Monday, March 27, 2017

Jon Kaase Mercury offshore marine engine

At the Jon Kaase Race Engines booth at the 2016 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show they proudly displayed a bright yellow Mercury Racing QCV4 engine built to power the 50-foot long Miss Geico offshore catamaran racing boat.
Equipped with two of these 520-cubic inch engines, each generating 1650 horsepower, the 13,000 pound stern drive boat can attain speeds approaching 200 miles per hour. The team owns a total of six engines which in a constant race-ship-rebuild cycle.
Photo courtesy of  AMF Riviera Beach, LLC
The all-aluminum double overhead camshaft twin-turbocharged V8 engine was originally developed by Mercury Racing, a division of Mercury Marine specifically to power the massive off-shore speedboats. The engine is a bit large for automotive application as it measures almost three feet across from camshaft cover to camshaft cover and as shown at PRI weighed over 900 pounds.
The dual-overhead-cam cylinder heads use "finger followers" to activate the 32 valves (4 per cylinder). The camshafts are driven by three chains: one from the crank to a cam-drive sprocket, and then two chains drive the twin cams in each bank.

From the Mercury Racing factory without the wiring harness, electronic control unit and turbochargers the QCV4 crate engine is priced at $68,000. We will leave it to you the reader to guess the price of the engine shown by Kaase fitted with custom stainless steel headers and a custom Wilson  Performance intake manifold that featured twin intercoolers to feed the twin turbochargers.

Check out the boat at

Photos by the author except as noted

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mazda MX-5 Cup race car

The Mazda booth at the 2017 Silicon Valley Auto Show at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center featured a “spec” race car that competed in the 2016 Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup series presented by BF Goodrich.

The MX-5 Cup which began in 2016 is the first rung in the “Mazda Road to 24” which is the sports car equivalent to the “Mazda Road to Indy” open-wheel ladder series. The champion of the MX-5 series receives a $200,000 scholarship to race in either the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge or Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda. The final rung on the “Mazda Road to 24” ladder is the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on Mazda factory-owned race team.

The 2017 Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BF Goodrich schedule features eight racing weekends with two races each weekend at venues that include Barber Motorsports Park, the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen and Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca.  In 2016 the series was sanctioned by the SCCA but in 2017 it will be overseen by INDYCAR officials.
Mazda MX-5 Cup race cars start life as MX-5 passenger cars built in the company’s Hiroshima, Japan factory before shipment to Mazda’s engineering development partner Long Road Racing in Statesville, North Carolina.  There the car is gutted and fitted with a full roll cage and according to Mazda, more than 250 motorsports-specific parts. The Mazda SKYACTIV 2.0 liter engines are sealed “to ensure even competition and a cost-effective platform.”

This Winding Road Racing sponsored MX-5 was driven in 2016 by San Jose’s Mark Drennan, who began his racing career in the nineteen nineties with “sim racing” (computer gaming) for six years before he advanced to driving karts and the spec Miata racing series. Mark who as the series “Rookie of the Year” finished seventh in the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Cup standings with two race wins lists his hobbies as “winning, beer and bacon” (hopefully not at the same time)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Modified imported street cars at the 2016 SEMA show

Today we share modified street cars seen at the 2016 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show shown by three Asian import manufacturers – Toyota, Kia and Hyundai - and one that is beyond description.   

Toyota had the wild ‘Land Speed Cruiser’ based on a 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) which produces a purported 2000 horsepower and is capable of 220 miles per hour (MPH).

Toyota’s Motorsport Technical Center took the standard 5.7- liter DOHC (double overhead camshaft) V-8 engine and beefed it up with JE forged alloy pistons and Oliver connecting rods while Port Flow Design re-worked the cylinder heads for better performance.

The Toyota crew then added two Garrett GTX4718R forged billet ball-bearing turbochargers with the charge air cooled by custom MTCI intercoolers and the wastegate controlled by a TurboSmart unit adjustable to 55 pounds per square inch of boost.   To get the SUV to ride lower Toyota used Fox Shox and Eibach springs and installed custom TBM brakes. The Momo wheels are fitted with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.

The Land Speed Cruiser’s interior is complete with a fairly intrusive roll cage and Momo driving seats   
Hyundai offered the Gurnade Veloster Concept of the popular Veloster turbocharged sports coupe. The automotive rendering company that specializes in custom artwork and automotive design specified a new interior complete with Cobra Nogaro racing seats and a roll cage, cold air intake with NEO Motorsport coil over suspension and 6-piston caliper brakes.

The original Gurnade rendering
On the exterior the Gurnade Veloster features a front splitter, custom rear spoiler, a carbon fiber hood and hatch, and fender flares to stretch over the three-piece forged 19-inch Rotiform OZT wheels wrapped with Toyo tires and finished off with PPG Refinish Vibrance  Collection Crystal Pearl Magic Magenta 1180-7 paint with mica pgiments.

Kia had a very unique display as they unveiled four concept cars re-imagined as autonomous cars. This Kia Sorento SUV fitted with Dominator rubber tracks was envisioned as a ski gondola to transport skiers up the slopes without the need for a driver.  

