It's always fun to get out of the office. In this case, we were under the work-related guidelines of testing a '34 Ford full-fendered coupe. Of course, it didn't hurt that the PPG Corvette Millennium yellow coupe belonged to Jerry Magnuson of Magnuson Products in Ventura, California. The coupe is Jerry's cruise-night ride, but it also happens to be the companies "mule," and we write that affectionately, for product testing such items as the Retro Blessing powertrain kit.
While it's true that this Track Test is on a '34 Ford coupe, the article also centers around the performance of the Magnuson Products Retro Blessing plug-and-run engine package. Our test vehicle is equipped with a GM Performance Parts LS1 and a 4L60-E tranny, but the package you the street rodder can purchase is based on a LQ4 six-liter Gen 3 engine, including all accessories and brackets with the Magna Charger hot rod supercharger system. Coupled to the engine are a 4L65-E transmission, a Painless wiring harness, and a pre-programmed computer. The pre-programmed computer isn't programmed until you purchase the package. The computer is set-up once it's known where you live and what are your driving needs. The specific tune-ups are delivered to the customer through a Superchips Microtuner. The tuner is used to re-flash the stock GM computer. One of the reasons to use a stock computer is not only can you tune the engine, you can also do a complete calibration on the transmission. Also, if there is an issue with the tune-up and you get a "check-engine light," you can go to any GM dealer and have the problem diagnosed. In other words, you are an active participant in facilitating your Magna Charger LQ4 six-liter to perform optimally right out of the box. Now that's a crate motor!
The 4L65-E overdrive transmission is commonly found on the high-torque and horsepower Corvettes, and that's the reason the '65 was chosen to sit behind the six-liter motor. The pre-programmed computer operates both the engine and transmission in perfect harmony--addressing the desired shift points and firmness. The torque converter lockup is also determined for ideal shifting during hard acceleration and cruise situations. The ability to pre-program the tranny and the engine is essential when dealing with street rods whose combination of weight, gearing, and tire diameters is nothing like a conventional vehicle.
The Magnuson Products Retro Blessing kit is a complete engine with brackets and accessories, injectors, transmission, supercharger, intake manifold, fuel rails, wiring harness, and computer. The Magna Charger can be ordered with or without an intercooler. With intercooler the powerplant is capable of producing 500-plus horsepower and torque numbers.
Our Track Test coupe is equipped with an early Retro Blessing kit based on a LS1 and 4L60-E trans with a stock '00 Camaro engine calibration system. According to the Street Rodder Tech Center Dynojet chassis dyno, the coupe was consistently recording 320 horsepower to the rear wheels and just over 300 ft-lb of torque. Greater numbers escaped us because of the excessive tire spin. We loaded the trunk with weight and managed to see readings as high as 392 hp at the wheels along with 432 ft-lb torque. If you are wondering what the coupe weighs, it tips the scales at a solid 3,120 pounds divided between 1,520 pounds on the front axle and 1,600 pounds on the rear axle.
It was verified that the Magnuson coupe was the 20th Poli-Form body built in 1983. What you see on these pages is a two-year resurrection of a car that was in serious neglect. Jerry, with plenty of help from Kevin McMillan and Wes Capel, brought the coupe back to life. The body rests on a S.A.C. chassis with a 114-inch wheelbase anchored in front via a Kugel Komponents IFS, power R&P steering, and a 7/8-inch antiroll bar, QA1 shocks, Wilwood 11-inch brakes (rotors) and proportioning valve, Corvette master cylinder, and an 8-inch dual diaphragm.
The rear suspension is based on a Ford 9-inch equipped with an Auburn limited-slip, 3.90 gears, and Wilwood 11-inch discs. Also in back is a Panhard bar, Pro Shocks coilovers with 200-pound springs, and a Gary Schroeder antiroll bar measuring 1 1/8 inches with Magnuson-fabricated arms and mounts. Wheel Vintiques Smoothie's are used with BFGoodrich rubber measuring P195/60R14 and 295/65R15.
