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Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car
Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car
Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

RESTO-MODS

Resto-Mod Restorations: Part 13: Crate Engines

Modernized Vintage

There is no strict rule on what type of engine a Resto-Mod should have. Jim Mokwa made the choice to power his GTO convertible with a performance-modified version of a vintage 400-cid Pontiac V-8. This engine is similar to the one originally available as standard equipment in '69 "Goats." In resto-Mod speak this is considered a "factory" engine, even though it has many improvements.

GM mechanic Mike Bray helped Jim Mokwa modify his engine. In case you're wondering, it was pulled and put back in the painted GTO because a con rod was just hitting the windage tray. They pulled it and fixed it in  one day.

GM mechanic Mike Bray helped Jim Mokwa modify his engine. In case you're wondering, it was pulled and put back in the painted GTO because a con rod was just hitting the windage tray. They pulled it and fixed it in one day.


Mike Bray, a General Motors mechanic, helped Jim rebuild the engine and heat it up with hotter performance. They found and used a '68 Pontiac 400-cid block as the base. Mokwa had heard about Jim Butler, of Leoma, Tennessee, a top Pontiac engine builder since the 1960s. He purchased a Butler Performance (www.butlerperformance.com) long-rod 461 stroker rotating assembly, plus ported and polished Edlebrock cylinder heads with 87-cc combustion chambers and installed this performance hardware with Mike Bray's guidance and help.

Mokwa built the rest of the engine himself, including the intake system and the carburetors. The car has dual four-barrel carburetors and had a progressive linkage when it was first constructed. Butler Performance supplied a pair of Doug's Headers made for Pontiac V-8s. Mokwa believes that his GTO's modernized vintage engine is making over 500 hp and he loves driving it.

Here's how the GTO engine looks in the car all dressed up with full accessories mounted. This type of Resto-Mod motor is known as a custom build.

Here's how the GTO engine looks in the car all dressed up with full accessories mounted. This type of Resto-Mod motor is known as a custom build.


Another group of Resto-Mod builders prefers even older vintage V-8s—Ford flatheads, early postwar Caddies, Olds Rocket 88s, Buick 'Nailheads' and Chrysler "Firepower" and "Red Ram" Hemis—in Resto-Mods. They say there's nothing cooler than making a classic engine once considered obsolete into a modern engine. By using an engine that's thought of as nearly extinct, hard to get parts for, and totally "era-incorrect" under the hood of a Resto-Mod muscle car, these "engine gurus" are showing others their extreme engine building skills.

Nearly all of these engines were long gone by the time muscle cars hit their stride. They were considered "boat anchors" back in that era. But today, there are companies like Egge Speed Shop (www.egge.com), Kanter Auto Products (www.kanter.com), Northwestern Auto Supply (www.northwesternautosupply.com) and Speedway Motors (www.speedwaymotors.com) selling the obsolete parts needed to rebuild the basic engines. Then, the Resto-Mod engine builders add their high-tech magic.

Engine rebuilder 'Flatjack' Meyer of Oshkosh, Wisconsin,  is known for his expertise with vintage flathead Ford V-8s. Egge Machine supplied the parts for this engine, which was given away to promoted the Symco Shakedown car show.

Engine rebuilder "Flatjack" Meyer of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is known for his expertise with vintage flathead Ford V-8s. Egge Machine supplied the parts for this engine, which was given away to promote the Symco Shakedown car show.


Guy Henson is such a builder. He recently finished a radical 401-cid Buick Nailhead "pump-gas" motor that features such upgrades as a Whipple supercharger and an electronic IAC (Idle Air Control) system combined with F.A.S.T engine management technology. Perhaps it is fitting that Guy took his engine from a '60s Buick Wildcat, since it represents a very wild rendition of an "old" engine—one that everyone thought had been put out to pasture long ago.

Henson made the suggestion to use the Whipple supercharger, which he had sitting on a shelf in his Minnesota shop. He then carved a billet intake manifold out of five different chunks of aluminum, put the supercharger on top of it, added a custom-built plenum and topped the package off with eight Hillborn throttle body injectors with individual spun aluminum velocity stacks and filters.

Henson carved ribs into the intake to match those in the supercharger so things looked nice. Then, he had the entire works powder coated. He extended the nose of the supercharger by four inches to get the belt alignment to work right. Then, he carved a water pump pulley out of billet and put a crank sensor on it. Since the customer wanted Hillborn throttle bodies and stacks, Guy glued some 2 x 6-in. pieces of wood together to mock up a plenum. He actually laid it out and carved out half of it on his own milling machine. Then, he sent that piece off to be digitized so he could reproduce complete plenums on a CNC machine.