Lock the garage door and break out the droplight, as this month's dyno test is all about choosing the perfectcamshaft for a 383ci stroker small-block. While the 350 may be the most popular, and the 400 more robust, the 383ci engine is still, by far, the most popular street combination. And for our testing purposes, it would unequivocally deliver robust power across a wide range of camshafts, from mild to wild.
To get the job done we paired up the technical staff of Comp Cams with the guys from SA Engine Design to perform a back-to-back test of six individual camshafts. Cylinder heads of choice were 190cc Trick Flows, and we ran three separate groups of progressively bigger camshaft profiles, pairing dual-pattern grinds against single-pattern grinds. The camshafts were run with a dual-plane Edelbrock Air Gap intake manifold, a 750-cfm Speed Demon carburetor, and set of 131/44-inch Hedman headers. Each of the tests found maximum power with 34 degrees of total spark timing with an out-of-the-box Demon carburetor. Some street tuning was performed to increase idle vacuum, but overall each package delivered a useful power curve for any given audience. To provide total coverage of each camshaft and its mannerisms we also measured the cranking compression and idle vacuum.
Check out the details and compare our dyno numbers carefully. High-rpm power may accelerate a dedicated strip machine to the fastest speed, but a hefty torque curve will definitely lay the stoplight smackdown on a race engine every time.
Engine Specs* 383ci small-block* 4.030-inch bore* 3.75-inch stroke* 11.5:1 compression* Comp Cams valvetrain* Milodon oil pan w/windage tray* 91-octane pump gas* 160-degrees water temperature* ARP engine bolts* Fel-Pro gasket set* 190cc Trick Flow cylinder heads* 750-cfm Speed Demon* Edelbrock intake* Hedman headers* Champion spark plugs* Lucas oil 5W30* MSD Distributor, wires, ignition
Final VerdictBig cams make high-rpm power-but at the expense of low idle vacuum and poor street drivability. Small cams trade a bit of that high-end power but offer good street manners, while providing enough low-rpm torque to hang with even the biggest beast on the streets. In the end it all comes down to a trade-off between drivability and balls-out high-performance power.