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Performance Parts Guide - Power In A Box

Posted in How To: Engine on January 1, 2005 Comment (0)
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Performance Parts Guide - Power In A Box

We've said it before and you've read it before: You can't just bolt on a random combination of parts and expect to see serious performance gains. The key to getting a solid increase in torque and horsepower is finding the right combination of parts. Sure, you could buy yourself an assortment of accessories, rent some chassis-dyno time and have fun seeing which parts work best together. But that's a little cost-prohibitive and labor-intensive for most of us.

Fortunately, there are plenty of people who make their living doing this kind of testing. And they've very graciously put together performance-enhancing packages based on the results of their research.

Here we've got the scoop on 18 different parts combinations that will improve the performance of a wide variety of 4x4 vehicles. To be included in this story, the parts had to be sold as a package. This makes your life easy: All you have to do is call up these companies and tell 'em which kit you want.

The convenience factor is a big reason why we love these kits. But the dollar-to-value ratio is the biggest reason. By purchasing parts that were designed to work together in harmony, you'll be spending your money wisely, and you'll be getting the grunt you and your rig deserve.

Package name: SysteMAX II
For which vehicles? Trucks with '67-'86 Chevy small-block engines
Horsepower gain: As much as 150-200 (depending on original engine), with new and improved total power output of as much as 425 hp (on a fresh 355 short-block with 9.8:1 compression, zero deck clearance and 1 5/8-inch headers using a 750-cfm Holley Double Pumper carb)
Torque gain: As much as 150-200 lb-ft, with total torque of more than 400 lb-ft
What's in the box?
* A Lunati camshaft (235/240 duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.490/0.490 lift, 112-degree lobe separation, 107 centerline)
* High-bleed flat tappet hydraulic lifters
* An intake manifold
* A timing set
* Hardened pushrods
* ARP head bolts
* Holley aluminum cylinder heads with provisions to bolt on all engine accessories; they feature heat crossover passages, 68cc combustion chambers and 2.02/1.60-inch exhaust/intake valves
Why would I want it? You'd be getting a seriously torque-oriented setup that's still mild enough to run happily on pump gas. The Lunati cam was designed to provide greater air-charge density, maximize mixture combustion and give constant port velocity. And the double-roller timing chain and gears provide smooth, precise timing for more power production.
How much does it cost? $1,800
Contact: Holley Tech Service, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 10360, Bowling Green, KY 42101, 270/781-9741, for nearest dealer: 800/HOLLEY-1, www.holley.com

Package name: Rat Pack Performance System
For which vehicles? '00-'04 GM trucks and SUVs with the 5.3L Vortec engine (packages are also available for '94-'04 Dodge Rams with gas engines and '97-'04 Ford F-150s and F-250s with gas engines)
Horsepower gain: 40 hp at the rear wheels
Torque gain: 60 lb-ft at the rear wheels
What's in the box?
* Gibson after-cat exhaust system
* Airaid intake
* Airaid throttle-body spacer
* Hypertech computerreprogrammer
Why would I want it? Desert Rat's team has researched a wide combination of parts from various manufacturers and put together this package focusing on performance, price and quality; the team created what it calls the "power-to-price ratio." Plus, the focus is on torque even more than horsepower. And we're talking low-end torque at that, thanks especially to the throttle-body spacer, which increases torque from off-idle to 3,500 rpm. The intake also gives you faster air delivery and more flow, while the exhaust reduces backpressure. The computer tuner brings it all together, and allows you to change shift points and make additional tuning modifications.
How much does it cost? $875
Contact: Desert Rat Truck Centers, Dept. FW, 3705 S. Palo Verde, Tucson, AZ 85713, 866/241-5337, www.desertrat.com

