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How much does 1,200 HP cost? (Part 1)


... is how much it costs to build a competitive SFWD car with 1,200 WHP (on the low end, assuming you already have a chassis). Let that sink in for a minute. 

How much does 1,200 HP Cost?

Everyone doing a build has an idea about how much power they want to make. I hear it all the time; "I just want a fun street car that spools up fast." Then after they hear that their buddy is building a 1,200 HP SFWD car their goal changes. What's often misunderstood is how much money it takes to build a competitive SFWD car that makes 1,200 HP and runs in the mid 8-second range. Everybody severely underestimates how much time and money it's going to take

This list is as close to exhaustive as I could come up with. Having done it a couple times, it changes every time and everyone's build is a little different. Most builds have a lot of the same parts. You can print this list and use it as a checklist for your own build. But unless your a trust-fund baby you should expect to spend 5 years+ on a competitive build.


Let's start with the meat and potatoes of a SFWD Build: 

The backbone of every build is the engine management and the wiring.

$5,000. Engine Management: It's well known that the majority of the fast SFWD guys are on Motec- either an M84, M800 or M1. Then theres a group using AEM (no comment), and I dunno but I think a bunch of guys are using Fueltech too. The most used ECU is probably Hondata S300 but that ecu is at a severe disadvantage against the big players in SFWD. I'm not sure, but I'm sure there are some guys using Haltech too. 

$2,500. Wiring: Lots of options here but my recommendation is Joel at Race-Spec, expect to spend $2,500+ depending on options. 

$1,000. Ignition Box: If you've got 4 CDI coils (CDI ignition won't work with inductive-type K-coils), then it's the M&W Pro 14 or Pro Drag-4. If you're on the stock ECU then you need the ultimate ignition system from T1 (M&W Pro 10 and a bigass coil). With the M&W Pro 14 and CBR coils I never had a misfire even with the plugs gapped at .035 and 45+ PSI of boost. It's Bananas. M&W is awesome. 

$3,999. Turbo: There's a few different options here but a tried-and-true solution is a Precision 7285 with a 1.28 A/R housing

$5,000-10,000. Transmission: assembled and spec'd with spool or differential. A Liberty's gearset is gonna cost you $4,500 plus assembly. You'll still need bearings, and either a differential or a spool. Quaife and even Mfactory differentials have held up pretty well. I don't know of a clutch-type diff that will live, most of the ones used are helical diffs. DSS also has a pro-level spool, or a modified Quiafe diff that goes with their pro-level hub axle kit. 

$1,200-$4,000. Clutch: I think the most commonly used clutch is the Competition Twin or Triple disc. Up from there is the Tilton Carbon-carbon which will deal with more slippage if you wanna get fancy and program a slipping clutch. 

$1,500. PDM: Single point of control for all things electric. Never replace a fuse again. This is the way, the truth, the light. 

$3,000. Axles: This is pretty much 100% figured out, use Driveshaft Shop Pro level Hub system and you shouldn't ever have a problem. They've done an incredible job of figuring out how to keep axles in one piece. It was a hard-fought battle but they got in early and they never gave up. And that is why they are the best and in my opinion, the only place to be buying axles for a 1,000+ HP car. 

$625. Front Brakes: KS tuned has an inexpensive front drag brake option that's on most of the top teams from all-motor to SFWD. The brakes save 22lbs and they're an easy bolt-on option. Of course I'd recommend them, but ask around because these little brakes have stopped cars from 170+ without a parachute...but I definitely suggest and recommend using a chute! If you wanna know more about the Front Drag Brakes you can check them out here:

$2,100. Manifold with wastegates: Usually guys are using custom tubular manifolds from Sheepey, SpeedFactory, "Derek Welder" or their local shop. Most use twin 44mm wastegates. Some use twin 60+mm wastegates.

$700-1200. Wastegates: Usually from TiAl, Precision, or TurboSmart. 

$3,500. Cylinder head with valvetrain: Expect to spend $2,500 on the a quality CNC port job with new valve guides, shortened for big lift cams. CNC port work usually includes minor combustion chamber work for consistency between cylinders. Also the intake port gets opened up a lot, but don't be surprised if the exhaust port looks kinda stock. It's been said that the magic is on the intake side, the exhaust side of these Honda heads is already very close to where it needs to be. The big players here are: 4 Piston Racing, RLZ Engineering, Prayoonto/Mission Critical, and Portflow among others. 

Valvetrain is usually Ferrea titanium retainers, and shimmed Ferrea springs for seat pressure 100lbs+ at the seat. Some guys are using off-the-shelf springs, and others are using springs from other applications and making it work. Expect to spend $1000+ here for springs, retainers, billet valve locks, and spring seats and shims. 

