Rootes Group Stomps British Leyland In Dyno Challenge: 66 Horses At The Alpine's Wheels!

You hear a lot of guys bragging about their cars' mighty power output, claiming 500 horses at the wheels and so on, but how many actually roll up to a real-world dynamometer test? Armand did!

Rootes Group Stomps British Leyland In Dyno Challenge: 66 Horses At The Alpine's Wheels!

Armand drives a 1962 Sunbeam Alpine, which was rated at 80 net horsepower at the crank when new. It's- how shall we put this?- properly seasoned 48 years later. Armand has installed a Weber carburetor and done a bit of tuning, but how many ponies remain inside that 1600cc engine? Here we see the Alpine parked next to its distant corporate cousin.

Rootes Group Stomps British Leyland In Dyno Challenge: 66 Horses At The Alpine's Wheels!

Meanwhile, MG zealot and team captain of the Killer Bees, Pete, was talking pretty big about how the pushrod 1800 in his MGB LeMons racer (now recovered from its upside-down adventure at Thunderhill) should be able to smoke that off-brand so-called sports-car. After all, real British cars are built by a Labour government! That sounded like a good excuse for Evil Genius Racing to throw its First Annual Barbecue And Dyno Party a few weeks back.

Rootes Group Stomps British Leyland In Dyno Challenge: 66 Horses At The Alpine's Wheels!

For just 40 bucks, the Evil Genius and his crew would put your car on the dyno and proceed to blow it up determine its real-world power output. Armand and Pete made a bet of $20 (in nickels) and the trash-talking began.

Rootes Group Stomps British Leyland In Dyno Challenge: 66 Horses At The Alpine's Wheels!

Where else would you see a couple of DeLorean DMC-12s parked between a Cannonball Run-themed Corolla FX16 and a beater Honda Z600?

Rootes Group Stomps British Leyland In Dyno Challenge: 66 Horses At The Alpine's Wheels!

The Mustard Yellow V8olvo was there for a bit of pre-Sears Pointless tuning. 216 rear-wheel horsepower was the best they could get out of it after much carburetor twiddling; not bad for a carbureted and de-smog-ified 5.0 HO, but solving a high-RPM miss should free up some more power… maybe even enough to finally nuke that allegedly fragile Dana 30 differential.



We got tired of waiting for the MGB to show, so the EG guys put the Alpine on the rollers and fired it up. Guesses by the spectators ranged from 20 to 70 horsepower, with most predictions clustered around 50 HP. When the run was over, we learned that the ol' Alpine was making 66 mighty Rootes Group horsepower at the rear wheels. Impressive!

Rootes Group Stomps British Leyland In Dyno Challenge: 66 Horses At The Alpine's Wheels!

Still no sign of Pete and his MGB. No problem, we just scarfed some more chow off the grille. Finally, we got a phone call: the MG had lost oil pressure and died on the way to Sacramento. Pete decided to bring his Datsun 411 instead… but it developed a terrible rod knock within a few miles. In Pete's words:

The Killer ZomBee made it as far as the Sunol grade (half hour from home) before blowing up. Rods-all-a-knockin, no oil pressure, sounds like a brick in a garbage disposal. Niiice!

The wife came and picked me up, and I abandoned it at a quicky-mart off the freeway after grabbing all my tools, then jumped in the SSS hoping to make it up to the party in time.

Nope. Got as far as Benecia when I heard another knocking sound.

@#$%! Not my day to get off the couch.

So long as I kept it above 4500rpm the knock wasn't too bad so I sped the whole way home. Now I get to go back up and rescue the Bee.

Rootes Group Stomps British Leyland In Dyno Challenge: 66 Horses At The Alpine's Wheels!

So Armand won the bet by default (though the consensus was that the MGB would never in hell make 66 horsepower, anyway) and we spent the rest of the afternoon admiring the cool machinery that showed up for the party. 340-powered Dart GT, anyone?