Volume III, Issue 1, Page 1

Ed note: Mike Morgan is an old hand at making good stuff from used parts and ingenuity. When I was at Hot Rod, we featured Mike's '69 Nova on the cover with a fresh coat of rattle can primer and a sensational blurb. It was the best-selling issue of the year. The car you see here is the same bad Bow Tie, but with another "new" engine. When it's a cold day in Hell, Mike might even build one with pristine parts…


The foundation for our hoped-to-be torque monster consisted of a seasoned factory two-bolt main block that was reinforced with billet splayed 4-bolt main caps. Lifter bores were indexed and bronze bushed. Not exactly part of a budget build, but had already been done by the previous owner.

When it came time to build a replacement for a recently expired small-block, the Gen-3 LSX notion came to mind. After seeing numerous magazine stories about big torque and power from this engine, it seemed like the way to go — until financial reality reared its ugly mug! Oh well, I had Gen-1 parts leftover from the motor that were still quite serviceable, so I decided to see if I could produce torque and power comparable to that of the LSX by using my old school parts instead.

The foundation was a seasoned 400ci 2-bolt main cylinder block that I'd bought from a close friend who had moved up to an aftermarket casting. He'd already replaced the cast main caps with billet 4-bolt splayed caps. He'd also indexed and put bronze bushings in the lifter bores, thus assuring that they were all pointing in the right direction. He’d deburred the entire valley and removed all the casting flash as well. He’d epoxied screens in the oil drain-back holes to capture any stray valve train pieces in the event of a catastrophic failure.


Lots of tedious grinding here. The lifter bores are fixed with bronze bushings.

These are not the kinds of things you want to pay for if you're on a budget, but the block had already been completed at the time of purchase. The de-burring and grinding of casting irregularities can be done by anyone with a die grinder and a lot of patience, but indexing the lifter bores and installating the bronze bushings is best left to the experts at the machine shop. The same goes for adding the splayed main caps—not a home shop thing.

Here's What's New!