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383 Stroker Upgrades - Project Homewrecker

Adding a set of Air Flow Research cylinder heads and a Crane hydraulic roller camshaft to our low-buck, high-fun 383 stroker in project Homewrecker.

By Justin Cesler, Photography by Justin Cesler

It's hard to believe that we built our "Shoestring Stroker" 383 cubic-inch engine that's in Project Homewrecker almost six years ago (2007!). But in the performance engine world, having a drama-free engine for that long is always a good thing. Back when the Shoestring Stroker went together, we built it to show what a real enthusiast could put together on a really tight budget. From oil pan to carb, our 383 was built for less than $3,500 and made roughly 285-rwhp to the tires in our '72 Corvette Stingray project car (426 on the engine dyno). That included a set of budget aftermarket 190cc aluminum cylinder heads and a decent camshaft, and we were happy with the numbers—in both dollars and output—not the mention reliability. Of course, here in the year 2013, 285-rwhp just isn't what it used to be.

So, the question was, given more money and several more years for research and development, what could the Shoestring 383 make with just a cylinder head and camshaft upgrade? As we started searching, we began to have high hopes, but knew that outperforming already good stuff would be hard to do. So, we teamed up with the crews at Crane Cams and Air Flow Research, to see what they could bring to the table.

Super Chevy contributor Dan "Nova Man" Foley picked a new hydraulic roller stick out of the Crane catalog that would behave really well on the street (with plenty of vacuum), while picking up horsepower and torque, especially under the curve. What he came up with was part number 119581, with 238/242 degrees of duration at .050-inches, .558/.558-inches of lift, and 110-degree lobe separation angle.

Of course, we also decided it was time to upgrade to a set of Crane's hydraulic roller lifters, which would ride on the new camshaft and free up a couple extra horsepower while being gentle on our valvetrain. Along with the stick and the lifters, we also had Crane send us a set of its Gold Race 1.5:1 ratio rockers, and a set of 7.046-inch hardened .080 wall one-pice pushrods.

Air Flow Research was tasked with supplying our cylinder heads and they had their work cut out for them, going up against a set of as-cast 190cc aftermarket units. Of course, AFR is never one to shy away from a head-to-head challenge, and it sent us a set of 195cc SBC Eliminator Street cylinder heads (P/N 1040; $1,564.00), which feature 3/32-inch raised exhaust ports, 23-degree valve angles, and 65cc combustion chambers. Fully CNC-ported on all of the intake and exhaust ports, along with the combustion chambers, the AFR 195cc street heads flow 280cfm at .550-inches of lift, and have an ideal operating range of 2,000-6,500rpm, which is perfect for our camshaft, intake manifold, and engine setup. Of course, they bolt right up to almost any SBC, and ship complete with everything you need for an easy swap.

With everything in our greasy little hands, the only thing left to do was bring in the big gun from Seffner, Florida's AntiVenom Performance, owner Greg Lovell, to get everything installed. We'll tell you now, this is a lengthy installation for a novice, but with a professional like Greg, it went smooth as silk. And the results, well, let's just say they were definitely worthwhile.

By Justin Cesler
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