Seven Engines Built For Abuse From Detroit Autorama 2020

Over 800 custom cars, trucks and motorcycles flooded the Detroit Cobo Center for the 68th annual Autorama World of Wheels last weekend. You’ve probably heard rumors that this show heavily highlights “hands-off” million-dollar vehicles, but that’s only partially true. Sure, the show floor is splattered with flawless trailer queens that may never see the light of day, but built-to-abuse hot-rods can be found at every turn.

At EngineLabs, we always prefer an engine that gets used hard, with crankshafts turned in anger, to an immaculately polished piece of eye candy that rarely — if ever — turns liquid gasoline into gaseous exhaust fumes. Here are seven engines from the show that (literally) stood out above the rest.

Nailed it

This isn’t your typical 1930 Ford Model A. The first clue is the glorious tall stacks, but look a little closer. Under all that chrome is a Buick 401 Nailhead, renowned for its big-bore, short-stroke design, and tremendous torque with high-RPM horsepower. An ST-400 transmission taken out of a ’66 Buick handles the brunt force. Power hits the pavement through a 9-inch Moser rear axle.

Chevy Power Taken To Another Level

Vito Digaetano is the owner of this insane 1998 Pontiac Trans Am WS6. Its powerhouse is an LSX engine, the race variant of the lightweight LS7 engine seen in C6 Corvettes. Instead of an aluminum block, the LSX utilizes a cast-iron block to handle heavy horsepower. This particular engine was built by Nick Jones of Automotive Machine. We don’t know all the internal specs, (they may be a secret), but we can tell by the Diamond Fabrication twin-turbo system that this WS6 was built to dominate the strip.

Dirty 30

You may recognize this setup as “Dirty 30,” a patina 1930 Plymouth sedan known for competing at Hot Rod Drag Week. The basis of the build stemmed from Nicolas Plewniak’s need to build a four-door, four-seat street machine that could run sevens. What you see behind the grille is a 580ci BBC based off a Dart Big M block, carrying twin 82mm BorgWarner S400 SXE turbos. The beast is fed by a Holley EFI system while Trick Flow 365 heads deliver exceptional power potential and competition-level durability.

What’chu Talkin’ ‘Bout, Willis?

Oh yes, Autorama’s got gas. A 1941 Willy’s gasser built by American Gassers, that is. And, it’s got a Hemi — that’s what we’re talking about. The big power-adder on this 392-cubic-inch engine is a BDS supercharger. Quick Fuel Technology 750 CFM blower carburetors provide the ultimate blend of performance, drivability, and tunability. The transmission isn’t just any Turbo 400; it’s a Freddy Brown competition-built transmission built to handle even the strongest gasser. The exact horsepower is unknown, but its wide Mickey Thompson meats showed signs of epic burnouts.

Eliminating The Competition

Here’s another engine that’s built to eliminate the competition. This 572-cube big-block Ford lives in a ’64 Ford Falcon. The Eliminator block is stuffed with a Callies crankshaft, an Isky cam, Diamond pistons, Oliver rods, Jesel valvetrain, and Trick Flow A460 heads. The BDS 10-71 blower is the cherry on top. A Kaase oil pump paired with a Pro Systems E85 Dominator and Aeromotive fuel system keeps the Falcon nourished at full-throttle. The Rossler Terminator IV TH400 transmission slams power to the Moser axle-equipped Fab 9 rearend.

Give Us All The Cylinders

XVI Power is known for their durable marine engines, and they happened to have their V16 engine on display at this year’s Autorama. Having that many cylinders is certainly worthy of a mention. The engine’s building blocks include a single main housing, single billet crankshaft, a one-piece block, four cylinder heads, a single camshaft, and two intakes. According to their package options, two naturally-aspirated setups are offered, one at 1,200 horsepower and the other at 1,400 horsepower. The particular example shown is supercharged for 2,000-horses. If you’ve never felt the need for speed on water, maybe this setup will change your mind.

Two Superchargers Are Better Than One

Tim Allen is the proud owner of this 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback duly named “Project Twin 65” for its dual TorqStorm superchargers. The all-aluminum Titus performance 427-ci Cleveland engine block is built to push 1,030 horsepower and 920 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. Since starting cars during show hours isn’t allowed, we can only imagine the eargasms induced by the rowdy engine notes that rush through the Hooker mufflers and custom stainless-steel exhaust.

Still can’t get enough? We’ve got you covered. Scroll through the gallery for even more horsepower.

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