With how much ink LS engines are getting in other publications these days, we’re actually proud we’re going with a conventional small-block in our Hardtop Hellion Nova project car. The standard SBC is still a great platform that can make loads of reliable power for under $10,000, and it’s our engine builder, Mark Rapp’s specialty. However, we’re not going to ignore the LS engine’s bang-for-the-buck advantage. But for our Chevy II, we felt a conventional SBC would be more ideal for a couple reasons, mainly for ease of install. Of course folks have dropped GM’s late small-block in these little cars before, but we didn’t want to have too many curve balls to deal with–such as oil pan fitment, accessory clearance, and headers. With a conventional engine, we’re able to use a readily available oil pan from Moroso (that will clear a manual steering link with the slave cylinder removed) and the big one: We could run fenderwell headers; something we’ve wanted since we first saw Hooker’s Super Comps on Chevy II drag cars.

Our goal is not to make as much power as possible (you’ll be able to tell that from the mild cam we chose), nor is it to make it a gas saver; we want something we can fire up and drive in traffic every day, if we wanted to. This engine will likely be upgraded to make more power naturally aspirated as the project progresses.

The combination consists of a very simple 0.040-over 383ci with 10.65:1 compression using off-the-shelf parts and a stock block, all of which could be had from Summit Racing. Our goal is to make around 500 hp on 91 octane pump gas, and considerably more with a hefty shot of nitrous. We chose affordable and quality components from Scat Enterprises, COMP Cams, Moroso, TCI, and Summit Racing and put together a custom 385ci bullet for our project–one that can be replicated for around $9,000 from the carburetor to oil pan. Thanks to Summit Racing’s line of blocks and aluminum heads, we were able to keep costs relatively low, and by using full kits instead of piecing out parts individually, we were able to save additional green.

While it’s true we purposely went with out-of-the-box parts to keep the overall cost from skyrocketing, we are running some more high-end parts such as the Black Diamond Quick Fuel carb and Moroso valve covers that will make this pump gas mouse look like a trick race piece. In a previous issue we covered the short-block build, which, with help from L&R Engines and Mark Rapp of Rapp Racing, we were able to build a solid, stock block foundation. The bottom end basics include a Scat 3.75-inch forged crankshaft, Scat’s 6.000-inch forged H-beam rods, Mahle flat top PowerPak pistons and ARP hardware. We also upgraded to a full Moroso oiling system, including their louvered windage tray and Chevy II swap oil pan. In this installment we cover the details of the top end before we haul this moderate small-block to the engine dyno to see what our recipe can do. In the next couple months we hope to not only have the dyno results, but we should also be closer to getting the Hellion back on the road.

Parts list*

• Summit Racing fully machined block ($700)

• Summit Racing 200cc aluminum heads ($1,100)

• Scat rotating assembly & Mahle pistons ($2,000)

• COMP Cams hydraulic roller cam & lifter kit ($1,000)

• RHS single plane intake manifold ($300)

• Quick Fuel Q-series carb ($700)

• Moroso oiling & cooling systems ($1,000)

• ARP bolts & Mahle/Clevite gaskets ($200)

• Hooker Super Competition headers ($600)

• TCI Balancer, starter, flywheel ($600)