540ci blown big-block Chev

This Dandy Engines-built mill is good for 1580hp on methanol

Photographers: Shaun Tanner

WHILE they’re renowned for their flying Fords, the Dandy Engines crew don’t mind screwing together tar-blasting Bowties, as this blown, 540ci big-block Chev proves. Dandy’s Frank Marchese has put together a red-hot combo based around a Dart Big M tall-deck, which will do plenty of hard yards.

“It’s a 24-degree big-block Chevy head, so it is an off-the-shelf engine,” the 2018 Street Machine Drag Challenge winner explains. “There aren’t any exotic cam bearings or anything like that in it. If I were to put a Big Duke cylinder head on it, it would push the power-per-cubic-inch, but there are fewer manifolds available for that head off the shelf, so for the money spent it is better to go this way.”

The combo is centred around a Callies Magnum crank, Oliver steel rods and JE pistons, while the AFR heads feature a conventional valve layout and CNC-porting. Isky Max .973 lifters are the largest tiebars the company makes, operating half-inch pushrods, T&D shaft-mount rockers and PAC valve springs.

“I made the comp fairly light on this combo, around 9.0:1,” Frank explains. “This engine is going into our customer Kent Chellew’s four-door HQ, and it’ll do duties on the street – if he doesn’t get attacked by the police!”

A Moroso sump with a billet Moroso oil pump lives on the bottom of the fat block, while the opposite end wears a Fisher port-injection manifold, topped by that TBS 10/71. Keen eyes will pick what looks like both electronic and mechanical injection on the tower of power (read more below).

“Joe Blo Speed Shop supplied the kit with billet Plazmaman injectors spraying into the Big & Ugly hat, and they’re providing most of the fuel, as it helps keep the rotors cool and improves fuel atomisation,” Frank says.

On the face of it, the Chev is a very traditional, old-school engine, but there are smarts hidden inside that will make it perfect for cruising on the street – and with as much power as an old Wild Bunch donk.

“This engine uses FuelTech individual coils and an FT600 ECU, but it might confuse people to find out we tune the engines on closed-loop,” says Frank. “I think it’s nicer for the engine to be able to make tuning changes on the fly, so if the ECU can keep up with the demand, why wouldn’t you run closed-loop? I mean, I also run FAIRXW and Joe Gauci’s car on closed-loop.”

The cam is a custom-grind solid-roller Comp item done to Dandy’s specs, but Frank says the supercharger is their restriction. “The cam is pretty wild, and it would make more power with a bigger blower,” he says. “We spun the 10/71 to 38 per cent over for about 21-22psi, and it’s at maximum capacity. People need to understand you can’t just keep changing the pulleys to make more boost, as this is hot boost. You get to a point where you’re just pumping hot air into the engine. There is no more power to be made from ramming 30psi of hot air into the engine, compared to 21psi of cool, dense air, which makes more power anyway!”

That isn’t to say the Dandy crew were disappointed with the results from the pressure-fed 540. Running on the in-house engine dyno. the big Bowtie made 1380hp on E85 before stomping out 1580hp on methanol.


THE majority of the fuel runs through the supercharger, but the injectors in the manifold still play an important function. “The port EFI is used for tuning to balance cylinder trims,” says Frank. “Fuel distribution through the manifold might not be even across cylinders, so we read the plugs and chase what they’re telling us. That’s an old-school way of doing it, but we find it works better.”