What began as a three-way staffer shootout quickly changed directions after an editorial powwow. While other outcomes aren't impossible, let's face it, cubic inches usually win these deals. And if they don't, you can expect the small mills to be a bit on the rowdy side. That said, instead of trying to outdo one another with simple peak horsepower numbers, we realized we could provide more relevant information by instead showcasing three very different examples of small-block builds. How different, you ask? Let's just say each motor has its own choice of compression, type of camshaft, and intended use.
Case in point, the FNG, Haggai, wrenched over a 327 that pumped out 391 hp and 382 lb-ft. It may not sound like much, but for someone looking for an affordable powerplant for their cruiser, this is a pretty good avenue to take. Then again, can you say mid 12s in a street car with stickies? When it came to the 355, Nelson took the more aggressive approach with his 11.5:1 compression, solid-roller-packing mouse, and belted out 539 hp at 6,500 and 481 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm. Street motor? Could be, but it's on the lopey side and even he'll tell you that his emphasis was to build something more for the 'strip. As for the 383, it was pretty tame compared to some of our builds in the past; however, it still generated 491 hp and 489 lb-ft and featured plenty of idle vacuum at 14 inches at just 850 rpm-yep, the perfect medium for a daily commuter.
If you're a fan of small-blocks and looking for something from a mild upgrade to a street brawler to a fairly stout street/strip piece, then one of these combinations should suit your fancy. More importantly, any one of them can be had for under $7,000. Of course, this is assuming you already have a few of these components, namely the carburetor, distributor, and wires. Nevertheless, you'll find two price lists, one where we've listed all the core parts, including the manufacturer and their respective part numbers, and the other where we provide the info that'll allow you to mimic our combinations to every last detail. Be sure to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know which combo fits your style, and above all, whatever changes you may have preferred. -Henry D
What We DidBuild three small-blocks
The Final Say
They made horsepower!
$3,200 to $7,000