How Much Do You Know About Hot Rod Engines?

By: Staff Writer
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Are you a hot rod aficionado? Do you race, or do you prefer to sit on the sidelines? Either way, you probably know a thing or two about hot rod engines. Take this quiz to find out how much you really know.

Who cares about engines? Well, if you happen to be a fan of hot rods, you do. These fine-tuned machines need special engines, and the owners of these cars tend to treat those engines like they are their babies. Because a hot rod tends to be a classic car, the typical hot rod engine is a big one. After all, it's hard to race on a small engine -- you don't want to get laughed off the strip. Hot rod engines are tweaked for performance, with engines that may or may not be entirely original to the vehicle. In some instances, the layout of the front end of the vehicle has to be altered to accommodate an engine that was definitely not designed for the car it is being inserted into, but that's the glory of the hot rod -- to make the impossible, possible; to push the limits of what the automobile was intended to do; to go where no man has gone before... oops, we got carried away there. Hot rods are just awesome.

Do you think you can ace this hot rod quiz? Let's get started.

What is a crate engine?

Because they traditionally are delivered in a crate, this is the name these aftermarket engines have gained. Some enthusiasts think crate engines constitute "cheating" since it removes many of the difficulties of building an engine yourself.

What do people commonly call the Chevy Small-Block V-8?

Small-Block V-8s are shorter than the Big-Block engines, hence the name. They still produce big power, thanks to large bore radii, which is why they're such popular options for hot rods, among other vehicles.

A blower means a hot rod engine has what kind of induction?

Blowers look cool, even if they do obstruct your view somewhat. Their entire purpose is to feed enough air to the supercharger, so you get that power uplift and can really burn some rubber.

When building a hot rod engine, which of the following is one of the most important things to check?

If you don't properly measure the space between the pistons and valves, they could collide. The result would be a blown engine, with multiple components broken and in need of replacement. Taking some extra time to ensure proper clearance will save you a headache later.

Pushrod engines use which two camshaft types?

While these are the two basic types of camshafts used in pushrod engines, it's not quite that simple. Changes in lifter type can result in big performance characteristic shifts. With multiple options for lifter type, a huge variety in end results emerge quickly, which can make choosing your setup a little overwhelming.

Advancing camshaft timing will result in what?

The choice to advance or retard camshaft timing really is about personal preference. Ultimately, you need to keep in mind what you're trying to accomplish with your build, and settle on one or the other.

Which of the following is a measuring tool used by hot rod engine builders?

Dial indicators work for measuring everything from crankshaft thrust to lifter travel, and more. They measure the distance that spans between two component surfaces, as well as how far a component travels, especially if those distances are quite minute or small. Most dial indicators can measure distances in -001-inch increments.

What does a deck bridge typically do?

Engine builders use the deck bridge to see what size differences there are between surfaces that are right next to each other. This could be on the deck surface, hence the name, or the top of the pistons. A dial indicator mounted in the middle of the deck bridge or off-center helps you take precise measurements.

Racing crankshafts typically use what oiling method?

With greater stress and forces placed on racing crankshafts, this innovative oiling method helps. The rods get the proper amount of oil through a continuous passage from the mains, and it is completely straight, hence the name. Keep this is mind when you're pushing performance to the limit.

Priority main oiling does what?

Not only do race engines use this method, many OEM blocks do as well. Just like you can probably guess from the name, a direct passage from the main oil gallery leads right to each main bearing in the engine, instead of old designs that favored the cam bearings first, which led to problems with the main bearings.

When installing a new valve cover on a high-performance engine, what should you ensure?

If you have leaking valve covers, or just want to transform the look of your engine bay, you need to be careful about the internal height of whatever option you pick. Contact with the rocker arms obviously will result in some unpleasant times. Just remember, if things are close, getting a gasket that's thicker than the OE one can help add a little clearance.

What will switching a V-8 engine with an OE single exhaust to a dual exhaust setup do?

When installing an aftermarket exhaust system, you want to remove as many of the stock restrictions as possible. Choose pipes that are mandrel bent, for the best exhaust flow possible. Of course, you need to balance that with your own needs and preferences when it comes to sound level and quality.

Besides emissions, what are shorty headers good for?

At first, the aftermarket was creating shorty headers to leave room for catalytic converters and other smog devices. Hot rod tuners found that shorties also allow for improved ground clearance, so if your vehicle is lowered this is a big advantage over long tube headers.

Where do Hemi engines get their name from?

Not only does the hemispherical design of the combustion chamber improve output, it boosts the efficiency of a Hemi engine. The spark plug sits at the top of the combustion chamber, with the valves on opposite sides of each other.

To what does engine stroke refer?

The stroke for your engine is set by the crankshaft configuration. By making modifications to increase stroke, you squeeze more displacement out of your engine, and in turn more power, making this a popular modification for hot rods.

What is engine bore?

This is the other aspect of an engine that determines displacement, along with stroke. Obviously, you want to have the biggest bore possible, although spacing between the cylinders can limit how big you can go. As you increase the bore, you also must upgrade the pistons to match.

Which of the following is an advantage of crate engines?

