What We Did
Give an old-school 355ci a new look and a lot more power
We gained 111 hp and 600 rpm on the dyno with a simple top-end kit
Mystery engines are always more entertaining than their crate/off-the-shelf brethren; not knowing what's on the inside can make them more or less interesting real fast. Our mystery motor could have high-compression pistons with forged internals ... or it could have a less-than-willing stock bottom end with a set of beat-up main bearings-it's just part of the deal when getting into a running car or engine secondhand. Originally, this little goose sat between the framerails of a second-gen Camaro, Henry D's project F73, to be exact. And as most of you know, we pulled this old slug from the car to perform a perfect summer makeover and also to give us as much room as possible for the chassis to be retrofitted with an all-new Detroit Speed suspension.
Considering our little mill was in perfect running order before we pulled it, we couldn't think of a better way to showcase its power potential than with a complete makeover-all of which would only call for bolt-ons while leaving the bottom end alone. We wanted to keep the costs down and keep the work performed to a minimum. The 355 featured a set of vintage cast-iron Corvette heads, a leaky oil pan, a stamped timing cover, and an older dual-plane manifold. Not exactly modern, but a solid performer nonetheless.
We outlined this build with a few basic rules: increase breathing with airflow, supply ample fuel, and maximize the power for the street. The major makeover components consisted of a set of heavy-puffing aluminum CNC-ported Brodix heads, single plane manifold, and a Comp valvetrain. While our unkown cam was pulled, we relied on a high-lift 0.520/0.540-inch intake/exhaust with 236/242 degrees of duration at 0.050-inch. It all sat on 110 degrees of lobe separation.
Topping it off is a gasket-matched SP1 single-plane manifold, also from Brodix. For good measure, we replaced our oiling system with all Moroso pieces, including a high-volume oil pump and pickup, and a deeper sump pan with screen. To maintain our street creed, we upgraded the fuel delivery with a 750-cfm Quick Fuel Technology carburetor and placed our confidence in a drop-in, ready-to-go MSD distributor.
We enlisted Westech Performance Center in Mira Loma, California, to get us baseline numbers from the original setup. With numbers in hand, we tore down the small-block and took care of its aging looks with a fresh coat of Chevy Orange paint.
Was it worth the effort? Considering it took all of two days-one for the teardown and rebuild and another spent on the dyno-111 additional ponies was well worth it, almost too easy to be honest. Tag along to see how we did it and how to do your own small-block makeover.
We're sprucing this powerplant not only for power, but for looks as well. We steam-cleaned our 355 small-block before it was torn down to remove all the oil residue and road grime. A trip to the local auto parts store scored us a couple cans of Dupli-Color DE1620 Chevrolet Orange spray paint. Nice and bright, just the way we like it-and it only took us about an hour to paint the block, using a piece of cardboard to avoid getting overspray on the internals. Note: Wipe down all gasket surfaces with a solvent or lacquer to remove overspray.
Brodix did all the hard work, making our decision to use this top end kit easy. Their IK (Iron Killer) small-block combo package comes with off-the-shelf components that act like custom one-off pieces. The intake and exhaust ports have extensive CNC work and even come with cleaned and blended bowls. The IK cylinder heads come completely assembled with 11/32-inch intake/exhaust valve stems. Brodix takes it to another level by match-porting the intakes to mate up perfectly to its SP1 single-plane manifold. The combo kit comes complete with intake, exhaust, and head gaskets; NGK B8ES spark plugs; and taller "BRODIX"-cut valve covers. Brodix also flow-tests its valve job-you can't beat that!
Our Quick Fuel carburetor was a no-brainer. Not only does it look the part, but our Q-series performed as well as we could have hoped. The Q-series comes with extended jets for easy changes, mechanical secondaries, and a billet throttle body assembly, all good for 850 cfm. Using the supplied carb gasket we tightened it down with a 1/2-inch wrench.
|Primary Main Jet||76|
|Pri Idle Air Bleed||70|
|Needle & Seat||120|
|Hi Speed Bleed||33|
The Shopping Cart
|BRODIX||Iron Killer CNC 210cc cylinder heads||9991014||$2,840|
|Port match intake manifold||PS MI M||172|
|COMP CAMS||Hydraulic roller lifters "R" series||885-16||466|
|Ultra Pro Mag rockers||1604-16||324|
|Billet timing set||7100||89|
|Fiber cam button||202||3|
|Cam lock plate||4605||5|
|Front two-piece timing cover||210||216|
|XR288HR-10 hydraulic roller camshaft||12-433-8||266|
|MOROSO||Oil pan with screen||20191||200|
|Oil pump with pickup, including shaft||22138||138|
|MSD||Pro-billet V-8 small-block distributor||85551||222|
|Black distributor cap||84333||30|
|QUICK FUEL||850-cfm 4BBL carburetor||Q-850||676|
Fuel: 91 octane • Timing: 34 degrees
|PEAK TQ||390 @ 4,200||440 @ 5,100|
|PEAK HP||365 @ 5,500||476 @ 6,200|