Here's an engine story that's a little bit of a departure from what we usually try to bring you. It's not about getting some new go-fast parts, throwing them on the dyno, and then telling you to go out and buy them. Instead, our intent is to give you some ideas and a few tips to make your engine look better, regardless of whether it's an 18-second slug or a heart-thumping powerhouse.
Our job was made easier because our donor engine was out of the car and was fairly clean, as it had previously been used to show the advantage of bolting on a set of GM Vortec heads and swapping a Comp Cams valvetrain. The little '65 327 did make more than 340 horsepower, but it was still far from visually presentable.
Over the course of a couple of days of working on the little Mouse, we were able to turn this powerful but ugly engine into something that we'd be proud to pop the hood to show off. Our goal was to end up with an engine that still retained some of the earlier V-8's characteristics but took advantage of the advancements made in head and intake designs. We are still running the old canister oil filter and wanted to run the GM "Ram Horn" exhaust manifolds and non-center bolt valve covers.
Proform and Bill's Hot Rod Company provided most of the exterior flash, while an MSD ignition system was installed to provide a modern spark but still retain the look of the early distributor. Once the engine was done, we had a powerplant that looked as good as it performed. The only drawback is now we have to get the rest of the engine compartment in shape to go along with it.