Turbocharger Engine Building Recommendations

Greg Zyla
Q: Hi Greg I enjoy all your articles in the Auto Round-Up and Truck Round-Up publications. They are fun and informative.
I had a friend that owned a 1978 Chevy pickup with a 454 big block and Gale Banks Twin Turbos. It put out over 575 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque. When he sold the truck it had never once experienced any serious engine problems and was as reliable as could be.
I am also told that if I want a turbo, either diesel or gasoline engine, that the technology is out there right now and better than ever. Being you are an active SEMA/Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show team member, I’d love some recommendations as I want to take a closer look at turbocharging.
I ask you this because I see you were in a PRI Turbocharging Seminar at the 2016 PRI Show at Indianapolis, and I’ve seen many of your interviews you did there on YouTube.
Can you tell me your feelings on turbocharging, and give me a few recommendations on turbocharger engine building experts? I’d like to build up a Chevy LS truck engine and add a turbo to it for a pickup truck application. Any info would be appreciated and thanks. John T. San Antonio, Texas.
A: John, thank you very much for your kind words and yes, I was a co-host with PRI Magazine editor Dan Schechner for the turbocharging seminar you mention. Our expert panelist was none other than Ken Duttweiler, one of the top “turbo brains” in the USA if not the world.
Ken is strictly a turbo engine builder who swears by both the reliability and power making advantages of a turbo over other horsepower makers (like blowers and nitrous oxide). He’s made quite the name for himself over the years.
Although he has never run any advertisements and his business has no outside signage, his reputation as a turbo engine master is superlative. Duttweiler most recently set some big records at Bonneville as head mechanic and engine builder for team Proteet and Main, who run the Speed Demon streamliner in several classes at Bonneville.
Duttweiler’s turbo-four cylinder MOPAR ran near 400-mph in the Speed Demon, while a 368-inch Duttweiler small block Chevy V8 ran a best of 439.024 on the salt flats. The Speed Demon is driven by Duttweiler’s friend, George Proteet, who was also in attendance at the PRI Seminar.
Duttweiler’s reputation includes numerous major drag racing accomplishments with the Buick V6 Turbo style cars (Grand National), which he noted in the seminar were never much appreciated by the upper management at Buick. Interested consumers may write Ken at Duttweiler Performance, 1563 Los Angeles Ave, Ventura, Ca. 93004.
The second person that comes quickly to mind is Gale Banks, as mentioned in your question. Banks business caters to the turbocharging enthusiast and sells parts of all kinds that deal with turbos, right up to a complete engine. Be it a Cummins, Duramax or Powerstroke diesel to small and big bore four, six or V8 gas designs, Gale Banks has the parts available to make your proposed Chevy LS pickup go faster.
Starting in 1958 as pretty much a one man show, Banks today employs 100-plus workers and 12 acre operation in Azusa, CA. From some turbo nuts and bolts to complex research and development or crate engines, Banks can do it all. I recommend you visit Gale Banks homepage (bankspower.com) as his project Sidewinder sport pickup trucks include Dodge, Ford and Chevy/GMC pickups and special Sidewinder engine packages, which may be of interest you.
Now, if a reader with turbo interest happens to live on the east coast, the name around my area is Andy Jensen, who owns and operates Jensen’s Engine Technologies, 442 Berwick-Hazelton Highway, Nescopeck, PA 18635. Andy has proven over and over the reliability of his turbocharged engine applications and holds the distinction of being the first turbocharged car to break into the three second barrier on a 1/8 mile dragstrip. He also set an ADRL record of 3.87 seconds.
Jensen agrees with Duttweiler on turbocharging as the way to make reliable horsepower. Said Andy when contacted the morning of Feb. 6, 2017, “I’ll admit turbochargers are more complicated than nitrous and blower motors, but they are much easier on the engine. The turbo engine is more reliable and durable and it allows you to compete with high end, high dollar nitrous and blower engines at a fraction of the cost. To me, it’s a matter of matter of economics as my single turbo Pro Mod engine costs one third ($30,000) than that of the other top teams ($90K and up).
Andy runs a single Turbonetics turbo on his 430 small block, and has gone 5.95 in the quarter mile at 243-mph. Jensen’s claim to fame?
“I’ll build whatever the customer wants, from the LS pickup motor you mention to any and all others. We don’t specialize in any one single engine, and will build you what you want and we’ll guarantee you’ll go almost as fast as the engines that cost three times as much.” See Andy’s homepage at www.jensensenginetech.com as he is a complete machine shop, and turbo/blower/nitrous specialist. He caters to all types of engine enthusiasts, from honing a block to buying a complete crate motor, and has been in business on his own since 1992.
In ending, Banks, Jensen and Duttweiler all feel that turbocharging is the easy way to make horsepower, is less intrusive on the engine components (read that less breakage), and less expensive.
Thanks for your letter! Hope the information from these three professionals helps.
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