The Chevy 409 has earned a rightful place in high-performance history thanks to its early success in Super Stock drag racing--and a certain pop song by the Beach Boys. But with a relatively brief production run that lasted from 1961 through 1965 in cars and 1962 through 1966 in trucks, perhaps only 100,000 409s were produced. Finding a good one today is next to impossible, and if you do, you'll need to wrestle it away from the restoration crowd.
Few enthusiasts realize there's a budget-friendly alternative to a scarce 409. We're talking about the comparatively unloved 348. Introduced in 1958 as the first member of Chevy's big-block engine family, hundreds of thousands were installed in passenger cars between 1958 and 1961, plus a bunch more in heavy-duty 1-ton Chevy trucks right up through 1966. Most experts agree that 348 production outpaced 409 production 5-to-1, so there are still plenty to choose from. We see 'em at swap meets all the time.
No, the 348 never inspired a hit pop song, but thanks to renewed interest from the aftermarket, you can transform a 348 into a 434-cube monster with enough power to rival any similarly built small- or big-block. The key ingredients are Edelbrock's new Performer RPM 409 aluminum heads, an Eagle stroker crank and H-beam rods, Ross pistons, an Isky solid roller cam, and a new single-plane four-barrel intake manifold from Lamar Walden.
Roll it all together with quality machine work, and you're looking at well over 500 hp at 6,200 rpm and 500 lb-ft at 5,500 rpm. The upshot is that we have a potent new engine family to play with, and can you imagine the shocked look on people's faces when you pop the hood on your Camaro, Chevelle, or Nova and they see one of these?
Let's watch as Joe Jill and the crew at Superior Automotive prepare and assemble the stroked short-block. Next month we'll complete the buildup and run it on the dyno.
What We Did
Transform a forgotten 348ci into a stroker 434ci
Its a potent package!