Last but not least we feature this oddity- a 2006 Porsche Cayman fitted with a Ford 5-liter Aluminator  crate engine by Limitless Motorsports for owner Yu Fang of Miami Florida who apparently blew up the factory 300 horsepower 2-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine during a track day. Instead of paying more than $15,000 for a factory replacement engine, Mr. Fang chose a different route.    

Kennedy Engineered Products Inc. of Palmdale California fabricated a transmission adapter to connect the Coyote to the factory Gertag 6-speed transmission while Limitless fabricated all the required bracketry and exhaust yet somehow coordinated the Porsche and Ford ECU (electronic control units).  Now Mr. Fang’s Cayman GT track car produces a claimed 424 rear wheel horsepower and 364 foot-pounds of torque in a 3000 pound car wrapped in a scheme reminiscent of the famous Gulf Oil racing cars.    

Photos by the author unless otherwise noted.       

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dodge Firearrow II

The Blackhawk Museum located in Danville California displayed just one classic car at the 2017 Silicon Valley Auto Show – the Dodge Firearrow II
photo courtesy of FCA archives

The Dodge Firearrow concept cars were designed and built by Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin Italy as part of agreement with Chrysler Corporation’s Chief of Advanced Design Virgil Exner. The first Firearrow, finished in brilliant red, was a non-running design on a 1953 Dodge chassis.
Photo by the author

This car the Firearrow II roadster was built on a Dodge Royal 119-inch wheelbase chassis powered by the Dodge “Red Ram” 241 cubic inch 140 horsepower engine connected to a column-shifted PowerFlite two-speed automatic transmission. Painted in an understated pale yellow hue, the two-seat Firearrow II is notable for its frameless windshield but does not have a top or side windows.
Both Firearrow II and III were built on the chassis of a 1954 Dodge Royal Coupe
photo courtesy of FCA archives
Firearrow III was turquoise colored coupe also built on a Royal chassis and the final Firearrow, IV, was a full-functioning four-seat convertible with roll-up windows and a folding top that Chrysler briefly considered for production.
When Chrysler elected not to proceed into production, Eugene Casaroll of Automobile Shippers Inc. stepped in to finance the Dual-Ghia which used a Dodge chassis and running gear with similarly styled bodies built by Carrozzeria Ghia.
In addition to  the Firearrow II the Blackhawk Museum owns Firearrow IV and its successor the 1955 Firebomb.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Clay modeling in the modern era 


In this modern electronic era with 3-D modeling, 3-D printing and virtual reality headsets, you would think that the age-old practice of modeling a new automotive design out of clay had been abandoned, but you would be wrong. Although computer modeling has reduced it significantly, automakers still use clay models because computer models cannot replicate that way light plays over a well-turned fender. The Mazda exhibit at the 2017 Silicon Valley Auto Show at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center featured a display that illustrated how clay models are built.
Photo of early GM clay modeling
courtesy of
This method of shaping industrial plasticine (artificial clay) dates back to the nineteen thirties in the General Motors Art and Color Section under the direction of Harley Earl. In a process still used today the completed clay model covered with a colored stretch “Diloc” film so it looks like a finished car is shown to a committee of upper management for a final vote on the design. The early designs may only be 1/10 or ¼-scale, but the final design is full-scale with the clay model that might weigh close to 5000 pounds.  

This neat Mazda display showed off the tools used to sculpt the clay  a video of the process and partially completed model. 
In researching this subject, the author found a fascinating website that offers a 1/10 scale clay sculpture model kit that you can buy; check it out at

To learn more about the clay material and the tools visit

Friday, March 3, 2017

1921 Mack AC “Bulldog” truck

The Mack Brothers Company was established in New York in 1902 but by 1911 the founding Mack brothers sold their interest in the company.  The AC, Mack's all-time most famous product introduced as a 1916 model was manufactured continuously for a remarkable 24 years through the end of 1939 with a total of 40,299 units built. 
The AC with an available load capacity of 3½-, 5 ½-, or 7 ½ tons, is powered by a massive 471-cubic inch inline-four cylinder engine rated at 45 horsepower. The engine uses a cast-aluminum crankcase and separate, cast-in-pairs cylinders with five-inch bore and six-inch stroke connected to a three-speed manual transmission with an aluminum alloy case. Interestingly the 15 ½ gallon radiator is located behind the engine which is hand cranked to start.   

Like all AC trucks, the maximum speed like our feature, a 1921 model on display in the Grand Gallery of the Columbia Gorge Interpretative Center, is determined by the diameter of its chain-drive sprocket; in this case, the top speed is 17 miles per hour (MPH).  Which is plenty fast when one considers that the rear axle provides the Mack's only stopping power with a pair of expanding-band mechanical brakes.  
This particular AC with a unique 204-inch wheelbase chassis was used up until the nineteen fifties hauling timber on the Oregon/Washington Coast and is fitted with what the Museum says are the original hard rubber tires. The AC’s load of cedar logs was donated to the Museum by the US Forest Service from trees blown down in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest; the forest’s southern boundary is directly across Route 14 from the Museum.

Visit the Museum’s website at
all photos by the author