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383 Chevy Small Block Engine - All Dressed Up

John Nelson Aug 1, 2008
0808chp_01_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Aftermarket_parts 2/25
0808chp_01_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Aftermarket_parts 3/25

If you're at all like us, absolutely immersed in a mad rush to squeeze every last bit of horsepower from our internal combustion creations, how the end result looks often ends up as an afterthought. After all, building a high-performance Chevy powerplant isn't a fashion contest-right? Then again, maybe we're stretching the point just a bit too far. While power is no doubt the bottom line, who among us doesn't like to show off their underhood goods with style? With this concept in mind, we decided to search the aftermarket for a variety of engine dress-up pieces, ultimately coming up with 11 different engine looks, each of which was bolted to the same small-block Chevy and photographed for your perusal.

In undertaking this project, our idea was to come up with a collection of looks that included the following pieces: air cleaner, valve covers, water neck, timing cover, and wire looms or separators. Some of our setups were available in all-included kit form, while others were assembled piece-by-piece from the manufacturers' catalogs. We weren't out to show every combination possible; our idea, rather, was to come up with a variety of differently looks, giving you an overview of the dress-up possibilities available and hopefully stimulating your creative flow as you think about outfitting your own powerplants. After all, there's nothing wrong with going fast, and looking good while doing it.

Quick Notes
What we did
Outfit a 383 small-block with an array of engine dress-up pieces

Bottom Line
There's no reason not to have some engine style with its substance


0808chp_02_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Edelbrock_dress_up_kit 4/25
0808chp_02_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Edelbrock_dress_up_kit 5/25

When it comes to Edelbrock's Victor Series dress-up components, it's fair to say black is beautiful. The principal parts are powdercoated, die-cast aluminum with an embossed Edelbrock Racing logo, and the air cleaner comes with a reusable gauze element. The small things count too: We have to admit a fondness for the slick matching breathers.

PN 41613 air cleaner $135
PN 42133 breathers (2) $76
PN 4240 timing cover $82
PN 41733 valve covers $136
PN 4818 water neck $31
PN SUM-G6304 Summit Timing Pointer $2
TOTAL $462

0808chp_03_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Jegs_dress_up_kit 6/25
0808chp_03_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Jegs_dress_up_kit 7/25

If you're looking for one-stop shopping of the polished aluminum type, Jegs has got you covered with its Jegs/Wysco Engine Dress-Up Kit. Everything you need to add some underhood flash is here-we'd add one of Jegs' billet aluminum timing pointers ($27) and call it good.

PN 938-1000K Small-Block Chevy Dress-Up Kit
pair aluminum valve covers
pair valve cover breathers
timing cover
water neck
air cleaner
pair spark plug looms
TOTAL $342

0808chp_04_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Milodon_dress_up_kit 8/25
0808chp_04_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Milodon_dress_up_kit 9/25

Hot rodders have been slapping chrome Milodon valve covers atop their engines for close to 50 years, so we'd be remiss not to include them here. Of course, the look would be incomplete without a Milodon pan-matching gold iridite timing chain cover. It's a classic look with an attractive price, making it wallet-friendly for everyone.

PN 85800 chrome air cleaner $41
PN 85500 chrome valve covers $54
PN 65720 chrome water neck $23
PN 65555 steel timing cover $38
PN 65510 timing pointer $7
TOTAL $163

0808chp_05_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Mr_gasket_dress_up_kit 10/25
0808chp_05_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Mr_gasket_dress_up_kit 11/25

Mr. Gasket
We could have grabbed up one of Mr. Gasket's all-in-one chrome dress-up kits, which go for as low as $85 or so. On the other hand, this veteran company has a wide array of higher-end pieces, so we assembled our own outfit from scratch. Check out the catalog, and you'll see that this is just one of many possible combos.

PN 4598 adjustable timing pointer $9
PN 6854 aluminum valve covers $116
PN 6375 breather grommets $3
PM9115G chrome breather $41
PN 9161G chrome air cleaner, ball-milled $71
PN 9141G chrome aluminum swivel water neck $39
PN 9105G chrome aluminum timing cover $80
PN 9118G chrome PCV breather $42
PN 5335 valve cover hold-downs $13
PN 6016 wire loom kit $17
TOTAL $431

0808chp_06_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Moroso_dress_up_kit 12/25
0808chp_06_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Moroso_dress_up_kit 13/25

There are many choices in its catalog, but we made a beeline for Moroso's new Fiber Design cast-aluminum valve covers, breathers, and air cleaners. What else can we say? They look cool and are available in red/black, gray/black, and blue/black. We chose the latter, the better to complement the Blue Max wires and looms. And dig the Performance Stainless Steel water neck-these things are exquisite.

PN 72521 Blue Max Spiral Core wires $50
PN 65916 Fiber Design air cleaner $90
PN 68724 Fiber Design breathers $40
PN 68407 Fiber Design valve covers $189
PN 72170 show car wire looms $17
PN 1054 Performance Stainless Steel water neck $135
PN SUM-G6300W Summit Cast Aluminum Timing Cover $40
PN SUM-G6304 Summit Timing Pointer $2
TOTAL $563

0808chp_07_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Proform_dress_up_kit 14/25
0808chp_07_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Proform_dress_up_kit 15/25

Proform/Specialty Auto Parts
Proform's ubiquitous engine dress-up components are well known to performance enthusiasts, especially its black crinkle-coated line-which is why we chose to highlight the company's High-Tech Collectors Series. These items are created from stamped steel, then gray epoxy-coated. The kit is pretty complete, so it only took a few extra items to round out the look.

