Uber-power engines are commonplace at Nelson Racing Engines, but here’s a 1,000-horsepower, twin-turbo street V8 that purrs at 700 rpm idle, uses factory sensors and ECU, sports a 100,000-mile valvetrain and fits comfortably under the hood of a late-model Camaro.
“You can make a 1,000 horsepower with a junkyard motor,” quips Tom Nelson. “What’s different about this — it’s a full package that’s reliable and runs on 91 octane.”
Key to this unique setup is a cross-ram intake manifold with an air-to-water intercooler integrated into each plenum. The customer doesn’t have to fab up intercoolers and plumbing or block too much of the radiator. Each intercooler has an independent coolant system with an electric pump and heat exchanger. According to NRE dyno runs, the intercooler drops the intake air temp from around 255 degrees F at the end of a pull to 120 degrees.
“There’s a lot of labor involved in turbo projects,” says Nelson, adding that the complete engine package similar to one shown in the video will cost upwards of $40,000. “But there’s no labor afterwards with this engine. We’re moving towards making it a user-friendly package.”
This particular 7.0-liter, 427ci bullet will debut in Bryce Blair’s 2012 Camaro at the 2014 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. It’s based on a Chevy Performance LSX iron block fitted with a Callies crank, Oliver rods and JE pistons. NRE reworked the LSX/LS3 cylinder heads, including adding Inconnel exhaust valves. The block and heads are fully O-ringed and sealed with copper head gaskets.
“It’s made to be boosted,” adds Nelson.
That pressure comes from a pair of NRE mirror-image 72mm turbos. Blowoff valves are mounted on the connections from the turbo to the GM 90mm drive-by-wire throttle bodies that work in sync with the help of an Ozmo TTB controller.
“A lot of people like the idea of using a GM computer,” says Nelson, noting this project uses an E67 ECU.
Under development for five years
Nelson says the NRE cast-aluminum X-Ram intake has been under development for five years, and only recently has a naturally aspirated version been released for customers. The turbo prototype intake for this engine features a hand-fabricated plenum to support the intercooler core. The overall design maintains a low profile to fit under most hoods, although computer modeling indicates some notching may be required in the cowl area of a Corvette.
The owner will have plenty of power options, depending on the desired boost that can easily be adjusted with remote boost controller. As shown in the video above, 6.5 pounds of boost resulted in nearly 706 horsepower at 5,800 rpm with peak torque of 683.7 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm. Adjust the turbos to 14 pounds and the engine is capable of 947 horsepower at 6,000 rpm with 904 lb-ft peak torque at 4,400 rpm. That’s an awfully healthy setting with 830 lb-ft of torque available from 3,900 up to 6,000 rpm. A little tweaking of the boost along with a shot of race gas, and the engine responded with 1,038 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 1,000 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm. Even with that level of power, Nelson focuses on additional priorities.
“The main push for me was reliability,” says Nelson, noting that the “cam is smaller than a stock engine.”
The cam and valvetrain specs, indeed, are quite mild for a 1,000 horsepower engine. The lobe-centerline angle is 123 degrees, and the valve springs are rated at 280 pounds open.
“The exhaust lobe was designed with a special ramp rate to take it easy on the lifter and exhaust valve opening under all that boost,” explains Nelson. “This valvetrain will live forever.”
Nelson utilizes the factory knock sensors to keep the engine healthy, admitting that timing retarded back 14 degrees under full boost on one run.
“We made 1,004 horsepower with no detonation,” he says, adding that more precise calibrations are coming as soon as the engine is installed in the Camaro. “We’ll be able to road test it and get a real world tune. Then the customer will have a proven package that’s tuned and ready to throw in the car with no hassle.”