LS vs. Coyote 2: Post-Dyno Q&A Session

LS vs. Coyote 2 was a dramatic build competition between two leading builders of LS and Coyote engines, culminating in a dyno session. Part 1 was a $9,995 naturally aspirated shootout, and Part 2, which ran during this season of Horsepower Wars, was a $15K budget build-off where each team got a $15,000 budget (using Summit Racing pricing, if available) and their choice of ProChargers.

On the dyno, LS put up an amazing performance, with peak power of over 1,750 hp with an F-1X, and the Coyote running over 1,300 with the ProCharger F-1A-94. With both engines on tight budgets, they were pushed to the max to try to win the competition. The LS made 20 runs before a factory head bolt failed (they were 6-bolt configuration) and the Coyote had a timing chain failure before it was 100% completely tuned.

There were a great deal of questions and comments about the LS vs. Coyote Part 2 competition, with the series getting more than 600,000 views. This Q&A session’s objective is to explain the backstory behind the builds, the dyno competition, and some of the lessons learned through this test.

We have announced that while LME won Round 1, we are doing a re-test of both engines, with the builders allowed to make durability improvements. In addition, both engines will be utilizing the same F-1A-94 superchargers with a maximum permitted blower RPM to equalize the engines and supercharger RPM. For Round 2, the winner will simply be peak horsepower. May the best engine win!

Here is a recap of the rules:

  • ProCharger will be supplying each team with any blower
  • Blowers must use a serpentine belt, max 12-ribs
  • Budget for each engine with be $15,000, and that doesn’t include the cost of the supercharger, electronics, injectors, or basic machining and assembly
  • Budget includes the engine components, from the oil pan to throttle body, along with any special or unusual machining, such as sleeving the block and porting of the cylinder heads.
  • All of the pricing used for parts will be determined by those listed on Summit Racing’s website
  • VP Racing “C85” Fuel (E85)
  • Both engines will be tuned via a Holley Dominator by tuner Matt Bell
  • Hydraulic roller valvetrain only
  • Builder must use the Coyote or LS platform; block, displacement, compression ratios, combination, cam specs, boost levels, etc. is the choice of the builder

Points are calculated from (1) power + torque, (2) average power, (3) power per cubic inch. Dyno testing at Westech in Southern California.

Who are the builders:

  • Bryan Neelen and his team at Late Model Engines out of Houston, Texas, who are well-respected in the LS world for big-power engine builds.
  • On the Coyote side is Tim Eichorn of MPR Racing Engines. Known throughout the NMRA both for his exploits behind the wheel and as an engine builder.

Who is in this Q&A?

  • Tim Eichorn, MPR Racing Engines
  • Bryan Neelen, Late Model Engines
  • Scott Parker – VP of Content, Power Automedia
  • James Lawrence, President, Power Automedia, NMCA 2018, 2016 Radial Champion
  • Erik Radzins, ProCharger

Q: How did you pick the builders?

Scott Parker: I have known both builders for quite a while. Living in Florida, pretty much every high-powered Mustang had an MPR bullet in it. In fact, people I know and trust from other states that are engine builders themselves would send their blocks to MPR for re-sleeving, which is actually how I met Tim. I came to find out that quite a few local LS builders were using MPR for machining, too. In the Coyote world, there are only a few builders at this level. As for LME, the attention to detail and thoughtfulness that goes into every combination is what really sets them apart. Nothing is cookie cutter at LME, it is all custom, which is what made them such a great fit for LS vs Coyote II. This is a crew that is always learning and staying on the cutting edge, so that they can finish in the winner’s circle.”

James Lawrence: “I’ve watched Tim at MPR build some of the most competitive class and radial-tire Modular powered engines year after year, and he raced in the NMRA with me for years. Top class individual. Late Model Engines is known as one of the premier engine builder with LS. Both are experts in their areas.”

Q: Why didn’t you equalize the displacements of both engines or make them similar? How is it fair to compare a 427 to a 5.0? Why not use a 4.8 or 5.3 LS? Why did the Coyote not build a bigger engine?

Scott Parker: “The competition was a $15k budget shootout. The budget was the measuring stick for how these engines would compare, not cubic inches. The Coyote could have been built by MPR to any size that it supported. A limited cubic-inch test would also be interesting, but it would certainly eliminate one of the main advantages to the LS platform – that it supports such large cubic inches. We thought a lot about this. Our goal was to find out which platform is best for the money. With an unlimited budget you tend to find out who can spend the most money (not which is best), and with a cubic inch limit you find out which is best per cubic inch (not overall).”

