Q&A

Mailbag: Budget-Friendly Head & Cam for SBC Build

(Image/Americanclassiccars.com)

Q: I have a 1978 Chevy 350 with a 4-bolt main that I started as a project about four years ago. My son is really starting to get into cars, and we’ve bought 1980 Buick Regal as a project to put the engine into. The 350 has been bored .030 over, and it’s outfitted with 10:1 pistons, a forged steel crank, all-new ARP fasteners, a 7 qt. Summit Racing oil pan, a high performance oil pump, and a double-roller timing chain and gear.

Unfortunately, by the time we got to the top half, my budget was gone. So I used a set of stock heads, a heavier cam, an Edelbrock Performer intake, and an Edelbrock 600 cfm carburetor.

I think it’s a strong engine but I feel like it needs more air. Can you suggest a set of heads and a cam that will complement these parts and not land me in the doghouse? I’m really not sure about lift and duration, and I don’t want to spend money on trial and error.

A: For the best bang for your buck, we recommend going with a set of Trick Flow Super 23 175 cylinder heads. They’ll work with up to 10.5:1 compression and still run on pump gas. They’ll also maintain good flow through 6,500 rpm, and allow you to maximize your ignition timing. Since these heads have 56cc combustion chambers, this may change your compression ratio slightly.

For your project, a good bumpstick would be an Xtreme Energy camshaft from COMP Cams. Part number CCA-12-242-2 is a popular choice for small block Chevys, with a duration of 224°/230° and a lift of .477″/.480″. It shows strong numbers on the dyno, too, making power between 1,600 and 5,800 rpm.

You didn’t mention what transmission you have, but if it’s an automatic, that Xtreme Energy cam will work with either the stock torque converter or a 1,600-2,000 rpm stall converter.

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