a 454 cubic inch big block chevy v8 engine making 450 horsepower

Q: I have a 1973 454 big block Chevy. It has a 8.5:1 compression, stock oval port cylinder heads, a Crane PowerMax camshaft, and Edelbrock Performer intake, and a Holley 750 cfm carburetor.

The engine needs an overhaul but I would like to retain the stock cylinder heads and intake. What would I need to increase the compression ratio?

Also, I enjoy the sound of an aggressive cam—what do you recommend? I want it to be a stout street engine, and still have some fun on the track!

A: Thanks for writing! After poking around a little, we think we’ve found a great combination to transform your engine into a street-and-strip powerhouse.

For starters, you can rejuvenate your engine with a Sealed Power premium engine rebuild kit.

It includes everything you need for an extensive overhaul without breaking your budget, plus you can retain your stock cylinder heads and intake. Once you’ve installed the kit, your compression should increase to around 9.8:1.

Keep in mind that these kits are custom ordered according to your bore diameter and bearing sizes. You can talk to our tech-expert friends at Summit Racing to make sure you’re getting the proper kit for your specific application. (You can reach them by phone at 800-230-3030.)

As for your camshaft, we recommend a COMP Cams Xtreme Energy cam and lifter kit. It includes a hydraulic flat tappet cam that builds big power from 2,300-6,500 rpm and has 240° int./246° exh. duration @ .050”.

Also included is a set of lifters, a timing chain and gears, valve springs, seals, and locks, retainers, and assembly lube.

The aggressive lope of the Xtreme Energy cam will be music to your ears. Best of luck building your powerplant!

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.