Bryan Neelen, LME: “We didn’t use a smaller engine, because there is that phrase, no replacement for displacement. The LS you can build 427 cubic inches for a reasonable price, in fact we used a factory LS7 steel crankshaft. That’s why the LS is such a great platform, you know, it’s just more cubic inches per dollar than a Coyote. I think we could have won with a 5.3L also potentially, but with the rules being about the budget competition, there was no reason to make a smaller engine. It was not a displacement competition.”

Tim Eichorn, MPR: “We would have built a bigger engine, but the budget didn’t allow it. The only aftermarket block available is a billet block. Overall parts for the Coyote are a lot more expensive. Voodoo heads alone are $5,000. Once you put valves and springs on them you are at $8,000 for a set of heads. Nobody made a stroker crank until Callies recently made one, in 3.800 and 3.900. We just got the first one three weeks ago. The new Cobra Jet has the 3.800 stroke, but that is a positive displacement blower not centrifugal. We are looking for more RPM capability in this application [where the shorter stroke is beneficial]. A 4.8 or 5.3L limitation on the LS would have tightened things up…a lot.”

Q: How is it fair that each engine ran different superchargers? Why didn’t both engines have to run a F-1A-94 supercharger?

James Lawrence: “The engine builders were free to pick the superchargers. I think the F1X is a much better match to the LS displacement, and vice-versa, the F1A-94 a better match for a 5.0 Coyote. The main objective was to find out which engine, and which builder, could make the most power with a $15,000 budget and boost. Frankly, we were thinking these engines would be in the 1,300-1,500 horsepower range, with a hydraulic roller and a serpentine belt. We were blown away by the performance of the LS with the F1X. Heck, even Late Model Engines was. Really, as far as I know, this is one of the most powerful serpentine belt-driven supercharged engines in the world. That being said, I think this test basically ended up showing that as far as supercharging goes, on a finite budget, the LS engine is a better fit for bigger superchargers.”

Scott Parker: “Just because the LS had an F-1X and the Coyote had an F-1A-94 didn’t necessarily mean it would win. The efficiency range of each supercharger, plus the engine combo all played a factor. With Round 2, we’ve decided to put F-1A-94’s on both engines. This is really going to highlight engine builder vs. engine builder and engine combination and efficiency. Both builders are going to be required to not exceed 75,000 blower rpm, so it’s going to put them on a level playing field.”

Q: What was the most challenging part of the engine builds? How difficult was it to figure out what combination to engineer? What was your strategy? What did you learn?

Tim Eichorn, MPR: “We can only build so much with the $15,000 budget. With the sleeves and the porting, that special machine work ate up a bunch of the budget. That is stuff that we already know works. We are working with a core motor from a truck… The Coyote did really well, all things considered. It really was David versus Goliath. They are in a dump truck with this giant stroker motor, and here we are with a little Ford Ranger coming at ‘em. If I could do it again: probably a little more compression, a little bit bigger bore. I wish we had an aftermarket iron block or cylinder heads for it. But you can’t get any better than the cylinder heads we have on there. The Coyote is very efficient. Double roller chains weren’t in the budget, but I wish we could have fit that in there. Time was not on our side, but we feel that we did a pretty good job.”

Bryan Neelen, LME: “The most challenging part of the build was the budget. Trying to make the engine durable, we wanted to showcase some of the LME parts, and make sure we had enough airflow to make some bigger power numbers. We build LS engines all the time, this is what we do, so it wasn’t that we weren’t familiar with the combo’s. Our strategy was simple – big engine, big compression, big power. And it worked. We learned you can’t make 2000 hp on stock head bolts!”

Q: Why did you only allow ProChargers? Why not allow any blowers, or turbos or nitrous?

Scott Parker: “First off, we wanted something that anyone could bolt-on, right on to the engine, that would provide boost. Either ProCharger blower kit can be installed easily and relatively quickly – in fact, you can literally purchase a kit to fit up to an F-1X with zero fabrication. Again, this is an engine competition, not a fabrication competition. Also, we wanted both engines to have a matching power adder, not compare nitrous to a ProCharger, or to a single and twin turbo. Although, that would be a really interesting competition as well.”

