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Performance & Hotrod Business - Mar. '15

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March 2015 n Performance & Hotrod Business n 49 A Technological Two-Way Street One thing we've noticed recently is that the latest OE pistons look more like race pistons. According to some sources, in fact, it's the OEMs who are ahead of the curve. "Most of today's performance advances are coming from the OEMs," says McFarland. "The need for performance and durability, while meeting emissions and fuel economy requirements, has forced the OEMs to aggressively increase their R&D efforts." Years ago, he notes, performance after- market pistons offered considerable advan- tages over OEM units. "But today's OEM pistons have many advanced features not found on many performance aftermarket pistons. If an aftermarket piston without these features is used in a modern engine, it can cause issues, from increased noise, blow-by and oil consumption; to computer-initiated de-tuning." Fortunately, the automakers are part- nering with technology leaders in the after- market, "to speed the process of bringing new technology to OE passenger cars. And where applicable, we bring these advances to the performance aftermarket as well," he says. But there are still high-performance parts and coatings developed for racing applications that trickle down to the street performance market, adds Beeri Meza, of Arias Pistons in Gardena, California. "Even the OEMs would benefit from applying race technology to their prod- ucts. But who says they aren't doing this already?" Meza asks. In fact, it works both ways. "New ideas have come from racing, the OEMs, street, restoration, marine and any other use conceivable," observes Urcis. "Any of these can inspire and lead to new, improved features, and designs that we transfer into other segments for customers." Custom Crafted McFarland points to yet another trend: an increasing demand for pistons to rebuild engine platforms that have been less popular in the past. He cites the Mopar 340 and Ford FE as examples. "Many customers are opting to rebuild the 428 in their late-'60s Mustang, rather than dropping in a 5.0. These customers are looking for the same consistency, con- venience and affordability that small-block Chevy enthusiasts have long enjoyed." Example of how the smaller, narrower rings allow more material (strength) in key areas, like between the top ring groove and valve pocket, a typical piston failure area. (Image courtesy MAHLE Motorsport) Short compression height pistons no longer having the pin bore interrupting the oil ring groove. (Image courtesy MAHLE Motorsport)

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