With the recent announcement from Chevrolet about the availability of an all-new Gen-1 small block, I got to thinking about how enthusiasts made horsepower throughout the last several decades. Yes, I know the latest engine release is for a replacement mill that is not being marketed as a performance engine, but how long until it is turned into one by an enterprising enthusiast?
Until the mid-1950s, Chevrolet passenger cars were equipped with six-cylinder engines. That is until the Ford flathead was released. This new Ford V8 engine was a popular mill with speed junkies in the 1950s, because… well… it made more power than Chevy’s stock six-cylinder. It wasn’t long until aftermarket companies were making performance parts for these new engines. Unfortunately, Chevrolet didn’t have anything that could compete with the Ford V8. That was soon to change.
The 350ci engine was used in both low- and high-performance applications from the factory. In 1970, the LT1 used solid lifters, 11.0:1 compression, the “178” high-performance camshaft, and a 780 cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor on a dual-plane aluminum intake. It was factory rated at 370 hp when installed in the Corvette, and 360 hp when bolted into the Camaro Z28. Those were not bad numbers for 1970.