We initially tossed the idea of comparing a stock LS1 with a conventional small-block 350, but after questioning the angle we later realized, what's the fun in that? And dare we say, it's already been done by others who'll be the first to admit that they did a fair job of updating you with the crucial differences--but certainly did little to stimulate the gearhead factor. To kick it up a notch, and satiate our hunger for power, we set the stage to bump up the cubic inches of a later-model LS2 into a big-inch 402 and pin it against a "warmed over" 406ci small-block.
Our requirements for this challenge: All components had to be readily available, over-the-counter production pieces; nothing over 11:1 compression; we had to use a hydraulic-roller camshaft; and we had to keep the components as close as possible, meaning we had to use the same manufacturer for our cylinder heads, camshafts, and manifolds, and most importantly, both bullets had to share the same carburetor.
Doesn't seem like that big a deal, right? Wrong. You need to take a closer look at the flow capacity of an LS cylinder head. Given the nature of its 15-degee valve angle over the conventional 23-degree cylinder head, we're talking race technology that's trickled down to the consumer level. By altering the angle of the valve, you create a much more direct path, which allows a greater volume of air to traverse into the combustion chamber at a faster rate. The result is radical flow numbers that help to create big horsepower. As you can imagine, the obvious advantage already went to the LS before we even began building the engines.
The real question becomes, was either engine significantly cheaper or did one walk away as the clear winner? Follow along, and you be the judge. Don't forget to write in to us at chevyhi@ primedia.com and let us know what you think of the results.