The 350 Cubic Inch Debate: Is The Chevy Small Block The Only Answer?

J Sutherland
by J Sutherland
the 350 cubic inch debate is the chevy small block the only answer

The default power choice for many resto-mods is the popular 350 from the General. They are plentiful, affordable and can be built into a beast of a motor. But for many non-General car guys, the idea of a Chevy engine under the hood of their non-General Motors ride is simply a great reason to run it directly over a cliff.

These car guys view a Chevy small block under the hood of one of the other Detroit manufacturer choices as an act of automotive blasphemy that is completely unacceptable to them. It is a little like a New York Yankee playing in a Boston Red Sox uniform for the purists.

The concept has picked up some steam in collector car circles because a Ford-in-Ford or Mopar-in-Mopar resto-mod done to the same level as a Chevy-in-either will typically get more money in a collector vehicle auction.

We have been to hundreds of car shows and events that celebrate the car culture, so we have been around a lot of people’s reactions to resto-mods.

The general reaction to the engine choice depends upon the car guy’s brand loyalty. The General Motors guys are pretty happy to see a 350 under the hood of anything and there are a lot of Bowtie fans in car guy world.

The fact that GM was the king of the car world in terms of sales in North America for many decades meant that many car guys liked their vehicles-and so did their kids, thus the appeal of a 350 Chevy in a Ford, Mopar, Rambler, Studebaker or any other domestic car built over the years since Henry Ford introduced mass production.

But hardcore Ford and Mopar fail to see the magic in the 350 engine from a rival, especially a hated rival. They have a different idea about resto-mods and their engines do not wear bowties. For many old school non-Chevy car guys, a 383 is a name that can only be associated with something from the vintage Chrysler lineup like a 1968 Roadrunner engine choice and not a Chevy-come-lately 350 stroker.

The idea of performance engine options has not been lost on Ford or Mopar, so now a resto-mod motor choice can now be purchased from either one of them. In fact, Chrysler has some very interesting Hemi choices for their brand loyalists, while Ford after-market engines can get you there in a hurry. The cheaper cost factor of Chevy after-market engines does provide an argument for car guys who work on a tight car project budget.

In the final analysis, some very solid choices are now out there for fans of all three brands because the name of the game is all-out performance from all of the Big Three in the aftermarket world. You can be true to your school in a big way in 2013, plus Ford-in-Ford and Mopar-in-Mopar is a better resale investment than Chevy-in either of their Detroit rivals.

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  • Alexdi Alexdi on Jul 22, 2013

    I don't think there's a single objection here to the SBC's performance. Literally twenty comments have some variation of "it's not novel" and "it's not expensive enough." What foolish reasons to discount SBC conversions. If you don't like how it sounds, the performance, or the available transmission choices, fine, pick something else. But don't hammer nails with a wrench just to be different.

  • Noxioux Noxioux on Jul 22, 2013

    Well, best bang for the buck is always going to be some kind of Chevy 350. Cheap, plentiful, easy to mod, etc. . . So the short answer to Sutherland's question is YES. But. . . On some cars it's just been done to death. I can't tell you how many times I've been berated for considering keeping 6 cylinders in my '68 Camaro. Never mind that my engine choice is the LL8, which in later trim is as much or more powerful than any STOCK engine in '68 except the 396 and 427s. For me, it comes down to standing out in a crowd. At the shows, people hardly notice first gen F-bodies anyway, unless they're building one or owned one when they were younger. A crate 350 swapped into a 69 Camaro? YAWN. I guarantee I'll get a bigger crowd around my car, even if half of them are there to ask just what the hell is wrong with me. I'll just tell them I couldn't afford the Falconer V-12.

  • Pig_Iron ASTC 3.0 AM radio was successfully demonstrated at CES. It is a common standard shared with terrestrial television, so the audio equipment is commonized for broadcasters. And no royalty fees to pay, unlike HDRadio which has been a less than stellar success. 📻
  • Art Vandelay Crimes that are punished with fines encourage abuse by those enforcing them. If it is truly dangerous to the public, maybe jail or give the offenders community service. People’s time tends to be very valuable to them and a weeks lost work would certainly make a high earner think twice. If it isn’t a big danger why are police enforcing it (outside of raising money of course). Combine it with a points system. When your points are gone you do a week imitating Cool Hand Luke.
  • Cha65697928 High earners should pay less for tickets because they provide the tax revenue that funds the police. 2-3 free speeding tix per year should be fair.
  • Art Vandelay So the likely way to determine one’s income would be via the tax return. You guys are going to be real disappointed when some of the richest folks pay no speeding fine the same way they minimize their taxes
  • Teddyc73 A resounding NO. This has "Democrat" "Socialism" "liberalism" "Progressivism" and "Communism" written all over it.