Barney Navarro-built Rambler turbo Indy motor

I recently bought at an auction one of Barney Navarro's turbo-charged Rambler six cylinder Indianapolis 500 motors. I'm still in the discovery phase of determining exactly which motor it is, and if all the parts I have fit it.

At this point, it appears that I have the 1967 single-turbo motor, or a version thereof. Navarro made three attempts at a qualifying car based upon the Rambler six for a customer. The first was in 1967, had a single turbo and apparently produced 550 hp at 6000 rpm. Later motor(s) had twin turbos and 640 to 700 hp, depending on who you ask.

What is probably the final twin-turbo motor was sold at the same auction to a collector for $15,000. I paid an embarrasingly small sum for my motor; however mine was in pieces and this other was complete, intact, shiny and chromed.

I'll update this page as I do research and document this stuff, and decide what to do with it all. Don't be surprised if facts and figures change wildly as I gather information.

I was lucky enough to chat briefly with Gary Schaedler at the auction, a machinist who worked for Navarro on the Rambler Indy motor. I asked him specifically about how many turbo Rambler motors were made, test mules, etc: three. One ended up in the car, the one I bought in pieces, and Barney may still have the pieces to the other.

Gary said that this particular motor was installed in the Indy car at one time; it was taken to the local Willow Springs road race track for testing; oil ran dry on a right-hand turn (this is a dry-sump motor meant for left-turns only). Gary said he'd never seen Barney so mad at himself for overlooking this now-obvious mistake.

The block is sleeved 3.595" bores instead of the stock 3.750", and the crank appears to be 3.00" stroke, which makes it about 182 cubic inches. I measured the cylinder wall on #1 where it's easily accessed through the water pump hole as .35" thick, nice and strong for a lot of boost.

The crank is of stock dimensions, 2.500" mains and 2.090" rods. The crank journals are scored, but evenly and not badly; looks like someone ran 120-grit sandpaper over them. No discoloration or melted or welded metal; the oil-outage was momentary (during the turns). Since it's a 0-under crank it's definitely recoverable.

I've only done the crudest inventory so far, but it appears to have all the major components except connecting rods; I know who has those, and may be able to retreive them. They did not appear to be severely damaged.

The block, heads, cranks, etc were all in one cabinet, along with used parts almost certainly on the motor, a few other used items, plus many sets of new bearings, seals, gaskets, etc, such that it appears that there was once an intent to rebuild it. It might also be after the project was mothballed, Barney simply stuck all the good Rambler stuff together in one place. Considering that at some point it became a dead-end project, the parts were stored exceptionally well, oiled, wrapped, boxed, labelled, wired together, etc. A pretty lucky find.

Shortcuts to sections

(I've gleaned some more information I'll write up shortly -- here's a mock-up of the major parts.)

General photos.


This is one of two heads. This one has an AMC part number (below), and was run on this motor. The block between exhaust ports 3 and 4 is missing (the un-siamese plug) but is otherwise perfect. It's been heavily ported with big valves (measurements will come later). I've got (at least) two different intake valves in the pile; the smaller ones (1.880") fit this head, the larger one (2.050") don't; they could though, they clear the head and the cylinder (see below) is deeply clearanced.

The actual Indy motor head has decorative bumps in the web between the ports; this head does also, the R&D head, below, does not. I don't know if this means anything, there's no way to tell what head is on the Indy motor except to take the valve cover off or ask Barney (which I may try to do later). By eye, this head doesn't look much different from the R&D head.

NOMENCLATURE ON THE HEAD: all under the valve cover; see photos:
HN [Two letters run together; the left vertical line of the "N" is actually the right vertical bar of the "H".]
and the clockface points to a "6".

This is the "R&D" head, I assume the "RD" means "research and development". There are no regular AMC markings. I haven't measured anything yet, so it could be different than the other head.


The block appears to be a stock 232/199 block. It's been machined in various ways. The cylinders have been sleeved -- stock bore is 3.750", this one is sleeved to 3.595". (I haven't yet miked what is probably the original bore that was left to retain the sleeve in the lower end.) The water-jacket side of #1 is accessible from the water pump hole; I measured the total cylinder wall thickness as a pretty hefty .35".

The top of the block is O-ringed, as are both heads. The block O-rings are cut about .050" smaller than the heads, double O-ringed obviously for very high boosts. I have a lot of O-rings, new and unused in envelopes, hopefully some of these fit. THe block still has all six old O-rings installed.

With a stock 199 crank's 3" stroke, this makes for a 182 ci motor.

The bores have deep valve clearances, about .25" down the bore.

The oiling system has had some attention; the block has been drilled in at least two places (front lower P.S. boss, small hole same side middle of block). This was a dry-sump motor, I have zero experience with that. I don't know how the oiling system was setup, or what the plumbing involving the stock oil pump was doing. I don't even know if a stock-like oil pump would work with the oiling mods made.

BLOCK NOMENCLATURE: in the usual place:


I don't know if this camshaft is for the carbed, single-turbo motor or the dual-turbo FI motor. Randy Guynn of Performance American Style profiled the cam for me. You can see the camshaft specs here.

My motor definitely has solid lifters; it's unknown at this time what the second motor has.

The cam was stuffed into a Sig Erson box; since the Rambler six camshaft is very very long, it seems unlikely that this cam was stuffed into a box from another project (Navarro did Ford 8's, not sixes), so there may be Sig Erson cam(s) used or tried in one or both motors. There waws room for two cams in the box, which has it's UPS label still on it.

