This past year was very exciting for Pontiac performance buffs--lots of moving and shaking. Not only did HPP add 8 pages to each issue and more color to better cover the hobby, but also Pontiac announced that it was going to bring back the glory days of the musclecar era by reintroducing our beloved GTO for 2004. And the division is adding a sports car to the lineup with the Solstice roadster.

If that wasn't enough, even more good news for traditional hobbyists was the development of new aluminum traditional Pontiac engine parts for both racers and restorers. But the Pontiac aftermarket isn't finished yet. So set your reaction level to "stun" as you read this and learn about a new aluminum cylinder head from Kauffman Racing Equipment.

As you can never have too many performance parts for Pontiacs, Kauffman Racing Equipment ( displayed its new CNC-machined D-port cast aluminum heads at the 2003 Ames Performance Pontiac Nationals at Norwalk Raceway Park. While 3 vehicles used prototype billet heads, it was the 1,700-plus hp, 522ci engine using an aftermarket block and the Kauffman billet heads in Bill Mellott's 2,600 pound Top Sportsman '97 Firebird that left a quarter mile behind in 7.10 seconds at 198 mph. According to Kauffman, during 2004, billet heads may be available for the serious racers.

In the meantime, subsequent testing of the cast-aluminum street versions of the heads has gone well enough that you should be able to order yourself a pair by the time you read this, as mid-November is the planned release date.

For those unfamiliar with the Kauffman brothers and their work, KRE has been doing Pontiac engine building and servicing for approximately 10 years. With the recent acquisition of their CNC machine, KRE can provide 5-axis CNC porting of cylinder heads, which aided in the development of these new products.

While Jeff Kauffman estimates that fully race-ported cast heads should be able to flow from 340-350 cfm at 28 inches of water on the intake side, keep in mind their intended application is for street/strip. We asked Jeff what the differences were between the billet heads at Norwalk and the cast heads that they are selling. He responded, "A lot, the billet heads have no water jacket and are designed for high-horsepower, race-only cars with an aftermarket block. The cast head was instead designed to fall right in between the Edelbrock head and the stock D-port without the expense of a round-port header. The D-port is designed for street/strip cars using stock Pontiac components (e.g. valves, springs, pushrods, rockers, block, intake, etc.)" That means all the pre-drilled holes for accessories for '65-79 applications are there, and there's no additional expense and time required to get round-port headers, offset rocker arms or a need to drastically re-tune your combination."

The more obvious benefit of KRE's heads are their remarkably lightweight--31 pounds bare is nearly half that of a factory iron unit! This is achieved through using T-356-T6 aircraft aluminum, which keeps weight down but doesn't reduce durability. You get a 5/8-inch deck thickness to mill to reduce the chamber size if desired.

There is more to this head than simply light casting material. Even though the intake and exhaust ports are in the stock locations, they feature raised floors for improved flow. Up top, oil drain backs are positioned for a more complete drain of the valve cover area to prevent oil from standing on the valve seals. The pushrod tubes are positioned to accommodate rocker arms with a ratio up to 1.65 without grinding. Rocker studs are screw-in 7/16s and the stud bosses are reinforced. We're also informed that shaft-mounted rocker arms will be no problem to install for more serious racers.

But hold on to your wigwams, Chiefs! The KRE heart-shaped combustion chamber is a more modern layout than a stock head and has a better spark plug location--all of which are designed to burn the fuel and air charge more efficiently. Chamber sizes of 65 cc and 85 cc are available.

As KRE based most of their aluminum head dimensions on a '68 #16 casting, the ports however more resemble the famed 6X of the '70s. Its design maintains the stock valve inclination of 14 degrees and takes stock length valves. Leaving well enough alone, port volumes and dimensions remain factory size at 180 cc on the intake side and 157 cc on the exhaust. However, the ports not only have raised floors but also a lot of meat in the roof and walls to allow for porting. The short turn in the intake port is higher and longer than a stock head, which allows the port to maintain a higher flow rate at high lift. Also it maintains a consistent air/fuel mixture so the fuel does not separate from the air at high rpm.

Regarding the valves, 2.11-inch intake valves can be had with either 1.66-inch or 1.77-inch exhaust counterparts. Massive 2.19-inch intake valves can only be used with the 1.66-inch exhaust

Pricing starts at $1,195 for the 65cc chamber heads and $1,395 for the 85cc heads. For that you'll receive bare heads, which are machine-prepped with hardened-steel valve seats (for unleaded gas use) and bronze alloy valve guides. No custom valve seat or porting work is included in this price.

Fully assembled heads are available. Starting at $1,700, KRE installs their "recipe" ingredients: Ferrea valves, Comp or Crower springs, 10-degree retainers and locks, ARP rocker studs, and PC seals. CNC porting and multi-angle valve jobs are available at extra cost. Assembled heads will depend on their level of port work to determine the type of valve job they come with (3-angle, 5-angle, or custom). Speaking of valve jobs, 45-degree seats are recommended but a 30-degree seat will do.

What does all this mean? According to Jeff Kauffman, right out of the box, with only a 3-angle valve job and 2.11/1.66-inch valves and flowed at 28-inches of water, the flow numbers are as follows:

KRE Head Flow In CFM
Percent of Flow
.10092 8592

KRE suggests that fully race ported heads should be able to flow from 340-350 cfm on the intake side at 28-inches of water.

With enterprising Pontiac engine builders like the Kauffmans, and other companies who have stepped up in the past few years to provide new engine parts, the present state of Pontiac performance is indeed alive and kicking and its future looks bright and even more exciting.

Kauffman Racing Equipment