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Top 10 Engines of All Time (#1): Small Block Chevrolet (Gen 1) 350

 

Editor’s Note: This series counts down the Top 10 engines of all time—see how the voting was done by reading our initial post.

1948-Chevy-Truck2

The small block Chevrolet changed the hot rodding world forever.

It was the small block Chevrolet 265 that started the revolution back in 1955, but the Chevrolet 350 is the standard-bearer for this entire generation of engines, which also included notable engines like the 283, 327, and 400.

You chose the Chevrolet 350 as the #1 engine of all time.

Your Thoughts

Even though the small block Chevy vote was split among the various versions, the Chevy 350 still received the most votes out of any engine. Here’s sampling of why:

“350 sbc. Mass produced, simple design makes it easy to upgrade, parts are cheap, takes tons of abuse, puts out some decent power from stock. Hands down my fave.” –Scotty H.

“Gonna have to go with Chevy 350–easy to work on, reliable, and even ford guys like them.” –Rich L.

“Chevy 350. Most reliable, and I’m pretty sure it’s the most transplanted engine in automotive history. I’m willing to bet there are more Ford T-buckets powered by 350s out there than powered by Ford motors.” –Justin G.

“The 350 SBC is the best engine ever made. I believe it is one of the longest lasting engines that has stayed in production as well. I am even a Ford guy, but the 350 has proved itself for many years.”
–William D.

“Chevy 350. Most versatile and used engine ever. Plus the most aftermarket support.” –David E.

“350 small block. It’s cheap and reliable an everyone always has parts for ’em in the rare case something goes wrong.” –Michael B.

“350 V8. Millions made, versatile, small yet powerful, easy to get replacement parts and performance parts, and cheap to work on.  Soooo much of Chevy/GM success based off this engine!!!!” –Jason V.

History

The small block Chevrolet first appeared in 1955 when General Motors developed the engine for the Corvette. Using the same basic dimensions as the old Ford Flathead (although slightly heavier), the small block 265 V8 produced almost twice as much power.

The Flathead was effectively rendered obsolete, and a whole new hot rodding movement had begun.

Twelve years later, the Chevrolet 350 was introduced and “Mouse Mania” was at full throttle. The high-performance small block engine was developed for the Chevrolet Camaro and is often most associated with the muscle cars of the era. The 350 was available for the Chevrolet Nova the following year and became an option for all Chevrolet passenger cars in 1969.

The Chevrolet 350’s greatness isn’t limited to just Chevrolet vehicles, though. As Justin G. pointed out above, the Chevy 350 has become one of the most transplanted engines in hot rodding history. A favorite for engine swaps, the 350 is very easily modded because of the abundance of aftermarket parts. And because so many Chevy 350s have been produced, they’re affordable and easily attainable for swaps of all kinds.

You can find a Chevrolet 350 in just about anything—on land, sea, or air!

The Gen I small block was eventually replaced by the Gen II LT-based engines in the early 1990s. But the original Chevrolet 350 helped spawn General Motors’ modern 5.7L LT and LS (Gen III) engines. And the legend of the Chevrolet 350 lives on!

Specifications

Horsepower and torque ratings have changed over the years, but the original Chevrolet 350 was rated at 295 horsepower and 380 ft.-lbs. of torque. The 1968-69 version was then offered with four different options, producing up to 370 horsepower and 380 ft.-lbs. of torque.

Modifications

Lest you think we’re kidding about the amount of Chevrolet aftermarket parts, here are the most abundant items found on the Summit Racing website (total in parenthesis as of 1/24/14):

Reference Books

Editor’s Note: This series counts down the Top 10 engines of all time—see how the voting was done by reading our initial post.

 

 

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42 Comments

  1. Pingback: Cummins 5.9 is #7 engine of all time. - Dodge Cummins Diesel Forum

  2. simply the number 1 engine in history , even in europe its got lots of builders using it , specially the ls series ones

  3. I THINK THE 5.O & 4.6 SHOULD BE THERE IN TOP 3

  4. Which cars in England would the 350 fitt into without to much hassle

  5. Got my first 350 in my first car, Nova built it to max ! Currently running a stock 78, 350 in my S-10 beat the living daylights out of it. 40 years of running 350s yes I love them.

  6. I still prefer the large journal 327 over all

  7. Are you fricking kidding me? The Chrysler Hemi came out 4 years prior and still dominates top fuel drag racing today. It was outlawed from sanctioned racing at times because it worked so well. If you want to rate an engine based on the merits of its design, the Chevy small block doesn’t hold a candle. I know it’s more popular because it’s low cost and readily available, but let’s be objective here instead of politically correct.