Package name: Truck Super Tune-Up Kits
For which vehicles? Eighteen applications covering most Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, GMC and Jeep late-model six- and eight-cylinder pickups, vans and SUVs from the mid-'80s to current
Horsepower gain: 5 to 10 percent
Torque gain: 5 to 10 percent
What's in the box?
* A matched ACCEL custom-fit wire set
* An ACCEL distributor cap and rotor
* ACCEL U-Groove spark plugs (some kits are available with ACCEL Shorty Header Spark Plugs if you need added clearance because of headers)
Why would I want it? This setup is able to tolerate lots of heat and make more power, plus it dramatically improves driveability. The quality of the parts is much higher than a typical tune-up kit too. The race-proven ACCEL U-Groove copper-core spark plugs maximize burn efficiency for improved performance and reduced emissions. The 8mm custom-fit Extreme 9000 wire set has heat-reflective-coated spark-plug boots rated to 1,200 degrees F., and the double silicone wire has a low-resistance Ferro-Spiral core. The distributor cap and rotors are precision molded of impact-resistant high-dielectric-strength compounds, with brass or copper inserts and stainless steel contact springs.
How much does it cost? Starting at $79.95
Contact: ACCEL, Mr. Gasket Performance Group, Dept. FW, 10601 Memphis Ave., No. 12, Cleveland, OH 44144, 216/688-8300, www.mrgasket.com

Package name: Nissan Super Charged Performance Package
For which vehicles? '01-'04 Nissan Frontier S/C
Horsepower gain: 45 hp
Torque gain: 35 lb-ft
What's in the box?
* A stainless steel after-cat exhaust system
* A K&N Air Charger kit and filter
* High performance cams
* A 2.3-inch pulley
* Pulley puller tool kit
Why would I want it? Your engine is a big air pump. This system allows for more airflow going in and out. The pulley swap increases boost. The cams provide an increase in both lift and duration. Overall, the increase in power is tailored to make it easier to turn larger tires and to pull you and all your gear through rugged terrain.
How much does it cost? $1,265
Contact: Automotive Customizers, Dept. FW, 1538 SW 7th Ave., Pompano Beach, FL 33060, 954/785-4223

Package name: Six-Gun Bundle
For which vehicles? '01-'04 Chevrolet and GMC trucks with the Duramax 6.6L, '03-'04 Ford trucks with the Power Stroke 6.0L, '99-'03 Ford trucks with the 7.3L Power Stroke and '03-'04 Dodge Rams with the Cummins 5.9L
Horsepower gain: Up to 155 hp
Torque gain: Up to 385 lb-ft
What's in the box?
* A Banks Six-Gun Diesel Tuner
* A Banks Speed-Loader upgrade
* A Banks 100-percent stainless 4-inch constant-diameter Monster exhaust system
* A polished stainless 4-inch straight-through Monster muffler with Banks' exclusive expansion chamber
* A 5-inch polished stainless double-wall tailpipe tip with rolled edge
* A Banks BigHead wastegate actuator
* A Banks Ram-Air filter assembly
* A turbine outlet pipe
* A DynaFact boost gauge and pyrometer assembly
* Note: Contents vary by application.
Why would I want it? Unbelievable increases in torque from trucks that are already torque monsters. In fact, the wastegate actuator helps your engine produce tremendous torque right off idle. The easy-breathing intake and free-flowing exhaust dramatically increase the volume of air you can move. And you wind up with a rich, rumbly exhaust note too.
How much does it cost? Starting at $1,398
Contact: Gale Banks Engineering, Dept. FW, 546 Duggan Ave., Azusa, CA 91702, 800/277-1991, www.bankspower.com

