Nursing the Big 10 out of Denver through city streets with the dying motor running extra sluggish was a little tricky, but we made our way onto Interstate 70 and continued our journey toward home. It's not something a person wants to dwell on, but the open highway can be an easy place to be killed with just a little bad luck. Our bad luck reared its ugly head while we were pulling the steep grade heading toward the Eisenhower Tunnel at around 65 mph when we slipped up and allowed the truck to drop into second passing gear to keep up with traffic. It was an absolute nightmare; our speed plummeted to zero mph when the 350-inch Chevy motor felt like it had just sucked the fuel line flat. Instantly, it looked like we were going to be run over by a herd of very aggressive Denverites obviously unconcerned with our situation. A quick whip of the steering wheel had us out of one bad situation and into another-we shot out of traffic onto I-70's crevice-wreaked shoulder with the Big 10 bottoming out hard at all four corners of the suspension with every deep hole it fell into. We had unintentionally provided CPP with some real-world testing that proved their new trailing arm suspension really handles and can take a severe beating to boot.
The rest of the trip driving home in the middle of a record summer heat wave was uneventful, but we knew the very first thing we had to do when we got the Big 10 home: make it run right.
Step one was to drive the truck over to Primedia's tech center and make a baseline run on our in-house Mustang dyno; there's nothing quite like a good chassis dyno to find out where things are at. Horsepower theory is a lot like trying to lose weight, only reversed. Adding weight and getting fatter is easy to do, just like it's easy to make an engine lose horsepower through neglect. To illustrate the opposite of our example, it's harder to make an engine gain horsepower, much as it's harder to lose weight. That said, the Mustang dyno revealed that our poor old Big 10 was only putting out 118 horsepower to the rear wheels. The news was shocking, but we were very excited to take on the challenge of adding more horsepower with just a few carefully selected upgrades. The first on our list was the ignition.