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B Series Engines - Tunerology

B Series Engines

It's a given fact the Honda B-series engine will follow the same historical path as the 5.0-liter Mustang or 350 Chevy. It's sad that I have to compare the B Series to a line of domestic engines, but let's face it, the 302 Ford and 350 Chevy have earned the right to go down in history as the most modified engines in the aftermarket.

So what is the B Series? It's a family of Honda/Acura engines that share a common togetherness in the auto world of interchangeable parts: B16A, B17A, B18A, B18C, B20A and all the rest I might have left out. It was only a few years ago that people started realizing that since these engines share components, it was possible to create an engine that performs much differently then the typical off-the-shelf B-Series engines. In fact, the popularity of these engines has grown so much over the years, that what was once a dime-a-dozen is now a rare find.

The B18A was the engine most tuners started tuning until the VTEC B Series appeared. Everyone wanted the B18C non-VTEC, so much so that they became hard to find and were very expensive. Then the B17A and B18C arrived and people no longer wanted the B18A. (For all you Honda nerds out there, I know the B16A was out in Japan a long time ago, but we're talking about the available models here in the States.) All of a sudden, the non-VTEC B18 became easy to find and was cheaper than the VTEC models.

Down the road, people discovered the VTEC head can be bolted to the B18A, thereby freeing up more torque and horsepower. Once again the B18A went back up in price and the availability was one for every 10 people. An even older B-Series block is the B20A found in the early Preludes. Back in the day, the only way to get rid of this engine was to pay somebody to haul it away. Nobody realized that the 2.0-liter crankshaft was a valuable component for the new B-Series engines so, again, what was once a $200, dime-a-dozen engine slowly became a valuable commodity. The price of this engine skyrocketed, and, today, you would win the lottery before you found one of these engines.

By now, almost everything has been done to B-Series engines, from changing deck heights to strokes to even relocating bore centers. Machinists have tested the limits of the engines to the point that one of the biggest names in domestic heads and engines, Dart, has stepped in to offer a new line of B-Series engines that I call the "B-Serious." This new line of engine blocks strives to bring everything that has been modified on the B Series in the past up to today's standards. The new cast-aluminum work of art has been engineered to take punishment at an affordable price. The company's base model is a factory replacement unit with a closed deck surface and stronger cylinder sleeves.

After talking briefly with Tom Payn and Ted Keating of Dart, I learned about a series of engine blocks that will emerge from the company's lineup. They will include various deck heights, bore sizes and bore centers. This is all planned for the future, but the fact of the matter is Dart is planning on coming out with blocks that will cater to different racing needs.

Eventually, people will have the ability to go to bore and stroke sizes that the standard B Series engines cannot commit to, including deck height differences. What this will eventually lead to is a billet or cast aluminum aftermarket cylinder head. Other companies rumored to be developing cast engine blocks and cylinder heads are JG/Edelbrock, World Industries and Proline. Machining the O.E. B Series block to cater to enthusiasts' needs has now become an off-the-shelf item, which makes it one of the most tweaked import engines in the industry.

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