend much
more on a race engine with "junk" racing pistons as Studebaker people have
experienced or bad valve jobs that come apart. Spending money doesn't
guarantee a long life on a turbo engine.

Even if you have never rebuilt an engine you can do a decent job with a shop
manual and/or "How To Rebuild A...." book. You can give it the loving care
you will find hard to buy. And in the end you will enjoy big time racing
(keep the rpm and compression sane and turn up the boost) at prices that just
about anyone can afford. Turbocharging can be cheap fun, as the stories in
our Turbo book illustrate. Tom Covington turned 11 second quarters with a
Studebaker engine he paid $10.00 for. Sure it needed freshening up but that's
peanuts compared to having a shop do it.

Better to go the cheap engine route and stay in the game -- than gamble big
bucks on the ultimate engine rebuild that expires quickly (along with your
pocket book). Dick Datson
In the first three parts of this series I've discussed the basics of getting
into serious turbocharging on a budget.

1.) Go with carburetors instead of more costly Fuel Injection, computers, etc.

2.) Buy used turbochargers, wastegates, intercoolers and the like.

3. Use "economy" engines of any brand as most have stronger cranks and
blocks; and are usually less abused than their larger displacement brothers.

DRIVETRAINS FOR TURBO ENGINES: This is an area that few consider initially
but can become a major financial stumbling block to operating the turbo car
on a regular basis.
The problem is that if you use a big engine -- and you succeed with your
turbo project, you will trash any production based transmission and
differential. In short, even a 5 liter V8 with 15 plus pounds boost can blow
just about any automatic (except a Turbo 400) and every standard transmission
ever offered in a US passenger car.

This gives you two choices -- hope you win the lottery so you can afford a
professional, aftermarket drivetrain. Or drop back to a 4 or 4-1/2 liter
engine (or smaller) so you can use the common off-the-shelf transmissions
like Turbo 350s or Super T-10's, etc. This choice can mean thousands in
savings while still enjoying some really serious performance.

Adding up the savings of the 4 major areas I've touched on above can easily
go over the $5,000 mark, and many spend a great deal more by adding custom
headers, roller cams, and the like. Few turbo engine builders go into a
project prepared for the staggering costs it can demand and many become
quickly discouraged. Example -- rapid and repeated drivetrain failure after
the turbo engine begins to develop its potential can discourage regular use
of the car. And if you can't afford to use it after you build it -- why

Next some low buck super/turbo performance secrets worth considering.

Dick Datson


Our recent discussions concerning the need for reliable technical information
for turbo engine selection and building is just one part of our overall
operation. As all of you have seen, AMCers and Studebaker people work both
separately and together on projects to build superior boosted engines. I
sincerely hope we can get the Mopar group (and others) to build an
organization to do the same. It cannot be put through this newsgroup because
as it accelerates (and it will) engine building data given in the past will
simply be buried by new material, making it extremely tedious to find that
basic engine info again. Nor can we stop and give each newcomer a course on
building strong, reliable super/turbo engines as he arrives (no one else will
either). If we do, we'll get little done here. And if we don't, the odds of a
successful project are slim and costly. What we are putting in place for
Mopars (and others) will preserve material so that anyone considering serious
projects will have access to his own marque's tech as his needs demand.

I refer above to "serious" projects which should be defined as real race cars
or "streetable" race cars -- cars specifically built for some kind of race
car activity, whether that be regular trips to the drags (the reason for
stressing reliability and low operating costs) or race cars built solely to
race in circle track events for example.

Before getting into the main discussion of this subject, I'd like to make a
few comments on the material you have seen posted here. If you are a
subscriber to the "Avanti Magazine" published by AOAI and have received the
No.111 issue (Summer/Fall) , you will see an update on Ted Harbit's new
Avanti drag car and related subjects. "Related subjects" covers a lot of
ground in this respect because there are numerous projects underway and this
will surely continue for years to come.

