There's a sweet spot in the horsepower-per-dollar equation, and this 355 has its coordinates firmly locked onto that juicy territory. Scoff, if you will, at its mediocre 467hp output, but printing a big number on the dyno sheet with utter disregard for fiscal responsibility isn't what this motor's about.

With the caliber of cylinder heads, stroker rotating assemblies, and valvetrain components on the market today, cracking 550 hp with a small-block is cake. Eclipsing the 600hp mark requires just a smidgen more effort. However, with those incremental gains in power comes an alarmingly disproportional hit to the checkbook. While this 355 was built for less than $4,000, a 550hp Mouse could easily cost twice as much. Sure, speed costs money, but what if you don't have the greenbacks to play with the big boys?

Enter Terry Shallington's low-buck 355. Like most working stiffs, Terry had a real-world budget, which meant that spending $10,000 on a motor was out of the question. The formula for the buildup was quite simple: Buy what you can afford, even if it means leaving some power on the table. The final product is a ridiculously simple 355 mill that utilizes a factory four-bolt block, a stock GM steel crank, Eagle I-beam rods, forged Speed-Pro pistons, World Products iron heads, and a 255/263-at-0.050 Comp solid flat tappet cam. With a price tag right at $4,000, the 355's 467hp output works out at roughly $8 per horse.

Assuming for the sake of argument that a 625hp small-block would ring up a $10,000 tab, the math works out to $16 per horse. In other words, that would be 100 percent more money for just 22 percent more power. Like we said, this 355's objective is finding the sweet spot-and gloriously exploiting it.

From Attic To Dyno
In an interesting backstory to this engine buildup, some of the antique parts came straight out of the attic. Terry is the original owner of an all-original '69 Z/28, and after the factory 302 went poof! decades ago, he went on an extended hiatus from drag racing. Now that the kids are all grown up, he's hitting the local bracket racing scene again and is even considering competing in Stock Eliminator. Before that could happen, he enlisted the help of the School of Automotive Machinists in Houston to build a durable powerplant. Most of the components are new, but to help keep costs down, Terry dug up some 30-year-old parts from his street racing days. Not only are the battle-proven Crane roller rockers, Victor Jr. intake, stock Z/28 carb, and Stahl headers interesting pieces of nostalgia, but they still perform exceptionally well by today's standards.

Quick Notes
The Build

A stupid-easy pump-gas 355 bracket motor

Bottom Line
Nothing fancy here, just an $8-per-horse formula

Price (Approx)
$4,000

The Recipe
Since you probably don't have a bunch of 30-year-old parts lying around for your next engine build, we admit that your price for this 355 could be a bit higher. To calculate your probable cost to replicate this combination, substitute modern-day equivalents of the recycled parts used in this build. By tacking on $180 for a set of Crane Energizer rockers (PN 11744-16), $200 for an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake (PN 2975), and $340 for a Holley 650 double-pumper (PN 0-4777C), your cost to duplicate this 355 could come to $4,651. Either way, it's still dirt-cheap.
MFG ITEM PN PRICE
ARP Head bolts 134-3601 $60
Clevite Main bearings MS909P 24
  Rod bearings CB663H 24
  Cam bearings SH2905 18
Cloyes Timing chain 9-1100 32
Cometic Head gaskets C5877-040 86
Comp Cams Camshaft Custom 166
  Lifters 833-16 90
  Pushrods 7993-16 130
Crane Rockers N/A 0
Eagle Connecting rods 5700BPLW 236
Edelbrock Intake manifold N/A 0
Fel-Pro Intake gasket 1405 19
  Oil pan gasket 1818 15
Melling Oil pump M55HV 28
Moroso Oil pan 20191 196
Professional Products Harmonic balancer 8000 40
Proform Timing cover 66666 60
Speed-Pro Pistons L2256F30 280
  Rings R9343.035 116
World Products Heads 014150-3 1,171
Factory Block N/A 50
  Production steel crank N/A 100
  Z/28 carburetor N/A On hand
  Parts Total   $2,941
MACHINE WORK BY SAM
OPERATION PRICE OPERATION PRICE
Bore/hone $225 Deck resurface $100
Align hone 125 Balancing 75
Turn crank 65 Head/intake porting 400
  Machine Work Total   $990
  GRAND TOTAL   $3,931
BUILD SHEET
All measurements are given in inches unless otherwise noted.
Block Junkyard GM four-bolt
Bore x Stroke 4.030 x 3.480
Displacement 355 ci
Rod length 5.700
Deck height 0
Head gasket thickness 0.040
Main bearing clearance 0.0023-0.0026
Rod bearing clearance 0.0020-0.0024
Piston-to-wall clearance 0.004
Piston dome volume -6.1 cc
Piston compression height 1.56
Top ring gap 0.017
Second ring gap 0.025
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Camshaft 255/263 at 0.050; 0.540/0.534; 106 LSA
Installed centerline 102 degrees
Rocker ratio 1.5:1
Valves 2.08/1.60, intake/exhaust
Valvespring diameter 1.55
Valvespring seat pressure 135 pounds
Valvespring open pressure 360 pounds
Carburetor Factory Z/28 DZ
Fuel 93-octane unleaded
Ignition advance 35 degrees
DYNO DATA
RPM LB-FT HP
4,000 378 288
4,100 378 294
4,200 378 303
4,300 407 333
4,400 414 347
4,500 417 357
4,600 421 369
4,700 424 380
4,800 426 390
4,900 428 400
5,000 429 409
5,100 428 416
5,200 425 421
5,300 422 425
5,400 418 430
5,500 416 435
5,600 413 441
5,700 411 446
5,800 408 450
5,900 404 454
6,000 401 458
6,100 397 461
6,200 393 464
6,300 389 467
6,400 383 467
6,500 375 464
6,600 366 460
6,700 358 457
6,800 351 454
6,900 346 454
7,000 341 454
AVG 398 414
Sources
Automotive Racing Products (ARP)
805.339.2200
arp-bolts.com
Comp Cams
901.795.2400
compcams.com
Eagle Specialty Products
662.796.7373
eaglerod.com
Edelbrock Corp.
310.781.2222
edelbrock.com
Holley Performance Products
800.465.5391
holley.com
Moroso
203.453.6571
moroso.com
School of Automotive Machinists
713.683.3817
samracing.com
World Products
631.981.1918
worldcastings.com
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