We readily admit this engine won’t make a lot of other people’s top 5 lists of small block Chevys.
But as we celebrate 60 years of the small block Chevy, the 350 L98 engine makes ours for its heroic efforts in helping keep Chevrolet performance alive in the 1980s. Introduced in 1985, the L98, along with its 305 little brother, valiantly battled with the Ford 5.0L for factory performance supremacy until the LT family came along in 1992.
Here are a few more reasons L98 made the cut:
- 350 Lineage: The first Gen I 350 appeared in the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro and became the most widely used small block of all time. The L98 was an important part of this legendary 350 family, bridging the gap between the old-school, carbureted Gen I engines and the modern fuel-injected LT and LS engines.
- Power (sort of): The L98 wasn’t the most powerful small block. It wasn’t even the most powerful 350 ever. However, it did get things going back in the right direction following the performance-adverse 1970s and early 80s. At 230 horsepower, the original 1985 L98 offered a significant power jump over the previous engines of the day. Later changes to the engine pushed horsepower up to 245.
- Technological Significance: Featuring Tuned Port Injection (TPI), the 350 L98 was Chevrolet’s first successful foray into the world of EFI (sorry L83 crossfire engine!). These computer-controlled engines delivered more precise control of fuel and spark, yielding better fuel mileage and crisp throttle response in the process. With the introduction of the L98, Chevrolet was entering a bold new world—a world where power, performance, and fuel economy could co-exist. And it wasn’t going back.
- Iconic Looks: A brand new look came with the new technology. The “Elephant Trunk” runners of the TPI intake give the L98 an iconic appearance that’s instantly recognizable to many Chevrolet performance enthusiasts.
- Face of a Generation: Those iconic looks are the face of a generation. During the mid 1980s—long after the muscle car era but before LT and LS engines came along—305/350 TPI engines were the flagship Chevrolet performance engines. They kept the performance scene alive from under the hoods of such vehicles as the C4 Corvette, Camaro, Firebird—and even the IROC-Z.
Sure, the 350 L98 wasn’t the most powerful in the vast 350-cubic-inch family of engines. That just means there’s plenty of room for improvement via upgrades. We found good articles from Hot Rod and Super Chevy magazines on the topic, and there are 350 TPI (L98) aftermarket upgrades available. In addition to many Gen I 350 bottom-end components, you’ll find TPI-specific:
One of the best bow tie small blocks was the original 1971 LT-1 with cross bolted mains. Lots of power and a strong crankset
ya godamm moron it didn’t have cross bolted mains geez reckon idiot
Original 71 LT1 ?? Nope ! Wrong again.. lol
70.5 LT1 in the perfectly styled Camaro same vintage?
[…] iconic muscle car is the Camaro. In 1987 the L98 350 cu in (5.7 L) V8 engine became a regular option on the IROC-Z, paired with an automatic […]
All cars get smoked by electric cars except maybe some of the hyper are but an electric could be built to beat them too
If you consider the price of an electric car or the conversion cost to electric. That cost is at least $30,000. You can have a lot of fun with a “slower” gas powered car and $30,000 in your pocket. My gas car is paid for so I can buy an awful lot of gasoline for that. Oh, that and the cost of the tickets and collisions you will rack up with that so-fast electric car.