Book Reviews You Can Count On!!

Book Reviews You Can Count On!!

Mustang Performance Handbook
by William R. Mathis, 170 pages

This book is the first in a series of two books. This book focuses on the engine and driveline. The second book focuses on the chassis and suspension. Overall, both are excellent books. The first book is geared a little more toward the fuel injection crowd, but overall it includes really good info that will work for either carbureted or injected 5.0s.

The book begins by covering some of the basic changes with the different model years. It then progresses to the engine and further down the driveline until the rear end is covered. The book contains ten chapters: 1-Getting Started, 2-The Short Block, 3-Cylinder Heads, Valves, and Springs, 4- Camshafts & Valvetrain, 5-Intake & Fuel Injection Systems, 6- Exhaust Systems, 7-Computer & Ignition Systems, 8-Cooling Systems, 9-Nitrous Oxide, Superchargers, & Turbochargers, 10- Drivetrain.

William Mathis is the author of the famous Slot Car Mustang Handbook, so this guy really knows what he is talking about. He has raced many different Fords for well over 30 years. Many of the tricks, found in this book, I have performed with success to my own Mustang. This is a must have book in my opinion.

Mustang Performance Handbook 2
by William R. Mathis, 187 pages

The second book in the series is the best ever suspension and chassis book written about the fox body cars. This is the famous Slot Car Mustang Handbook - the Holy Grail of Mustang Books - and it's under $20 - what a bargain. If you are even slightly serious about any type of Mustang racing from AutoCross to Open Track to Drag Racing - this is a must have. If you are even remotely serious about good street handling - this is a must have. In fact if you don't buy any other book this is the one. I have personally performed many of the tricks in this book on my Mustang and can say that they work. As mentioned in the last review above, William Mathis knows his stuff - and this book shows it.

The book starts off with some suspension basics then quickly progresses to the advanced stuff like chassis stiffening and suspension mods. It wraps up with brakes and tires. The book contains eleven chapters: 1-Getting Started, 2-Basic Suspension Geometry, 3-Chassis Modifications, 4-Street/AutoCross Suspensions, 5-Road Racing Suspensions, 6-Drag Racing Suspensions, 7-Bolt-On Suspension Kits, 8-Brakes, 9-Wheels & Tires, 10-Chassis Setup, 11- Testing & Tuning.

Read my project page and to see some of the home-grown modifications that I have done. They range from oil pan baffling, head porting, subframe connectors, rocker braces, stock control arm mods, and anti-squat brackets. I got all of these ideas from Mr. Mathis. So the final conclusion is the Mustang Performance Handbooks 1 and 2 are two of the best books you can buy - that is why I put them first on my review list.

Ford Performance
by Pat Ganahl, 142 pages and over 300 photos

As the cover states "Ford Performance - includes all modern Ford performance engines". This book covers all four major Ford engine designs (V8 only of course). 289-351W Small Blocks, 351-400 Clevelands, 390-428 FE motors, and 429- 460 Big Blocks - they are all here. The book has a complete chapter devoted to each. The book covers the major components required to make good power from the heads, intake, cams, and exhaust. It also covers any pros or cons associated with that engine family - like the required Cleveland oil passage modifications. Mr. Ganahl even covers parts interchangeability. A fully illustrated assembly and build-up is included for each group of engines.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good overview of the entire line of Ford V8 engines. This book is more than just a list of part numbers - it is an excellent tech reference guide and modification handbook. Some of my favorite parts are the detailed Cleveland cylinder head mods for Pro Stock racing and the 460 CID dual four barrel nitrous assisted marine engine assembly. As a general rule you can count on books from S-A Design, and this is another good one.

How to Rebuild Small-Block Ford Engines
by Tom Monroe, 160 pages

This is the true repair manual for Small-Block Fords. It covers every nut, bolt, and component giving detailed teardown, inspection, repair, and assembly procedures. This book covers from the 221 to the 351W small-block family engine line. This book has ten chapters: 1-Do You Need to Rebuild?, 2-Engine Removal, 3-Parts Identification & Interchange, 4-Teardown, 5-Inspecting & Reconditioning the Short block, 6-Head Reconditioning & Assembly, 7-Engine Assembly, 8-Distributor Rebuild, 9-Engine Installation, 10- Tune-up.

Monroe covers everything you would ever want to know about the inspection and assembly process. The only thing this book lacks is performance tips, but hey, that's what all the other books are for. If you are new to engine building or just need to understand all the ins and outs, then this book is for you. If you are a professional engine builder, then you can skip this one. Final analysis - big thumbs up!!

How to Build Horsepower, Volume 1
by David Vizard, 128 pages

David Vizard is a bonafide Chevy fanatic, but don't hold that against him. He also is one of the best tuners, testers, and automotive writers ever, so listen to what he says because you can count on it. How to Build Horsepower, Volume 1 is an excellent source for improving not only the horsepower of any engine but also the efficiency and economy.

