Video: Survival Motorsports And 482 Cubic Inches Of FE Fury

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Barry Rabotnick and the guys at Survival Motorsports – that’s because they’ve been busy this winter building horsepower for their many Ford FE-loving customers. We did manage to shake Barry loose long enough to get him to talk about this sweet 482-cube FE that rips up the Survival dyno to the tune of 547 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 552 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm in this video – perfect for a street-going bullet.

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This engine uses a well-thought-out combination of parts to pump out over 550 horsepower and 500-lb.-ft. torque on the Survival Motorsports dyno.

The engine is based around an OE engine block – hard to find in clean condition these days – and a pair of Survival’s FElony cylinder heads that are tuned up to work properly on this application. The use of the company’s prepared FElony cylinder heads is a serious step up in performance over older, factory-style castings. The engine uses a 4.250-inch cylinder bore and 4.250-inch stroke, coupled with 6.700-inch connecting rods, to reach the displacement. Compression ratio is set at a pump-fuel-friendly 10.5:1 ratio, owing to the engine’s street-going destiny.

“The engine is destined for a Cobra replica, hence the use of the unique Aviad oil pan and the vintage appearing distributor and carb. To continue the theme we removed the logo from the Edelbrock water pump – original Competition Cobra were said to have aluminum factory water pumps,” says Rabotnick.

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This engine uses a 4bbl Blue Thunder intake manifold on top, sucking fuel through a custom carburetor that uses LeMans bowls. LeMans fuel bowls, for the uninitiated, use a center pivot for the carburetor float along with a number of other features.

The LeMans-style carburetor was found on a number of FE engines, most notably those installed in Shelby Cobra machines, and use a vacuum secondary for ease of use and street-friendly performance. The customer requested this setup in particular for this engine, in the interest of retaining a period-correct appearance.

“The LeMans bowls on the carb proved interesting. They were very sensitive to fuel pressure, and did not allow very large inlet fittings – only 1/8 NPT inlets. Between the mandated lower inlet pressure and the small fittings it meant that it was difficult to get enough fuel into the carb to support this power level. I could see why the LeMans bowls were quickly superseded by the traditional center pivot cathedral bowl design,” explains Rabotnick.

Ahern 482 dynoThe street-going theme continued into the camshaft tunnel, with a simple hydraulic roller bumpstick used to motivate the valvetrain into action.

With street manners in mind, the camshaft was ground with a 113-degree lobe separation angle and 242/248 @ .050-inch-lift duration numbers. Rabotnick was unwilling to disclose lift numbers, but we can say that they are ‘healthy’.

As with all of the nostalgia-style engines produced at Survival Motorsports, Rabotnick works with each customer to achieve their goals with a minimum of muss and fuss – no small task given that the majority of the parts they’re working with can be 40-plus years old.

One of the things that separates the company from the competition is their attention to detail – Rabotnick shared the engine’s blueprint sheet with us, and a quick inspection shows that the bearing clearances in the entire engine are held to extremely tight specifications all around. Solid performance from this beast on the dyno. Click the video to hear it sing!

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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