Some people just want their vehicles to be a little different than the norm. It may be for looks, or it may be that people simply want to go faster. There are others who want the truck to look cool and go like a rocket. Most people start out by making a change or two, so the truck leaves the light a little quicker than the other guy's. You start to check out bolt-on items that make it go even faster. Suddenly, you realize that building a rocket ship on wheels requires a bigger motor. Over the years, it was said the easiest way to go was to build a Chevy engine and install it in any truck. That's not really the case, when you think about what hard-core drag racers have been running since the beginning of drag racing -- a Chrysler Hemi sat between the 'rails of a dragster almost as soon as the Chrysler engine was put into production.

In the early '60s, automotive manufacturers were actively into racing, producing nearly anything it took to keep their vehicles out in front. Dodge and Plymouth machines were at the head of the line, with equipment that could get the job done. At one point, Mopar vehicles and engines were not all that popular. That was the case until the truck market overtook cars and many people found out what hard-core truck owners have known all along: Trucks are cool to drive and to build up. About the time everyone decided that trucks were not just for hauling hay or transporting hogs to the market, Chrysler realized that it needed to get with the program and produce a package to appeal to the sport truck market, backing that with something under the hood that could be competitive as well. Hence, the Magnum 5.9L 360ci V-8, first introduced in 1993, became Chrysler's V-8 of choice for the Dodge Dakota, Durango, and Ram. No sooner had Chrysler designers dreamed up a package that satisfied the demand for more performance than aftermarket options for the 5.9L engine began to appear on the market. Today, Mopar Performance Parts and the high-performance industry have noticed a great demand for parts for this engine.

We have recently seen a great-looking '00 Dodge Dakota at several truck shows around Southern California, which is unusual because Dodge trucks were not previously show material. However, Scott Quaranta's Dakota is a show piece. We were impressed that the hood was always up for everyone to see that this Dakota R/T has more than just good looks. Scott was planning to build a Magnum motor into a 408 stroker. The items he had already added were all right, but he wanted to make this bad boy really run. It already had a big Paxton supercharger, but he planned to turn the truck into a drag racer and it had to have a bigger motor to make a statement.

The Magnum 360 has been around for about ten years now and can be picked up fairly easily. Or, if you want to use the engine that's in your Dodge truck now, it can be sent out to be put on steroids. A good portion of the heavy-duty stuff that's going into this pumped-up motor came from the Mopar parts counter or from the Mopar Performance Parts catalog. MPP offers two different 4-inch stroker crankshafts: one is a cast piece and the other is a forged unit. If you use one of those and bore the block 0.030 over, the result will be a 408ci starter. In order to use the stroker crank, the block must be notched for rod clearance.

Cast-iron heads were used for Scott's engine, since he plans to run a blower. Mopar offers two new Magnum R/T head castings: one is cast-iron and the other is aluminum. Aluminum castings are 60 pounds lighter. Those heads come with either 1.92-inch intake valves or 2.02-inch valves. The 2.02s are used for bigger-horsepower motors. The 2.02s used on this engine were reworked by The Fastman and were flow bench tested. The flow numbers were 288 cfm on the intake and 245 cfm on the exhaust at 0.550 lift. The Cometic head gaskets used were requested by Scott. They are widely used by pro racing shops and other organizations such as NHRA and NASCAR. Made from multi-layer steel, the gaskets are strong and are reusable. The Cometic gasket came from Southeast R/Ts. The camshaft for this motor is a Cam Motion component that was specially ground for the blown application. A blower cam has a little more overlap and is usually ground on a 114-lobe centerline. That makes it work well with the PCM. Most naturally aspirated engine cams are cut on a 112-lobe centerline. The items mentioned are but a few of the parts that Dan Arcand at The Fastman uses to build up special high-performance Mopar engines for customers around the country.

The engine has been in the truck for about four months now, and the Magnum motor was run on Pacific Performance Engineering's chassis dyno and produced some good numbers. The 408 Magnum stroker engine recorded a 543.9 hp at 5,200 rpm. This motor puts out that amount of horses and 565 lb-ft of torque, according to Pacific's dyno charts. The truck is a fully outfitted, streetable machine that has run 11.80 times and will now be fitted with a rollcage for the strip. Thus far, this motor has proven that it does make some serious horsepower.

Speed (RPM
Torque (lbs./ft)
Horsepower
3,500
477.58
319.40
3,600
487.46
334.08
3,700
493.24
347.07
3,800
507.23
366.25
3,900
524.08
388.84
4,000
532.98
406.13
4,100
540.50
422.58
4,200
544.46
435.29
4,300
550.57
450.66
4,400
553.91
463.59
4,500
557.38
477.75
4,600
560.73
491.44
4,700
561.23
502.12
4,800
565.02
516.48
4,900
561.40
523.87
5,000
557.71
531.11
5,100
556.86
540.84
5,200
554.25
543.90

SOURCE
The Fastman Performance Products Thunderhead Racing
Kirts' Engine Machining Lofgren Auto Specialties
18130 Dahlia St. NW
Cedar
MN  55011
7-63/-753-7573
Southeast R/Ts
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