Behind the Curtain: Moroso Shop Tour
For most of us, oil pans are an afterthought, the last piece of our intricate engine puzzle. In reality though, oil is the lifeblood of an engine, and the oiling system is more important than most people realize. Not only does it keep an expensive engine from tearing itself apart, but the right oiling system can actually add horsepower as well as extend the life of your engine.
Few companies know oiling systems as well as Moroso. Founded in 1968 by a successful drag racer by the name of Dick Moroso, the company started as many do, by accident. Noticing Dick’s dominance on the track, other racers came to Dick wanting to buy his custom built parts. When Dick retired from racing, he started selling parts, mostly for Chevy engines, but has since expanded to include just about every major automobile manufacturer, from Ford to Subaru and beyond. Moroso started out just making oil pans, and their deep-sump oil pan designs were among some of the innovative parts that got their name out across the national stage.
But Moroso makes more than just oil pans, and with over 3,000 products spread out across a 300 page catalog, Moroso is one of the most diverse aftermarket parts manufacturers around. They are a company of gearheads and speedfreaks, and many of them have worked at Moroso for a decade or longer, and they even volunteer their own cars to use as testbeds. I was given a chance to tour their manufacturing and distribution center in Guilford, Connecticut. Thor Schroeder, the National Sales and Marketing Manager, took me through the extensive warehouse Moroso calls home.
Research and Development
“Most car manufacturers design the oil pan around the rest of the engine,” Thor says as we stand in the R&D department. “But oil is the lifeblood of an engine. It is the single most important ingredient in a successful race car and can affect everything from engine longevity to horsepower.” Every desk in the development department is cluttered with paperwork and engine parts and every computer screen has a CAD design program on it. “Sometimes it just starts with an idea on a piece of paper before it even makes it to the computer screen,” says Thor. “But we’re always looking to improve and develop our parts further, to stay ahead of the market and respond to the customers.”
To those ends, Moroso is constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to designing new products and improving current ones. One example is their computerized distributors, which 95% of NASCAR teams currently use under the hoods of their cars. But because of heat issues under aforementioned hoods, Moroso had to figure out a way to deliver the equivalent performance without the high-tech computer chip wizardry. NASCAR engine builders are a picky bunch, and they want everything and more, but that just pushes Moroso to further enhance and fine-tune their products.
Test, Test, Test
But making a quality car component is about more than just design. The products need to be tested, early and often. That is why Moroso has its own engine dyno…along with eight or nine different engines just sitting around, waiting for a new component to be tested. While I was there they had an LQ9 engine on the dyno, testing an oil pan and electric waterpump among other bits. “We’ve gone through three or four of these,” Thor says, referring to the engine dyno. “They get used a lot.” One of the ways Moroso tests their products is with a see-through oil pan, so they can learned exactly how the oil reacts to different designs.
After listening to the sweet symphony of the LQ9, Thor led me to the warehouse where all the parts get stamped, welded, built, and shipped. This place just kept going and going and going. Moroso has many cutting edge CNC machines on site to handle much of the precise cutting work, but when it comes to welding, it is all done by hand.
There were at least a dozen different welding stations and even more engine blocks to insure proper fitment. Each worker had a specialty, whether it was welding steel or aluminum, though all were equally capable of building any of the various oil pans and other parts on hand. Moroso also works with customers to build custom one-off pieces, though these sometimes end up being produced en masse as other customers seek them out as well. “We’ll work with a customer to find out what fitments and specifications they need,” says Thor. “We get different feedback from different racers, and this helps us actively improve our product line.”
Moroso In Motion
The extensive testing Moroso puts their parts through can be epitomized with the two cars in the back garage tucked behind all the CNC machines. Right now the garage holds a 2008 Mustang and a 2009 Dodge Challenger. These two cars serve as testing beds for many of Moroso’s products. While the Challenger is currently stripped down, the Mustang is all but finished (is any project car ever really finished though?) The list of parts equipped to what Moroso calls the “GTM” Mustang is too extensive to go into detail, but some of the parts include control arms, an exhaust kit, 8-point roll bar, and valve covers. A RoushCharger supercharger system has also been added to beef up the power output. Thor also hinted that a 2010 Camaro should be coming into the garage soon as well.
With so many parts under one roof, you can almost assemble a whole car from Moroso’s parts bin. Well, not quite. But you can find just about anything you might need, and even if you don’t, just ask. They might be able to make it for you anyway. That’s how Moroso got started, and it is how they will keep on going forward.