As an adult, I had forgotten the kind of excitement a kid feels on Christmas morning. For me, that exciting Christmas-morning feeling came in the middle of June at Vrbancic Brothers Racing. It was there at the dyno that the long dormant small-block Chevy roared to life after four years of sitting. As you may recall, we used Holley's System Max II kit in the rebuild of this engine. To refresh your memory: the Holley SysteMax II comes with fully assembled Holley cylinder heads, a Weiand intake manifold, and a Lunati cam with 235-/240-degree duration at 0.050, 0.490/0.490-inch lift, and 112-degree lobe separation (although we opted for a milder running cam). You also get lifters, hardened pushrods, head bolts, a double-roller timing chain and gears, and assembly lube.
With that combo of parts, it's easy to hit a homerun out of the park. Numbers don't lie, and the numbers we achieved on the dyno were proof positive that a decent "run around town" small-block is achievable on a budget. On the dyno, the small-block produced 356 lb-ft of torque at 3,700 rpm, and at 5,100 rpm, it produced 303 hp. That's not too shabby. The best part is that these numbers were achieved using 89-Octane pump gas. Your results may vary; it all depends on crank, pistons, bore stroke, etc. This engine, as a long-block, was purchased from a local parts house sale, and most likely bottom of the totem pole parts were used in its initial build. Keep in mind that this engine is going into a '68 Bel Air Wagon, so we didn't require a mega-high-horsepower engine and what we got was just right for the task. With those torque numbers, we're confident this wagon will be able to get out of its own way. However, we're getting ahead of ourselves here. Let's rewind this story back to the beginning.