Many of us have Chevy 350 engines installed in our trucks that produce relatively good power. The 350 is a great replacement/transplant for the stock straight-six and for some of the earlier V-8s. Look around and you can find a 350 in every junkyard, some worse off than others, but my point is that they are everywhere.
From the '60s on up to the late '90s, 350 Chevy engines were produced to go in cars and trucks by the hundreds of thousands, not to mention the many crate engines that were built. So I ask the question, does your small-block feel like it could use some more power? Are you wanting some added ponies under the hood, but don't want to go through the trouble of pulling the engine and/or messing with the bottom end?
How about bolting on some new parts like a distributor, heads, cam, lifters, and tune your carb to make that V-8 sound like a V-8? It's not that hard of a job; just a little intimidating at first glance. The hardest part is making sure all the parts jive with each other. That's where companies like Summit Racing come in with their great website and tech support.
Depending on what internals, cylinder heads, intake, exhaust, camshaft, and carb your 350 has really determines how much power it will or can make. Let's be honest with ourselves, do we need an 800hp small-block? Yeah that would be cool, but to answer that question, 800 hp has its place in something, but for the most part a mild street driver is anywhere from 290-600 hp.
If you start getting into the 600-plus area, then you start looking at blowers and turbos with a big price tag. This is when you have to ask yourself what you will be doing with the truck. Will you be driving on the street 100 percent of the time? Or will you want to drag race or autocross? Generally we build our trucks to have good times with, to be reliable when we are out on the road, doing a burnout or two, and getting on the gas when we merge on the freeway. To do all that, you don't need a big-horsepower dyno number when a mild 350 will get the job done.
Let's talk about the engine we are going to test for you guys. It started off as a replacement Chevy ZZ4 crate engine that was rated at 330 hp at the flywheel, but we would like to bump that horsepower rating with some bolt-on parts. The stock heads that came on our small-block are referred to as 906 heads; they have 170 runners with 64cc combustion chambers and perform well, but leave room for huge improvements.
We called Summit Racing and told them what we wanted to do and they recommended using a set of Trick Flow 195cc intake and 62cc combustion chamber heads. The heads we ordered came cast and we decided to have the engine parts polished including the heads. For the cam parts we called Comp Cams' tech line and they suggested a cam and lifter combo for our application below. The engine went together well. Check out how we made 417 hp with bolt-on parts.