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Book review: How to build and power tune Holly carburetors

Des Hammill’s book was published in the UK in October 2005, making it recent and relevant in chronological terms — especially for the auto industry, where tuner books are often a decade or two old — but sometimes less than complete for American buyers, especially those with vehicles not made by GM. That said, How to build and power tune Holley carburetors seems to be a good storehouse of knowledge and practical advice for those with the specific carburetors in the book — the two barrel 2300, four barrel 4150 and 4160, and emissions-type four-barrel 4180 and 4190. There is information useful for those with other Holly carbs, and for that matter those with other carbs in general, but the focus is on that group.

Hammill’s advice is based on both theory and research, and is not simply a repetition of service bulletins or prejudiced ideas about how things should work; he’s clearly tried out a vast number of combinations, guided by a basic knowledge of these specific carburetors and fuel / air movement in general. He also does not have a tunnel-vision emphasis, but considers street use and straight racing, combination approaches, and gas mileage (important even in racing) and emissions.

While Hammill clearly loves Holley, and only specifies that company’s products in his guide to choosing the right carburetor, it can be useful even to those who prefer, say, Carter or Weber. Likewise, the sizeable guide to identifying secondhand carbs and components can be essential to those rebuilding or seeking a starting point for replacement. One unique point of this focused and targeted book is the guide to categorizing and specifying metering blocks. A more generic but useful feature is a tuning sequence for two and four barrel carburetors.

Des Hammill has written a number of books for Veloce Publishing, and for good reason: he’s a good writer who is easy to follow. If you have a car with one of the carbs in this book, or are planning to get and tune one of these gadgets, we can confidently recommend How to build and power tune Holley carburetors despite what some may see as a fairly stiff price for a 128-page book (with 125 color photos).

Available from Motorbooks, Veloce Publishing, or Amazon.

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