It's strange how this story came to grace the pages of Super Chevy magazine. John Villages has been attending and racing at Super Chevy shows in California since the very first one. We met up at the 2008 show in Fontana, California, after admiring his Camaro and shooting it for a feature in the magazine.
It turns out that John is an engine builder. He told us about this wild motor he was building, dubbed Little Wolf, for a customer named Clif Warren.
The engine in question is built upon an original '69 DZ 302 Z/28 4-bolt main block. The idea behind using a factory 302 block is to build it with a high-quality aftermarket rotating assembly, valvetrain, and cylinder heads while maintaining a period correct cross-ram 302 intake and '60s visage. Basically, the high-tech parts had to be disguised under the garb of Hugger Orange and an OE factory look.
This would be easy enough to do with the rotating assembly and valvetrain, but disguising the AFR heads would be a different story altogether--this is where the story gets interesting. John partnered up with a CNC machinist, Bill Goyett, who figured out a way to whittle away the face of the modern aluminum cylinder heads and visually make them look like the old cast iron heads of yesteryear. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too.
Judgment day arrives and the mousey little motor is set up on the dyno at Jim Grubbs Motorsports. Grubbs was also responsible for much of the machine work that went into the block. After the break in period of the engine and incremental pulls, a few power pulls were made, but the numbers were only in the high 400s. It turned out the throttle linkage needed some adjusting because the secondaries were not opening. The high 400s doesn't look too bad if that is just the power from the primaries. After the linkage adjustment and some timing adjustments, another pull was made to 7,500 rpm and the lovely numbers popped up on the screen. At 5,600 rpm, the torque peaked out at 458. Peak horsepower topped off at 534 at 6,700 rpm. Like the original Z/28 race engines, this sucker is a high-rpm beast designed to run on race fuel.