Well, for the results. It was apparent that the EFI supercharged '34 coupe was a rocket to drive, and its starting and driving characteristics were like a new car. California Speedway in Fontana, California, is our home away from home (40-mile drive) for testing. This portion of the test allows us to negotiate morning and late-afternoon traffic--no picnic in any car, much less a street rod. However, the coupe was docile enough in traffic, and there were no engine or other mechanical problems of any kind. It was just a boring drive in early morning traffic on SoCal's freeway system. It should also be noted that Fontana is at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains where it is both hot and windy--all day! By 9:00 a.m. the ambient air temperature was already 88 degrees! And it just kept getting hotter. The cold-air intake package and the intercooler were primarily responsible for the exceptional dragstrip performance in the mid-90-degree temperatures.
For a full listing of the acceleration, braking, slalom, and skidpad numbers look to the listing at the end of this article but in the meantime here are the highlights: The quarter-mile was a very quick 11.71 at 117.16 mph making this one of the quickest cars we have tested to date. As it turns out, one of the more popular stats that we gathered was the 50- to 80-mph number. This is what we call our freeway (insert your driving conditions, highway, country road, etc...) measurement for getting away from traffic. Here the coupe turned in a very quick 2.54 seconds to go from 50 to 80 mph.
There's a direct correlation between acceleration and braking. When there isn't enough "whoa" one must be careful about how much "go" to apply. With the coupe, it came in as one of the best-braking cars we have tested to date. The four-wheel-disc brake package from Wilwood brought the 3,120-pound coupe down from 60 to 0 miles per hour in 130.02 feet and from 30 to 0 in 30.07 feet. The coupe was capable of doing this repeatedly, another bonus of disc brakes over drums. (Should you find yourself having to make one panic stop after another on the street you might want to review your driving habits!) We would also have to say that the combination of Panhard bar and antiroll bars kept the car straight and true under the hard deceleration adding to the shortened distances. (Remember back to May '04 when we published the braking numbers for an '02 Z28 Camaro with four-wheel-disc brakes at 132 feet for 60 to 0.)
The skidpad portion of the testing was another area where the coupe performed well. The combination of a Panhard bar in back along with antiroll bars fore (7/8-inch) and aft (1 1/8-inch) allowed the coupe to get a "set" and stick to its line. The counterclockwise rotation yielded the best time with a 12-second versus a clockwise 12.20-second run. In terms of g-force, the 12-second run converts to .85 g-force and the 12.20 run a .82 g-force. Again, one of the better street rods we have tested.
The slalom (based on a 420-foot course with 70-foot cone separation) gives a very good idea on how the car will handle on the street or the highway. The ability to move a car suddenly, as in a lane change, is paramount to having what is considered a good-handling street rod. Again, the coupe came through with shining colors; there's that bright yellow again. The car was so much fun to drive that we must have made two-dozen passes on the slalom course, and it consistently turned in numbers right on 6.68 seconds, which converts to 43.35 mph. Ironically, the only other car that we have tested to best that time was the '33 Road Tour coupe tested in the May '04 issue. It turned in a 6.57 seconds at 44.10 mph. What did these two cars have in common? Both had independent frontends and solid-axle rears. No question; a well set-up IFS is going to enhance both ride and performance. But then we probably knew that!
The '34 coupe has proven to be an ideal handling rod. This resulted from Jerry's added attention by experimenting with spring rates and dialing in the proper-diameter antiroll bars. But there's no denying that that the acceleration and drivability comes from the Magna Charger Retro Blessing supercharger kit that is more than an engine--a lot more.
The Retro Blessing kit for...
The Retro Blessing kit for street rods is based on the LQ4 6L Gen 3 engine, however, our test mule had a stock LS1 (5.7L) with supercharger, intercooler, and cold air package adapted and it all fit under the Rootlieb hood.
Note the top radiator tank...
Note the top radiator tank and you will see the one significant modification to the street rod engine compartment to accommodate the cold air package.
The IFD (Inlet Forward Design)...
The IFD (Inlet Forward Design) Magna Charger is designed for street rods and allows the cooler air to be picked up from just behind the grille insert rather than the much hotter air from within the engine compartment.
On the Dynojet chassis dynamometer...
On the Dynojet chassis dynamometer in the Street Rodder Tech Center, the Magnuson Magna Charger coupe regularly recorded 320 hp and 300-plus lb-ft of torque readings at the rear wheels. It took added weight in the trunk to keep the tires from smoking under hard acceleration, and when this "game" was played, the horsepower and torque readings soared.
On the 200-foot skidpad, the...
On the 200-foot skidpad, the coupe ran consistent 12-second runs which converts into at .85 g-force (which equates to numbers better than a '02 Z28 Camaro).
Even though the temperatures...