Some may badmouth crate engines, but because they're assembled by professionals, you get the backing of a warranty. You also benefit from the vast experience of the team that designed and put together your engine, with proven results at a budget price.

Which manufacturer made the flathead V8?

Ford first introduced the flathead V8 in 1932, enjoying a 50-year run. Many hot rodders consider this engine to be excellent for reaching huge output figures. They also love the unique sound that it produces when pushed to the limits.

What components in a Roots supercharger force air into the intake manifold?

The spinning of these meshing lobes in the blow causes air to stack up in the intake manifold. That means positive pressure builds, which of course results in bigger output numbers for the engine. Many hot rod owners love the way these look, as well as what they do.

Where did the use of nitrous induction start?

To make bombers temporarily go faster as they were out on runs during World War II, the military fogged nitrous oxide into the motors. Veterans of the war remembered the effect of the nitrous, and decided to try it out on their own hot rods. As you probably know, nitrous is still used in hot rods and other vehicles today.

What is a bumpstick?

Hot rodders developed this slang term for camshafts. If you think about it, a camshaft is shaped like a short stick, only one that's bumpy. The lobes, of course, actuate the valves. The more aggressive the lobes, the more dramatic the results, depending on a few factors.

When you chip an engine, that means what?

If your hot rod engine is a little more modern than some, computer controls open up a new avenue for tuning. Throwing in an ECU or PCM that's been programmed for improved performance can take full advantage of bolt-on modifications you've installed, and provide other solid performance benefits.

What does C.I.D. stand for?

Displacement will sometimes be measured by liters, but cubic inches is still a perfectly acceptable method. Not everyone will even use C.I.D. or anything other than a number, like a 356 or 492, assuming you already know they're referring to cubic inches.

What animal are Hemi engines associated with?

When Chrysler first released the Hemi, hot rodders started calling it the elephant engine. It was powerful like the creature, plus large and heavy, which is why they made that association. The term stuck and is still used by enthusiasts today.

What is a Wombat?

Because the first generation of the Chevy Big Blog V8s were called the W-series, they gained this affectionate name. Chevy launched the W-series in the late 1950s, using it in some passenger cars, plus its trucks. By the mid-1960s the Wombat was retired.

What is port matching?

By making the intake and exhaust ports larger and smoother, that allows the gases to flow more quickly into and out of the engine. The more intake and exhaust gases you can move, the more power you extract from the engine.

A liquid supercharger is what?

Nitrous oxide has many names in the hot rod world, including laughing gas, the bottle, and liquid supercharger. It is technically a form of forced induction, since nitrous will cool the air, cramming more into the cylinders, even though the effect is temporary. So used that way, it works kind of like a supercharger.

When someone says Nailhead, they are referring to what?

Many enthusiasts consider the Nailhead to be one of the best V8 engines made after World War II. It had an innovative design, including a short stroke, plus a layout that allowed for huge bore increases. The most unique thing was the vertical valves, combined with underhand-style rocker arms.

Which of the following is not something you do with an engine that's been sitting for a long time?

Oftentimes hot rod engines sit for a while. You have to make sure everything is okay before you fire it up, just to ensure there aren't any avoidable problems like too little oil. Of course, if you still experience problems, you'll need to hunt down the cause.

What is prelubing?

Before you fire up an engine you've been building, you first must get oil through all the necessary areas, otherwise, you're risking metal-on-metal contact. Manually turning the oil pump might require using a specific tool or running it with an old distributor you've modified for the occasion. Each oil pump is different, so you'll have to figure out exactly how to run yours before firing up the engine the first time.

What do engine swaps do?

Engine swaps can be tricky things to perform, depending on your car and the engine. You'll need to figure out all the peripherals, like the radiator, transmission, alternator, etc. Also, remember that a heavier engine will sink the front of your car down some, so plan ahead to avoid contacting the road as you go over bumps.

Are bigger carbs always better?

It is possible to go too big on your carburetors, because you'll reach a point where it actually harms performance. Most stock engines won't see any benefit from going with something larger than 750 cfm for a carb, but it really depends on your setup. Some hot rodders use a formula where you take the cubic inch size of the engine, then multiply it by the max rpm, then divide that number by 3,456 to calculate the size of your carb.

How can you use carb cleaner to find a vacuum leak?

Some people mistake vacuum leaks with carburetor problems. Before you swap out the carb or try servicing it, fire up the engine and start spraying carb cleaner around areas like the vacuum ports, base of the carb, etc. If the RPMs suddenly climb when you're spraying around a certain area, you know there's a vacuum leak there.

What does WOT stand for?

This is an important part of your hot rod engine's performance, but many people completely ignore it. Adjust your WOT to extract maximum horsepower. You can do this by looking down the carb's throat while someone pushes the gas pedal all the way to the floor, with the engine shut off. If you don't see the plates open entirely, so they're straight up and down, you need to adjust the throttle linkage until they do.

Which of the following can cause a hard start?

Sure, a hard start could be a fuel delivery problem. But a lot of times, it's actually a problem with the timing. Check the adjustments and ensure all ignition components are in proper working order, before you even dream of looking at the carburetor.

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