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Top 10 Engines of All Time (#5): Chevy 427

chevy big block 427While Chevrolet did produce a select few 427-cubic-inch engines a few years prior (the Z11) for the Chevy Impala, the wildly popular Chevy 427 V8 engine became available to the general public in 1966.

The engine won instant fans, because the powerplant offered versatility and piles of horsepower.

The 427 powered vehicles across the spectrum of Bowtie offerings—from family wagons to Corvettes.


Chevy started using the 427 big block as a production engine in 1966—an engine with a diverse range of power depending on a particular vehicle or application.

The 427 lived in both station wagons and as well as Corvettes and Camaros.

Fans of this engine tout the 435-horsepower L71 version of the 427 which powered the Chevy Corvette from 1967-1969. These cars could run 13-second quarter-miles right from the factory, and that was absolutely cooking back in the late ‘60s.

Among gearheads and hotrodders, the 427 is considered to be one of, if not the, least expensive way to make a lot of horsepower.

For non-street use, the 427 ZL1 was built with aluminum blocks and cylinder heads. That engine, properly tuned, spit out more than 500 horsepower and was used in a variety of racing applications.

Engine Specifications

1966 – 1969 with 4 Barrel Carb (L36)
(Low Compression Model)
Max Brake Horsepower – 390 @ 5200 rpm
Max Torque – 470 @ 3600 rpm
Stroke – 3.76
Bore – 4.251
Compression – 10.25

1966 with 4 Barrel Carb (L72)
(High Compression Model)
Max Brake Horsepower – 425 @ 5600 rpm
Max Torque – 460 @ 4000 rpm
Stroke – 3.76
Bore – 4.251
Compression – 11.0

1967 – 1968 with 4 Barrel Carb
Max Brake Horsepower – 385 @ 5200 rpm
Max Torque – 460 @ 3400 rpm
Stroke – 3.76
Bore – 4.251
Compression – 10.25

1967 – 1968 with 3 x 2 Barrel Carbs (L68)
1969 with a 4 Barrel Carb

Max Brake Horsepower – 400 @ 5200 rpm
Max Torque – 460 @ 3600 rpm
Stroke – 3.76
Bore – 4.251
Compression – 10.25

1967 – 1969 with 4 Barrel Carb
Max Brake Horsepower – 425 @ 5600 rpm
Max Torque – 460 @ 4000 rpm
Stroke – 3.76
Bore – 4.251
Compression – 11.0

1967 – 1969 with 3 x 2 Barrel Carbs (L71)
Max Brake Horsepower – 435 @ 5800 rpm
Max Torque – 460 @ 4000 rpm
Stroke – 3.76
Bore – 4.251
Compression – 11.0

1967 – 1969 with 4 Barrel Carb (L88) 
(Very rare engine that was offered in Corvettes. Only 20 were produced in 1967.)
Max Brake Horsepower – 430 @ 5800 rpm
(Some argue that it actually produced up to 600 horsepower, according to )
Max Torque – 450 @ 4000 rpm
Stroke – 3.76
Bore – 4.251
Compression – 12.5 (Was lowered to 12.0 in the last half of 1969.)

1969 with 4 Barrel Carb
Max Brake Horsepower – 335 @ 4800 rpm
Max Torque – 470 @ 3200 rpm
Stroke – 3.76
Bore – 4.251
Compression – 10.25

Top Aftermarket Upgrades 

According to Summit Racing, these Chevy Big Block 427 Mark IV parts are the most readily available (number of options as of 1/21/2014 in parenthesis):


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




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  1. John R Needham says:

    You forgot about 450 horse which the 427 was first rated when introduced in
    Corvettes for 1966 early builds.

  2. Allen Corkill says:

    was there a high block 427 if so what is the hp torke

    • Daniel Boyd says:

      Idk but I have a bus that has a 427 tall deck but it’s just a school bus but you can find all the old sizes of the big 3 hinding in their truck the bus is a 82

  3. I have a heavy duty truck with a 427 in it. It was used to pull rice trailers. Does anyone know if it is a 4 bolt main? The option number on the glove box shows 427 V-8 12L43CB

    • It is possible for your engine to have a 4 bolt main. But remember that your engine was built with torque mods. So it is probly a low compression engine. Which is good to have the bare block for restoration on truck engine. NOT Passenger cars.

  4. The tall deck(.400) over a pass block was from the 366/427/454/ 500cid commercial engine group the 454 and 500 are the rarest This engine was in everything from 2.5t 40/50/60 series trucks school buses marine farm equipment and various industrial aps The were designed to have diesel like operation hi torque rise low rpm(2800) hi reliability engine When cared for (overheating could be a problem) they were a fantastis engine They have a hi nickel 4bolt Tonawonda block with a forged crank a holley carb transisterized ignition Dual thermostat hi flow water pump In stock form they were very stout for the application But because the pistons have an extra ring (oil ring below the wrist pin) and low rpm hi velocity heads they need help for perf use They do make an ideal base however and many have been bui lt into really famous race engines A true diamond in the rough Light pistons and new heads and they are ready!

    • jeff could the 427 talldeck be special orderd in a 3500 4x4truck

    • Richard Oliver says:

      Damn you know a lot but do you know this I have a 1980 427 big block Corvette that I called Chevrolet and they said a few of them learn droppings they could actually be ordered like that in 1980 for racing please reply best Oliver

  5. Kenneth Jackson says:

    Is there such thing as a 400 big block?

