Here's an engine story that's a little bit of a departure from what we usually try to bring you. It's not about getting some new go-fast parts, throwing them on the dyno, and then telling you to go out and buy them. Instead, our intent is to give you some ideas and a few tips to make your engine look better, regardless of whether it's an 18-second slug or a heart-thumping powerhouse. Our job was made easier because our donor engine was out of the car and was fairly clean, as it had previously been used to show the advantage of bolting on a set of GM Vortec heads and swapping a Comp Cams valvetrain. The little '65 327 did make more than 340 horsepower, but it was still far from visually presentable. Before we did any cleaning, we masked off all the internal engine openings using duct tape trimmed with a razor blade. We then sprayed the block using some POR-15 Marine Clean mixed with two-parts water and scrubbed it with a firm bristle brush. Once most of the grease was loosened up, we hosed it off with a high-pressure water hose. The engine was then blown dry with an air hose and nozzle to ensure that all the water was out of the cracks and cervices. The high-pressure air also got under some of the loose paint and started stripping it off the block.Before we did any cleaning, we masked off all the internal engine openings using duct tape Over the course of a couple of days of working on the little Mouse, we were able to turn this powerful but ugly engine into something that we'd be proud to pop the hood to show off. Our goal was to end up with an engine that still retained some of the earlier V-8's characteristics but took advantage of the advancements made in head and intake designs. We are still running the old canister oil filter and wanted to run the GM "Ram Horn" exhaust manifolds and non-center bolt valve covers. Proform and Bill's Hot Rod Company provided most of the exterior flash, while an MSD ignition system was installed to provide a modern spark but still retain the look of the early distributor. Once the engine was done, we had a powerplant that looked as good as it performed. The only drawback is now we have to get the rest of the engine compartment in shape to go along with it. We then went around the block with a flat-blade screwdriver and a wire brush removing the rest of the remaining flaking paint. 100-grit sandpaper was then used to smooth out the remaining paint and knock down any rough edges. We blew off the engine once again with the air hose and then wiped it down with some mineral spirits to remove any residual grease and dirt. This will help the new paint stick and lessen the chance of getting "fish-eyes" in the new paint finish.We then went around the block with a flat-blade screwdriver and a wire brush removing the We were planning on using early-style valve covers on this engine, which made it necessary to use some adapters with the late-model center-bolt Vortec heads. We found what we needed in the GM Performance Parts catalog (PN 24502540). We decided to install the adapters before we painted because they would give us something to mask off the rocker valleys. A center stud is installed and then this little spacer.We were planning on using early-style valve covers on this engine, which made it necessary The adapters feature O-rings on the bottom side to seal against the heads. The O-rings slipped right in place after they were lubed with a little oil. The adapters were then installed and bolted down with the supplied hardware.The adapters feature O-rings on the bottom side to seal against the heads. The O-rings sli Duct tape was used again to mask off the items we didn't want to paint. We didn't completely mask off the intake and only ran two strips of tape around the intake and around the top of the heads because we were planning on being careful when we sprayed the paint.Duct tape was used again to mask off the items we didn't want to paint. We didn't complete Continuing our theme of early-appearing engine parts, we ordered a set of 2 1/2-inch diameter outlet "Ram's Horn" exhaust manifolds from GM Performance Parts catalog (PN 3797901). They will offer good flow, but unfortunately, they feature the cast-in alternator mount. We weren't going to be using this mount, so we decided to smooth the manifolds and started by removing as much as we could with a hack saw.Continuing our theme of early-appearing engine parts, we ordered a set of 2 1/2-inch diame Using a small hand grinder, we then smoothed the area where the mount was removed as well as the casting numbers and much of the other bumps and rough edges.Using a small hand grinder, we then smoothed the area where the mount was removed as well The spark plugs were removed and some paper plugs were put in their place. Using a can of high-temp engine paint, we sprayed several light coats until the engine was covered in a glossy, even coat of Chevrolet Orange.The spark plugs were removed and some paper plugs were put