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Engine of the Week

Twin-Turbo 555 cid Big Block Chevy Engine

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I’d be willing to bet that most of you would say your friends are good people. I know my closest friends are the best… but none of them have ever chipped in to buy me a car! How about you? While not many of us have been on the receiving end of a gifted car, that’s exactly how Duane Ruhl got his 1992 Ford Mustang.

We stumbled upon Duane and his Mustang at Dragway 42 during the 2022 Summit Midwest Drags this past summer. He was in the pits right next to Glenn Hunter and his 1955 Bel Air, which we featured a couple weeks ago. Duane had his car fired up and was working on the engine when we walked by, so naturally, we gravitated to him like moths to a flame.

Duane’s ’92 Mustang doesn’t feature a Ford engine as you otherwise might have expected. Instead, Duane opted for a twin-turbo 555 cid big block Chevy engine.

“The story on this car is my friends bought me this as a roller,” Ruhl says. “I had rolled/flipped the car I had previous to this. We got it in Maryland. Me and my buddy, Mike Chenoweth, we built the chassis (from Midwest Chassis), the 25.2-certified cage, the floor pans, the engine – we did just about everything. I’ve been trying to build it and make it cool.”

Duane told us he is a Ford guy, but it’s tough to argue against big block Chevy power.

“I’m a Ford guy, but the big block Chevy is big, tough and dumb,” he says. “They take a beating and they’re cheap.”

Ruhl’s Chevy engine features a 555 cubic inch Merlin block with Brodix cylinder heads on top and two Forced Inductions S480 turbos helping it make big power. Internally, the Ruhl has a Molnar crank, Oliver billet rods, JE off-the-shelf blower pistons, a COMP Cams camshaft spec’d by Foolproof Performance, BAM .937” lifters, Manton pushrods, T&D stainless steel rockers, an Edelbrock intake, and a Wilson Manifolds throttle body.

“It’s a pretty nice little deal,” Ruhl admits. “It’s got some good parts in it. We also use a FuelTech fuel system – an FT500 – and it works really well. They’ve got great customer service and anytime I need help, they answer the phone.”

Ruhl also told us that the car features a Turbo400 trans with a first and second gear trans brake kit. It’s got a 2.10 first gear and a 1.40 second gear. The Mustang has a 9-inch rear with a 3.50 gear in it.

“It’s made three quarter mile hits this year and none of them have been good,” he says. “It’s just spinning the tires. We’re trying to learn how to tame it. It’s pretty wicked. It makes a bunch of power and I’ve never had that before, so I’m learning.

“The engine made 1,775 horsepower on 26-lbs. of boost on the hub dyno at Redline Motorsports in Bloomington, IL. Matt Bell there does a great job. The car has a 25.2 certified cage and we’re hoping to go fast someday. It’s ready – I’ve just got to figure out how to do it.”

Getting 1,775 horsepower on 26-lbs. of boost may have been the case on the hub dyno, but out on the track it’s been a different story, as Ruhl mentioned. During the Midwest Drags, Ruhl told us he was leaving the line with 8-lbs. of boost and still blowing the tires loose.

“We’re going to try a second gear leave and see if that might do it a little better,” he says. “No matter what, we’re enjoying some fun. It’s been a vacation. It’s a lot of work, but we have a blast. I’m hoping to run a 7-sec pass this week, but my days are getting numbered on that opportunity. I would take just an A to B pass with the tires not blowing away.”

While Ruhl didn’t have the performance he wanted out on the track for this particular drag-and-drive event, there’s no denying that his Chevy-powered Mustang is a badass setup. As a project still in the making, we don’t doubt Duane will have the kinks ironed out soon. When that happens, watch out for this car!

Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade Motor OilElring – Das Original and Engine & Performance Warehouse Inc./NPW Companies. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected]

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