James Lawrence: “In the interest of full disclosure, ProCharger has provided superchargers for both seasons of Horsepower Wars (Pony Wars I and II, LS vs. Coyote 2), and are a sponsor of Horsepower Wars. That being said, ProCharger makes a great product, reliable, with great engineering, and stands behind their systems. LS vs. Coyote 2 is a perfect opportunity for ProCharger to provide a bolt-on supercharger system with dyno-proven and reliable power. We trust them. In terms of allowing a variety of power adders – different blowers, turbos, nitrous – we didn’t feel like opening this up to any power adder or nitrous made sense, and added a completely different variable. At the end of the day, our goal was to compare the engines against each other, not the power adder systems. All in though, I do think we know, coming out of this test, that strapping a big blower on an LS is more practical than on a Coyote.”

Q: Why was there belt slip? Why did the Coyote run an 8-rib and the LS a 10-rib? Why not cog-belts? What causes belt slip? Why did the builders setup these blowers this way?

Scott Parker: “To start with, the rules specified serpentine systems. Cog systems appeal to a very small group now, as most builders specify either serpetine or gear drive systems, even for racing applications. Each engine builder wanted to win, and with the limitations in the shootout, picked their supercharger pulleys, blower RPM, and engine RPM. The Coyote kits typically use an 8-rib, and the LS kit has a 10-rib available, as this is really all that is needed based on blower RPM and drive requirements. When we first started the pulls, it was clear the blowers were being overspun beyond ProCharger’s recommended RPM ranges, and the engines were designed to run at a pretty high RPM. I think if the builders could do it all over again, they’d probably not spin the blowers as high. With larger blower pulleys with a closer-to-ProCharger recommended setup, they did not have belt-slip issues. On the LS engine, we also had a belt routing and tension issue that we fixed a few runs in, but since we only showed 3 out of the 20 runs it skewed the viewer’s perspective a little bit in this regard.”

Tim Eichorn, MPR: “Our intention was to test out a bunch of different pulleys. We didn’t get to the dyno beforehand since it was our busy season and we were trying to get a bunch of motors shipped. Once we got the right pulley on there it didn’t slip, but then the chain broke.”

James Lawrence: “I was amazed by the LS with the 10-rib F-1X. I mean, this is street car stuff, and the thing made 1,750+ horsepower. Crazy. By the end of each of the dyno sessions, all the belt issues were resolved. That being said, there isn’t a ton of max-effort F-1X serpentine dyno tests out there. There was a bit of a learning curve, but overspinning the blower in my opinion really didn’t help anyone. Sometimes more isn’t better. Personally, I don’t think cogs were (or are) the answer. I think we’ll prove in the Round 2 dyno sessions with the F-1A-94’s how trouble-free these setups are.”

Erik Radzins, ProCharger: “Well, we were blown away by the numbers that the LS made, of course. Almost 1,800 horsepower on on a budget with hydraulic cams, and street-style supercharger systems is pretty amazing. The Coyote was on its way to make over 1,400 hp. Our customers and dealers have built a lot of high horsepower street-style builds, but pushing the barriers on the dyno in these conditions was unique. We’re proud of the fact that our superchargers made that much power with good durability.

“This was a tough competition and both builders were trying to win, which you can certainly understand. The reason the systems worked well at the end with no slip is because they were being used within their operating parameters, for the most part, by the end of the test.  

“On the LS system, LME ordered a LS kit based on ProCharger’s C6 offering, and is often used when there is not space for a dedicated drive system. The standard LS transplant kit uses a dedicated drive. This kit that was used by LME utilizes a shared 10-rib drive belt designed to use the water pump as an idler for belt wrap. As installed on the dyno, there was no water pump. So even by the end of the test, when it wasn’t slipping, it still wasn’t being used the way it was intended. This particular kit is the same exact one we have on a few of the fastest C6 Corvettes. Plus, the tensioner was not clocked correctly. So that didn’t help either. Although that got fixed before the end of the test.”

So what does the RPM have to do with belt ribs?

Erik Radzins, ProCharger: “The higher RPM the engine is turning, the less ribs are required, in part because higher engine RPM allows the use of a larger diameter supercharger pulley. The lower RPM the engine turns, the more ribs are recommended, at the same power level. So, the way this works, there is more load on the belt when the engine RPM is lower, but the blower speed is high. It’s actually more difficult for the belt. So higher RPM systems can use less ribs, like an 8-rib on the Coyote, whereas a lower RPM engine, like the LS with a larger blower, needs more ribs. There would be little advantage in putting a 10-rib on the Coyote over the 8-rib in this application.