in their place. Using a can of The difference between the smoothed manifold and the as-cast one is dramatic. The manifolds will eventually be coated with some gray high-temp manifold paint from POR-15.The difference between the smoothed manifold and the as-cast one is dramatic. The manifold To help eliminate the "painted-all-together" look we decided to swap most of the exterior engine bolts with new ones from Totally Stainless. Just so there's no guesswork, the kits come bagged and labeled with each bag's intended purpose.To help eliminate the "painted-all-together" look we decided to swap most of the exterior Before we replaced any of the bolts, we cleaned the threads with a thread chaser. The stainless steel threads needed to be coated with some anti-seize to prevent galling and aid any future removal.Before we replaced any of the bolts, we cleaned the threads with a thread chaser. The stai The exterior head bolts were replaced one-at-a-time and torqued with our Craftsman torque wrench. A very important thing to remember when working with stainless fasteners or any fastener with anti-seize or moly-lube is that they are only torqued to 70 percent of the fasteners' ratings when torqued with oil.The exterior head bolts were replaced one-at-a-time and torqued with our Craftsman torque For the exterior dress-up items we grabbed our Proform parts catalog and ordered a set of their die-cast aluminum valve covers (PN 141-108) and a set of Neoprene rubber and steel gaskets (PN 66001). These gaskets are reusable and durable enough to prevent leaking oil on our clean engine.For the exterior dress-up items we grabbed our Proform parts catalog and ordered a set of For the accessory brackets we wanted something simple and strong. We found just what we wanted at Bill's Hot Rod Company. Their brackets are made from stamped steel and come assembled as shown here, wrapped in plastic, and are available chrome-plated or black powder-paint or raw steel. It was refreshing to get a part that wasn't just a box of pieces and a handful of bolts.For the accessory brackets we wanted something simple and strong. We found just what we wa These brackets were designed to work with the late-model Vortec heads (early versions are also available) and placed the alternator and A/C compressor outside the valve covers. They bolted right on with the supplied Allen-head fasteners.These brackets were designed to work with the late-model Vortec heads (early versions are We weren't planning on running much more than standard lighting and an MSD high-performance ignition, so when it came time to get an alternator, we ordered a chrome one-wire 60-amp unit (PN 66445.6) from Proform. They have units with ratings up to 140 amps. We also bolted on one of their chrome-plated mini-starters (PN 66259).We weren't planning on running much more than standard lighting and an MSD high-performanc When it came time to bolt on the aluminum crank pulley from Bill's Hot Rod Company, we had to file out the inside edge of the balancer to get the pulley to fully seat. Over the years the edge had been pounded on, creating a little bit of a raised lip that prevented the pulley from centering itself.When it came time to bolt on the aluminum crank pulley from Bill's Hot Rod Company, we had Our engine was starting to really look sharp so we didn't want to just throw on some universal-fit set of spark plug wires that looked like a bundle of snakes hanging all over the engine. We order a set of MSD 8.5mm cut-to-fit wires to go along with our MSD distributor. The wires came with the spark plug boots attached, so once we routed them around the exhaust manifolds, we were able to cut them to the correct length at the distributor. If you are ever going to do more than one set of these wires, do yourself a favor and order MSD's crimper pliers. We've done wire sets with the pliers and the supplied vise blocks, and there is no comparison. Once the terminal is crimped on, it is bent to a 90-degree angle and then the boot is slipped over.Our engine was starting to really look sharp so we didn't want to just throw on some unive We found these neat and clean wire separators (PN 66214) in the Proform catalog as well. They're two-piece chrome-plated units that are held together with a nylon wedge that is squeezed between them with a set of pliers. We ordered a couple of sets because we were running our wires a little tighter and needed a couple extra two-wire separators. Hopefully,in the future, they will sell them individually.We found these neat and clean wire separators (PN 66214) in the Proform catalog as well. T SOURCES Bill's Hot Rod Company 1064 E. Edna Place Covina CA 91724 Resto-Motive Laboratories (POR-15) P.O. Box 1235 Morristown NJ 07962 GM Performance Parts www.gmperformanceparts.com Totally Stainless P.O. Box 3249 Gettysburg PA 17325 717-337-2151 www.totallystainless.com ProForm 8-10/-774-7775 proformparts.com Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!