Automotive & Aftermarket News / Car Culture & Entertainment

Ranking the Top 5 Small Block Chevy Engines of All Time: (#3) 327 L84

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The potent 327 L84 held the title as the most powerful production small block Chevy engine for nearly 30 years! That’s an impressive feat for an engine developed way back in 1964, especially considering it gave up precious cubic inches to the larger small blocks developed later on.

So how did this legendary engine do it?

The original Chevy 327 was introduced in 1962 with Chevrolet’s new and larger 4.00-inch bore and 3.25-inch stroke size. At the time, the 327 was the largest displacement small block available, and the higher-compression, 4-barrel carb version of the engine easily achieved the one horsepower-per-cube level that the 283 small block had achieved a few years earlier. By 1964, Chevrolet was getting an amazing 365 horsepower from its carbureted 327 L76 small block.

But Chevy engineers still had another trick up their sleeve: mechanical fuel injection.

In 1964-65, Chevrolet offered an L84 version of the 327 topped with the latest iteration of the mechanical fuel injection system used on the 283. Unlike modern EFI (electronic fuel injection), Chevrolet’s Rochester fuel injection system metered out fuel mechanically using no electronics and just three main components: fuel meter, air meter, and intake manifold. Although rudimentary compared to today’s modern EFI system, the Rochester fuel injection system offered substantial top-end power over the similar carbureted setup on the L76.  The mechanical injection setup, along with 11:1 compression, “double hump” fuelie heads, aggressive solid lifter camshaft, and larger diameter valves, pushed the L84 to 375 horsepower—a whopping 1.146 horsepower-per-cubic-inch.

The 327 L84 remained the most powerful Chevrolet small block production engine ever until the quad-cam LT5 came out in the 1990s. And it was the most powerful naturally-aspirated single-cam small block until the arrival of the LS6 engine in the early 2000s.

It was an engine ahead of its time. That was also its downfall.

According to Super Chevy magazine, the carbureted L76 actually outsold the more powerful L84 because fuel injection was a foreign concept to many customers at the time. It was also significantly more expensive, causing many performance enthusiasts of the day to opt for carburetion. By mid-year 1965, Corvette owners could get their Stingray with a 425-horsepower, carbureted 396 big block that actually cost less than the 327 fuelie. Chevrolet discontinued the L84 following the 1965 model year.

But in just two years, the L84 left its mark as one of the top small blocks of all time.

Check out the #4 and #5 engines on our list here:

#5: The original 265
#4: 350 TPI L98

 

 

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12 Comments

  1. Greg Sharp says:

    I love the SBC , the 283, 302, 327 and the 350’s but my favorite small block is the under rated, under estimated L82…

  2. Boss 351 made more power than the 327.

    • It’s about sbc engines not Ford’s and I haven’t done my homework yet but I’m pretty sure a boss 351 did not put out more than 375 horsepower stock

  3. A note to yourself this is a general motors application not Ford …

  4. Michael j. Chernick says:

    Thank u to the reply to the ford guy reminding him this is about general motors application

  5. Pingback: Tpi Wiring Harness Diagram - free wiring diagrams

  6. Andyvargas says:

    Where talking about the heart beat of america the bowtie small blocks not blue oval .

  7. Ahhh, only in the Ford world is a 330 hp 351 more powerful than 375 hp 327.

    • Had a 65 Malibu SS, 327, 300 H.P. 4 speed.
      Traded it in for a Torino Cobra 351C, 4 speed. Let the Corbra loose,
      after the 327, it felt like I was pulling a plow. That little SS would have
      been through the quarter, and turning around before the Cobra Torino
      hit the trap.
      I had a severe case of buyers remorse at the time.
      I’m over it. Well, almost.

  8. Tim Mullins says:

    My condolences to the Ford guy, sitting back there mourning over a loss they were forced to suffer decades ago. I like Fords. They have made many a great engine over the years. But one has to face facts. The small block world was one that Ford was never allowed to rule, albeit they did make more fine entries into it than Mopar, who was forced to make do with the 273 and the 340. No, the big block world was where Ford managed to make a strong showing. But they still had to share with Mopar and Chevy. If you want to feel sorry for somebody, try American Motors. They made quite a few engines which were both durable and fast, but just couldn’t seem to build one suitable for prime time.

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