While not completely up to full strength, she’s home. She’ll be on light duty while I finish the last bit of fine tuning and adjustments. Something that reminds me of a family member I had that underwent some extensive surgery, they came back home almost recovered, but required a little more physical therapy to get back to better than before.

What happened, you ask?

It was mid-morning on August 4, 2014. I was angry at myself, and felt like I had betrayed my best friend that I had known since December of 2002.

I had just finished replacing the worn 30,000 mile old single roller timing chain and tensioner with a double roller. While in there, I installed a bigger cam that was on the upper limits of what anybody in the V6 community had ever seen, or imagined. I had a friend sell me the timing set and that nasty ass camshaft for a good price as he was liquidating all his stuff to help pay for some property.

I got greedy.

It proved to be too much, all at the sound of a dull “click” that coincided with a spike in my KR table on the HPTuners datalogging suite on my laptop. The engine kept running okay, but I shut it off the moment I heard that click.

That click. It was the sound of the Cylinder 2 intake valve head snapping off, and then impaling itself into the piston when it got sandwiched between it and the cylinder head, cracking the head between the guides and pulverized the spark plug.

I had to pull the engine. The entire time, I was angry at myself and talking to the car, telling it, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for it to end like this.”

Exhausted, tears in my eyes as I was tempted to just sell off the whole thing as a rolling shell and maybe buy something I’d never want to modify, something beige like a Camry. Anything else felt better than looking at what had been my friend and knowing I had just killed her.

As you can tell, the story didn’t end that way. I tore the engine apart and found the valve wedged in the piston. Indications on the other intake valves show they hit the pistons, bending the pushrods thankfully so no other damage was caused.


It’s been a long haul, waiting on parts, dealing with time constraints and also my desire to get other things done while it was apart and address other nagging things from the previous build.


I kept the cam, went with pistons with valve reliefs in them, and did a myriad of other upgrades including CTS-V brakes, a watts link, rebuilt the GTO T-56 that was starting to get finicky about 3rd gear and rebuilt the rear end, keeping the 3.42s but adding a road race/auto-x differential.

I still have 200 miles on the break in, I need to adjust the front brake alignment a little bit, get an alignment and get it registered/inspected. Then I can get it on the dyno to see how much hp it really makes, and then go have fun where it was intended, the local auto-x events and as a fun daily/weekend driver.

I know, some of you are like, “WTF, why did you keep it a V6?!”

It’s what I’m familiar with, it’s what I started wrenching on a long time ago, and I have plans on slowly pushing the limits, so breakage is something I’m gonna have to deal with from time to time. NA records for now, then I’ll move to turbos, we’ll see if I lose focus and go do the LSx swapped Volvo wagon first.


Until then, I’ll just enjoy the noises this thing makes.