Even though the temperatures during the day were well into the 90s, the cold-air package and the intercooler kept the coupe running strong all day with quarter-mile times of 11.71 seconds at 117.16 mph. The best yet tested in this category.
On the 420-foot slalom course,...
On the 420-foot slalom course, the coupe ran a respectable 6.68 seconds at 43.35 mph. Not the quickest we have tested but right there at the top.
Impressive numbers--if the...
Impressive numbers--if the acceleration doesn't do it for you--are the braking results. The Wilwood-equipped 3,120-pound street rod came down from 60-to-0 in 130.02 feet and from 30-to-0 in 30.07 feet. The best yet tested in this category.
The Flaming River steering...
The Flaming River steering column is topped with a Lecarra wheel while other interior appointments include Lokar pedals, Vintage Air A/C, and a Classic Instruments gauge package residing within the Poli-Form dash insert.
The center console provides...
The center console provides excellent storage space and an ideal home for the Vintage Air A/C, power window switches, stereo, headlight, wiper, and ignition switches.
Custom Interiors by Mike Harper...
Custom Interiors by Mike Harper of Camarillo, CA, upholstered a Glide Engineering bench seat with split fold-down backs in oyster-colored leather. The three-point seat belts come by way of Juliano's.
Visible is the Kugel Komponents...
Visible is the Kugel Komponents power rack-and-pinion steering and IFS, as well as the Wilwood 11-inch disc brake package.
QA1 coilover shocks and a...
QA1 coilover shocks and a Kugel Komponents 7/8-inch antiroll bar are used and are a substantial part of the cars handling success.
Note the 2 1/2-inch stainless...
Note the 2 1/2-inch stainless steel exhaust pipe and crossover tube and how the pipe goes into and out of the same end of the Magnaflow mufflers. Exhaust exists to the side of the car rather than the conventional rear direction.
A Ford 9-inch rearend with...
A Ford 9-inch rearend with 3.90 gears, Wilwood disc brakes, and an Auburn limited-slip provides an attachment point for the Schroeder 1 1/8-inch antiroll bar, Panhard bar, two lower links, a torque arm, and coilovers by Pro Shocks with 200-pound springs.
|1934 Ford coupe|
|0-30 mph||1.56 seconds|
|0-60 mph||3.65 seconds|
|0-100 mph||9.01 seconds|
|50-80 mph||2.54 seconds|
|1/4-mile e.t.||11.71 seconds|
|at mph||117.16 mph|
|1/8-mile e.t.||7.56 seconds|
|at mph||94.60 mph|
|60-0 mph||130.02 feet|
|30-0 mph||30.07 feet|
|200-foot diameter||12.00 seconds at .85 g-force|
|200-foot diameter||12.20 seconds at .82 g-force|
|200-foot diameter||12.10 seconds at .835 g-force|
|SLALOM (cones 70-foot on center)|
|420-foot course||6.68 seconds @ 43.35 mph|
|CHASSIS DYNO (rear wheel horsepower)|
|Max. Horsepower||319.24 hp (5,300 rpm/ excessive wheel spin)|
|Max. Torque||301.07 lb-ft (3,000 rpm/ excessive wheel spin)|
|Front Axle||1,520 lbs|
|Rear Axle||1,600 lbs|
|Weight / Power Ratio||9.58 lbs to 1 hp|
|Rearend / Ratio||Ford 9" / 3.90:1|
|Rear suspension||Panhard bar, Pro Shocks coil-overs w/ 200lb springs, Gary Schroeder 1 1/8" antiroll bar|
|Rear brakes||Wilwood 11" (rotors)|
|Front suspension||Kugel Komponents IFS w/Kugel antiroll bar|
|Front brakes||Wilwood 11" (rotors)|
|Steering||Kugel Komponents power R&P|
|Front wheel make, size||Wheel Vintique, |
|Rear wheel make, size||Wheel Vintique,|
|Front tire make, size||BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P195/60R14|
|Rear tire make, size||BFGoodrich Comp T/A, 295/65R15|
|Displacement||GM Performance Parts LS1 (346 cubes)|
|Manifold / Induction||Magnuson Magna Charger w/intercooler w/EFI|
|Headers||Custom 1 3/4 w/ SS 2 1/2 pipe, MagnaFlow mufflers|
|Type||Rock Valley 13-gal. w/in-tank pump (3/4 full)|