‘Tis the Season

Sep 14, 2011

With another year of racing and cruising coming to a close, for most shops it’s time to retreat to the heated garage bays for the winter engine building season.

A sluggish economy isn’t helping much as builders look to answer their customers’ call for more power. With budgets tight, any edge a shop might gain can lead directly to increased profits.

From technological advancements to overseas competition, there’s a lot to catch up on. So, we checked with a few engine building parts suppliers to see what’s hot this season, where the challenges are and how shops can make more money during the inside months.

United Engine & Machine – ICON Forged Performance Pistons
Carson City, Nev.
Dan Qualls
Director of Sales and Marketing

Our hottest engine-building product for this year is…

…UEM’s line of Icon brand of forged pistons. Engine builders nationwide are fast discovering that Icon forged pistons are high-quality, durable shelf offerings that fit perfectly into many popular race and street applications, without hurting their wallet.

Its best features include…

…designed to be one of the best horsepower-per-dollar components on the market today, Icon forged pistons feature consistent out-of-the-box weight for easier balancing, precision round wrist pin bores, forced pin oiling, flat ring grooves, and are available in both premium 2618 race and tight-fitting 4032 aluminum alloys.

The main factor driving engine building this season will be…

…cost, on both the supply side and the consumer side. Current trends point to the fact that people nowadays are more apt to repair/freshen their existing engines rather than upgrading to more expensive power plants as in seasons prior.

The engine builder/shop that can be the most flexible by keeping a customer’s costs down, while supplying reliable value-added parts and services quickly, should thrive in the near future.

Technology has impacted the engine building market by…

…allowing engine shops/builders to tap into resources that in the past were never available. The Internet alone has allowed more shops to network with customers and other shops alike, making the performance world much smaller than it has ever been.

Access to better test equipment, better machining equipment, and a more diverse knowledge base all add up to some very impressive offerings that were not available just five years ago.

The biggest challenge for speed shops offering building services is…

…to continue to provide high-quality, cost-effective, performance-proven parts, along with labor services that the racer/DIY customer cannot perform themselves. Engine machine work and engine dyno and tuning services are just two examples.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in engine building by…

…perhaps appealing to a wider customer base, instead of specializing in a particular engine type or class of racing.

No matter the customer, or their class/style of racing/performance level, the demand for high-quality parts and services never goes out of style, and widening one’s scope serves to build a shop’s customer base and reputation.

Engine Parts Group Inc.
Wheat Ridge, Colo.
Don Weber
President

Our hottest engine-building product for this year is…

…Engine Pro Nitro-Black valves.

Its best features include…

…we use a proprietary liquid nitriding process that creates a 20-percent smoother finish than chrome. Nitriding is not a coating like chrome-it changes the structure of the metal, creating a case hardening that results in better ductility under the case hardening as well as a stronger and very corrosive-resistant valve.

The better ductility has been proven in rotating-bending fatigue tests. The valve is less likely to be broken if there is contact with the piston, and the greater surface hardness results in less valve guide wear.

The main factor driving engine building this season will be…

…with the economy in its current state, the customer needs value. They are looking for the most performance at an affordable price. Not as many high-dollar engines are being built

Technology has impacted the engine building market by…

…technology has also been driven by value, making parts available that allow a high-performance engine to be “bolted together” with parts right off the shelf, rather than having parts custom-made.

Also, forced induction has drastically increased the horsepower output of all engines across the board. This puts increased demand on internal engine components, while at the same time making tuning more important than ever.

The biggest challenge for speed shops offering building services is…

…those building engines must have the confidence to charge enough for what they do, and at the same time have the ability to understand marketplace pricing and what it takes to be competitive in that market.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in engine building by…

…purchasing parts from suppliers, not competitors, and using the parts brands that allow them to make a profit-not the brands that require them to make a sale without margin.

EngineQuest (EQ)
Las Vegas
Eric E. Haugland
National Accounts Manager

Our hottest engine-building product for this year is…

…our Aluminum Performance Torker Small Block Chevy head. It’s a high-quality “budget performance build” cylinder head with extreme performance numbers and EQ’s reliable quality.

This head allows speed shops to offer customers a true high-performance aluminum casting with a budget price tag without sacrificing quality control. It comes bare or assembled, and is ready to install to the drivetrain with no porting or polishing needed.

Its best features include…

…phosphor bronze guides and a three-angle valve job, which is ideal for racers running 350-/383-ci engines. Available both with straight or angle plug, it features a 197cc intake runner and a 65cc combustion chamber.

The main factor driving engine building this season will be…

…the less-than-robust economic conditions in the U.S. marketplace, along with available expendable income from speed shop customers.

Technology has impacted the engine building market by…¦

…allowing us to solve problems by introducing a series of products that are now available at an affordable price. This could only be accomplished with modernized manufacturing processes.

Having affordable, high-quality OE-fit products allows speed shops and engine repair facilities to offer a wide range of items at a much more affordable price to their customers.

The biggest challenge for speed shops offering building services is…

…the availability of funds for their customers’ projects.

Another challenge is having a good knowledge of the vintage engine and restoration marketplace. Shops that have this expertise will have an advantage, because there is a current shortage of knowledgeable vintage specialists.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in engine building by…

…tapping into the vintage engine and restoration marketplace. This seems to be one of the areas that has not been as significantly affected by the current economic downturn.

We see restorations as a strong spot in our sales numbers. Diversity in services offered along with solid training of employees will help speed shops maintain their sales.

Total Seal 
Phoenix
Keith Jones
Tech

Our hottest engine-building product for this year is…

…our AP steel gapless ring sets.

Its best features include…

…improved ring seal and durability compared to conventional ring sets. The overall performance is increased while cost of maintenance is reduced, due to the extended life of the part.

The main factor driving engine building this season will be…

…the economy. Thank goodness, most racers are racing and having fun, while others have pulled back and are scared.

The only way to stimulate this economy is to spend money, and I can think of no better way than to go racing.

Technology has impacted the engine building market by…

…introducing cost-effective modeling software, as well as improved material and coating selections.

The biggest challenge for speed shops offering building services is…

…offering products at a competitive and profitable price point.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in engine building by…

…building a quality engine with quality parts that offers years of good service and a reasonable profit margin, instead of knuckling to the price point shoppers that ultimately get what they pay for.

Lunati
Olive Branch, Miss.
Jeff Sams
Product Specialist

Our hottest engine-building product for this year is…

…our new Voodoo extruded aluminum rocker arms. We have developed these rockers to be stronger, stiffer and more durable than previous versions.

Its best features include…

…the new body profile was developed using the latest FEA technology. Using this technology, we were able to use material more efficiently in the design, resulting in a rocker that is not only more rigid but also has less rotating mass.

Engine builders should run this rocker when weight is important but strength and durability cannot be compromised.

The main factor driving engine building this season will be…

…getting cost-effective performance results. No one wants to go through building and installing an engine and not get the expected gains.

Technology has impacted the engine building market by…

…making a larger variety of purpose-built parts, with better precision and cost, while gaining predictable performance results.

The biggest challenge for speed shops offering building services is…

…competing against the “big guys” crate motor programs. Bigger is no longer necessarily better.

Education is key. The independent parts makers are making more and more precise parts with great performance gains. In fact, they do so while successfully bringing down parts costs.

Shops can immediately begin making more money in engine building by…

…realizing that name-brand parts cost nearly the same as no-name parts but yield better fit, performance, reliability and resale results. In fact, many consumers will pay substantially more for name-brand, reliable parts.