    • Yes only made by the Pontiac firebird. 1969

    • Yes, it was actually a 402 listed as a 400


      As far as Chevy engines go, don’t confuse the 400-cid small-block with the 402-cid big-block. Chevy began producing the 400 SBC in 1970 as torque monsters installed in full-size passenger cars such as Impala/Caprice and even some Monte Carlos. It is virtually indistinguishable from a 350 SBC on the outside, but internally it has siamesed cylinders to accomodate the larger bore size. Externally, a 4-bolt main 400-cid block will have a third freeze plug in each side rather than the typical two. The 402-cid big-block was merely an overbored 396 block, offering a few more cubes than the 396. However, Chevy didn’t want to mess with years of success and notoriety of the “396” nameplate, so they never pushed the issue with new badges on the Super Sport models.

  6. I recently aquired a big block 427 out of a 76 gmc heavy duty truck how do I identify it to be sure exactly what motor it is

  7. Kinda sorta

  8. How many uncles in an ant hill

  9. I’d like to see a full-on comparison between the Z11 427 in the ZL1 427 to see which one actually makes more horsepower and torque

  10. I Bought a 69 427L 88 engine from the Chevrolet dealership it has the domed pistons four bolt main and I think it’s 12 1/2 to 1 compression or 13 1/2 to 1 compression and I would like to know the camshaft specs
    Can anybody tell me the lift and duration of that camshaft ?
    I would like to go to the Biggart camshaft in it, but I don’t know how large I can go with Domed pistons
    Thanks in advance

    • I just finished building a .060″ over 427 with 39cc JE forged domes made just for the old closed chamber oval port iron heads, 3964290’s. They were one of three closed chamber heads used on the SS Chevy 396 and 427 big blocks. I contacted George at Clay Smith Cams, “Mr Horsepower” and got his recommendation for a solid lifter cam for my build. George was there back in the 60’s when Clay was setting track records and winning championships with the L71-427’s running their cams. For my build which is with stock 290 closed chambered oval port heads, 12.5.1 JE domes, and a Weiand single plane high rise 4150 intake matched to those heads…He said this was the cam they ran for those heads, C-304-8-B Solid Flat Tappet

      Advertised Duration: 304
      Duration at .050″ : 258
      Lobe Separation : 108
      Valve Lift based on Rocker Ratio
      1.75 .615
      After about .600″ of lift those stock heads started to run out of breath but would easily support 8000 rpm. That combination in a well balanced motor will make 500+ HP @ 7000 rpm and never stress the rotating assembly because the 427 and 396 have that shorter stroke thus a lower piston speed for more horsepower making rpm. ~Ghostrider~

    • L88 was 264/270,112/108,.560/.580 gross lift
      Ls7/zl1 was 262/273,110/?,560/600 lift
      Elgin and crane Produced them I have a friend that has new old stock Elgin L88 shaft with the spec Sheet.

      • That L88 cam will turn any big block chevy into a raped ape. just dont forget valve springs, torque converter (if you’re running an auto trans), and may be a rev-limiter.

  11. No wish I did because I’m building one at the moment and want a set of 291 heads

    • Hi Stan, your running practically the same heads as I am with the 3964290’s…If your going with a solid lifter set up that cam number I gave in my comment above is the tried and proven grind for these motors. Use the Howards .020″ EDM self oiling solid lifters with that cam grind number and you wont be sorry. That cam needs a 3000+ rpm stall converter and long tube headers, and hang on! 😉 ~Ghostrider~

  12. Jimmy L Lawson says:

    Yes the 402 Chevy (Mark IV series),sometimes installed in cars badged 396,but usually badged 400.

  13. Chad Westenhaver says:

    I have a 69c60 dumptruck with a 427 under the hood.. is this a low comp. Motor or can i settle it under the hood of my chevelle and be happy with it??

    • The “tall deck” 427’s are great platforms to build! If and when you get ready to build it that block is a ready made stroker block waiting to happen…Rods, pistons, and maybe heads depending on what your wanting to do with that Chevelle and you can have a monster of a big block…~Ghostrider~

  14. Errol wiens says:

    Did they put a 427 in El Camino in 1970


      Beginning in 1970, Chevy installed the 454-cid engines, replacing the 427-cid displacement engines which were used up to and including 1969 model year. The 1970 LS6 454-cid big block was a solid lifter, hi-rise factory aluminum dual-plane intake, single Holley carb engine and the top-of-the-line Chevy offering in vehicles such as Chevelle/El Camino “Super Sports”.

  15. fred wesley elliott says:

    Thank you for the history I love my CHEVY’s

  16. I own a 1969 Caprice with a 427/335 horsepower, I have added a little over stock cam, headers and replaced distributor with HEI would like to upgrade carb, currently I have the original quadrajet on it

    Thank you

  17. Just a small side note: Of those supposedly only 20 L 88s, the actor James garner bought 3 new L-88 corvettes in 1968 to compete in the European road racing circuit that he was involved in. They were fierce, when everything was set perfect, but very temperamental and not overly dependable or consistent, especially when they got hot for a longer race. Basically the only difference that I’m aware of between the L 88 and the ZL one was weight, the ZL-1 had an aluminum block and heads. When set up for drag racing, these engines could & some did, run low 10s in the qtr mile. I haven’t paid attention for decades since, but in a stock class drag race, I would think that would still be a respectable time even today over 50 years later, maybe not.

  18. Randall Hutchcraft says:

    427 is the top of the line chevy engine, but I also like the 396 ,its abilities are endless. But I never new after being a mechanic for 54 years now that GM made according to some people there was a 427 small block, can anyone explain this to me. Thank you.

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