Who is PhoenixEngine.com?
How did PhoenixEngine.com start and why? Randy DiRocco is the owner and founder of Phoenix Engine Rebuilders, the predecessor to PhoenixEngine.com. Randy spent his formative years in the automotive industry with his father, Ralph DiRocco, who was referred to as a ‘natural’ in the field of mechanics. As a teenager, Randy worked with Ralph, always inquisitive as to what made an engine run. The early 1960s was an era of some of the most unique muscle cars in our history. Randy’s first official muscle car was a yellow and white two door 1955 Chevy BelAir. He worked on it constantly, and cruised Central Avenue which was in its heyday. (And yes, Randy attended Central High.) After school was out each day, Randy began making extra money working on muscle cars for friends and neighbors, and he pioneered the idea of tilting the front end of a car.
“I would take the fenders and the hood, bolt them together and hinge them from the core support that I bolted solid and custom fitted. I would use a retractable seat belt cut at length to hold the front end at approximately 90 degrees. This would enable me to tilt the front end which means you could unpin and open each fender and tilt the front end forward to expose the engine compartment,” says Randy. Tilting was an idea which swept the Phoenix area for many years. “I remember we used to sit across from Park Central on Central Avenue in my ’55 Chevy with the tilt front end up, and dozens of guys would stop by, wanting me to tilt their vehicles. I charged them a whopping $25 to $45 per vehicle… but remember, gas was only 25 cents a gallon then!”
Developing horsepower became the next target of Randy’s energy. He took his 283 V8 Chevy and had a machine shop bore it out to extreme 4″ bore. This technically made it a 301 cubic inch engine. The idea came from a 302 Chevy engine that was only made for a few years for the Cameros. This particular yellow and white 1955 Chevy became well known in the early days in Phoenix as a car that would ‘launch’ (or ‘take-off’), accelerating so rapidly it would ‘pull off’ the front wheels. Randy’s enthusiasm for more power increased at a comparable rate, and he began to develop engines that would not only hold up but embodied reliable streetability. He knew even at a young age that the Muscle Car rage would never die. When Randy first officially opened his shop in 1969 it was ironic that one of his first customers was the State Highway Patrol. They wanted him to beef up their Chevys and their AMCs to try and catch the drag racers and muscle car guys…! Randy has always wondered if they realized he himself was probably one of their prime suspects. His involvement with race cars, drag racing and formula cars led to the development of what he called driveable pro street cars. For example, he built a 1966 Chevy II that was body shell only with a complete custom built fabricated frame, roll cage and all, tilt front end with 500+ hp on the street. This was popular and he began building the same for many others: Chevelles, Cameros, Mustangs, Shelbys, and yes even a GT500 was built this way. He also sub framed and built Dodge Dusters, Challengers with small blocks, and big block and Hemi type engines. The 1970s and 1980s were significant for customers requesting a custom or powerful 4 wheel drive. By now Phoenix Engine Rebuilders had built not only muscle cars but now was also building custom four wheel drives for those looking for 300 to 900+ hp. “I was amazed to see the explosion across the country of what this new breed of consumer wanted,” Randy said. “So I decided once again to build a custom engine. We developed and engineered a 427 Chevy small block During the development period of this engine I chose a 1971 Blazer and went from a stock looking 4 wheel drive Blazer to a 475 hp small block Chevy with a custom build dual range, dual shift transfer case, with all 1 ton Dana azels with a 21″ custom spring lift kit. This meant that the vehicle originally sat on 35″ tires, and it was 28″ to the bottom of the door. When we installed the first-ever made (for Phoenix) 44″ monster motor tires, the bottom of the door was sitting 36″ off the ground!” After researching and developing the engine, Randy used his experience and knowledge to develop a 4 wheel drive that could take off from a dead stop and literally smoke all four tires up through the first range of gears. The 1971 Blazer Randy started with became known under three registered names: “Randy’s Tough Truck®,” “Big Red®,” and “Arizona Animal®.” … “Big Red®” was always Randy’s favorite. In the 1970s this particular truck gained local and national popularity, and national companies started sending hundreds of free products to bolt on the truck for advertising and display. This was an exiting time for the development and custom building of engines of all categories. Then we entered what Randy terms the “Emission 80s.” In Randy’s opinion, this was a sad time for muscle cars, 4 wheel drives, and all vehicles in general but we had to comply with the new realm of smog and emissions control. And yes, the emissions controls do help. It was the onset of this era that caused Randy to decide to develop a cam and engine which would produce the horsepower needed to satisfy the customer who wanted his hot rod or muscle car to be powerful, while at the same time the cam could make it through emissions control. This was the birth of the POWER 1® cam and POWER 1® engine. Today Phoenix Engine Rebuilders have POWER 1®, POWER 2®, POWER 3® and POWER 4 ®engines and cams to meet your every need. Today the cams and engines Phoenix Engine Rebuilders are developing and installing provide more power to enthusiasts of muscle cars, 4 wheel drives, and SUVs while still getting them through emissions testing. These engines and cams are popularly known as being ’emissions friendly.’ The demand has expanded beyond Arizona to other states such as California, Texas, and Ohio. Phoenix Engine Rebuilders has built stock and performance engines for every situation: stock engines, muscle cars, pickups, Jeeps, 4x4s, and even RVs that would perform. Phoenix Engine Rebuilders has been a family owned business since its inception in 1969. For the past 18 years, Randy’s own son David has joined him in the business, specializing in cams. The staff has grown to encompass highly qualified mechanics, technicians, and counter men. The DiRoccos have made a trademark of developing engines built with quality parts. Over the past 40+ years more than 134,000 engines have been rebuilt at Phoenix Engine Rebuilders, providing power and mileage satisfaction to their customers for a ‘middle-of-the-road’ price tag. These engines are the testament to the reliability and durability on the street that is needed in this harsh Arizona climate, and provided by Phoenix Engine Rebuilders.
21632 N 7th Ave, Suite 1, Phoenix AZ 85027
SW corner of 7th Ave & Deer Valley Rd,
right across from Deer Valley Airport entrance.
602 866-8044 or toll free 888-766-8044