Here's How Much Nitrous You Can Spray Into A Small-Block Engine Before It Blows Up

Photo: Motor Trend/YouTube
Photo: Motor Trend/YouTube

One of the easiest ways to get an engine to make big horsepower is to hook it up to a bottle of Nitrous. But with great power, comes great responsibility—you can only spray so much of the good stuff into an engine before it blows up, and David Freiburger at Motor Trend found out exactly how much that is.

People will often modify their cars with aggressive cams, superchargers, NOS and all sorts of power-making bits, without actually changing the vulnerable engine hardware like pistons and rods. “How much can this bone stock engine handle?” many shade-tree tuners ask on forums. Some find out the hard way.

Freiburger is intentionally finding out the hard way in this video, shooting as much NOS into this 305 small-block Chevy motor as he can before the thing grenades.

NOS is a beautiful thing, not only because it lowers the intake charge temperature (and thus increases its density to allow more fuel to burn), but it also introduces more oxygen into the cylinder as compared to what’s in the ambient air.


In the case of the 305, that results an additional 247.9 lb-ft of torque and 261.9 horsepower to the engine’s stock figures. Trying to go for any more horsepower, Freiburger demonstrates in the video, and you’ll wind up with a piston that looks like this:

Photo: Motor Trend/YouTube
Photo: Motor Trend/YouTube


Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me. Cars: Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94), Chrysler Voyager Diesel ('94)

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That’s not Finnegan, it’s Freiburger.