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Engine of the Week

1957 Oldsmobile Engine

Tony Lombardi of Ross Racing Engines has a strict procedure for every engine he works on. When a customer wanted a 1957 Oldsmobile engine, he dug right in doing all the machine work and manufactured many of the internal parts.

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Ninety-percent of Ross Racing Engines’ customers call up the Niles, OH shop wanting to purchase an engine that’s ready to go. Tony Lombardi, the owner of Ross Racing Engines, will discuss what powerplant the customer wants, whether it’s going to be a Ford Y-block, an early Olds, a HEMI, or whatever else. “We consider ourselves a finish builder,” Lombardi says. “Most of my customers want to just call and buy. If an engine needs custom paint, polishing, chrome done, etc., I only supply turn-key engines. We treat our hot rod stuff the same as our race stuff. I’m never going to hand a guy a short block and a pair of heads and tell him to have at it. Everything that leaves this shop goes on the dyno and runs before it leaves.”

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Images taken by Steve Coonan and Geoff Miles for The Rodder’s Journal

This particular engine is a 1957 Oldsmobile built for a customer who wants to put it in a 1940 Ford. The bare block is from 1957, but most of the other parts are aftermarket or manufactured right at Ross Racing Engines.

Images taken by Steve Coonan and Geoff Miles for The Rodder’s Journal

The crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons are all aftermarket from various suppliers. The engine has a set of Ross Racing Engines’ own aluminum cylinder heads that Tony makes for the early Olds engines. It has a roller valve train and hydraulic roller camshaft. The whole internal part of this engine is in aftermarket form.

Images taken by Steve Coonan and Geoff Miles for The Rodder’s Journal

“We manufacture a good portion of those parts including the blower drive stuff and the intake manifold,” Lombardi says. “Those original parts were made back in the ‘50s and ‘60s and just don’t exist anymore. In addition, the cylinder heads are made by us and cast in this country and finish machined. The roller rocker set-ups are our own. It also has a real magneto in it and we wind up making all our own magneto bases.”

Images taken by Steve Coonan and Geoff Miles for The Rodder’s Journal

If you already haven’t guessed, Lombardi takes special care of each engine he builds and he is always sure to start from scratch, looking over every detail of the engine.

Images taken by Steve Coonan and Geoff Miles for The Rodder’s Journal

“Every one of our engines goes through a whole process regardless of what kind of shape its in,” Lombardi says. “I treat a running engine that comes in the shop as basically just a core. There isn’t one machined surface we don’t touch. All the engines get line honed, they get head and main studs, they are all machined on a CNC machine and the deck surfaces are squared, the Vs are corrected, the cylinders are bored on center, and we do our own balancing.”

Images taken by Steve Coonan and Geoff Miles for The Rodder’s Journal

In this Oldsmobile engine even the lifter bores are sleeved in order to use the modern hydraulic roller lifter. Every part of the machine work in this engine was done right here at Ross Racing Engines. And Tony and his father Ross have been doing it that way in their present location since 1978.

Images taken by Steve Coonan and Geoff Miles for The Rodder’s Journal

The Lombardi’s will even manufacture bell housings and transmission adapters. “Some of the vintage engines have oddball bell housing patterns, so we manufacture a lot of transmission conversions for those engines in automatic and standard shift so you can put modern gearboxes behind them,” he says.

Images taken by Steve Coonan and Geoff Miles for The Rodder’s Journal

This ’57 Oldsmobile engine from the factory was rated at 295 hp. Now that Tony and Ross Racing Engines have given it a full-service job, Tony says it will make 550 ft.-lbs. of torque and 500 hp. This customer’s 1940 Ford should get down the road just fine!

Engine of the Week is sponsored by Cometic Gasket

To see one of your engines highlighted in this special feature and newsletter, please email Engine Builder managing editor, Greg Jones at [email protected]

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