As the recession hits hard across the nation, a good majority of us are scraping together what we can to get the biggest bang for the buck-stretching each dollar for all it's worth.
We'll do anything to keep the project car fund going: garage sales and a lemonade stand-then again, maybe not.
What to do when the coffers are light? There's no better way to coax more out of an existing base short-block than with a premium set of high-flowing cylinder heads and an intake manifold paired with a more aggressive camshaft. Trust us, your engine will thank you. The formula is very simple. Since air and fuel work in conjunction to create power, any addition to-or method of refining-that process will extrapolate additional ponies. In some cases, as much as 100 additional horsepower can be had.
What we have done this month is present top end kits available for almost any mild-compression 350- to 383ci small-block from nearly every name in the game. Not only are they affordable, but these packages come ready to bolt on, with some kits even including all the necessary hardware such as gaskets, head bolts, and custom valve covers. While these kits are all available through the manufacturers, many can also be sourced through various mail-order websites such as Summitracing.com, Jegs.com, Dougherbert.com, and GMperformanceparts.com. The good new is, these kits are designed to be completely bolt-on and installed in your own garage over the course of a weekend. Follow along to check out the wide selection of packages available for your small-block.
What We Did
A guide to the most affordable small-block top end kits
Eliminate the guesswork and add up to 130 hp with these proven packages
$1,000 and up
With Brodix, their small-block top end kit comes with a pair of fully CNC-ported cylinder heads featuring a 200cc intake port and flows 288 cfm with blended bowls. These 23-degree cylinder heads utilize all the standard components but upgrade to slightly larger 2.08-inch intake valves and traditional 1.60-inch exhaust valves. These kits are a perfect fit for most 355- to 406ci small-blocks with a 9.5 to 10.5:1 compression ratio that will see power from idle to 6,500 rpm. The IK line of cylinder heads come fully assembled with 1.250-inch hydraulic springs with a 0.525-inch maximum lift. Fel-Pro intake and head gaskets are also included, as are ARP head bolts.
What it cost
Where to get it
Building affordable horsepower is what it's all about. Dart's Pro 1 200cc top end kit uses advanced wet flow testing to redesign the chambers for improved fuel distribution while spark plugs are located high and as close to the center of the chamber as possible. Even valveguide bosses are profiled and casting walls are cleaner and more consistent for greater control over flow, heat, and combustion. The Pro 1 heads come fully assembled and feature 200cc intake runners, although 180-, 215-, and 230cc intakes are also available. While they all come with 2.02/1.60-inch intake/exhaust valves, 72cc or 64cc combustion chambers and straight or angle plugs are also options. Dart's single-plane, high-rise manifold is performance-matched to the cylinder heads and features a raised water crossover with dual-planes available as options. Extra-tall valve covers and virtually every gasket and fastener are also provided.
What it cost
$1,900 & up
Where to get it