The book is broken down into six main sections: Short block, Cylinder Heads, Camshaft & Valvetrain, Induction System, Ignition Systems, Exhaust & Headers. This book covers everything from engine theory to tips and tricks to make you go faster. The book also dispels a number of common performance myths along the way, such as exhaust back pressure. He also includes an in-depth porting guide for the do-it-yourselfer. Overall Vizard's book covers every component in an internal combustion engine in a general format that will work for any brand or displacement.

The best thing I can say about this book is, I can't wait to read How to Build Horsepower, Volume 2 - Carbs & Intake Manifolds. Although both subjects were covered in the first book, I bet the second book holds even more tips that I will have to try. Final analysis - a must read for any serious grass roots racer or anyone trying to learn more about how engine components work.

How to Build Horsepower, Volume 2 - Carbs & Intake Manifolds
by David Vizard

As always, David Vizard delivers!! You just can't go wrong by buying a book when you see that he is the author. Check out his website MotorTec Magazine and you will see what I mean. Anyway, buy the book you won't be disappointed.

The book, as the title says, covers the induction part of an engine. It starts out right at the top with filtration, then progresses through the carburetor, and ends with intake manifolds. Most carburetors are covered in the book with special sections devoted to both the Holley and Q-Jet carbs. I would recommend this book before buying a Holley specific book since he covers all the basics of carburetor operation and modification. Modifications for a four-corner idle circuit on a Holley is shown with tips on setup and tuning. The last part of the book covers manifolds very well, including porting and modifying stock manifolds.

Applying the simple tricks in this book will easily gain you 10%-20% in horsepower, not to mention a greater understanding of how the induction side of how an engine works. In the end, this book makes an excellent companion to first volume and if you haven't figured it out - I recommend it!

Auto Math Handbook
by John Lawlor, 146 pages

At the time that I bought this book I was writing an Excel program that could help me out with getting the complete combination correct. I had high hopes that this book would unlock some hidden automotive formulas that I had never seen before. Well I was disappointed. Not that this is such a bad book, because it isn't, but it was not as technical as I wanted. Remember I have a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering and have done research into how math can help me design the perfect combination, so this book was just a bit too basic for what I wanted. The Auto Math Handbook is intended for those with a non-technical background or a 2 year technical background. I would not recommend it for a mathematician or engineer.

The book starts with the most basic formulas such as displacement, compression ratio, and horsepower. Then gets into weight distribution, center of gravity, and weight transfer. Other topics covered are shift points, gear ratios, tire sizes, miles per gallon, and blood alcohol concentrations. The book has seventeen chapters total broken down so each related group of formulas gets a chapter. As stated earlier the formulas are not real complicated but are useful for basic auto mathematics.

John Lawlor has been an automotive enthusiast and journalist for over 30 years. His writing style flows well and is easy to read. He has written this book so anyone with a high school education and basic math skills can follow along and understand it. An excellent book introducing automotive math. If you are already an auto math whiz then skip it.

Official Factory Guide to Building Ford Short Track Power
by Richard Holdener (Editor) and Ford Racing Engineers, 128 pages

Book review by Sean Meldrum (GT40P head expert and carbedMustang Mailing List founder)

This book is from SA Design and written by Ford Racing Engineers and Richard Holdener (one of MM&FF's contributing editors). The first portion of the book addresses the "short-track power" portion. It does a decent job of showing the parts available for sportsman racing through FRPP. Doesn't really go into any detail on what type of power curve you're looking for or details on what you want in a short-track motor but does a good job of breaking down what's available. In this first portion they also do a complete, detailed buildup of a Sportsman 351W wearing the N351 heads. This portion of the book is fantastic and runs you step by step through the (re)build process. From the basic block prep down to where to index the gaps on your rings. A+ this far into the book.

The last half of the book, while still good, falls a little short of expectations. This is the half that Mr. Holdener handled the majority of I believe. This second half involves the building of both a 302 and 347 combo wearing the N351 heads. There is a cam comparison (two Comp Cams Xtreme Energy grinds), an intake manifold comparison (RPM and Vic Jr),a header comparison, and a carb spacer comparison. Sound familiar? This area of the book is almost an exact copy of some of the recent articles in MMFF with the only difference being the N351 heads. I was a bit disappointed with that as it felt like I was re-reading those articles from MM&FF but it was interesting to see how the N351 heads fared.

The build portions in this half, as in the beginning of the book, are detailed well and help make the book a great companion for anyone in the process of engine assembly. Scattered throughout the book are a great many specifications and engineering blueprints (351W block, crank, rod, the N351 head and a 302 crank) that the home fabricator/gear head will alone find worth the cost of the book. For these alone I'd recommend it.

It's high points definitely outweigh it's shortcomings and the average Ford small block engine nut will find it a good addition to their library. My only complaints were the similarity to the MM&FF's dyno tests, an error in the chart showing the 347's results that relisted the 302 results instead, and the fact that they used the roller cams in the 302/347 builds. My hopes were to see all flat tappet grinds in the book (yeah......I'm a bit old school that way) since it was supposed to be claimer type motors.

Coming soon with more books...

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