Greg Finnican’s Olds’ Engine is Coming For Your Small-block Chevy


Sucker Punch

Some engines are luckier than others. They get all the aftermarket support and the sparkly go-fast parts that gearheads croon over. While not completely neglected, the Oldsmobile small-block certainly lacks the cornucopia of speed parts that surrounds of its Chevy brethren. However, Oldsmobile did have one unique advantage that no small-block Bow Tie was ever gifted: a diesel block. Beginning with that rigid architecture, Greg Finnican constructed one heckuva an Oldsmobile motor to compete in the 2016 AMSOIL Engine Masters Challenge presented by HOT ROD.

“It was a terrible diesel engine, but it makes a great race block,” said Finnican. “It’s bulletproof.” The block, which was originally a 4.085 bore, was hogged out to 4.170-inches ––diesel blocks were substantially beefed up to handle the 22:1 compression ratio so a .100-plus overbore is easily accomplished. A billet Moldex crank with a 3.70-inch stroke was fitted in custom main caps. The block carried massive 3.0-inch main journals from the factory so custom, 4-bolt main caps were used in conjunction with block machining to yield a smaller 2.5-inch main journal size. The connecting rods are 6.2-inch forgings that carry Diamond pistons. Compression comes in at 11.72:1 and the rings are thin, .0405-inches to reduce friction on the cylinder walls.

While the diesel block was a fantastic starting point for the build, the heads were not. Not only are the diesel heads better suited for boat anchor duty, they’re missing some key components for a high-strung race engine such as spark plugs! Instead, Greg utilized a set of Wise Ultra Pro heads. Only a few sets are still available, but technically they meet the competitions rules as they were commercially available. “These heads enabled us to use an Olds’ engine and actually compete,” said Finnican.

The heads have massive 2.250/1.6-inch Ferrea valves that easily let the 294/306 degrees of duration and .830/.790-inches of lift on the custom Bullet cam fill the cylinders with air/fuel mixture. Cleverly, the heads use a big-block oldsmobile intake manifold, which made a readily available Edelbrock Victor unit a no brainer. Read on for more info on what made this Oldsmobile hang with some of the heaviest small-block brawlers around.

Based on a diesel block, this 405ci mill was the only Oldsmobile in competition. Stacked against Ford and Chevy mills far better armed with aftermarket parts, it did an honorable job and garnered an impressive
Based on a diesel block, this 405ci mill was the only Oldsmobile in competition. Stacked against Ford and Chevy mills far better armed with aftermarket parts, it did an honorable job and garnered an impressive
On the dyno, the Olds’ produced 609hp at 5700rpm and 732 lb-ft of torque at 7400rpm.
On the dyno, the Olds’ produced 609hp at 5700rpm and 732 lb-ft of torque at 7400rpm.
Large-tube, stainless headers from Elston Exhaust expel the spent gasses. Note the tri-Y design utilized to bolster midrange torque and power.
Large-tube, stainless headers from Elston Exhaust expel the spent gasses. Note the tri-Y design utilized to bolster midrange torque and power.
An MSD crank trigger is used to provide an accurate timing signal to the distributor. Originally, Finnican planned to use an AEM Infinity system but ran out of tuning time on the dyno.
An MSD crank trigger is used to provide an accurate timing signal to the distributor. Originally, Finnican planned to use an AEM Infinity system but ran out of tuning time on the dyno.
To be competitive in an engine masters competition, a good set of heads is paramount. According to Finnican, these Wise castings are a hard to find item, but their race ports, modified valve angles, and heavily reworked architecture deliver flow numbers unmatched in the world of Oldsmobile performance.
To be competitive in an engine masters competition, a good set of heads is paramount. According to Finnican, these Wise castings are a hard to find item, but their race ports, modified valve angles, and heavily reworked architecture deliver flow numbers unmatched in the world of Oldsmobile performance.
A Holley 850HP carb provided fuel to the Olds’ but Finnican felt there would have been more power in a larger, Dominator setup.
A Holley 850HP carb provided fuel to the Olds’ but Finnican felt there would have been more power in a larger, Dominator setup.
A set of fabricated valve covers are draped over T&D rockers, which open the intake and exhaust valves to .830- and .790-inches respectively.
A set of fabricated valve covers are draped over T&D rockers, which open the intake and exhaust valves to .830- and .790-inches respectively.



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