Reader's Performance Engine Build Suggestions - Garage

Letters

Bob's Speed Shop
I would like to see a low-buck buildup of a 350 SBC turbo motor. I have read about people who've bought used turbos from diesel truck motors (Powerstroke or Cummins) and make decent horsepower with them. I think you could start with a four-bolt-main short-block with low compression, add a set of good-flowing heads, and your choice of either fuel injection or carb-or try both. Find a turbo on eBay, and tell us what to look for in searching for a used turbo. I feel you could do this motor for $5,000-$6,000. The exhaust would probably be one of the more expensive items in this build. This is something I have not seen done in any magazine. I think it would hit home with all of the DIY car builders, since not all of us can afford a Nelson Racing twin-turbo monster. Thank you for your time, and the magazine is great.Chris Butts

I enjoyed the article on the $5,500 small-blocks. What would I build? Well, I think I'd go for a 377 with a 4.155x3.48-inch bore and stroke. The extra cubes would make more torque than a 350, the short stroke would let it rev like a 350, and the large bore would unshroud the valves. And 6-inch rods would not require pistons with the pin bores protruding into the lower ring groove. Regarding small-block strokers, I just don't like the idea of anything more than around a 3.60-inch stroke in a block with a 9-inch deck height. There are just too many "gotchas," like rod angularity and rod-to-cam lobe interference. The main problem with a 377 is finding a suitable block, since most of the 400 blocks are already overbored or bad, and WP and Dart blocks cost around $1,800.

I'd choose cam, heads, intake, and carb on the conservative side for good street performance in my '55 Chevy sedan with a wide-ratio Muncie and 3.42:1 gears. The cam would be solid-lifter (for that retro sound), and the manifold would be an Edelbrock Performer RPM. My carb would probably be an Edelbrock AVS.
Mike Bresler
Plano, TX

I just finished reading your Sept. '06 issue, and I must say it was very good. These days it seems everyone has forgotten about the 350 and wants to build a stroker 383. Generally, more cubic inches is better, and that's fine as long as you have plenty of money, but I will keep my 350! How much power do you really gain with the extra cubic inches, 20 hp and about 40 lb-ft? Then you have all the hassle of clearancing the block and the rods, including finding the right oil pan, balancer, and flexplate. I am a man on a budget, and the extra money is not justified-but that's only my opinion, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who would argue the subject.

I'm a guy who likes budget engines that can run with the bigger, more expensive ones. If I had $5,500, I would do some comparisons between engines. I'm out for high horsepower-not for streetability. I'm looking for quarter-mile e.t., like Henry D. Besides, who can really drive a hot rod that much these days with $3.30 gas? I would see what really gives you horsepower and what doesn't. Let's face it, there are plenty of products out there that are all hype. What's 15 hp when you have to spend $200 to $300 to get it, or why get rid of your double-humps for a set of $1,500 aluminum heads that may only get you 50 hp? Let's see how much better roller rockers are versus stamped-steel long slots. Compare solid-roller cams with flat-tappet solids, compare double-humps and Vortecs to the fancy aftermarkets. I'd build a 350 on nitrous that'd run with just about any large-cubed engine, and forget about dual-planes-they're for the sissies at car shows. They may be good up to 6,500 rpm, but what's the point when you're using a 3,500-stall converter?

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