Reader's Performance Engine Build Suggestions - Garage


0611_chpp_01_z Chevy_performance_engine Magazine_reader 2/1

Engines, bullets, motors, powerplants...the myriad names we call the sources of our motivators. And when we asked you to submit the types of engines you'd, the response was incredible, by far exceeding anything you've responded to previously. For those of you who don't like to e-mail but don't have a problem posting on message boards, then head on over to our site at Here's your chance to get interactive with each of the staffers and post the builds you'd like to see.-Henry D

Great job on the magazine; we look forward every month to the articles. I just read your story on three-way showdown, very interesting. I own a '71 Z28 that we have been restoring for a year and a half, except the engine. Recently, with the help of a local Chevy guru Bob Joehnck (who worked with Edelbrock in the '60s), we did a similar comparison on paper with three different scenarios and decided to go with a new Chevy ZZ383 425HP long-block. After the block was delivered to his shop, Bob did his magic, checked the roller rockers, cam-to-crank timing, installed an Edelbrock RPM Air Gap manifold, and I installed the Edelbrock 750-cfm carb. I was able to reuse the headers, the high-volume fuel pump, and the ACCEL high-output distributor. What a difference that was from the old 350 SS motor. A similar ZZ 383 buildup netted 488 lb-ft at 4,400 and 450 hp at 5,500. Cost was about $5,600.
Jim Spann
Carpinteria, CA

I really liked the three-way small-block showdown in September's issue, so much so that your invite to respond got the best of me. I've been involved in dirt track-racing for many years, and you're right-on when you say that "the littlest Mouse was in a league of its own." It brings a smile to my face when a 355 small-block leaves my shop in a open-wheel modified car, running against all-aluminum 434 Gerty engines, and pulls away in a 20-lap feature race. And that's on a $4,000 budget.

I also tried this concept with my bracket-car engines and elected to build a few 396 BBCs on a budget: 0.030 blocks, two-bolt mains, factory rods, cast cranks, and 350 horse-style TRW forged pistons rounded out the short-block. Up top I use a set of large, oval-port, open-chamber Chevy heads with mild work done underneath the valve seat. And don't forget a 30-degree back-cut on the valve. An Engle Cams solid-roller EX-1/2, 262/269 at 0.050 with 0.695/0.711 lift, requires about 0.100 cut from the dome of the TRW pistons. A Victor Jr. intake and a Holley 950HP on alky will get you a 10.22 at 130 mph in an all-steel back-half 80 camaro. This can be done for around $3,500.

I'd love to see you build this engine with a good set of JE or Ross pistons around 12.5-13:1, a set of AFR fully CNC-ported 290cc oval-port heads, and a modified large-body 4150-style alky carb from AED.

These engines did not work right off, and I find a lot of great engine combinations never got a chance to come alive (due to the lack of know-how to tune these great little motors). Cam timing on the small-block was worth a full second in lap times on a half-mile-high bank track, and the big-block found 0.4 second in the 60-foot mark alone with the change of the fuel pressure regulator from the small, standard Holley to the large high-flow unit and a 14-inch extension added to the collectors. On the big end, two Holley black fuel pumps wouldn't supply enough alky, and trap speed was only 123 mph. Adding a Barry Grant beltdrive pump with no other changes netted the 10.22 e.t. at 130 mph. Thanks for taking the time and getting to know more about what we the readers are doing out here in the field. I look forward to every issue of CHP and the great job you're doing.
Bobby Noplis


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