Some of you may know that “the lump” is a term used to describe the engine in a car. Normally it refers to a race engine. That huge mass of iron, aluminum, titanium, unobtanium and who knows what else that resides under the hood of the car.

For most of us, I dare say we really have no idea what is inside of that big piece of metal. We rely on people who, because they are “engine builders” , tell us all kinds of stories about how complicated they are, how every piece is hand polished and machined to .00000000001 of an inch.  And of course since so much is involved it is a bargain indeed, regardless of the price. A price which no rational person would pay, and makes us live in mortal fear that the wife will discover. Having listened to many of those stories both as a former racer and a parts man for quite a few years, today I just smile.

So I thought I would share with you the tale of a couple of engines in my experience. Now what is special about these engines?  Not a thing. Two engines from different stages of my racing career, if you want to call it that. Just two collections of metal that started life at a couple of Ford plants somewhere in the world.

The first one was a V8, size and engine builder omitted to protect the innocent. Or maybe the guilty. But this was my first experience with a Gt1 car. And of course i had read all the stories and articles about the powerful Gt1 cars. So I had a local engine builder who specialized in short track cars build it. The only thing left from Ford was the block itself. One of the proudest days in my life was when I picked it up and paid the bill.

First let me say that we were/are amateur racers, and everything we knew could dance on the head of a pin. That thing was a pain from the day I got it. Constantly ran hot, not a lot of power,  despite the engine builders claims, or maybe I didn’t know what to expect, etc. On one occasion when we shut it off it was running fine.  When we next cranked it up it was missing, checked – bent pushrod.  Finally at its last scheduled race before it was to be replaced, the oil pressure began to drop,  and 10 laps later we drove it into the pits and retired. My brother looked under the hood and said “you might as well shut it off you have water coming out of the breathers”. When pulled out  and inspected, the webs in the block were busted in three places. needless to say was a great conversation piece and I still have some paperweights I think.

The other was a V6 Ford. We pulled this out of a juck car we bought for $200 to use the engine and transmission. Put it up on a stand, and scapped all the oil and dirt away so we could pull the pan off. Pulled all the rod and main bearings out. Didn’t measure anything, and replaced them with new std. bearings. Torqued everything back down, put the pan back on, and put the engine back in the car.

This engine ran  through the drivers school at Daytona and Charlotte. At Charlotte it got so hot, (idiot owner and friend had forgotten to tighten down the hold down clamp on the distributor so variable timing) that we finally had to put it in 4th gear, hold the brakes and choke it off. Did I mention that it had water running out of both exhaust pipes?

So we let it cool down, found every plastic pepsi bottle we could, filled them with water, put 2 cans of Bars Leak in the radiator and drove it the 200 miles home. After a couple of stops it sealed up and ran fine. Shaved both cylinder heads and it was as good as new.

Now this was no race engine of course, and didnt pretend to be one. But every time after that when the hand built race engine blew up or screwed up, we put that engine in and kept racing. You just couldn’t kill it. In fact a friend now has the car, and has had some more exotic, modern engines built for it.  But you know what he does when they go bad? Yep, back in goes that same old motor.

And the moral of this is that sometimes things exceed your expectations. Or, maybe you don’t know when you are well off.

Are you ever amazed how the old family cruiser keeps running after all this time? Remember the days when nobody had a car that made a 100,000 miles? Well I do.

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