Ask investors of the daredevil persuasion about mutual funds, and there's a good chance that before admitting that they -- like more than 90 million other U.S. investors -- own 'em too, you'll get an earful about how funds are inherently conservative, buttoned-down investment vehicles that play SUV (or perhaps even Winnebago) to the sports cars that are individual equities.

Au contraire
To be sure, you can find plenty of funds that fit that profile, but that's also true of individual stocks.

After all, for every Genentech (NYSE:DNA) and Univision Communications (NYSE:UVN) -- go-go growth stocks that currently sport outsized earnings-growth estimates and price-to-earnings (P/E) multiples to match -- you can also find value-priced fare such as refinery giant Valero (NYSE:VLO) and credit card king Capital One Financial (NYSE:COF), companies with P/E ratios that hover close to single-digit territory despite their market-beating long-haul track records.

As with all generalizations, those about mutual funds are best taken with a block of salt -- particularly when they come from your friendly neighborhood stock jock.

Let's concentrate
In the May issue of Motley Fool Champion Funds, the Fool newsletter service that I head up, we zeroed in on the most aggressive fund I've yet recommended. While it has generally focused on mid-cap names, this fund has lately favored such big boys as Nucor (NYSE:NUE), BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP), and Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI). And I do mean "focused": As of March 31, the fund held fewer than 25 names; the typical equity fund sports roughly 175 positions.

That level of concentration can lead to pockets of turbulence. But I wouldn't have recommended the fund to subscribers if I didn't think it struck a Championship profile. It does that in spades. The fund made its debut in September 1997, and between October of that year and the close of this past March, its total return shellacs that of the S&P by more than 300 percentage points.

That said
I wouldn't encourage even the most aggressive of investors to sink all of their money into this speed demon. Instead, as part of a well-designed asset-allocation game plan, dedicating a portion of your investment moola here can help tilt your portfolio toward racier equities, rather than sending it careening headlong into them.

That's the beauty of funds: They make smart asset allocation a cinch. Once you've designed an asset-allocation game plan that suits your timeline and tolerance for risk, funds make filling out your portfolio relatively light work -- provided, of course, you know where to look.

The Foolish bottom line
What's that? You're not exactly sure where to look, and you don't have an asset-allocation game plan just yet?

Not to worry. The Fool in general and Champion Funds in particular is here to help. If you're interested in sneaking a peek at our complete list of recommendations, a free guest pass is yours for the clicking. Your pass gives you 30 days to peruse the service, which includes our members-only discussion boards, back-issue archives, and model portfolios. That way, you'll have time to see if the newsletter is a good fit for your investing style.

There's no obligation to subscribe, so just click here to take Champion Funds for a test drive. I'm biased, of course, but my hunch is that even those folks who consider themselves investing daredevils (you know who you are) will be glad they did.

This article was originally published on May 9, 2006. It has been updated.

Shannon Zimmerman runs point on the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service and at the time of publication didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. Check out the Fool's strict disclosure policy.