Package name: Power Package
For which vehicles? '00-'04 Chevy and GMC light-duty trucks with the 4.8L/5.3L/6.0L engine families
Horsepower gain: 46 hp on a 4.8L engine
Torque gain: 40 lb-ft on a 4.8L engine
What's in the box?
* Your choice of two Crane camshafts:
1. Part number 1449555 has 272/280 advertised duration; 210/218 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift; 0.531/0.531-inch valve lift; 114-degree lobe separation. (This cam is ideal for all-around use, including towing a boat or camper.)
2. Part number 1449565 has 278/286 advertised duration; 216/224 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift; 0.551/0.551-inch valve lift; 115-degree lobe separation. (This is a "Sport Truck" cam, designed for street performance in a truck that will not be towing.)
* Crane dual-coil valve springs (Their quiet operation prevents false knock readings, which can result in computer-retarded ignition and degrade performance.)
* Titanium valve-spring retainers
* Your choice of two Quick Lift roller rocker kits, either 1.7:1 or 1.8:1. Kits include screw-in studs, pushrod guideplates and special length, thick-wall pushrods. These rockers provide full lash adjustability and fit under the stock valve covers. The 1.8-ratio rockers increase lift approximately 0.030 inch and add approximately 2 degrees duration at 0.050 inch lift to any cam.
* An LS1 valve-spring compressor, which compresses two springs at once and makes changing valve springs on the vehicle a snap.
* A Crane Powermax Power Tuner, which includes three performance-camshaft tuning levels. It's even ready for additional modifications to your truck, including the addition of an aftermarket supercharger, high-flow injectors, headers, an after-cat exhaust system, larger tires, gear changes, a cold-air intake and more.
Why would I want it? It provides an improvement in torque and power from just off idle to 6,000 rpm, thanks to Quick Lift rocker-arm geometry. It accelerates all of the lift events and causes the cams to have power outputs equal to cams 6 degrees larger at 0.050, while still retaining the short seat-to-seat valve timing that allows custom tuning without any degradation of driveability or compromise of the OBD-II engine control system. This provides a total enhancement of the driving experience whether it is off-road or on the highway. Plus, the hand-held tuner enables you to make the most of additional performance modifications down the road.
How much does it cost? About $1,984
Contact: Crane Cams, Dept. FW, 530 Fentress Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114, 386/252-1151, www.cranecams.com

Package name: 435 Horsepower RPM E-Tec Roller Cam Total Power Package
For which vehicles? GMC and Chevrolet pickups and SUVs equipped with a small-block Chevy engine
Horsepower gain: About 125 hp compared with Edelbrock's Performer crate engine, which produces 310 hp-actual gains can be much higher depending on the engine in question
Torque gain: About 53 lb-ft when compared with Edelbrock's Performer crate engine, which produces 382 lb-ft of torque-actual gains can be much higher depending on the engine in question
What's in the box?
* RPM Air-Gap intake manifold
* 64cc RPM E-Tec aluminum cylinder heads
* RPM roller camshaft
* Timing chain and gearset
* Lifters
* Intake gasket set
* Hardened pushrod set
* Hardened head bolt set
* Intake bolt set
** Recommended carburetor (not included): Edelbrock Thunder Series 800-cfm
Why would I want it? Edelbrock has spent thousands of hours designing, testing and refining this recipe. These components were designed and engineered specifically to work with one another, so you get great performance and great durability. This setup produces 435 hp at 5,500 rpm and 435 lb-ft of torque, based on a stock-bore 350ci small-block
How much does it cost? Less than $2,500
Contact: Edelbrock, Dept. FW, 2700 California St., Torrance, CA 90503, 310/781-2222, tech line: 800/416-8628, www.edelbrock.com

Package name: Stage Three Performance Package
For which vehicles? GMC and Chevrolet Duramax, Ford Power Stroke and Dodge Cummins diesel trucks
Horsepower gain: Up to 111 hp
Torque gain: Up to 231 lb-ft
What's in the box?
* A MagnaFlow turbo-back or downpipe-back performance exhaust system with 4-inch mandrel-bent stainless steel tubing (even larger 5-inch tubing is available for the Cummins high-output diesel)
* A MagnaFlow mirror-finish performance muffler and a polished 5-inch-diameter tip (or 6-inch tip with 5-inch tubing)
* A K&N Fuel Injection Performance Kit (FIPK)
* MagnaFlow performance tuning for your computer
Why would I want it? The extreme torque gains make it easy to power your truck over obstacles and navigate difficult terrain-not to mention tow or haul heavy loads and pull your friends out of the mud. The extremely easy-to-use hand-held computer programmer comes with an optimal curve to perfectly suit the MagnaFlow exhaust and K&N FIPK for a dramatic but safe increase in power. You also can return to your factory curve at any time or change the performance curve to suit your needs, whether for towing or a change from rockcrawling to desert racing. The K&N intake improves airflow into your engine, while MagnaFlow's mandrel-bent tubing and wide-open muffler design dramatically improve exhaust flow to virtually eliminate backpressure and improve performance.
How much does it cost? Starting at $1,355
Contact: MagnaFlow Performance Exhaust, Dept. FW, 22961 Arroyo Vista, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688, 949/858-5900, www.magnaflow.com

