I can hardly believe getting, just in the last 24 hours, a half a dozen PM's from readers asking what my 'obsession' is concerning Chevy's big block engines. Some have even questioned my loyalty toward Mini's and mini owners. Well let me make it clear I still think that Mini's (the original one that is) are still one of, if not the most fun car to drive. But there is a limit - engine size - and at the end of the day they are only small engines. The biggest I have built, with David Anton at APT in Riverside CA. was 1622 cc. After putting out monstrous numbers for a NA engine on the chassis dyno David took it out for a test drive. He arrived back at the shop just a few minutes later with a disappointed look on his face. This bothered me. I asked "well - what the hell did it go like"? He responded "no good". "What do you mean no good - it's got 140 hp at the wheels"! David response - "it's no good - you can blow the tires off it in third gear - can't put the power down anywhere (it had race tires on at that)"! I realized too late I was being taken for a good houmoured ride - should have known better. The moral here same as ever - there is no substiute for cubic inches (except a turbo).
So that brings me back to the Chevy Big Block - I have to say here and now I am a racer through and through. When it comes to engine size my motto (adopted from Hot Rod's Stroker McGurk) is:- 'If some is good then more must be better and too much must be just right'.
Even a wrecking yard rebuild with only about 480 inches and on a tight budget leaves the dyno with a 700 plus hp score card along with 630 ft-lbs of torque (at least it does if you know what you are doing). Still at a very moderate cost (under $9,000) I can put together a pump gas totally streetable 800 hp 735 lbs-ft 525 incher.
What I like about big blocks is that they are really big. On the dyno or in the car you feel they make the ground shake - yes I would have to say at least a 5 on the Richter scale. When the budget is not so tight the numbers go really high. The 712 incher (11.7 litres)that I am working on now with my ProStock friend Terry Walters (check out his 200 mph crash at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G48sLUOJZvw)
has already pumped out some 1060 ft-lbs of torque and is hovering just below 1350 hp. I will be really ticked off if we don't pass the 1400 hp mark on what is still not that costly an engine. You can hear a couple of my BB Chevys run on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCG1LSNU3zk&fea...
Turn the volume up. Unfortunately you will have to imagine the low frequency noise as your speakers won't handle it. On the street these engines speak nothing but authority. No-body challenges you to a race to the next lights!
And to answer a couple of guys who asked what I am racing now (among other things)here it is:-
This is a 1979 Chevy Malibu - It has to weigh in at 3100lbs with driver. I race this with my friend David McCoig. After the last race we took it to the track with what could best be described as a our prototype 358 (5.8 litres) engine for 2012. We run this on the 1/8 mile and our best run on that last time out was 6.31 at 109.1 mph. Rules call for a spec tire so hooking up is a little problematical. After much in the way of trials and tribulations we got the 60 ft down to a 1.31 seconds with the fastest in the class at 1.29. Still our mph on our $7200 engine is at 109.1 about a mph over the record set by a $20,000 420 inch car at 108.1.
So why are David McCoig and I running a small block instead of a BB? Simple we don't have the money to buy whats needed for a good rolling Big block chassis. It's no good short changing things here. The better you are at building a BB the more important it becomes to have a good chassis. Even a low buck BB will, in race trim, be over 1000 hp and that's with no nitrous.
I have had so many pro engine builders ask me what is the key to my street motors making such good low speed output while making really good top end - all on pump gas.
Answer - don't use intake ports that are too big and make sure the cam events are what the motor wants not what you think it should have like it or not (and so many folk get it wrong here).