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Street 350 Small Block - Cam Comparison

Flat-Tappet Or Roller Cam? We Build A Budget Street 350 To Put Them To The Test.

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Now it was time to turn our short-block into a full-fledged engine. First up was bolting on the Racing Head Service (RHS) aluminum 180 heads (PN 12022-0, $747 each). These Pro-Action 23-degree heads feature a 64cc chamber and come fully assembled. RHS advertises that the peak airflow at .700-inch lift is 270 cfm on the intake and 195 cfm on the exhaust. If you need to save a few bucks and don't mind the extra weight, RHS also offers these heads in an iron version (PN 12317-01, $561.38 each). For head bolts we went with a kit from ARP (PN 134-3601, $61.95). At that price, why wouldn't we?

For an ignition system, we went with MSD's new Street Fire billet HEI distributor (PN 8362, $159.99) and matching plug wires. Since the wires were only $40, it meant our entire ignition system came in at only $200. It's hard to argue with MSD quality at such a wallet-friendly price. Topping off our Weiand intake is Holley's new 650hp street-version carb. To keep things running cool and knock off some weight, we also sourced Weiand for one of its aluminum water pumps. We started this build with a bare block and didn't have any fasteners. Rather than hunt around for all the various intake, water pump, header, and other bolts, we just picked up an accessory bolt kit from ARP (PN 534-9801, $79.95). This saved us a ton of hassles, and as a bonus, they look great. Other parts used in the build came from Summit and include the water neck (PN SUM-G1581, $13.95), distributor clamp (PN SUM-400500, $4.95), and these sweet chromed valve covers (PN HLY-241-80, $57.69).

In addition to the roller cam, we installed a set of comp roller lifters and the necessary retention kit. Since our '86 block was already set for roller parts, the swap was a snap. We also needed to change to a shorter 7.200 pushrod, but we were able to use the same rockers. Steve Brule of Westech Performance Group also installed the stiffer springs that come on the RHS heads if we would have ordered them for a roller application (PN 1-2022-02, $803.25 each).

With the much smaller and more street-friendly hydraulic roller cam, our 350 put down 387 hp and 416 lb-ft of torque than the lumpier flat-tappet cam. More importantly, the roller cam has much better street manners, with over 17 inches of vacuum at 1,000 rpm compared to under 11 inches on the flat-tappet engine. This equates to an improved idle quality and a more reliable engine for a ride that sees lots of street time. We will also never have to worry about the roller cam going flat. The downside is cost $500 more to go the roller route, with a lot of that being spent on the lifters. Still, the total cost of our engine with the roller cam was an affordable $4,200.

Fel-Pro/Sealed Power Eagle Specialty Products
AA Midwest/Enginequest
Competition Cams
Outlaw Racing Engines
Westech Performance Group
11098 Venture Dr., Unit C
Mira Loma
CA  91752
ARP (Automotive Racing Products)
El Paso
TX  79936
Don Lee Auto
Racing Head Service (RHS)
Summit Racing
P.O. Box 909
OH  44309-0909
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