Package name: 500 Cubic Inch Big Block Chrysler Stroker Crank Kit
For which vehicles? Trucks equipped with a 440ci Mopar engine
Horsepower gain: Depends on your combination, but the folks over at Mopar Performance built an engine with comparable components that had 9:1 compression, Stage V heads and a rather mild 0.505 lift, 292 duration cam and achieved 505 hp
Torque gain: Again, depends on your combination, but the Mopar Performance mill whomped out 590 lb-ft
What's in the box?
* A brand-new forged 4340 steel crankshaft with a 4.150-inch stroke
* PAW 4340 H-beam connecting rods with 0.990-diameter bushed pin ends
* Custom-made forged pistons
* Moly rings
* Rod bearings
* Main bearings
Why would I want it? Because stroking your engine is the perfect way to produce gobs of bottom-end and mid-range torque, which is exactly what you need. (The kit turns a 440 into a 500-cube monster when you take the block 0.060 over.)
How much does it cost? $2,095
Contact: Performance Automotive Warehouse, Dept. FW, 21001 Nordhoff St., Chatsworth, CA 91311, 818/678-3000, www.pawengineparts.com

Package name: Torque And Horsepower Performance Package
For which vehicles? '99-'04 Chevy Silverado 1500s with the 4.8L/5.3L/6.0L family of engines
Horsepower gain: Up to 50 hp
Torque gain: Up to 68 lb-ft
What's in the box?
* A Gibson after-cat exhaust system
* An Airaid intake system
* Hypertech Power Programmer
Why would I want it? The combination works well due to the increase in airflow-both on the way into your engine and on the way back out. Plus, the computer tuner makes sure your engine takes best advantage of the increase in air. Because this is a torque-oriented package, it's ideal for most four-wheeling situations.
How much does it cost? Starting at $914.95
Contact: 4Wheel Parts, 800/284-9426, www.4wheelparts.com

Package name: Stage 3 Performance Combo
For which vehicles? Most '88-'04 Chevy, GMC, Ford, Dodge, Jeep and Toyota pickups and SUVs, both gas and diesel
Horsepower gain: From 65 to 80 hp
Torque gain: From 70 to 85 lb-ft
What's in the box?
* An after-cat exhaust system
* Headers
* A computer reprogrammer, chip and/or module
* An intake system
Why would I want it? By improving your engine's efficiency, this easy bolt-on, smog-legal package provides more torque, more horsepower and 15-25 percent better fuel economy. Efficiency gains come from 50 percent better air intake flow, reduced exhaust backpressure and changes to the fuel and timing curves that produce a better burn of the intake charge. This system also does not void your factory warranty, according to Performance Combos.
How much does it cost? Starting from $999
Contact: Performance Combos, 800/875-2112 (ask for performance tech), www.performancecombos.com

