Making more horsepower now versus back in the day are completely different. Today, even before a completely new platform is released, all the big aftermarket companies have exhausts, intakes, cams, forced induction and anything else you can think of just a phone call away. They do all the leg work and research to make sure that you just simply bolt the parts on, get a tune and just like that, you have more power.
We may have forgotten that hot-rodding wasn't always this easy. There was not nearly the aftermarket support we have now, and if you wanted to go fast, you had to get creative. Very creative. If you've ever sat down with an old school racer, they will tell you about acid dipping bodies, eliminating rear brakes, mixing their own race fuel and probably the most popular, porting. Porting cylinder heads and intakes was the most effective way of making power when aftermarket heads and intakes didn't exist. Most didn't have fancy flow benches or dynos, they just experimented and tested at the track to see if the car would go any faster. Needless to say, there were a lot of completely ruined head and intake castings back then but hey, it's all in the name of going fast.
In this video posted by Motor Trend Channel we go back in time. We go back to a time were elbow grease and creativity won races. The guys at MT take a 410 CI Mopar engine and swap out the intake and heads for a fully ported setup by a guy named Steve Dulcich. They ended up having to run a torque killing single plane intake because that's what Dulcich used and they wanted to make the test completely apples to apples. The host of the show absolutely hates the single plane, making this comparision:
"It's like taking the freeway and necking it down to one lain."
Using the un-ported heads and intake, the small block Mopar made 438 horsepower and 448 fl lbs of torque. The horsepower number is pretty horrible and torque, although not Honda bad, isn't anything you want to brag to your friends about. Next up was the fully ported heads and intake. It's worth noting that this is not just a simple clean up port to knock down casting flash and do some knife edging. This was weeks of work and involved filling and relocating push rod holes into order to increase the size of the ports. This type of work requires a lot of skill and is not for the faint of heart. If you're up to the task, however, the results speak for themselves. This same exact engine gained a whopping 92 horsepower and 40 ft lbs of torque with absolutely no parts being replaced.
Check the video out and get to hogging, those old cylinder heads need you.