Workhorse Engine of the Day: Small-Block Chevrolet

Illustration for article titled Workhorse Engine of the Day: Small-Block Chevrolet

Let's face it: an engine that was in front-line service for 50 years, with more than ninety million built, reliable, cheap to build, and easy to modify for performance... well, do we even need to mention the small-block Chevy in this series, given that we all know it pretty much sets the Workhorse Engine standard? Sure we do! Yes, yes, we admit it had an oil-leakage problem (mostly solved by the valve-cover/rear main seal redesign of '87), but oil's cheap! So here's how we'll honor our old friend: GM made so many variations of the SBC that we now have the opportunity to name our favorite and most disappointing small-blocks on this fine Thursday afternoon. Myself, I dig the smaller-displacement powerhouses, so I'm torn between the the 385-horse L84 327 of '64 and the high-revving/zero-torque 302 of '67-'69 for my favorite; as for my least favorite, it's hard to sink lower than the late-70s/early-80s 267, equipped with suck-o-matic computer Q-Jet and general air of Malaise. And you? [Wikipedia]

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DISCUSSION

Worst Chevy Small Block by far was the 305 I had in a 1979 Monte Carlo. My dad bought the car for my sister, who decided she didn't like it, and promptly ran the engine without checking the oil, and it seized. So I took the car, and had another 305 that I found in another Monte Carlo dropped into it, and decided to keep it. Maybe I should have just scrapped the thing, it was the absolute worst car of the malaise era.

But I have to give credit to the mid 70's to mid 80's 350's that were installed into my dad's Suburbans (he owned three between 1974 and 1990). Pulled the Travel Trailer across the country more than a few times (Though I only went once, and after leaving Connecticut, and getting to St. Louis, I decided to catch a plane back home).