To understand this better, serious turbocharging of AMC and Studebaker
engines have parallels in many areas but are quite different in others. In
short, their size differences give them different capabilities. Studebakers
cover the 3, 3-1/2, 4 liter fields, AMCs the 3-1/2 to 6 liter areas. Chrysler
products would cover the 3 to 7 liter areas (spanning from a 170 CID Slant 6
to a 7 Liter "Big Block) This is for ENGINES CONSIDERED STRONG ENOUGH FOR
COMPETITIVE BOOSTS. To clarify, these would be engines that could compete
head to head in serious competition. Serious competition would be defined as
running the 24 Hours of Daytona or establishing a land speed record at
Bonneville or running single digit times in Drag Racing. This is 2 plus
horsepower per cubic inch territory, and possibly much more might be

These requirements and differences are being approached in different manners
by AMC and Studebaker people. AMCers are tending as a group to go with larger
V-8s (to perhaps 6 liters anyway) which have one set of requirements, while I
have pushed for using Studebakers in smaller classes of racing which have
another set of requirements. The reasons are important to understand.

By reducing the displacement of "professional" levels of turbo racing, our
Studebakers become increasingly more competitive with other "International"
level racers of all kinds. At 4 liters, a Studebaker V-8 is a serious race
engine. At 3-1/2 liters (based on its 202 CID configuration) the Studebaker
V-8 is world class in ANY league.

The AMC Rambler 250/287/327 CID engine has a much larger displacement
capability because it is larger internally, like in bearing areas. BUT in
order to compete successful with "popular" engines of larger sizes it must
have competitive intake manifolding, carburetion and cylinder heads for those
larger displacements. That is what you see Greg Taylor designing for the

To avoid this, we Studebaker people can opt for smaller displacements and go
with modified intakes and cylinder heads ALREADY AVAILABLE. Mopar, for
example, could go either way with its wide spread of engines. Each marque
must tailor their engine parts selection, including things like reliable
engine rpm levels, to fit a specific class/type of racing. You can't just
jump into modern professional racing with whatever happens to be laying in
the garage unless you are very lucky. But it can be done successfully, as I'm
going to discuss next time. Dick Datson
Jesse's post about Buddy Ingersoll's Turbo Pinto is a very appropriate way to
start this series. Later I'll go over some of Buddy's "secrets" in building
his 1200 hp Buick V6 but its important to do a little ground work first.

I've discussed the advantages of turbocharging smaller engines (most being
stronger per than larger ones) and the obvious -- that lightweight
compacts, mini-trucks, sports cars, and the like are the best way to go
because they offer lots of bang for the buck.

I've also attempted to point out that making power with turbos, even cheap,
crude turbo setups, is not that hard to do. Engine reliability should be a
lot more serious concern than just making raw power. That's the reason for
the discussions about saving engine related material so each new member can
go to his particular marque's newsgroup and read up on the recommended (and
not so recommended) engines and modifications.

After the above, there is another angle that should be carefully researched
and thought out. That is where you intend to race that turbocharged car when
you're through building it. Yes, its logical to take it to the drags because
its an easy way to accurately check how it performs. Drag racing is a well
developed science and you can figure all sorts of stuff from the information
you can easily get in a few passes down the quarter mile. But racing there
over a period of time is probably not going to be as rewarding as it might
have been elsewhere with much less cost and effort.

Let's face it, at the drags you are running on someone else's turf and they
sure don't want you to steal other's thunder. First you run into a wall of
"rules" intended to subtly defang your turbo car (limiting your use of
technology). We talked about this at length a few months ago on the other
turbo newsgroup. Then there's the "classes". Any supercharged Studebaker
owner knows that he is going to end up in a class with engines nearly twice
his 300 cubic inches. That's simply part of going to the drags. Meaning you
are classified "not to win". Of course Studebakers frequently win any way --
which the rules people point out is the reason for the dumb rules in the
first place. But this isn't about winning. Its about strangling super/turbo

If simply handicapping you doesn't get you out of the way, there's the more
direct approach as used against Buddy Ingersoll's later turbo Buick. Simply
ban the car from racing, which is guaranteed to solve the problem.

