When we decided to make a trip to the Charlotte/Mooresville, NC area earlier this summer, one of the first engine shops I wanted to check out was Prestige Motorsports in Concord. President of the shop, Doug Aitken, and his team, have collaborated with us in the past on some features for the magazine and the website, as well as an Instagram Takeover showcasing the engine shop. However, we hadn’t had the opportunity to see Prestige Motorsports in person, until now.
Doug and his staff keep busy building and machining all kinds of different domestic engine packages for various applications, as well as parts development, like a new Brodix Head Hunter cylinder head. Prestige even goes beyond just engine work, doing just about everything needed in a full car build too.
While we were there for a visit, the Prestige team had just finished up work on a customer’s Shelby Mustang with a 427 cubic inch Ford engine, so naturally we needed all the details. As it turns out, this 1968 Shelby Mustang has been in and out of Prestige Motorsports a few times over the years, and with different owners.
“Originally, there was a shop called Lucky’s Paint and Body, and this was the first car he built from start to finish,” Aitken told us. “We were contracted for the engine, so it was still the 600-hp, 427 cid Ford, but it was carbureted back then. I believe it had a pulley system on it and a little bit longer nose on the water pump, so fitment became an issue as the car changed hands. Lucky’s Paint and Body did the full build and I think it went to Barrett-Jackson and sold for a fairly good amount of money.
“I’m not sure exactly who was the owner then, but we did some upgrades. I remember doing a fuel system upgrade to this car, but it was still carbureted. Then, it changed hands to the current owner, and it came in again and we put a Borla induction setup on it, did the Billet Specialties front end, upgraded the radiator, and put in brushless fans.”
While the 427 cid Ford engine has been in the Mustang for a while, it’s an engine build that Prestige has become well-known for.
“This 427 combination is a flagship combination for us,” Aitken says. “We do anything from 500-600-plus horsepower. This particular package is 600 hp, so it supports a more aggressive solid roller cam for the guy who wants that. We start a build like this with an aftermarket Dart or World Products block, or an aluminum block. We use all 4340 internals. This engine has AFR CNC’d heads, but it could also get our newly designed Brodix head. On top, obviously we have the Borla induction. We do a ton of those things.
“The AFR cylinder heads get checked over for the valve job and spring rates to make sure everything is good. Those heads feature PAC springs, and we typically use our roller rockers from Scorpion Racing. However, customers can upgrade to a shaft rocker if they like.
“As far as the rotating assembly goes, anything that’s up to about 800 horsepower gets either an Eagle or Scat 4340 forged crank, H-beam rods and the pistons just depend on availability. We use a lot of DSS, SRP and JE pistons. However, if your flavor is another brand such as Diamond, we’ll use it. We’re pretty versatile in that manner.”
After Doug gave us a run down of the Mustang and its 427 Ford powerplant, the shop’s tuner Justin came out to offer us a ride in the car. We know 600 horsepower is fairly tame in comparison to some of the horsepower numbers out there today, but this Mustang could fly! Justin explained some of what he looks for during the tuning of a car like this.
“The guys working in the engine dyno room make my job real easy,” Justin says. “They get a good base tune set up in there and once we get the engine set it in the car, I always like to start out with the basic checks. We’ve got to have fuel pressure in the right spot, good vacuum line to the regulator, good timing, etc. We like to check the static timing on it. Once all that’s in there, we give it a good fire up and really try to dial in a good cold start tune for it to make sure it fires up nicely. From there, it’s just a simple idle dial in. At that point, we’re ready to go down the road and just dial in good drivability and make sure the thing tips into throttle really well and follows through with acceleration.”
Prestige Motorsports also offers remote tuning, which can help customers on basic checks with their car and engine combos. All-in-all, the engine shop did a fantastic job on this 1968 Shelby Mustang and its 427 cid Ford engine, and we’re glad we got to see it, hear it and ride in it. That 600 horsepower is given to you in all the right ways!
Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade1, Elring – Das Original and 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].