I'm not knowledgable of cam design, but someone said "it looks like a roller cam profile" but this motor came with solid lifters, non-mushroom, so who knows what goes with the motor. I would have guessed it to be a roller cam but what do I know. Luckily it has what appears to be a Rambler part number

CWC 08 [might be CWC C8]
A017 D8
and on the gear end
WINFIELD 8211-11

It turns out that Winfield's shop was on the same block as Navarro's in Glendale (actually, one block over the line into Los Angeles). In fact a lot of "SoCal" hot-rodders were in the Glendale area, according to Richard Miazga and Max Norris in the local The Boulevard Sentinel newspaper (VOLUME VIII ISSUE 8, December 2004).


I got this one crankshaft in the lot. The other buyer got the other one that was for sale. As stated earlier, Gary Schaedler said that this motor was run at Willow Springs and had a momentary oiling problem; this statement is consistent with the mild damage to the journals on this crank.

There is obvious damage from running momentarily dry. It is not severe. There is a bit of storage-rust (it was oiled for storage, but must have been a dry spot. Rust isn't severe either.

Mains are 2.500" and rods 2.090"; mains are textbook and the rods slightly under the TSM's range. The motor came with a set of new/sealed .010" under bearings, maybe the intent was to rebuild the motor at one time.

Gary also said that AMC made Barney "a special crank". There's been a rumor of this floating around, but Gary would appear to have no stake in this; he's not an "AMC nut" per se, and he did work on car 50 for Barney.

I doubt that the crank I have here is that "special" one. It's got what looks to me like standard factory numbers. I don't doubt that it's hand-selected and magnafluxed for perfection and balanced perfectly and all that, but it so far appears ordinary. Gary had no idea where that special crank might be.

The damage to my crank is pretty minimal. If it were the rumored super-double-plus-good one-off crank, and was worth it, it seems that they would have resurfaced it and stuck it in the Indy motor. It might very well be in that motor; if so we'll never know.

The other crank at the auction was new, in an AMC box, but it was also a stock-appearing crank; likely it's not the magical one-off crank either. I will ask the other buyer for numbers, etc.


cast vertically on various counterweights
ID or1D

Casting 3173429 is apparently a 1965-1970 casting number used for a bunch of 199 six/automatic cranks. No part number visible.


Now this is a juicy part. Gary indicated (I think) that this is the only one to exist other than the one on the Indy motor. It's cast stainless steel or titanium alloy or something weird. It's surprisingly rough, cosmetically, externally, definitely a hand-cast, hand-molded part. Machine work is pretty nice, and fairly flat.

The mechanical injectors mount on the bottom of the ports. The exhaust plumbing runs upward; the big wastegate (I assume it is) attaches to the exhaust port on top, I assume straight up and out the car.

The ports on the manifold are about .1" smaller than the head ports on both heads; see the photo with modern blue Felpro gasket for comparison. That Felpro gasket is an exact fit on both heads.

It came with a bundle of gaskets (both block and blower). Note the weird (to me) steel exhaust gasket, the goes below the manifold. There's a stock-like sandwhich gasket in the photo, a bunch of them came-with also. There's a lot of gaskets, all new, not shown. Probably a dozen of these probably-custom steel jobs.

There is no nomenclature on the manifold, except "NAVARRO".


I've got two Navarro timing covers, one's hacked up (extra holes) the other not. They're not stock-compatible, however, they accomodate a camshaft-mounted fuel pump.

The fuel pump has 1/2" ID fittings! It's a big damn pump -- 400 gallons/hour! I'll have to look at the photos of the Indy motor to see how the oil plumbing goes, but there's this custom oil takeoff, it's got an adjustable pressure relief valve and big pipe fittings. The other one is an undrilled casting, and there's what appears to be an aluminum vane pump housing, but so far I haven't found the rotor, vanes, cover or fittings.


The oilpan began life as a stock Rambler pan, but has mods for the dry sump stuff. Pretty much a wall-hanging at this point.


I've got nine apparently-identical pistons. All used; six of them have cylinder numbers scratched in the wrist pin bosses. No metal wear in the chamber, some minor scuffing on the skirts. One of them measured 3.750" (at the wrist pin). Seeing how these are unobtainable, I sure hope the bore cleans up OK.

I do have a small number of random pistons, with some odd (to me) sizes, like 3.758", still new in boxes. The other buyer got a box of pistons, unused, so I need to contact him for those.

PISTON NOMENCLATURE: There's a patent number inside, didn't write it down; stamped on the top of the piston in micro-fine lines is: FORGED TRUE inside a rectangle. Forged True (scroll down to "Art Sparks") was a pioneering local hot-rod supplier, then the company changed hands a number of times in the 1970's. Thanks to Glen Hoag for the link.


Last but hardly least, these big nasty pumps. I have three of them: this one, (not sealed), another used one (taped up), one brand-new-sealed-in-plastic, and one new, sealed, replacement turbine assembly (eg. no volutes/housings).

They look a little large to me, for a 199ci motor, but then I remember that there were two of these things installed!

I know nothing of turbo models; I will have to do a bit of research. It appears to be still made, by Mistubishi.

I have some bits of plumbing for the turbos, and at least a couple of exhaust tips (can't really call them tailpipes in these dimensions: 5" diameter, 12" long!).