Q: Greg, I enjoy your Auto Roundup “Collector Car Corner” articles and would like to know if there were any aftermarket high performance or racing parts made for the 1949 to 1954 Pontiac inline flathead 8-cylinder engine?
Maybe some aluminum cylinder heads, cams, or dual 1-barrel intakes?
Jim A., Lexington, SC.
A: Jim thanks for the nice comments. I once purchased a 1951 Buick in 1972 with the straight-8 inline engine, and in the trunk sat a two-one barrel cast iron intake, which I sold with the car to a Ford executive back in 1982.
This piece was a factory piece, as it had a GM part number on the intake, so I believe there has to be something out there.
I know GM did quite produced hi-performance parts for this engine, because at the age of six, my family and I saw noted GM designer Harley Earl's "Bonneville Special" concept car in Atlantic City at the General Motors display prior to entering the Steel Pier. It was equipped with a "Special-8" Pontiac inline, bored out with high compression pistons and a high-lift cam.
Only two "Specials" were ever made, and both also had four Carter side-draft, single barrel carburetors. Total output was the highest ever for the "straight eight" as experts estimated the power over 300 horses. Thus, we know GM made some speed parts for this engine, but the chance of you getting your hands on any are unlikely.
I do have some good news for you. I spoke with my friends at Isky Cams in California, and there are two options available to you. Ed can re-grind you a new cam for sure, and Rod in the tech department said Ed may have some new old stock in the back room ready to go for your engine in high performance design.
He can also tell you more about what is available, so give Rod or Ed a call at 323.770.0930 (Ed comes in daily at 2:30 p.m., pacific time).
Ed Iskenderian's is truly the "Godfather" of cams, and he's a living encyclopedia to help you in your search. For other readers interested in Isky Cams, check the site at www.iskycams.com