(Photos by Dave Nutting and Craig Fitzgerald) – When I initially reached out to Mike Copeland at Lingenfelter Performance Engineering about making a banzai trip out to see the Decatur, Indiana headquarters of the famed company, he was all in. Mike then added some stops to our trip like the company’s newly acquired and spruced up facility in Wixom, Michigan, and Ken Lingenfelter’s incredible car collection in Brighton, Michigan. That’s when I called in the reinforcements in the form of Dave Nutting and Craig Fitzgerald. Armed with their camera gear, we headed out to knock off a gearhead trifecta of awesome the likes of which none of us had ever completed. We stuck to the initial plan and began our weekend of Lingenfelter Performance Engineering excitement where it all began, the company headquarters and nerve center in Decatur, Indiana. We spent the next couple of days with Ken Lingenfelter himself and we have to thank him for giving us so much of his time, his willingness to throw the doors open to his collection to us, and for his hard work in shepherding one of the great names in American performance through some its darkest times when company founder John Lingenfelter passed away in the hospital due to complications following a horrible crash in Pomona, California during the 2003 racing season. Ken was a fairly distant cousin of John’s and it was John’s brother and other family members that urged Ken to become involved in the business. As a lifelong car guy and hardcore enthusiast, Ken took the plunge and the company has been on the right track ever since.
One of the things that we absolutely loved about the Decatur, Indiana facility is that it is a working shop. It isn’t something akin to a NASCAR facility with cavernous spaces and luxury appointments at ever turn. This is a building that has been expanded in every possible direction over the years and it is buzzing with activity. Whether it is the gaggle of technicians working on the floor upgrading Cadillacs, Camaros, and Corvettes, the engine builder finishing up the latest bullet for a customer, the guys operating the two engine dynos, the pair of chassis dynos that are always working, the fellows in the machining area, engine tear down area, shipping department, etc, it is a tightly knit, efficiently packed hive of activity that still exudes the spirit and enthusiasm that John Lingenfelter embodied during this life as a hot rodder, racer, and businessman.
Over the course of our two days hanging out with Ken, we learned a lot about where the world of late model performance is going and how Lingenfelter plans to stay at the forefront of that scene. While at the facility we watched the guys in the engine dyno facility make test pulls with a new LT1 engine on the stand and the power gains were impressive. Lingenfelter has really dedicated serious time and effort into this new engine program to find out what these mills are capable of in stock form and what they can take while being modified. We’re going to talk more about that tomorrow when we show you the Wixom facility, but for now, let’s just say that LPE has as much or more dyno time developing their LT1 products and pieces than anyone else on Earth outside of General Motors themselves.
Let’s take a photo tour of the Lingenfelter Performance Engineering facility in Decatur, Indiana. Read the captions for the rest of the story!