For an engine design that was ostensibly put out to pasture in 1979, the traditional Pontiac powerplant has enjoyed new life decades later, thanks to a few companies like Kauffman Racing Equipment (KRE) who have stepped up to service this dedicated market.
You've read about KRE's MR-1 block and High-Port Heads in HPP before, but this time we have a full buildup and an extended dyno thrash to illustrate their capabilities. Jeff and Mark Kauffman at KRE teamed up with Kevin Swaney of Tin Indian Performance (TIP) to build this 505ci, 851hp neck-snapper for racer and HPP shootout alumnus Mike Williams' '66 GTO.
While the exploits of KRE have been documented in these pages before, TIP is a name that may be new to you. TIP is a Pontiac parts supplier that works closely with KRE, recreating components that are increasingly scarce. Most of its parts are new and made with today's technology, such as gaskets made from Teflon-hardly a bone stock resto part from the '60s, but a great improvement for today. A few of these new items will be employed in Mike's engine.
Technically speaking, the MR-1 is actually a K&M Performance Parts MR-1 block. K&M Performance is owned by Steve Kauffman (Mark and Jeff's father) and racer Bill Mellott. All of the machining is done in-house at K&M Performance on its CNC milling center. Steve says it takes approximately 18 hours to fully machine a block from start to finish. The company currently offers the MR-1 blocks in cast iron, while the MR-1A is the cast-aluminum version. Both blocks come in PRO versions, which incorporate enhanced webbing designs and different main cap configurations. There's also a billet aluminum block for serious racers. Bill Mellott says that he knows demand for the billet block will most likely be low, yet K&M felt it was still a project worth pursuing to advance its own racing programs and the Pontiac aftermarket.
The MR-1 block will accept all stock Pontiac engine components and has a number of improvements over stock blocks: An upgraded design from the stock patterns, thicker decks, front four-bolt main caps and more. We'll illustrate these and many other features as the build progresses.
There is also an abundance of finished features incorporated into the block that make it almost a bolt-in. In fact, KRE tells us that after it's been bored and honed, all you have to do prior to assembly is to wash it. Now let's check out the heads.
The MR-1 iron block, released...
The MR-1 iron block, released in May 2005, features a host of improvements over the standard Pontiac block. It's made from ASTM Certified Gray Iron, has a thicker pan rail and steel four-bolt main caps, the ability to accept a maximum of a 4.400-inch bore (minimum bore size is 4.150 inches), has no water passage penetration at the clutch ball, a reinforced lifter valley, thicker head decks, and a dual bolt-pattern to accept a BOP or Chevy bellhousing.
The block retained the bore...
The block retained the bore spacing, cooling passages, mount holes, proper oil-pan-to-frame clearance, and the ability to accept all stock Pontiac engine pieces, right down to the press-in freeze plugs and timing cover from the stocker. The MR-1 is available with 3.00-inch mains or 3.25-inch mains and the cost is $2,695. Cam tunnel diameters of 50 and 55 mm are available optionally. The block shown has 3.00-inch mains and received a 4.350-inch bore and hone with a torque plate.
The High-Port Heads were covered in-depth in the Feb. '08 issue's "Cylinder Head Symphony," so here are the basics. High Ports are the second aftermarket Pontiac cylinder heads from KRE, making their debut in 2005 with 56cc, CNC'd chambers. Like the KRE D-Port, the High-Port Heads utilize a fast-burn, heart-shaped chamber design. Flow is 330-cfm intake as-cast. They can be used on a minimum bore size of 4.150 inches and utilize 6.200-inch-long Ferrea 1200 series valves. Though they have 2.20 intake and 1.70 exhaust valves for our testing, they are upgradeable to 2.25 intakes and 1.75 exhaust if the customer desires.
KRE offers CNC porting options for its High-Port Heads as well. If that's not enough, a 400+ cfm rocker-shafted head is available for hardcore racers. Jeff and Mark tell us, "We have done a tremendous amount of R&D with this cylinder head, including hours of flow bench testing, dyno testing, and track testing. We are currently using MR-1 blocks and the High-Port Heads in our own (KRE & TIP) racing programs, which helps us refine our products to make them even better!"
Check out the photos and captions for buildup details.