Package name: SLP PerformancePac
For which vehicles? '99-'04 Chevrolet and GMC pickups and SUVs
Horsepower gain: 55 hp on a 6.0L
Torque gain: 55 lb-ft on a 6.0L
What's in the box?
* SLP Power-Flo 100 percent stainless-steel after-cat exhaust system
* SLP Power-Flo stainless-steel headers (available with or without an aluminum ceramic coating)
* SLP 1.85:1-ratio rocker arms (which replace 1.7:1 stock rockers)
* SLP custom tuning, installed via a hand-held computer tuner
* SLP cold-air induction system and air filter
Why would I want it? These packages are particularly well suited to four-wheeling and heavy-duty applications, since they increase horsepower and torque throughout the rpm range. This is in dramatic contrast to many power-enhancing modifications, which shift your engine's powerband to a higher rpm range-undesirable for a vehicle that will spend the bulk of its time trundling up hills or slogging through the mud. Also, because it does not degrade driveability, the PerformancePac is perfect for dual-purpose vehicles that split their time between pavement and trail.
How much does it cost? $2,069-$2,369
Contact: Stylin' Concepts, Dept. FW, 7820 E. Pleasant Valley Rd., Independence, OH 44131, 800/434-6648, www.stylinconcepts.com

Package name: Big G Performance Pack
For which vehicles? '99-'03 Ford pickups and SUVs with 4.6L and 5.4L engines
Horsepower gain: 35 hp
Torque gain: 40 lb-ft
What's in the box?
* Granatelli/DiabloSport Predator Flash computer tuner
* Granatelli Cold Air Intake System
* Granatelli Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)
Why would I want it? This setup gives you a solid increase in horsepower and torque at a reasonable price, and with a minimal amount of work. And you don't sacrifice driveability or fuel economy. By swapping the factory airbox for this cold-air intake and changing MAFs, you get a dramatic increase in intake airflow. Simply put, it's harder for your engine to inhale through the factory airbox than it is to inhale through this low-resistance system, so this package enables your engine to breathe more easily and accelerate through the powerband faster. As for the Granatelli/DiabloSport Predator Flash tool, this simple plug-and-play tuner installs into the factory ALDL connector under the dash and reflashes your factory ECM. It doesn't leave a footprint or signature, so it is undetectable by the dealer. But it does allow you to correct for wheel-and-tire changes and gear-ratio changes, as well as change the transmission shifting load, firmness, rpm and line pressure.
How much does it cost? $899
Contact: Granatelli Motor Sports, Dept. FW, 1000 Yarnell Pl., Oxnard, CA 93033, 805/486-6644, www.granatellimotorsports.com

Package name: Stage 3 Performance Upgrade
For which vehicles? Most late-model Chevrolet, GMC, Ford and Dodge pickups and SUVs
Horsepower gain: An average of 40-50 hp
Torque gain: An average of 60-65 lb-ft
What's in the box?
* Volant intake system
* JBA stainless steel exhaust system
* Granatelli Predator computer tuner
Why would I want it? The power gain is the obvious benefit of this package. It also enhances your truck's exhaust tone and reduces weight, thanks to the change in exhaust and intake systems. The stainless exhaust system also stands up well to salted roads and ocean-oriented 'wheeling. Another plus is the reusable air filter, which can be cleaned after dusty trail rides. A cleanable and reusable pre-filter is optional, if you know you're tough on air filters. Plus, the computer tuner eliminates your rig's top-speed governor, recalibrates the speedometer (key if you've changed gears or installed taller tires), changes shifting points, power-tunes your vehicle and provides the ability to read scan codes, in case you're setting some codes with your various modifications.
How much does it cost? From $850 to $1,200
Contact: Stillen, Dept. FW, 3176 Airway, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 866/250-5542, www.stillen.com

Package name: Bully Dog Diesel Tuning Performance Package
For which vehicles? '03-'04 Chevrolet and GMC Duramax trucks, '99-'04 Ford trucks with the 7.3L and 6.0L Power Stroke, '03-'04 Dodge trucks with the Cummins diesel
Horsepower gain: 80-130 hp
Torque gain: 185-302 lb-ft
What's in the box?
* Bully Dog power module, computer chip or downloader
* Bully Dog 4-inch Rapid Flow aluminized-steel exhaust system
* Bully Dog RFI air intake
* Bully Dog exhaust temperature gauge (pyrometer)
* Bully Dog boost gauge
* Gauge pod designed to hold both gauges and mount on your truck's A-pillar
Why would I want it? Bully Dog's kit makes diesel tuning simple and really rewarding. The parts combo was carefully designed to provide good, safe gains in horsepower and torque while maintaining reliability. And it provides more info on what's happening under your truck's hood.
How much does it cost? Prices vary by application; from Jeg's, it's $1,232.99-$1,647.99
Contact: Jeg's, Dept. FW, 101 Jeg's Pl., Delaware, OH 43015, 800/345-4545, www.jegs.com

