Golen 396 LT1 Engine Build - It's Alive!

Testing Golen's Monster 396 LT1

Upon bringing his creation to life, Dr. Henry Frankenstein exclaimed, "Now I know what it feels like to be God!" Chad Golen was hoping to accomplish the same task with his '94 Camaro. Only instead of a brain, his creation would require a heart to bring it to life. Since we had already covered Golen Engine Service's careful construction of 383 LT1s, this seemed the perfect opportunity to put to task one of Golen's 396 cubic-inch, 520-horse monsters. With the help of good tuning and a few go-fast parts this puppy should be capable of propelling a late-model F-body well into the 11s on drag radials.

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With a tank full of go-juice and the iPod plugged in, it was off to Golen's 12,000-square foot shop in Hudson, N.H. Things hadn't changed much since my last visit--still the same hard working crew and state of the art equipment.

But in comparison to Golen's 383, this new 396 was much different. For one, a Callies 4340 forged crank would provide 3.875-inches of stroke, which, when combined with a 4.030 bore, establishes displacement at 396 cubic inches. Scat 4340 6-inch forged steel rods are also standard equipment on this stroker, along with SRP forged pistons. The bigger cubes also require big heads, so Golen uses bare Trickflow LT1 aluminum castings to create a custom top end. After hand porting and polishing the runners and combustion chambers, the heads are milled to achieve around 11.5 to 1 compression ratio in naturally aspirated builds such as Chad's. A five-angle valve job, Manley stainless steel 2.02 and 1.60 valves, COMP Cams valvesprings, and Viton valve seals are then installed. When combined with a COMP 236/244 duration, .585/.576-inch lift, 112LSA hydraulic roller, Golen advertises power at 520 horses at 6,200 rpm and 490 ft-lbs of torque at 4,000 rpm. While this cam may not pass emissions in some states, it is otherwise very street-friendly and will feel perfectly at home with the Precision Industries 3000-stall converter and 4.10 gears in our test subject.

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Chad exchanged a stripped '94 Camaro for a short-block a few years ago after selling his last hot rod. Since then, it has eagerly awaited a new powerplant, transmission, and a few other odds and ends. The car was originally equipped with a 4L60E, and he had no intentions of changing things up, so he called JJ's Automotive to obtain a low mileage four-speed automatic tranny. Once Chad had obtained a few odds and ends like a water pump, pulleys, and alternator, it was just a matter of bolting up a set of Hooker long tube headers and bending a custom exhaust.

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With all of the formalities taken care of, the last step in the buildup was taking the Z to the chassis dyno for tuning. Just like on the engine dyno, Bryan Herter of PCMforLess would be dialing-in the 396-cube monster for its new home, as well as the new transmission. Assuming a 25 percent drivetrain loss with the loose converter, 4.10 gears and tall drag radials, Chad's Z should be making around 390 horsepower on Performance Dyno's Dynojet in nearby Concord, N.H. In a 3,400-pound F-body, this should translate to solid 11-second time slips.

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