Like most drag racing fans, the prospect of a big engine in a really small and lightweight car is intriguing to me. It all began for me way back when with a built (four-bolt mains of course) small block Chevy engine in a Chevrolet Vega, nicknamed “Cherry Bomb” because it exploded through the 1320.
Unfortunately, those Vegas are getting pretty difficult to find at a reasonable price. The good news is that lightweight import shells are out there and they’re a dime a dozen. If you have some mechanical aptitude and a few fabrication (cutting and welding) skills, you can build a pretty competitive street car on a budget. Upgrade to some type of forced air induction (with an intercooler and a methanol injection), a performance controller, a quick-change racing differential with a four-link suspension, some beefy drag radials, and some safety equipment, and you are ready for the dragstrip. Sound easy? In your dreams – but well worth the trouble.
I like coupes (exclusively) but this cat chose to go a different path. He pulled the lame 6-cylinder out of his entry-level Lexus sedan and installed a 5.3-liter LS engine with a pair of 67-millimeter turbochargers. The combo is good for 1,200hp and some very enjoyable weekends at the dragstrip and the airstrip for some 1/2 and 1-mile racing.