    • yes thank you! what a disappointment, the hemi shoulda won by a mile with the treefiddy coming in at a fifth! this makes about as much sense as saying the mcdonalds mcdouble is a better burger than a whopper, just because there’s more of them and they’re cheaper. PFFT!! what a gyp, i want those twenty minutes back damnit..

    • I agree completely. Just because its cheap and common does not make it good. On top of that a stock Chevy 350 is a peice of junk, in order for it to be a decent engine you have to pour $1500 dollars in it at which point you would be better off just buying a Pontiac 400 that can more than hold its own against a 350.

      • You can use the stock bottom end of a 5.3 and push 17 lbs of boost and have a 600hp setup with turbo for under 800 bucks there guy and the 5.3 holds the record for the most hp on a stock bottom end and stock vortec pistons I’m sorry but that just can’t be beat even with 300k plus miles these ls based engines can be yanked and used as a race motor for years without touching them

    • Are you high the 5.3 and 5.7 are the longest lasting and most bulletproof engine ever made the hemi doesn’t compare when looking at quality plus you don’t see any hemi with over a million original miles

  8. durability..? drag racing.. ? universal uses ? how to be judged..?…..or rated..??

  9. number 1 in rebuilt kits being sold also!

  10. The 350 sold over a billion and still producing

  11. I just bought 1

  12. My freinds 79 camaro has a 8.0l W16-Quad turbo (veyron engine) and it makes over 1010 hp

  13. David JAckson says:

    Where is two thur ten? All I have seen in this article is the number one engine on this top ten list. You must be the worst professionel writer on planet earth to have forgotten the last nine engines in your ten engine article.

  14. There gen 2 did not replace them gen one, they coexisted, in fact, there gen 2 was dropped after they 97 model year and gen 1 continued till I’m believe 2000.

  15. Ed Stewart says:

    I agree with David Jackson (above). I`m a big fan of the 350 Chevy. But this a promo, NOT a list. You suck. Thanks for nothing.

  16. gregreynolds91 says:

    426 HEMI is the best engine by far. This list is a bunch of mess.

  17. top motor should be ford 427 side oiler…….350 in vanilla

  18. Street Hemi’s were no big deal. Never was beat by one. 1970 Buick Gran Sport Stage 1. Now the 426 Max Wedge was a different story.

  19. I don’t think there isn’t a piece of rotating machinery the 350/SBC hasn’t been used in.. I’ll bet there is a washing machine powered by one in some corner if the globe….

  20. Sorry but i grew up around lots of 350s in the 70s and 80s trucks as my grandfather preferred to buy them from another relative that owned a dealership.Those dam things were total junk.The rods would break,the cranks would break,cams would go flat,virtually everything in those engines would break easy.My uncle bought new in 79 a chevy shortbed 4×4 same year my dad bought a new 3/4 ton ford 4×4..he drove it about 3k miles and had enough of things breaking and going bad and got rid of it.I mean it was a new truck!.we still have the 79 ford and its never left us walking one time at 209,000 miles and most of those miles were working miles,pulling trailers,pulling logs etc.Its not much fun driving nowadays with its 4.11 gears but it was built to not come apart and it never did.Like everyone says though 350s are cheap to build but like i always tell people anything that breaks that easy should be cheap to build.I had a chevy guy tell me once yeah they break pretty easy from the factory but you put good aftermarket rods in them and a good aftermarket crank,uprade this and upgrade that,they will hold up pretty good,well i can take about any ford engine from 96 on back and not have to change anything in it and beat the crap out of it and not have the slightest worry about something breaking.They were build with good parts right from the start!When ford changed over to the modular motors, 4.6 5.4 etc they lost alot of reliablility and quality..I won’t have any of them.

  21. Short supply – but 392hemi tops my list

  22. Pingback: Gearhead Gift Guide (Part 3): Gift Ideas for the Chevy Fanatic - OnAllCylinders

  23. Speaker of the Truth says:

    The only thing people really like about this engine is that they think other people like this engine. You get to feel included if you talk about how much you think a 350 belongs in every single car. It is the engine of the sheeple with no real engineering strong points.

    From a mechanical stand point, it’s basic, uninspired, generic and boring. It was cheap and readily available so a lot of guys made a tacit agreement to pretend it was cool; just like the Honda Civic in the 90s. You can tell a lot about a guy that likes either of these things: they’re generally mindless followers.

    Just to drive it home: Honda Civic, Small Block Chevy, same psychology.

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