•When does "just a little bit more" become too much of a good thing? The answer is that it occurs a lot sooner than most gearheads think. We're not sure when it happened, but at some point an engine didn't start becoming impressive until it was churning out 700, 800, or even 900 hp. In the never-ending quest to keep up with the Joneses, guys started one-upping each other in terms of both displacement and power. Blowers begat turbos, which then gave way to twin turbos. It became a race to see who could be the next king of the hill. Only one problem: said hill is made out of cash. Ironically, in the world of street machines, and Pro Touring cars, a 700hp twin-turbo engine is nearly useless. Have you ever had a pair of turbos go into boost during the apex of a curve? Let's just say it's an easy way to morph a 90-degree turn into a 360-degree spinfest. Straightline performance is tough as well since even massive, 335 tires end up being spun into molten slag by an overabundance of power.

And while we dig a car with bodacious amounts of power as much as the next guy, the reality is that you don't really need that much power to have fun. Besides, a more moderately powered engine means you'll have more cash to spend on other areas of your car.

From the beginning we knew our '68 Track Rat project car was going to be LSpowered, but we wanted to try something a bit different. Instead of building the biggest, baddest LS engine possible, the idea became to scale things down a bit and see what we could do with less displacement. We've always felt that the 5.3L version of The General's LS series had been somewhat overlooked. The downside was the iron block added unwanted weight to the front of car and this certainly didn't help handling. One afternoon we were at Turn Key Engine Supply and noticed that they had a few pallets of 5.3L blocks on hand, but what really got our cranial gears turning was that these were aluminum versions. The idea gelled in our heads to build a 5.3L all-aluminum engine that would use mostly GM parts to keep the costs down. To get the power up a bit we would drop in a few aftermarket widgets, but overall our goal would be to get good power at a reasonable cost. Also, while our mill featured an aluminum block, all of the tech will translate to someone wanting to tackle an even more frugal iron block version.

Power Parts Costs
•When it came time to figure out the cost of Track Rat's mill we stumbled over the quandary of what to include. Some items like pretty ARP accessory fasteners didn't affect the power at all. The head studs were a choice we made to facilitate future head swap stories and could easily be replaced with GM head bolts at our power levels. With that in mind, we decided to just go with the core parts needed to hit these dyno numbers and stay in one piece. Turn Key also offers a selection of oil pans and accessories to make dropping an LS engine into your Camaro a snap. In particular, their five-wire harness and MEFI 4 computer makes doing a swap nearly painless. If you don't mind the weight penalty you could swap out an iron block. We also ran the same short-block with a smaller cam, GM rockers, and factory heads. Power dropped to 408/416, but the combo cost around $1,500 less. Whatever your budget or horsepower goals are, Turn Key has just the engine to motivate your Camaro.

Turn Key 5.3L aluminum short
block with 4.8L pistons
Trick Flow 205 CNC assembled heads $1,996
* Lower Buck Option: Factory GM heads: $750
Trick Flow 220/224 Track Max cam $350
Harland Shape 1.7 pedestal rockers $370
Trick Flow hardened pushrods $87
GM MLS head gaskets $30
ARP rod bolts $78
Turn Key 90mm throttle body $545
LS2 intake with fuel rail and injectors $585
Upgraded timing chain $30
Total: $7,616
complete from oil pan to throttle body.

* Made 408 hp and 416 lb-ft with 5.3L short block, GM heads, and GM rockers. Call Turn Key for details and pricing.

2900 385 212
3000 391 223
3100 390 230
3200 396 241
3300 400 251
3400 408 264
3500 411 274
3600 413 283
3700 415 292
3800 421 305
3900 420 312
4000 421 321
4100 426 333
4200 431 344
4300 434 356
4400 431 361
4500 439 376
4600 438 384
4700 436 390
4800 438 384
4900 442 412
5000 445 423
5100 444 423
5200 442 438
5300 445 449
5400 440 452
5500 437 457
5600 436 465
5700 437 474
5800 427 472
5900 424 476
6000 420 480
6100 422 491
6200 412 487
Automotive Racing Products
1863 Eastman Avenue
CA  93003
Concept One
Turn Key Powertrain
2620 Temple Heights Drive
CA  92056
Trick Flow Specialties
1248 Southeast Avenue
OH  44278
Improved Racing's
Torco Oil
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