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Big-Block Performance Parts - MAX-ing Out

Holley's Big-Block SysteMAX

Scott Parkhurst Jun 1, 2000
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The SysteMAX package for the big-block Chevy is complete and well-engineered. Carburetor fans can top the Weiand Stealth intake with the fuel mixer of their choice, while EFI guys get a complete, ready-to-bolt-on kit with everything included and engineered to work together. The intake manifold in the photo is for the EFI system.

The concept of pre-engineered performance packages has become more refined in the millenium approaches. By teaming a camshaft with a cylinder head and intake manifold, manufacturers are able to guarantee customers outstanding performance right out of the box. Holley has developed its small-block Chevy and Ford SysteMAX packages to provide killer street performance, and now they've turned their sights on the Chevy big-block.

In developing this package, Holley had a few hard and fast rules they wanted to stick to. All of the parts would have to be completely bolt-on, with no modifications required to make the swap happen. Issues such as piston-to-valve clearance, adequate valvespring pressure, and spring clearance to avoid coil bind are all pre-engineered into the SysteMAX. Holley also wanted the package to be completely streetable, with excellent idle and vacuum characteristics for street accessories. Quality would have to be up to Holley's high standards, and the price would have to be budget-friendly. They also wanted to leave room for suitable upgrades, especially in the valvetrain. A programmable electronic fuel injection system is also available, should customers wish for an alternative to carburetion.

To produce a complete kit like this with such lofty goals was no small feat, and it took a company with Holley's resources to make it happen. We're happy to report that they've succeeded on all counts.

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Here's the Gen VI 502 on one of Holley's in-house research and development dynos. You can spot the aluminum heads and EFI system easily enough, but other things to note include the Weiand electric water pump and complete Holley ignition system. These parts complement the SysteMAX package, and are fully capable of life on the street.

The Parts Package
The SysteMAX kit includes a pair of cylinder heads, an intake manifold, camshaft, timing set, and a set of pushrods. The complete aluminum cylinder heads (PN 300-555) are crafted from 356A aluminum with a T-6 heat treatment. The deck is a full .700-inch thick to support heavy heat and pressure loads. The intake runners occupy 310 cc, and feed a 2.25-inch intake valve. The exhaust runners measure 100 cc, and are fed through a 1.88-inch valve. The combustion chambers displace 119 cc.

The camshaft is a Lunati hydraulic roller grind (PN 54868) that is designed for use in Gen VI big-blocks. Stats on the cam are .575-inch valve lift (with 1.7:1 rockers), 234/244-degrees of duration at .050-inch valve lift (intake and exhaust, respectively), and 114 degrees of lobe separation.

Intake manifold selection also angles toward the street enthusiast, with the incorporation of a Weiand Stealth intake manifold (PN 8018) into the package. This big-volume dual-plane design has been a proven performance piece on countless big-blocks, and is a natural complement to the other components.

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We started with a Gen VI 502 marine crate engine sporting iron heads and a dual-plane intake. GM claims 450 hp on these engines, and Holley was able to duplicate those numbers before bolting up the SysteMAX goodies.

The Bottom Line
The numbers tell the tale, as always. When bolted on to a Gen VI marine shortblock that produced 450 hp in stock form, the SysteMAX package upped the ante to 555 hp (at 5,600 rpm) and grunted forth 564 ft-lb of torque (at 4,700 rpm). All tests were run on streetable 93-octane fuel through Holley's dyno mufflers. A complete Holley ignition system was also installed to fuel the fire.

Packages like this take a lot of the guesswork out of modifying your engine. For a reduced price, you get top-notch components that you know will work together to produce a predetermined amount of power. The throttle response and idle quality of this high-horse combination shows the strength of Holley's purchase of both Lunati and Weiand. With such killer components at their disposal, enthusiasts expected big things from Holley. They delivered with the big-block SysteMAX, and we can tell you already, there's alot more to come.


Holley Performance Products
Bowling Green, KY 42101



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