Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Chevy Small Block - The Worlds Best Engine

There have been many great engines in automotive history, a good many of them more elegant, precise, light or powerful, but none can match the Chevy Small Block in terms flexibility and longevity. Okay, so I am a Yank, and this is a Yank motor for Yank tanks, but name me one other motor that has had more wide ranging applications. The VW air cooled 4 might come closest, being installed in everything from airplanes to a fleet of replicars. Still, the Chevy small block kicks it's ass back all the way to Wolfsburg and back again (and I say this with two 'dubs in my driveway). The beauty of the small block is it's typical American interchangeability, and that my friends is how the good guys won Dubya Dubya Too. The small block is nearly the perfect size to fit almost anywhere @ roughly 2' x 2' x 2' and it has been fitted almost everywhere. Jaguars with Chevy V8's ? Check ! Lambo's with small blocks? Check !, Airplanes? Check !, Boats ? You Betcha !. How about a chainsaw ? Yah Sure Ya Betcha. Triumph TR4 Check, Check, and Check ! Find me another engine that can do all that. Then find me one that where cranks, pistons and conrods, can be interchanged to suite your needs.

Start with the 327 (the best IMHO)
-Change the crankshaft to add more stroke (they all had the same conrod) and viola the 350
- Use the crank from a 283 and you get the awesome 302 Can Am race motor.
- The mix the stroke of the 327 with the bore of a 283 and behold the 307.

The culmination of the small block's displacement growth was the 1970 siamesed bored small block 400 ci. Oddly enough (though they had almost mythical status during my 80's childhood) these relatively rare motors had the glass jaw of the 1968-85 small block family. from the factory they had the lowest compression ratio and HP specs of the small block family, though hot rodded versions are a different story. Personally I abhor GM big block V8's and oddball Pontiac, Buick, Olds and Caddy V8's. I am sure they each have their merits, but none can match the out of the box rightness of the Chevy small block. Maybe it's the fact that they are all "over-square", my current car uses the Audi 4.2 V8, which is an incredible engine, with space age technology, but even at full boil, it doesn't sound or have the "snap" of a Chevy small block.


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