Photos courtesy of Mid-America Motorworks
Take a look at your calendar…yes, today (Thursday) is 3/27, a date that—in numerical form—is a tribute to Chevrolet’s legendary “mighty mouse motor,” the 327-cubic-inch small-block V-8.
It was likely that, by this date in 1961, Chevrolet’s engine crew had completed their work on the new-for-’62 “big” small-block that entered production that summer. They gave it a displacement bump by boring the cylinders out to an even 4-inches each—something that hot rodders had been doing for years to create 301-inch V8s from the existing 283—and increasing the stroke a quarter-inch to 3.25 inches.
That created a more powerful engine even in two-barrel-carb, single-exhaust, 210 hp form, perfect for a full-size station wagon, or in big Chevys ordered with air conditioning.
But Chevy’s engine crew didn’t stop there, coming up with four-barrel and fuel-injected versions that reached a peak of 365 hp (the carbureted RPO L76) and 375 hp (Corvette’s fuel injected RPO L84), with the legendary 350 hp RPO L79 waiting in the wings.
The 327 was a mainstay of Chevrolet’s engine lineup from 1962 through 1969, when it made its final appearance as the standard V-8 in that year’s fullsize Chevys, and as a low-cost option over the base 307-inch V8 in the Chevelle, Nova and Camaro. It also was used by two other carmakers, starting in 1965—Checker Motors, which offered a torque 327 as an option in their Marathon sedans and Aerobus wagons (this got those taxis and airport limos to their destinations that much quicker than their previous flathead sixes did); and Avanti Motors, which revived Studebaker’s fiberglass-bodied four-seater with a potent 327 powering the hand-crafted grand tourer. (The easy way to tell a 327-powered Avanti II from a Studebaker Avanti is—other than the nameplates—the Avanti II sits higher in the front than the Stude ones.)
Plus, that 3.25-inch-stroke crank soldiered on as the crankshaft in the base-level 307 until ’73, paired with what was the 283 block…and all the parts to build yourself a stout 327 as a street or race engine were available via Chevy’s parts department for many a year. (Don’t get us started on what the aftermarket’s developed for the 327-inch!)
So…how many of you out there have driven a 327-powered Chevy? How many of you have built a 327? And, how many of you have more than one of them in your garage?
Weather permitting, today’s the day to fire up your 327, and enjoy an early-spring cruise …enjoy!