A Special Look At Small-Block Cylinder Heads

Cylinder Heads That Will Transform Your Small-Block

Jeff Smith Jan 1, 2003 0 Comment(s)

Step By Step

Brodix’s new and improved version of the venerable Track 1 has a much stronger flow curve. This head has a 215cc intake port that is ideal for larger-displacement street small-blocks like 383ci and 406ci engines.

Edelbrock has revised versions of the Performer and Performer RPM heads that employ new chambers and significantly improved intake and exhaust ports. Both heads feature a 170cc intake port and 2.02/1.60-inch stainless steel valves.

One key to increased flow is a taller short-side radius (arrow) that directs airflow around the entire valve opening instead of just the upper portion of the bowl.

One area of a cylinder head that is difficult to quantify is the combustion chamber. Look for shallow, heart-shaped chambers like on this Edelbrock...

...instead of the stock bathtub-style variety (4b). Late-model chambers can reduce ignition- timing requirements and make power with a leaner air/fuel ratio.

Virtually all aftermarket heads come with screw-in studs, guideplates, stainless steel valves, and decent valvesprings. These are all upgrades that must be purchased separately for stock iron heads. This makes the new heads a better deal.

The area directly underneath the valve seat is the place to concentrate a majority of any porting work.

Properly rebuilding a stock iron head requires expensive machine work. By the time you buy new valves, screw-in studs, and guideplates, machine the heads for guides, and do a valve job with new springs, the price can exceed that of new replacement heads such as the World Products S/R Torquer or the Vortec head.

Rumor has it GM Performance Parts will soon release a newly revised Fast Burn aluminum small-block head. This is the first- generation Fast Burn head. Note: This 210cc-intake-port head offers both the standard and Vortec-style intake-bolt pattern.

It’s no secret anymore. Even the most basic street runner knows that if you want to make more power, invest your cash in a better cylinder head. The aftermarket knows this too. Catalogs and mail-order houses are bulging with small-block Chevy cylinder heads, all just waiting for you to plunk down your money.

Since there are so many choices, selecting the right cylinder head is a daunting challenge. We’ve combed the catalogs, surfed the Web sites, and flossed through flow charts searching for the best heads for the money. We’ve also uncovered a raft of new heads that are about to hit the streets. This story will fill you in on what’s new and which cylinder head is the right one to transform your small-block into a boulevard star.

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