Reference Manual

Chapter 1: Engines: Chevrolet V8s


In 1955, Chevrolet introduced an all-new small-block V8 that changed the automotive landscape forever. Chevy's amazing small-block was lighter, simpler, easier to manufacture, and less expensive than other overhead valve engines. With its high-revving valvetrain and efficient port design, the small-block was also more powerful and responsive than its competition. In 1955 the original 265 CID small-block Chevrolet V8 produced 162 horsepower; within a couple of years, the small block was delivering 283 horsepower from 283 CID - one hp per cubic inch; today the modern LS1 produces over 300 horsepower from 350 CID.

Chevrolet V8's have come with stock displacements of: 265, 267, 283, 302, 305, 307, 327, 350 and 400 cubic inches. The height of the muscle era saw small blocks delivering glorious amounts of power. The fuel crunches of the early seventies saw much of that progress wane as motors were detuned, saddled with ever more complex carburetors, emissions systems and other restrictions. As the small block entered the '80s, they reached their peak in anciliary complexity, though the same basic design remained the same, and they still enjoyed a level of reliability and servicability that kept them popular.

As GM struggled to maintain its CAFE ratings, more agressive and intelligent engineering brought advancements such as throttle body fuel injection, and soon thereafter, tuned port injection. As computer controlled fuel, spark and other systems progressed, significant power and economy gains were made as the Chevrolet small-block became GM's "corporate" engine with more than 65 million small-block engines produced since 1955, and the little Chevy V8 has become the most popular engine in motorsports.

 Chevrolet Engine Details  
  • 267
  • 305
  • 350
  • 400
  • Carburetion
  • Modifying a Chevy V8 engine
  • Tuning a Chevy V8 engine
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