Let’s face it, 2020 was an insane year. No one could have predicted the dumpster fire that has been raging for the last 366 days — yes, it was a leap year to boot. However, we made lemonade out of the sour fruit we were dealt, as did many of you. There were more hours spent on projects this year than possibly any other year, ever. That means there were a bunch of cool projects to bring to you. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 articles of the year.
This article was an incredibly fun one, as it deals with the 5.0-liter engines of the two biggest rivals of the 1980s — the 305 Camaro and the 5.0 Mustang. Both engines were of similar displacement and similar output when they left the factory, but achieved their displacements in different ways; the Ford relied on bore, while the Chevy leaned on stroke.
Richard Holdener put both engines on the dyno in stock and then in traditional bolt-on trim to see which one made more power. The results were shockingly similar power curves, with slight tradeoffs on each powerplant, but in the end, both engines performed like 302 cubic-inch engines from the 1980s, which set off the diehard bowtie fans, and actually led to the article you’ll find in the number seven spot on this list.
This article was a bit of a surprise to find on our Top 10 list since on its surface, it seems like a rather mundane topic: discussing why diesel engine turbochargers fail. Fortunately, the readers found the topic as interesting as we did, and latched on to the video produced by Alliant Power explaining the primary causes of turbochargers failing in diesel applications.
The video not only explained why they failed, but how the failures actually occur, what leads up to the failures, and how to identify the causes of the different failure modes. The idea being, just replacing a failed turbocharger doesn’t mean much if the root cause of the failure isn’t addressed.
This article discussed Chevrolet Performance’s new crate engine based on the 350 small-block Chevy. Although it dropped on April 1st, it was no joke. The 450-horsepower turn-key crate engine is a classic powerplant that retains the styling of its carbureted predecessors and fits just the same.
However, the “retro” is only aesthetic, because it is a thoroughly modern, fuel-injected powerplant with street manners you expect from an engine put out by an OEM in 2020.
After number ten on our list published, the voices of the bowtie-faithful were loud and clear — they felt the test was unfair and that it should have featured the much higher-performance DZ302. Well, it was pretty clear, those voices didn’t really want an apples-to-apples comparison as much as they wanted to stack the deck for their favored brand.
Holdener was reading those comments, and if you hadn’t noticed, is kind of a sharp fella. So, he decided to give everyone their wish and test the DZ 302 engine. However, what he didn’t do was stack the deck. Instead, he compared the Chevrolet engine to its historical contemporary, the BOSS 302. When the smoke in the dyno room cleared, the most obvious result was that when you tackle a problem from two different angles, you can get two markedly different results that are actually quite close to one another.
This article covered the largest gasoline-powered four-cylinder engine currently in production, the 2.7-liter L3B from Chevrolet. Utilizing a revolutionary “Dual Volute” turbocharger design and some seriously advanced design features, the L3B made the transition from truck engine, into powering one of the maker’s flagship performance sedans, the Cadillac CT4-V.
This article actually spawned from the comments section of several different articles we’ve posted over the years regarding flat engines. We addressed the fact that all Boxer engines are flat engines, but not all flat engines are Boxer engines, and even touched on the infamous Belrlinetta Boxer that has a non-Boxer flat engine. This informative piece resonated with readers, and it kicks off the Top-Five articles of 2020.
One of our favorite articles of the year to write, was also one of your favorite’s to read. This one deals with comparing big-bore engines to big-stroke engines. A video from Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained really dives deep into the science of big-bore and stroke, and how each affects the combustion dynamics. We’ll warn you now, make sure you’ve got your thinking cap on when you read this one. But, it’s genuinely worth the effort.
The number three most popular article on the 2020 countdown involved the Aston Martin Valkyrie engine. The Cosworth-designed naturally aspirated V12 engine boasts ridiculous power specs of 1,000 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and 546 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm, with a maximum engine speed of 11,100rpm. Oh, and it makes all that power through a quartet of catalytic converters and with a new-car warranty.
One of the more surprising aspects of the article is when the Brake Mean Effective Pressure (BMEP) of the Valkyrie engine was analyzed (BMEP values being the key component in unraveling that early C8 Corvette dyno testing debacle) it was found to be on-par with Ford’s Coyote engine, that is to say, completely within the realm of modern engine efficiencies.
The second most popular article of the year was coverage of the first chassis dyno numbers of the much anticipated Hellephant crate engine. With an advertised power rating of 1,000 horsepower, and the only previous dyno we could find peaking well under that number due to an insufficient fuel system, the Mopar-faithful were finally rewarded with a full-boogie dyno run of the crated beast.
Hemituner Performance’s Demon put down almost 945 horsepower and 877 lb-ft of torque to the wheels, more than meeting the Hellephant’s advertised 1,000 crank horsepower rating.
The top article 2020 was proof that with all of the cutting-edge technology out there, there really is no replacement for displacement. This article covers the build of a 665-cube, 1,000 horsepower big-block Chevy engine destined for an airboat. Built by Prestige Motorsports and shot by Jeff Huneycutt, the BBC uses a traditional carb, cast intake, and really, nothing exotic at all. The build captured your hearts and minds proving that, sometimes, the traditional things are the best.