If you read a lot of magazines and listen to enough bench racing, you start to think that everyone has 540-inch big-blocks or twin-turbo LS engines under their hoods. Why? Because big horsepower is just sexy, even if it costs a small fortune and is nearly useless on the street. Regardless of what you may read in print, or on the internet, most gearheads just want enough “Oomph” to get their rides moving in quick fashion, and they want to do it on a working stiff’s budget. Walk though any car show or cruise night and you’ll see a dozen run-of-the-mill small-blocks for every exotic engine stuffed between a set of fenders. It’s reality versus perception, and in this case reality wins.
Even if your typical 350 horsepower small-block won’t “Wow” the fairground crowds, the truth is that it makes plenty of power for your typical Camaro. After all, it’s more than the fourth-gen LS1-powered Camaros were putting out, and nobody was complaining that they were “dogs.” And while the world of small-blocks is mostly comprised of the venerable 350-cubed V8, there’s also quite a few 327-inch varieties lurking out there. They too can easily be worked over to put out respectable power levels.
First introduced in ’62, the 327 small-block was only produced for eight years, but it did manage to find its way under the hood of quite a few Camaros. Its efficient design combines a four-inch bore and a short, 3.25-inch, stroke that yields a nearly optimum 1.75:1 rod/stroke ratio. The upside to this is that the 327 has an excellent horsepower-per-cubic-inch potential. For decades the L84 fuel-injected 375-horsepower variant was king of the hill compared to other naturally aspirated, single-cam, production small-blocks. The power ranged, in stock trim, from 250 hp all the up to the aforementioned 375 hp mill. But, most of the ones found in Camaros ranged from 210 to 275 horsepower.
Finding a good core isn’t easy, but if you already have one under your hood, then it might be better to juice it up a bit rather than spend a lot more for another engine. We decided to try out Trick Flow’s top-end kit (TFS-K314-350-400, $1,679.95) from Summit. Included in the kit are aluminum 23-degree heads, a hydraulic flat tappet cam, aluminum roller rockers, chromemoly pushrods, a billet timing set, and every gasket needed from the oil pan to the intake. It even includes high-end ARP head bolts. n
At only $20 for a new Melling oil pump it just didn’t make sense to re-use the old one. To insure against any problems down the road, we were sure to tack-weld the pickup tube in place.
Included in the kit from Trick Flow is this hydraulic flat tappet camshaft (PN TFS-31478500). It specs out at 210/216 duration with lift of .440/.445 and a LSA of 110. This puts it on the mild side of the scale and is perfect if you want performance just a bit more than stock and a silky smooth idle. The key to any flat-tappet build is to use tons of assembly lube.
Also in the kit was this new Trick Flow billet timing set (PN TFS-31478500). This USA-made part features a billet steel cam sprocket, heat-treated and coated crank sprocket, and three keyways with +4/-4-degree adjustments. We set ours at zero.