Video: 500-horse Pontiac 455 Catches Fire On Dyno At Nick’s Garage

The down-to-earth folks at Nick’s Garage & Engine Dyno up in Laval, Quebec, Canada have put together one of YouTube’s most entertaining automotive channels, dedicated to the goings-on in the shop. Proprietor Nick Panaritis has a reputation for screwing together some of Canada’s more impressive engines, and provides a wide range of performance vehicle services. In is video, he and his team are flogging a 455 Pontiac on the dyno, searching for the elusive quarter-ton horsepower mark in the process.

But the title of the article says “fire”… and you’re here for the fire, right? Well, just hang tight. Unless you just want the fire; in that case, just fast-forward the video to the 15:00 mark.

Although the video starts out with coverage of some of the other goings-on in the shop, we’re focused on the 455 Pontiac engine Nick’s got on the dyno. The build uses a set of Edelbrock Performer D-Port heads, a pair of carbs, and a hydraulic camshaft. Don’t let the mild parts deceive you, though; the stump-pulling nature of the street-going 455 Pontiac engine means that this powerplant will make respectable power figures without a bunch of upgrades, while still producing enough vacuum to operate power brakes—key for an engine to have nice manners in a street car. The 11.9:1 compression ratio of the engine puts it at the limit on traditional pump fuel, but there’s no doubt this is a stout piece. The flat nature of the Pontiac’s torque curve—with over 550 lb-ft of torque available from about 3,150 rpm to 4,600 rpm means that many street cars will be seeing taillights as this Poncho pulls away.

There’s a cautionary tale which includes the fire, though. As the team proceeds with the testing (switching from 1.5 to 1.6:1-ratio intake rockers in the process and swapping the camshaft) one of the valve cover gaskets became torn. Torn gasket equals oil leak on hot headers equals flames. But Panaritis’ quick actions saved the day and the engine was no worse for wear once the fire was extinguished. In fact, they went right back to testing! Ultimately, by the end of the day, they knocked down 501 horsepower and well over 580 lb-ft of torque in the process. A stout showing for a street engine with reasonably-priced parts.

Nick makes a bunch of dyno pulls throughout the course of the video with this rowdy bullet, so get your headphones on, crank up the volume, and enjoy the sighs and sounds of this rowdy bullet as it romps on the Nick’s Garage dyno. Have fun!

About the author

Jason Reiss

Jason draws on over 15 years of experience in the automotive publishing industry, and collaborates with many of the industry's movers and shakers to create compelling technical articles and high-quality race coverage.
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