Package name: Opti-Max Performance Systems
For which vehicles? Most '95-'05 gas and diesel Chevrolet, GMC, Ford and Dodge pickups and SUVs
Horsepower gain: Up to 40 hp for gas-powered trucks, up to 205 hp for diesels
Torque gain: Up to 65 lb-ft for gas-powered trucks, up to 310 lb-ft for diesels
What's in the box?
* Advanced Flow Engineering air intake system
* MBRP performance exhaust system
* Superchips, Predator, VanAaken or Edge performance computer programmer (varies by application)
* Auto Meter transmission temperature gauge
* For diesels only: Auto Meter boost and exhaust temperature gauges
Why would I want it? These systems are dyno matched so you gain the maximum safe horsepower and torque from your specific drivetrain combination. Every Opti-Max Performance System optimizes the fuel delivery, injection pulse width, timing and intake and exhaust flow through electronic and airflow modifications. Not only will you have more grunt for four-wheeling, you'll be able to haul heavier loads and tow far more easily, while getting better gas mileage too.
How much does it cost? $949.99-$2,399.99
Contact: Diesel Performance Parts, Dept. FW, 1136 Fourth Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37210, 866/455-7788, local: 615/251-1252, www.dieselperformanceparts.com

Package name: Power Pak
For which vehicles? Trucks with a small-block Chrysler engine
Horsepower gain: Depends heavily on your air/fuel delivery system and your heads, but expect a 15- to 20-percent gain
Torque gain: About 70 to 80 lb-ft at around 2,900 rpm
What's in the box?
* 4.00-inch stroker crankshaft
* Probe Power forged pistons
* Perfect Circle plasma moly rings
* Stock Chrysler 360 connecting rods (shotpeened and sized) with ARP rod bolts
* Clevite Performance Series engine bearings
* Harmonic balancer (balancing included)
Why would I want it? This affordable rotating assembly provides big-block-style torque for your small-block. Plus, those torque gains are realized at very low rpm-between 2,000 and 2,500. This is perfect for four-wheeling, especially for you rockcrawlers who want to ease off the clutch and climb a boulder. You won't believe the bottom-end torque available from this combo.
How much does it cost? $1,450
Contact: Performance Engine, Dept. FW, 6110 Paramount Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90805, 888/770-4888, www.performancengine.com

Package name: Big-Block Rotating Kit
For which vehicles? For trucks with big-block Chevy engines
Horsepower gain: Varies dramatically depending on your combination, but this kit can produce as much as 1,500 hp-and it will make 500 hp with ease-depending on your cam, cylinder heads and so on.
Torque gain: Varies dramatically depending on your combination, but definitely oriented toward extreme bottom-end torque
What's in the box?
* A 4340 forged-steel crankshaft
* Eagle H-beam connecting rods
* JE or Wiseco forged aluminum pistons
* JE or Speed Pro rings
* Clevite bearings
Why would I want it? The low-compression stroker kit will net you 9.5 to 10:1 compression, depending on your cylinder heads-and it provides gobs of low-end torque. It's also tough to beat the dependability you'll get with this package. If you're not building a super-high-horsepower race engine, these parts will deliver all day long. Each kit comes prepped for final assembly, including high-speed balancing, and buying all the parts at once saves you a bundle. The company also determines the correct pin location and rod length for your application.
How much does it cost? $2,299
Contact: Bill Mitchell Hardcore Racing Products, Dept. FW, 51 Trade Zone Ct., Ronkonkoma, NY 11779, 631/737-0372, www.theengineshop.com

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