PN 141-333 Bow Tie air cleaner nut $10
PN 141-636 Chevrolet wire looms $10
PN 141-360 High-Tech Collectors Series Kit $180
PN 141-630 oil filler cap $8
PN 141-202 timing pointer $6
PN 141-501 water neck $19
TOTAL $233

0808chp_08_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Scoggin_dickey_dress_up_kit 16/25
0808chp_08_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Scoggin_dickey_dress_up_kit 17/25

We know Scoggin-Dickey is one of the largest GM Performance Parts dealers around, which is why we relied on it as our GMPP representative for this project. We came up with GMPP's classic cast aluminum valve covers, of course, but also landed Scoggin-Dickey's own aluminum air cleaner assembly and very slick three-piece timing cover. It all goes together in fine fashion.

PN 141-333 Bow Tie wing nut $10
PN 12480127 Chevrolet aluminum valve covers $280
PN SD34021 Chevrolet logo satin aluminum
air cleaner assembly $75
PN 141-615 breather grommets $7
PN 141-501 chrome water neck $17
PN 141-365 push-in breathers (2) $22
PN SD60004 three-piece timing chain cover $180
PN BB61915 timing pointer $35
PN ARP200-7603 valve cover studs $17
PN ARP130-7402 water neck bolts $6
PN 12342031 wire separators $53
TOTAL $702

0808chp_09_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Spectre_performance_dress_up_kit 18/25
0808chp_09_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Spectre_performance_dress_up_kit 19/25

Spectre Performance
First, we'd be lost without the Spectre aisle at our local auto parts store. Second, the company makes a few pocket-friendly chrome dress-up kits. Third, and most important, Spectre also makes a variety of higher-end valve covers and a bunch of new intake setups. We couldn't resist this wild Dual Plenum kit, or the very nice fabbed valve covers.

PN 42313 chrome water neck $13
PN 42353 chrome timing cover $25
PN 9738 cone air filters (2) $80
PN 5031 fabricated aluminum valve covers $145
PN 771 Muscle Car Air Intake Dual Plenum Kit $200
PN 42859 regular push-in breather $16
PN 42869 shielded push-in breather $18
PN 46023 silicone wire separators $17
PN 4237 timing tab $7
TOTAL $521

0808chp_10_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Summit_racing_dress_up_kit 20/25
0808chp_10_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Summit_racing_dress_up_kit 21/25

Summit Racing
Without a doubt, Summit's chrome engine dress-up kit is the bang-for-your-buck champ of this little endeavor. A mere 40 bucks gets you valve covers with gaskets, a timing cover with bolts and gaskets, a timing pointer, an air cleaner assembly, and a breather with a grommet. With a few additions, you've still got a complete outfit for less than $100.

PN SUM-CSUM103 Engine dress-up kit $40
PN SUM-G3800 chrome water neck $10
PN SUM-G3400 push-in breather $7
PN SUM-G3434 valve cover holdown tabs $18
PN SUM-G3420-4 valve cover wing nuts $14

0808chp_11_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Trans_dapt Dress_up_kit 22/25
0808chp_11_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Trans_dapt Dress_up_kit 23/25

Trans-Dapt Performance Products
We knew we had to have an example of the classic finned look for this piece, and Trans-Dapt happily obliged us. We got the old-school finned aluminum valve covers we expected, but also a finned air cleaner assembly and breathers. Still not enough fins for you? Trans-Dapt also makes a matching finned oil pan for early blocks with a driver-side dipstick.

PN 6015 aluminum timing chain cover w/ pointer $89
PN 4878 breather grommets (2) $4
PN 6611 finned aluminum breathers (2) $94
PN 6026 finned oval air cleaner assembly $130
PN 6602 finned valve covers $179
PN 6003 polished aluminum water neck $29
PN 4936 T-bar valve cover wingnuts (2) $26
PN 9576 wire separators $10
  TOTAL $561

0808chp_12_z 383_chevy_small_block_engine Zoops_dress_up_kit 24/25
0808chp_12_s 383_chevy_small_block_engine Zoops_dress_up_kit 25/25

Zoops is well known for its array of engine bracket and pulley setups, and also for its forged steering wheels. We headed for the dress-up section of the catalog, settling on a full set of matching ball-milled components, a popular look that we rounded out with a Performance Stainless Steel water neck and Summit timing cover. The valve covers, air cleaner, and wire looms are also available in the finned Newstalgia look.

PN 1250 oval air cleaner, ball-milled $140
PN 3100 oval breather, ball-milled $38
PN 3150 oval PCV, ball-milled $38
PN 1550 tall valve covers, ball-milled $118
PN 2000 universal wirelooms, ball-milled $65
PN SUM-G6300W Summit Cast Aluminum Timing Cover $40
PN SUM-G6304 Summit Timing Pointer $2
PN 1054 Performance Stainless Steel water neck $135
TOTAL $576


Summit Racing
Akron, OH
Trans-Dapt Performance Products
Whittier, CA 90602
Spectre Performance
Ontario, CA 90761
Simi Valley, CA 93065
Zoops Products Inc.
Banning, CA
Proform/Specialty Auto Parts
Roseville, MI 48066
Performance Stainless Steel
Scotts Valley, CA 95067



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