From the mid 1990s to the early 2000s, the 454 and 502 Magnum engines were most powerful engine offerings in Mercury Marine’s MerCruiser stern-drive engine line. For buyers lacking the financial wherewithal to step up—and the step was mighty tall—to a Mercury Racing engine product, those stalwart, torque-rich powerplants found their way into more than a few sportboat engine compartments, where they still are to this day with warranties long gone.
Saris/Performance Marine is focusing on once-popular 454 And 502 Magnum engine upgrade packages.
Jason Saris of Saris Racing Engines—the custom engine-building branch of Performance Marine—and the rest of the crew at the established powerboat service, rigging restoration company in Lake George, N.Y., view this as an opportunity for power upgrades. Especially during the past three or four years, they’ve “seen an influx,” according to Johnny Saris, of 454 and 502 Magnum engines coming into the shop for everything from valve jobs to complete rebuilds.
“We couldn’t help but ask ourselves, ‘Why waste them?’” said Johnny Saris, who shares the cockpit of the Saris Racing Engines raceboat with his father, Jason, the co-founder of Performance Marine. “There are a ton of upgrade kits available for newer engines and we do a lot of Whipple upgrades for people, but that is an expensive proposition.”