Nickies™ for 356 & 912 models

LN Engineering is proud to offer our Nickies™, the ultimate cylinders for your powerful & reliable aircooled engine.


356It is not always that you hear high performance and long life paired together, especially when referring to performance aircooled engines. It is very typical, even with high-powered cooling systems, that high-performance engines run too hot, and as you know heat kills!

Higher operating temperatures result in a thermally overloaded engine that, among other things, has cylinders that fail to seal against the head or can’t stay round, requires constant maintenance, and has a significantly shorter life spans versus stock configuration engines.

Displacement alone doesn’t make it better, Nickies™ make it run cooler and make more power.

Our Nickies™ package is the culmination of every technological advance related to pistons and cylinders for your aircooled engine!

Nickies™ make the difference!


Slip-fit Machine-in
80, 81mm
82.5, 83, 83.5, 85, 86mm 90mm, 91mm

Before ordering Nickies, we’ll need to know your cylinder head chamber cc volumes to provide you the correct pistons for your application.

Looking for more horsepower and torque on a budget? LN Engineering also offers reconditioned Mahle alloy cylinders in 82.5 through 86mm sizes.

The first Nickies™-equipped 356 built by William Noblitt producing 160 reliable HP!

Our NSC-plated, CNC billet, solid aluminum Nickies™ provide:

  • Limited lifetime warranty on NSC-plating
  • Increased cooling significantly reduces head and oil temperatures
  • Increased strength
  • Increased ductility
  • Increased horsepower over similar sized cast-iron cylinders
  • Significantly reduced cylinder wear and increased ring life due to superior oiling (nickel silicon carbide composite coating is oleophilic i.e. oil-liking)
  • Quiet operation
  • Greater flexibility with custom or single replacement cylinders
  • Interchangeability with factory cylinders allowing use of factory tin and air deflectors
  • Cylinders can be re-honed or re-plated at a fraction of the original price
  • The largest available bore sizes for any given engine with longevity and durability exceeding that of stock factory cylinders
  • ARP Head Studs or equivalent head studs required
  • Nickies™ ruled as legal in SCCA as replacement cylinders. Read the ruling here.

We bring “6-cylinder” performance to your “4-cylinder” without sacrificing reliability.

Frequently asked questions regarding our 1883cc Nickies™

My mechanic says you cannot build an engine larger than 1720cc and have it be reliable. Is this true?

No. Nickies allow for increased displacment with no loss of longevity or reliability.

Typical 1720cc 86mm cylinders have very thin cylinder walls and it is this fact coupled with their poor cooling that causes the main limitation to making more useable and reliable horsepower. Some engine builders won’t even build a 1720 for this reason with cast iron (biral style 86s should NEVER be used).

Nickies™ provide superior cooling allowing for additional displacement. Our 1883cc big bore kits are machine-in, requiring your case and cylinder heads to be “opened up” to accept our thick-wall cylinders. This allows for thicker cylinder walls without weakening the case or heads.

Why should I build an 1883cc over a 1720cc engine?

When you do make more power than stock, you make more heat, further stressing the engine. There are three things that kill engines – heat, rpms, and excessive compression. To make horsepower with a 1720cc engine, you have to turn higher rpms and run more compression than an 1883cc engine.

With an 1883cc engine, useable power comes on much lower RPM than with a 1720cc engine, while not requiring as much compression or high RPMs to extract similar horsepower. Driveability will always be superior with an 1883 over that of a 1720, and once you drive an 1883, you won’t want anything smaller.

Furthermore, many engine builders have reported excellent results using C or later crankshaft and rods with our 1883cc Nickies™ kits, eliminating the needs for a billet crankshaft or billet connecting rods, or even additional oil cooling, due to all of the benefits of our 1883cc Nickies, which provides thousands in savings, making Nickies a worthwhile investment in an engine that is long-lived.


But don’t just take our word for it. The best testimonials are from enthusiasts like William Noblitt, who races a 356 with Nickies and also has built numerous engines featuring Nickies cylinders:


April 10th. Charles, finished the dyno work today. Didn’t spend a tremendous amount of time on the dyno but got it awfully darn close. The readouts are not direct so the data has to be put in a spread sheet to give the actual torque / horse power figures. I’ll share that with you when I get the figures. Will say that Les Long from Air Power Racing who has the dyno said the figures were getting real close to what he is getting out of his race engine. Of course he is running at least 2 points higher a compression ratio with a little more than .050″ additional lift at the cam and about 30 degrees more duration, a 1720 piston/cylinder set up, considerably lighter flywheel/pressure plate, etc in his all out race engine. His horse power and torque are considerably higher up the RPM range than mine due to the radical cam.

