- 10 Step Soup Up and Other Tricks

Driving a street machine is fun, especially when it works. Too many people toss a Holley 750 and a open plenum intake manifold, 2 inch headers and a massive 280 degree solid lifter cam onto their car and think they're fast. Unless they've prepared the rest of the car, we both know they probably aren't. Here's how to do it right, in affordable steps and in the order in which they'll do the most good.

Step 1: Suspension and Brake Rebuild
Not very pretty, but neither is running off the end of the dragstrip, or losing control of your dream car. A predictable suspension will also make racing et's consistent, so you can tune the rest of the car as you build upon it. Install polyurethane or polygraphite bushings, ball joints, etc.. Make sure you're springs are good, the alignment is correct, and the brakes are up to the task of hauling down your ride. Take the time to clean and detail the parts as they're freshened.

Step 2: Install a free flowing exhaust
The cheapest and quickest performance improvement is allowing your engine to breathe, or in this case, exhale. Having a free flowing exhaust will allow you to reap the benefits of the coming improvements. Not only this, but you'll sound real cool too. The diameter of the header primary tubes and exhaust pipe must match the rest of your scheduled combination. Exhaust systems CAN BE too big.

Step 3: Install a performance intake system
Now that you can exhale, you need to inhale. Getting as much air and fuel into the engine is critical to making power. Add an intake an good carburetor. You want to match this combination for the expected RPM you will be running.

Step 4: Put a Cam in it
The cam is the brain of the engine. Now that we've freed the intake and exhaust flow, we can go with a more aggressive cam. Again, match this component to RPM, and be realistic in expectations. Is this a street driven car, or a full blown race car? Remember to get the proper valve train components too.

Step 5: Install a torque converter or clutch
Once the engine power has been increased, we've probably moved the power curve up across the whole rpm range. Therefore, we need to install a higher stall torque converter to get into this rpm band quicker.

Step 6: Install a set of gears in the rear end
Now that the engine and transmission are matched, we can put some gear into it to increase the mechanical advantage on the launch. If you don't have posi traction - now is the time to address that issue too. Anything above 3.50 gears without an overdrive transmission will hurt your highway cruising speeds. 4.10 in my opinion is the best gear for a street machine.

Step 7: Improve traction
Geez... I'm blowing away my tires. We need to apply all this horsepower to the ground. Install traction bars, or ladder bars, solid body and powertrain mounts. Frame connectors.... eliminate chassis flex and wheel hop.

Step 8: Reduce and/or Redistribute weight
Every 100 pounds removed improves your et by .10 seconds. Try and move as much weight from the front of the car, and put it out back to help plant the tires. Your hood weights a ton. Replace it with a fiberglass unit.

Step 9: Install some useful wheels and tires
You've probably already done this, but by now you've burned up the current set of skins. Soft compound street tires are required to get any sort of traction and make your car quick. There are some good DOT tires available now that are almost as effective as drag slicks.

Step 10: What the hell - install nitrous
100 or more horsepower on demand. Just make sure your fuel system and ignition system are up to par. Otherwise you'll be rebuilding your melted engine.

General/Cheap Speed Tips
  • Lower 4.10 gear quickens traction
  • Bigger heads allow better engine breathing
  • Stock converter from heavier car boosts stall speed for better launch.
  • Firestone 9/29-15 slicks improve traction and consistency
  • Electric waterpump lowers ET .2 by reducing crank drag
  • MSD6T with 2 step rev limiter permits consistent launchs/shifts
  • "Poor mans trans brake" reduces reaction time
  • Rear line-lock solenoid relocated above rear-axle
  • Temp gauge at vent monitors outside air
  • Mechanical and electric fuel pumps
  • Moroso cool can provides consistancy
  • Mufflers reduce noise, interior vibration
  • Fiberglass hood offers lighter weight, cowl induction
  • Basic gauge package should include fuel press, water temp, oil press
  • Air cleaners, stub stacks,restrictor plates help low end torque kill et
  • Adjustable timing control adds/subtracts et as needed
  • Adjust roll out with air pressure in street type front tires
  • Full fuel tank adds weight, slows et
  • 2-speed powerglide transmission adds consistency

Last updated: 10/20/2011
Author: MadMike Maciolek

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