Ford’s 7.3L Godzilla V8 Can Make 1,100 HP With Twin Turbos and Little Else

Need proof? Merkel Racing Engines did it without touching the valvetrain, rods, or pistons.

byCaleb Jacobs|
Ford News photo


As it seems, engine builders love Ford's 7.3-liter "Godzilla" V8. Ever since it was announced as a crate offering, they've been throwing parts at 'em and cranking up the dial for big power. We've already seen one make 780 horsepower without boost thanks to former Ford Performance boss Brian Wolfe, though now, we're seeing what the platform can do with twin turbos and essentially nothing else. The answer, as Merkel Racing Engines proved over the weekend, is mega—1,114 hp at 5,800 rpm.

And that's without cracking the valve covers.

David Henderlong

While testing at Merkel Racing Engines' dyno in Hauppauge, New York, the crew ran a naturally aspirated version of the 7.3-liter with an upgraded throttle body and OBR MAP calibration. The result was 540 hp, which is a healthy increase over the pushrod lump's factory-rated figure of 430 hp. Once a baseline was established, it was time to fabricate the forced induction setup.

I spoke with crew member David Henderlong about their busy weekend, and as he explained, the fabrication took about 15 hours in total. That involved plumbing a pair of 7875 VS Racing turbos, twin intercoolers, and all the piping for the dyno session. With that complete and a set of 1,000 cc injectors installed, it was time to get going.

The identical turbochargers, along with the supporting mods to help them run at capacity, launched the 7.3-liter into another bracket. Peak torque for the engine is still unclear as the dyno "could not hold it at the low of an rpm," according to Henderlong, though 1,037 pound-feet at 5,400 rpm should give you an idea. Power kept building with boost at 15 psi and the tach hitting 5,800 rpm, which is when it peaked out at 1,114 hp. Not too shabby for a Super Duty truck engine.

Merkel Racing Engines
Merkel Racing Engines

Henderlong noted that these tests are just as much about finding the engine's limits as they are about making big power. The stock camshaft held up respectably to their best run, and the stock rods and pistons did okay as well. Still, the team thinks this is about the cap for the factory valvetrain. What's more, the stock injectors were already ditched because they apparently hit their ceiling between 780 and 800 hp.

Still, Sunday's run earned the team a record for the most powerful stock-sealed Godzilla. That's an impressive feat no matter how you shake it, and there's still more testing to be done with twin turbos. Others, like Wolfe, are planning to take the Whipple supercharger route in hopes of exceeding 1,500 hp. Who knows which'll be best in the end, though when you've got an engine with this much power potential and diversity, there's no real loser.

Todd Merkel, Scott Merkel, Dave Henderlong, Jimmy McDonagh, and Johan Rauchfuss from OBR Control Systems, David Henderlong
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