Used Cylinder Heads - Good Head & Cheap Hookers

A budget set of used cylinder heads, some quality machine work, and a new set of long-tube headers take the dirty bird to the next level

Justin Cesler Jan 5, 2012 0 Comment(s)
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It's not what you think. We know it looks like we've taken the Dirty Bird from a low-buck cam-only budget beater and transformed it into the typical over-priced "budget" project gone awry that you've seen countless times before in other magazines. I mean, cylinder heads are usually pretty expensive, so we must have spent a good chunk of change on a set of heads as pretty as this, right? What part of budget don't we understand!? Believe it or not, we actually managed to do all of this work on a tight budget and happened to trade our way up to a nicely used set of Patriot Freedom cylinder heads, which we had cleaned up, checked and improved with some help from our new friends at Fast Forward Race Engines in Zephyrhills, Florida.

How did we do it? Well, sometimes in life people need to offload good parts for little money and we just happened to walk right into one of those situations. For just 500-smackeroos we acquired ourselves a set of discontinued Patriot Performance 195cc Freedom cylinder heads, a set of sheetmetal valve covers and a complete LT4 short-block, which Greg Lovell is safeguarding for a future project. Buying used heads for a couple hundred bucks is a great score and can really help take a project to the next level on the cheap, but you've always got to be careful with a "deal." With that in mind, we wanted to get these babies checked out and what really got us going on this project was a killer deal on a quality competition valve job, along with some work unshrouding the chambers and an .040-inch mill on the heads after Fast Forward Race Engines had checked them out and okayed them for track use. And this wasn't a "good guy" deal either, Fast Forward will do this for any of you out there (assuming your heads are in good shape) and can make it happen for under 400-bucks!

Along with the new and improved (but still budget-friendly) cylinder heads, we also ordered a new pair of Hooker Super Competition headers to replace our beat up and hideous hand-me-down headers that we were running. Admittedly, these were a splurge item and the rusty units were still doing the job, but we couldn't stand to reinstall the ugly junk back on to the new heads if we were already in there to do the work. Plus, the Hooker Super Competition headers allow for much better spark plug access and slide in place easily on the driver's side using a two-piece design, so they will be much easier to work around in the future. The nice 3-inch collector wasn't all smashed up and deformed, which was another bonus and probably worth a couple extra ponies heading down track.

With that said, follow along as Greg Lovell of AntiVenom in Seffner, Florida installs the new (used) cylinder heads and long-tube headers, and start plotting your way into a set of take-off performance parts for your wallet-friendly project car. Who knew it could be so much fun to run fast, keep a tight budget and beat up on the cocky LS1 guys at the track who can't believe that a little ol' ugly LT1 could run the numbers that it can with a stock bottom-end and a 10-bolt rear end!

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