No one can argue the merits of sorting a turbo car (or any car) out at the
drags, but after that's done, what then? After all, super/turbocharging is
about engine efficiency and drag racing is about big inches, small pounds,
and lots of rubber. A proven concept to a point, but not very scientific.
There are other options, far more rewarding and less demanding. The problem
is that they are rarely considered for turbocharged cars.

Surely the most open and progressive racing formats are the various sports
car racing groups like SCCA. They have never actually thrown a road block up
against the use of turbos and most turbo development is done there (in sports
car circle track racing), and has been for a long time. While this generally
conjures up ideas of multimillion dollar factory race cars, there is a
backdoor into serious racing that has always been left ajar.

That is of course "economy" or compact sedan racing. It is quite lax on what
is allowed to run though I don't suggest that you can win a class, prize or
money by doing so. Meaning you will surely, as a turbocharged "compact", be
placed in an open or "experimental" class that allows anything that can't
otherwise be classified. So maybe you find yourself going against an old
factory turbocharged GTP or something. So what? You get the glory of giving
him a fit coming out of the corners in front of tens of thousands of fans.
I've personally witnessed a Buick V6 turbo sedan doing exactly this in an
IMSA race at Daytona a decade or so ago -- much to the shock of many
spectators. Power is the name of the game -- and as long as you are allowed
to run, you can demonstrate how good a turbo car can run while you have the
time of your life. Next time I'll give you some details on this kind of
activity that you probably haven't thought of. Dick Datson
Being competitive with a turbo engine in circle track racing, especially long
distance racing like Daytona or Le Mans requires an exceptional engine. The
"ordinary" stuff just won't hack it. I want to give you an example here I
hope will drive home a point. You've seen a lot here on this egroup about
early Ramblers, Studebakers, and other engines and their advantages over
modern stuff. But how do they really stack up against the world's best?

If you follow racing at all, you are aware of the recent turbocharged
Cadillac Northstar V8's efforts at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans. This is an
easy engine to compare with the Rambler and Studebaker V8's because all three
engines come in 5 liter sizes and 4 liter (Studebaker) or can easily be
converted to such. The smallest Rambler V8 is 250 CID, the smallest Cadillac
Northstar V8 252 CID. The largest Northstar V8 is 300 CID which happens to be
3.622 x 3.622 inches or exactly the same as Ted Habit's Stude V8 which is
bored .060 over standard 289 engine. 5 liters is the practical maximum for
both, but not the physically larger Rambler V8.

The Rambler and Stude are both heavy iron blocks with substantial stiffening
and forged cranks. The Northstar on the other hand is a lightweight alloy
engine with a cast crankshaft. (Stock anyway, assumed to be forged in its
turbo racing version). Chalk up a major plus for the older engines, but
that's not what this piece is about. No, the modern "high tech" Northstar V8
suffers from a much more subtle weakness that demonstrates how poorly suited
modern "throw away" engines are. Let's look at the rod bearing specs on these
otherwise comparable 4 liter turbo engines ...

Rambler 250/287/327 CID V-8 Rod bearing shaft diameter: 2.2490" Width:

Studebaker V-8 (All) Rod bearing shaft diameter: 2.0002"
Width: .848"

Cadillac Northstar V-8 (All) Rod bearing shaft diameter: 1.9280"
Width: .664"

I have pointed out many times that the Studebaker V8 is ideally a 4 liter
engine both because of its specs and because two 4 liter engines were
actually built by the factory -- a 224 CID and a 232 CID. The combining of
the 224 shaft and 232 block actually produce a 202 CID engine (no
modifications necessary except pistons). On the other hand, the Rambler V8 is
much more suited for a 5 liter turbo engine size due to its larger vital
specs. The Studebaker has done well clear to 1000 horsepower (Jim Lange's
engine) but the specs favor running it as a 4 liter in serious racing events.

And what does this say for the soft block/crankshaft Northstar with its
significantly smaller bearings? Well, this very costly GM effort has been
followed in detail in AutoWeek. To sum up a 3 page article back in August
(8/14/00) in "Cadillac Attack?", they state: "No matter how (GM's) Fishel
casts it, GM should not see the Cadillac effort at Le Mans as anything but a
failure; perhaps a qualified failure, but a failure nonetheless..... It is
well and good to talk about doing a full program and finding a world class
team to carry it out. Talk, though, has become a GM hallmark."

