Small Block Chevy Engines - 3-Way Small-Block Showdown

3 Staffers, # Builds, and a Whole Lot of Bench Racing

Squeaker Mouse 355ci
Needless to say, there was a lot of jaw jacking going on in the office as we were all trying to pin down the stroker motors. Let's face it, if you're going to build anything based off a small-block 350, a stroker kit is really the only way to go. Right? In this instance, while I wanted to go with the cubic inches, I took a step back and decided to try the opposite end of the spectrum. Knowing that the lack of cubic inches would put me at an immediate disadvantage, I wanted to go for a peaky motor, one that could easily buzz up to 7,000 rpm and wouldn't be afraid to take a nitrous hit.

To get the job done, I talked with Coast High Performance in Torrance, California. Rather than starting with a junkyard block, I took full advantage of its 355ci short-block. The base Street Fighter SS short-block starts at $1,899, but I kicked it up a notch and went with the Street Fighter for $2,300, which includes a set of CNC Beam forged-steel connecting rods and full-floater SRS forged pistons.

While I'll let the parts list and performance numbers speak for themselves, you'll notice there are two dyno numbers, representing the 725-cfm Road Demon and the 750-cfm Mighty Demon. The Road Demon made the budget, but our little 355ci commanded more fuel for our particular combination. While the numbers were respectable by all means, simply switching over to a 750-cfm Mighty Demon netted us an additional 7 hp and 17 lb-ft. The reality is if we were to take full advantage of the larger carb it would have placed us over the budget. Not terrible, but at least you have the facts.

As for what I would do with this bullet--slap it in a chassis car weighing 3,200 pounds in front of a TH350 and steep gears, and it would make for one fun Saturday night special. 12s would be a walk in the park and on the unit, and it's anyone's guess but mid-10s wouldn't be unreasonable. I am eyeing a '73 Camaro, so we may have to test that theory out in a future issue.

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Our Coast High Performance 355ci short-block included a set of forged SRS pistons, which easily withstood the added pressures of nitrous. Our pistons were -0.012 in the hole, which decreased our compression slightly, making it pump-gas friendly at 10.25:1.

Here's a quick tip: Most aftermarket timing chains are notorious for rubbing against the block. Our engine builder, Jun, went ahead and machined the problematic area, eliminating any potential metal shavings from entering the pan and oiling system.

If you want to save a few bucks, Coast High Performance also offers a press-fit 5140 forged connecting rod. As part of our upgrade, we included these CNC Beam forged 5.700-inch rods and ARP bolts.

To save a little, we opted for the RHS as-cast 200cc aluminum heads. Depending on your combination and funds, RHS also offers a CNC option with intake runners varying from 185cc to 235cc and various combustion chamber sizes, including a set of budget-friendly cast-iron heads.

Coast High offers most of its completed short-blocks in a two-bolt main configuration, but you can upgrade to the four-bolt main like ours--be sure to call for current pricing. For added insurance we utilized ARP fasteners on everything including the rods, mains, heads, and manifold, and even used a complete dress kit for the oil pan, oil stud, and timing cover.

Up top, we used a Professional Products single-plane manifold, a Comp Cams valvetrain (including rockers, pushrods, and lifters), and a set of Fel-Pro 1010 head gaskets and 1205 manifold gaskets. The single-plane design was instrumental when we sprayed the 175-shot of nitrous.

Swapping from a 725-cfm Road Demon to a 750-cfm Mighty Demon gave us an additional 17 hp and 71 lb-ft, but took us $194.96 over budget.

Prior to mounting, Jun applied a small bead of silicone inside the balancer to ensure a solid, leakproof assembly.

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