$700 Cams: A lot of guys use Skunk2 Pro Series Stg. 1 and for some reason disabling the VTEC feature happens a lot. I think that's mostly monkey-see, monkey-do. Some teams have played with Skunk Pro 2's and 3's but make sure you've got a BIG back housing and low exhaust back pressure or that's not gonna work. The other big players are Web Pro Series and DDtech is making a presence as well. The new kid on the block at this time is Skunk Ultra cams, already in use in some fast cars. 

$4,500. Block fully assembled with pistons, rods, bearings, crank, oil pump: Lots of different sleeved block providers including Benson, Golden Eagle, Victory Precision Machine, AR Fab, Darton, the list goes on and on. About $1,000 to assemble and blueprint the block properly.The big boys have a step-deck copper o-ringed block and never have any issues (especially in H with original 12mm studs!)

$1,000-1,500. Intake Manifold: Skunk2 Ultra or Excessive or Prayoonto. For sheetmetal it's either Golden Eagle, "Derek Welder" or Gato. 

$1,000. Intercooler: So many different options here. Lots of custom stuff going on, in the class that I'm mostly talking about here, only Air/Air is allowed and so people are getting custom intercoolers and intercooler/radiator combos from places like Sheepey and Speedfactory. 

$1,200. Fuel pump(s): Weldon 2354a is the baddest single electric fuel pump out there. Other options are triple Bosch 044. It all depends on the fuel you're using. Ethanol cars will need a lot more fuel system than a gas car. 

$1,300-1,920. Injectors. Twin sets (8) 2,000cc injectors is common for this much power. I recommend always using Injector Dynamics for two reasons, one is that they will stand behind their product with support and tech like no one else in the industry. The second reason is that the group of guys involved in ID are world-class enthusiasts who live and breathe their technology like no one else that I'm aware of. Cheaper injectors can be had, but caveat emptor pal. 

$1,699. Rear Trailing Arms: Some guys are still using stock but most are using the KS tuned rear trailing arms for a 50lb weight savings and extended wheelbase, as well as camber correction (built-in). Almost all of the fastest teams in All Motor and SFWD are using KS tuned RTA's and the reason is because we were the first, and we stand behind and support our racers when bad things happen (like they crash in to a wall). We can get you the replacement parts you need right away, so you can get back to the track ASAP.

$500. Parachute: Yep, you need it. Make sure your anchor point is in line to the CG of the car so your chute doesn't make the rear of the car too light. Google it. Doug at Hondata has an article on it. 

$5,000-8,000. Roll Cage: This depends on whose doing it and what it's made of (chromoly or MS) and whether its a standard 10 pt or if it's a 25.5 or equivalent. Don't skimp here, it's your life,... kinda important!

$1,000-3,000 Suspension: Blox drag pros to Skunk to Strange to Penske and everything in between. (I've cut 1.44 60fts on Blox Drag Pros)

$2,000. Three piece front end (painted, wrapped, or Carbon Fiber): Franks custom fiberglass among others. Be sure to factor in time and parts to mount the thing and a little bit of body work and paint or a wrap to make it look nice. 

$2,000. Wheels/tires: Belak, Weld the list goes on and on lots of good wheel options out there! Tires are M&H Racemaster 25x9x13. 

1,000 hours. Fab work: Mounting the intercooler, mounting the radiator, mounting the battery, fabbing the IC tubing.... there's a metric shit-ton of custom fabrication that you're going to have to do. Some of it is listed above... as I'm writing this I'm thinking of more things like: Ballast bar, coolant overflow, catch can, downpipe, parachute, assembling and routing fuel lines, brake lines, oil lines. Mounting the ecu, ignition box, and all of the electronics like PDM or relay/fuse box. 

$2,000. Misc: Coils, spark plugs, bolts/hardware, oil pan, oil lines, fuel lines, boost solenoids, fittings, and stuff I forgot. 

1,000 hours. Misc Custom Work: Chassis prep, mounting the battery, installing all the parts, running and testing all the wiring, adding ballast, removing/building/reinstalling/tweaking the transmission and the engine... OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER. 

$200/weekend. Consumables: Fuel and oil, zip ties, brake fluid. 

$500/weekend. Travel expenses: Hotels, gas, food, having to replace a wheel bearing on the trailer, etc.

 On the Low-side it will cost $74, 172 to build a competitive SFWD car with 1,200 HP... Assuming you already have the car!


So how do all these guys come up with the money to build these cars? Honestly it's done over time. The guys that are at the top of the pack now have been consistently working on the cars for over five years! If you wanna play, get started!

Good luck!

-Reid Lunde,







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