This week (Sept.25) under the title "GM dumps Riley & Scott", GM announces it
is not going to renew its contract with its Chassis builder for the Northstar
effort. And AutoWeek asks: "Is this the beginning or the end of the program?"
No, according to GM, but we'll wait and see. What IS obvious is that Cadillac
has been short of power for a 4 liter, struggling to finally reach 700 hp.
Considering the lackluster specs of the Northstar V8, this could hardly come
as a surprise to many of us. The Cadillac Northstar simply isn't up to the
job, no matter how "high tech" it is.

The point is -- Do your homework on the turbo engine of your choice. Wishful
thinking won't take the place of sound engineering and superior specs! Dick
In Part 3, I discussed the lack of engine bearing area in the Cadillac
Northstar V8s. A poor engine to turbocharge to 700 horsepower levels required
to be competitive in International racing. Most pre-smog era American built 4
liter engines would be far superior in this important area of a high boost
turbo motor. But there are other things to consider.

ENGINE BLOCKS: Back in the February 1962 issue of Motor Trend, Roger
Huntington wrote an article titled "Iron Parts Can Be Lighter". This is of
course an argument in favor of thin wall iron blocks vs aluminum or older
thick walled blocks. What is interesting about this particular article is the
references it uses. Since this convincing argument about "new" thin wall iron
technology, it has been replaced by "new" thin wall aluminum technology. How
good is it for super/turbocharging? I'll let you be the judge. Here are some
interesting weights.


Rambler 196 CID six 155 lb.
Lancer-Valiant 170 six. 135
Stude Lark 170 six 118

Studebaker V-8 (all) 180 lb.
Rambler 250 CID V-8 161
Chevrolet 265 V-8 (Thick walled!) 147
Buick STAGE II Turbo block 140


Chevy II 194 CID six 123 lb.
Falcon-Comet 170 six 83
Buick Special 198 V-6 (note Stage II above) 105
Fairlane-Meteor 221 V-8 120


Buick-Olds-Pontiac 215 CID V-8 57 lb.

It should be noted that this aluminum GM V-8 above would be thicker walled
and heavier than modern aluminum V-8s of the same displacement would be
today. Surely heavier than the compact Cadillac aluminum Northstar that was
designed to sit crosswise in a front wheel drive car. Now for your test

In summing up this series I want to make a few closing points. Serious racing
by amateurs is a dying profession. It isn't intended as a "popular" pass time
as few race fans are very aware of the mechanical make up of individual race
cars, but tend to root for the individual driver or team. In the old days
before "superstars" were that common, it was quite the opposite.

With supplies of older, inexpensive cars of a suitable nature drying up, and
older, stronger engines and the technologies they require also disappearing,
it safe to say that this whole idea of racing older cars in general and
carbureted turbocharged cars in particular will be only a memory. Or will it?

OLD CARS RACING NEW CARS? At least at this time there are still ample
opportunities for racing older, less costly sedans. Take the Sebring Races
earlier this year for example: "It is entertaining to watch a Brit's well
sorted '55 Chevy sedan running among the Porsches." (A nice photo of the
bright red '55 Chevy sedan in AutoWeek/May 1/2000) According to the rules the
Anglo American Challenge held at Sebring "is setup to run American sports
cars AND TWO DOOR SEDANS up to December 31, 1970 against British sports cars
up through the same shut off date."

Numerous sports car races throughout this country allow early American sedans
to run both stock and modified. And many allow later sedans as well,
including current front wheel drive cars. Carefully picking an older sedan
with a good record in this kind of racing is a cheap way into circle track
racing that is rapidly disappearing. In this manner you can set the car up
and run it, gaining experience with a stock/semi-stock engine while you build
a turbo motor that will be allowed in sports car racing near you. Its a back
door way into racing that is rapidly closing. If you've ever considered
racing of this is the time. Dick Datson