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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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