Stoked and Stroked
The science of building Mopar horsepower has almost always been one of “bigger is better.” You remember that old adage, there is no replacement for displacement. So, while there is real merit to high-winding, highly efficient small-inch blocks, pumping more air has always been the solution of choice when putting impressive engine packages together. Pop the hood and tell ‘em that you’re running a 528” Hemi, and the respect will follow. It is also more economical then ever to carry a big stick these days.
Back in the day, creating a stroked engine that displaced more than 500” was an expensive endeavor that required serious engine-building skills, a sharp mathematical mind, and custom parts. Today, while the need for careful measurements and skilled assembly prep are not lost, bottom-end “kits” allow many people to avoid the pitfalls of going where no one had gone before. In some instances, other then doing some minor crank-throw clearancing on the block itself, you can get just about everything you need in one big box.
Many Americans are wary of the amount of manufacturing technology and production that is coming out of China, but it is that new market which has made a lot of what we are seeing happen in the modern engine building business possible. The availability of lower-cost blanks for stroker crankshafts and connecting rods has let a generation of budget-minded car owners create window-rattling monsters. Now, a casting is never as strong as a forging, so if you are planning on spinning this thing to seven grand, it may require a race-bred piece. For street guys and bracket bombers, however, this layout is just the ticket.
Of course, all that stuff needs to work someplace that will stay together, and the advent of fresh blocks with better bore spacing, modern-era deck/side casting dimensions, and 21st century cooling technology offers a great deal of insurance over that 400” Imperial junk yard engine of yore. After all, you are making a pretty substantial investment in hardware to go this route, and many engine builders will tell you that the money spent on a fresh casting is wisely used. In fact, for most big-inch engines they will insist on it, since they do not want a broken engine coming back to them any more than you do. Going old school on a budget is the cheapest way, but it may not be the wisest.