“On the Coyote, one thing to mention, a higher engine redline also allows you to run a larger diameter pulley, for improved belt traction. If you have two identical engine and blower combinations, with one turning to 6,000 rpm and the other with a redline of 7,000 rpm, and want to spin the blowers at the same peak blower RPM at each engine’s redline, the 7,000 rpm motor will have a larger diameter pulley, and the 7,000 rpm motor will have less torque load on the pulley and belt. Conversely the 6,000 rpm motor will have to run a smaller pulley and will have more load on the belt and pulley.”

Ok, but why not go with a cog belt in an application like this? Wouldn’t that allow more blower RPM?

Erik Radzins, ProCharger: “Well, basically serpentine systems are both good on the street and efficient. For hardcore drag racing, direct drives have taken over, but for anything on the street, serpentine systems are really more reliable, affordable, and they are quiet. Plus, as a bonus, we provide a one-year warranty on any kit with a serpentine.

“There is still a misunderstanding that more blower RPM is always better. Over-spinning a blower can quickly put you to the point of diminishing returns. And we’ve improved the technology radically in these impellers, so what people did 15 years ago doesn’t apply and with these new P-1X and D-1X blowers will make over a thousand horsepower on compact compressor without over-spinning them at all. Usually the peak efficiency of the blower is what it is usually within the RPM range that we recommend. When you overspin a supercharger, it affects the compressor efficiency. It can also affect the durability. So we recommend our customers run within the performance zone of the compressor design. And so while we don’t need to get into anything super complicated like surge or choke, but in essence, we spend a lot of engineering time in developing these kits and proving them on the race track and the dyno.”

Q: Why was the LS allowed to use aftermarket parts, like a block, while the Mustang, used an F-150 engine core? Is this fair?

James Lawrence: “The rules didn’t control whether the builders used factory or aftermarket parts. It was up to them to use their budget effectively. This came down to a budget and working within that budget. These engines are very different.”

Scott Parker: “In the case of the LS, re-sleeving a factory block was more expensive and not as good of an alternative as the Chevrolet Performance LSX block. On the Coyote, aside from a billet block, MPR felt its proprietary re-sleeving and block prep practices were the best choices with the budget. Considering factory Coyote blocks have made over 2,000 horsepower, there was really no reason to run an aftermarket block anyways.”

Q: Why did the LS have a billet intake manifold, but stock head bolts? How many runs did the LS last? Would you have done anything differently next time? Did you expect it to make so much power?

Bryan Neelen, LME: “Well, knowing what we know now, knowing the power the LS made, we would have put upgraded ARP head bolts. The thing is, we made 20 runs on the dyno, and it held together. It just finally gave up when we leaned on it. We felt we could get away with it, in the budget, and put our billet intake on. Remember, these were 6-bolt heads, so we had the extra clamping force.”

Scott Parker: “Bryan commented on the parts selection, but the engine actually made 19 runs on the dyno at Westech. We didn’t show them all in the episode. We could have edited the episode better to show that LME made a lot of runs, that’s our bad. This was never really a durability contest. The teams just needed to make enough runs to get a maximum power number.”

Q: What happened with the Coyote? What broke on the Coyote? Why did the chains not get upgraded? Why was VVT not used?

Scott Parker: “The Coyote made a number of break-in runs and tuning runs, and then made 3 full power runs. The chains were upgraded, but there are different levels of upgrades available and this was a budget competition. I think we would have seen 1,400 to 1,450 horsepower if we hadn’t hurt it. Harmonics in Coyote engines are a big thing, and with the challenges we had early in the first few runs, I’m sure that played a factor. MPR building a 1,500 hp engine, much like LME, for a customer, without the tight budget restrictions, would have upgraded those parts. That’s why this competition was so brutally difficult – the balance between go-fast parts and durability. As for VVT, I think it is great OEM technology that doesn’t necessarily have a place in racing and high-powered builds. The under-the-curve gains are not nearly as significant as what you can accomplish on the top end with higher lift and duration camshafts, nor is it worth the complication – knowing that imprecise cam timing means the pistons will meet the valves in spectacular fashion.”

