Q&A

Mailbag: How to Make 400 HP in an SBC-Powered ’86 Camaro

Q: I have a 1986 Chevy Camaro RS.

I’d like to build a 350 for it that puts 400 horses on the ground, and I’d like for it to be an “all-motor” Camaro, without nitrous.

My plan includes some high-compression pistons and a big cam. I was also thinking about putting 305 heads on the 350 to increase the compression ratio. I’ve been told that the 305 heads flow better than the 350 heads.

What do you think?

I was also considering Hooker long-tube headers and a 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust, and I’ll probably need to change my transmission, too. Can you point me in the right direction toward 400 hp?

A: You can get 400 hp out of a small block 350 and keep it streetable.

First, stay away from the 305 heads. They actually don’t flow very well, and since they’re cast iron, you can only go up to 9.5:1 compression.

We’d recommend a set of Trick Flow 23-degree 195 heads and a piston that will run on pump gas and withstand 10:1 compression, like these Keith Black hypereutectic pistons. Combine this with an Edelbrock Air Gap intake manifold, a Holley 650 cfm carb, and a cam with around 235 degrees of duration at .050 inches and .500 inches of lift (like this COMP Cams camshaft), and you should be at 400 hp.

This is another in a series of weekly Q&A Mailbag sessions with Summit Racing‘s tech department, in which there are hundreds more. Click here to see them all

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