May 3rd: You will be happy to hear that I ran the engine in my Convertible D (photos
enclosed) at the Intermountain Region PCA’s club race one day in Las Vegas this past weekend. I performed flawlessly and amazingly. I used to race Formula V about 25 years ago (though I haven’t been on a track a speed since) so possibly I have a little more experience on track than some of the drivers there so some of the comparisons may be misleading yet the numbers are true.

During the weekend in the last 2 sessions once I got used to the car and engine there was only one car that passed me, was either a late model 911 Carrera or 993, and that was only under breaking as my old drum breaks were essentially nonexistent after slowing the car down 3 or for times from 120 MPH. Incidentally, the car that passed me got pushed so hard through turns
1-4 that it didn’t make turn 5– so the torque and power this thing is putting out is great. People watching said the car appeared to be faster through the infield portion of the track than any of the other cars there.

At then of the two straight that are associated with the oval, I was turning between 7000-7500 RPMS in 4th gear with a top speed of around 120. Might have been able to get a little more out of it had I not had to straight slowing so early before the corners at the end of the straights. Sessions were 20 minutes long and there was none of the loss of power/speed that Duane was afraid there would be going down the long straights– that he mentioned was a problem with the aluminum/biral cylinders that Porsche initially used with the Super 90s.

Should also mention that Les Long was my instructor and for the first 3 laps of the opening session drove the car to show me the track. He said the car pulled as good as his race car, it just topped out earlier due to the milder cam.

September 9th. After the dyno runs I installed it in my Convertible D and did some incidental driving and ran it in a hill climb. The hill climb was one I do every year and I didn’t quite meet my expectations. I was 2 seconds faster than I had ever been before, yet it was an extremely cold day and the tires were not sticking at all or I would have easily gotten under 2:10 which has been my goal for years. Still got within tenths of seconds.

William Noblitt can be contacted by email to answer any of your questions or share his experiences with our Nickies™ cylinders.


What connecting rods should I use with Nickies™?

For the majority of street builds, a set of C or later stock connecting rods will be more than sufficient, as most of our JE Pistons are significantly lighter than the stock pistons, even at 90mm! However, for those who want to upgrade their connecting rods, we offer our special-order billet H beam R&R Pro steel connecting rods, allowing for even more significant reciprocating mass savings (means your engine lasts longer). Our rods feature ARP’s newest Custom Age 625 bolts, made especially for R&R Racing Products, delivering the strongest rod money can buy.

What camshaft should I use with big bore 1720cc or 1883cc Nickies™?

Planning on building an 1883 for your Porsche 356 or 912? We have your camshaft! 100% new cams ground on new billets. Available in two popular grinds – Torquer and Performer street grinds.

The Torquer grind provides excellent low end torque and makes peak power by 5000 rpm – equivalent to “Maestro” grind. The Torquer cam is also suitable for 1600-1720cc engines.

Our Performer grind is good to 6000-6500 rpm with plenty of torque at 2500 rpm – a very wide powerband for all kinds of driving and is also suitable for 1720cc engines.

All cams ground by Dema Elgin, Elgin Cams.

What cylinder heads can I use with my 1883cc 90mm Nickies™?

For the majority of street builds, a set of stock B or later heads will deliver excellent torque, but for the ultimate in performance, we offer our RS170 (170 cfm flow intakes) or race prep RS200 (200 cfm flow intakes) cylinder head services. Intake manifolds must be provided with your cylinder heads for port matching, if desired. Turnaround is approximately 4 months on customer supplied heads (must be virgin, unmodified heads).

What crankshaft should I use with my 1883cc 90mm Nickies™?

For the majority of street builds, a STD or .010″ under C or later crankshaft is optimal, but many have used the B crankshafts without any issues.

Where do I get base shims for my 1883cc 90mm Nickies™?

We offer a selection of base shim/gaskets in sizes varying from .010″ to .040″ in stock and custom thicknesses special order with delivery in approximately 2 weeks. Base shims are used to adjust your deck height and set your final compression ratio.