Tim Eichorn, MPR: “The spring pressure we were running, because we were trying to get after it, the harmonics got to the secondary chain and with the belt slipping… The load on the dyno is 10 times worse than in the car. We have broken more stuff on the dyno than a race car with the same setup. We are personally working on a new timing chain to work and to fit. There is a double chain on the market that we’ll use next time. We have secondary chain breakage, it is rare but when the RPM changes real fast like that it will break. On a race car it will happen when a guy pedals it. When he gets back into it, he’ll stab it and rattle that secondary chain pretty hard. Keep in mind, we had HD chains on there already. You have to remember, there is 3-feet of chains on there slapping around. These are finicky motors, it takes a finesse touch on the dyno. On VVT, we run too much spring pressure. It becomes inaccurate because you can’t control it because you can’t overcome oil pressure the oil pressure”

Why did the builders push the engines so hard? What’s the point if there was a failure?

James Lawrence: “This was a brutal competition, and one that was held under a pretty strict budget. There was no points for building an engine that lasted 100 runs. They needed to push the limits and survive for 5 to maybe 10 runs. This was a how-long-can-you-survive competition from the very beginning. That’s what racers do. Why do you think a Top Fuel engine lasts 2 to 3 runs, because they are pushing the operating limits of the components. That all being said, the LS made 20 pulls, including break-in pulls. We numbered them in the video to make it easier to follow, but it saw plenty of dyno time before it gave up. As Scott said, the Coyote was likely impacted by the harmonics early in the testing, plus the lack of available budget to install the more expensive, higher-end double roller chains.”

What did we end up learning here? What did we learn from the results?

Scott Parker: “One, just how much power can be made by serpentine-based supercharged engines that aren’t that different than you can build for a street car. What can be built today using pretty much off the shelf parts is stunning. Two, that an LS7 crankshaft, factory lifters, and stock head bolts can make more than 1,700 hp, which is really crazy. The Coyote was well on its way to 1,400 or probably closer to 1,500 horsepower shows it’s in the ballpark.”

James Lawrence: “I learned something and was left curious on something. First off, I think we learned at a $15,000 budget level with any supercharger, the displacement of the LS gave it a distinct advantage. There was just no getting around that. 427 cubic inches is a big engine, and it allowed that team to go up to the F-1X. The Coyote made more hp per cubic inch, and it never got to put up its final bigger power number. If it did, it was going to beat the LS pretty bad in that category even with a smaller supercharger. I don’t think we really answered which engine was a better engine design, because this was more of a budget-based deal. I can’t wait to see what happens in Round 2, because equalizing the blowers and blower RPM, 8-rib belts for both platforms, and improving engine durability, is going to really square things up.”

What’s on tap for Round 2? What kind of durability upgrades will be made? What will the new rules be?

Scott Parker: “Each engine will be dyno tested using the same F1A-94 blower with equalizing blower RPM, using serpentine drives. The winner will be decided by peak horsepower only. Any upgrades to the combination must be durability related, and have minimal effect on horsepower. And, of course, any repairs are fine. All other rules such as the fuel (C85) and use of Holley Dominator ECU apply. With the durability upgrades, use of F1A-94 blower and serpentine drive, we feel that the engines will be more representative of something you could actually drive around on the street – rather than suitable for just a handful of pulls on the dyno.

“Plus, I think the end-result will even the playing field enough with the blowers to really see which is the ‘better’ engine. Remember that horsepower is a measure of torque and engine speed, so the high RPM Coyote is very much in this.”

Tim Eichorn, MPR : “We need a set of double chains, so we don’t have this issue again. We’ll get with Ferrea on the valves. It probably bent the valves and broke a couple rocker arms. It’s not a catastrophic failure when you break the chains, but it does a pretty good job. We will be able to dyno the engine here and get the blower speed maximized. We’ll probably spin it to 9,000 rpm.”

Bryan Neelen, LME: “Better head bolts for one. Ha ha. We’ll get a set of better lifters and add some rocker arm trunions kits or something a little more durable. We will fix the cylinder head and be ready to get back at it. I feel like we are in pretty good shape.”

Backed by some of the biggest names in the automotive aftermarket — including ARPBMR SuspensionCOMPCovercraftDiabloSportDyna-BattE3 Spark PlugsHolley Performance PartsMAHLEMickey ThompsonProChargerQA1Royal PurpleSummit RacingTCIWeld Racing, and others, the final installment of Horsepower Wars: LS vs. Coyote, Part 2 has made for an exciting battle. Stay tuned for additional editorial as we dyno test the engines one last time. In the mean time, we have the next season of Pony Wars on deck.

About the author

Scott Parker

Scott dreamed of being in the automotive media in high school, growing up around car shows and just down the street from Atco Raceway. The technology, performance capability, and craftsmanship that goes into builds fuels his passion.
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