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The Chevy 350 has been around for 54 years. It first showed up in 1967 in a few Camaro SS models. Of course, the 350 is just a larger version of the 327, 283, and the 265 that preceded it. Performance enthusiasts have been modifying them as long as they've been around. Oftentimes, it's done incorrectly.

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283, 302, 307, 327, 350, 383, Aluminum, Natural

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Chevy Small Block V8, Assembled Cylinder Head Style

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A set of original, bone stock Chevy 350 heads flow less than 200 cfm of airflow on the intake side. No matter what you do for cam, intake and carburetor, you are going to be limited in power potential unless you address the real bottleneck in the small block Chevy engine, which is its cylinder heads.

Dyno tests have been done extensively on all the factory early high performance small block Chevys. The 1970 350 LT-1, the famous 302 Z-28 and also the 327-365 hp Corvette engine. They all made about the same peak gross horsepower. All these engines had different displacements, but they all had one thing in common: the same set of heads. The old iron double hump heads with 2.02/1.6 valve size. Yes, they were good for their time, but using those today makes no sense when you want to go north of 350 horsepower. If you’ve got a small block with the later open chamber, small valve heads, the situation is even more dire. It’s easy to avoid the “no horsepower” blues  when you choose the correct small block Chevy heads for your build.

Let’s just put it out there. If you don’t have a modern set of good flowing Chevy 350 heads, your engine is gonna be a stone. Big cam, big carb, headers and poor flowing heads equals a doggy running mill. On the other hand, if you have a quality flowing set of Chevy 350 heads with a not so big cam, carb, and dual exhaust, the engine will still perform. The bottleneck in airflow is gone when the heads do not restrict airflow. The trick is to match the parts correctly.

When it comes to choosing which Chevy 350 heads to buy, the choices are many, but let’s narrow it down for you. We’re gonna talk about intake runner size, valve size and materials like aluminum vs. cast iron.

When it comes to intake runner volume, bigger is not always better. Let’s just suppose we are building a 400 hp street 350 small block. In this range, an intake runner less than 200 cc is best. Many units check in around 180 cc port volume, some might be around 170, others closer to 190 just depending upon the manufacturer. This is the runner range you want to stick to with your 350 small block heads for that 400 hp range. The intermediate runners flow enough air for that 400 hp power requirement, and they keep the mixture velocity high enough to help insure good low speed torque production. If the runner is too large, the engine can get lazy at low RPM. A perfect example of this is the factory GM vortec type head. They featured 170 cc high flow, high velocity runners and can easily make north of 400 horsepower while maintaining staggering low speed torque. You can purchase this type of head from Speedway Motors, Edelbrock part #32560975. It’s called the E-Tec and it’s based off of the factory vortec design, only it’s better and in aluminum to boot. If you are shooting for higher horsepower numbers (more than 450 hp, or extremely high rpm ranges for racing applications, then a 200 cc intake runner range is where you want to be. For extremely large cubic inch engines and big, big horsepower, it’s common to reach for 215 cc and bigger intake runners. Chevy 350 heads can be head in as large as 230 cc intake runner size!

Valve size is often talked about. In the old days, guys always talked about 2.02 valves. The hot thing to do back in the day was to stuff the biggest valve you could find in your factory heads. This was usually a big mistake. Since the stock heads aren’t designed to let a big valve breathe as it should, the modification often yielded less flow than the stock smaller valve. The good news is that almost all of our Chevy 350 heads are equipped with the large 2.02/1.6 valve size, and they are designed to maximize flow with the bigger valves. If your rules require a stock type valve size like 1.94/1.5 and the bigger 76 cc type combustion chambers, we have those on hand too, like part #91624360 from Dart, which is IMCA legal and is much better than factory open chamber retreads.

Iron versus aluminum is a popular subject to talk about for 350 Chevy head choice. Chevy 350 aluminum heads are lighter in weight of course, and look awesome on your fresh small block. Cast iron heads sometimes are required by class racing rules and cast iron is perhaps a bit more durable versus Chevy 350 aluminum heads. Chevy 350 aluminum heads are the most prevalent material available from the aftermarket by far. One other advantage to an aluminum head is that you can normally run a slightly higher compression ratio before reaching pre-ignition (sometimes ½ to ¾ of a point more) versus an equivalent sbc 350 head in cast iron when burning pump type fuels.

What about brands and prices? Speedway Motors offers a huge range of selection when it comes to small block Chevy heads. You can buy 'em as cheap as about 350 bucks each all the way up to around 2 grand a pair for the most cutting edge, aluminum stuff and anywhere in between.  We offer Chevy 350 heads from Speedway Motors, Flo-Tek, Dart, World Products, Edelbrock, Brodix, Blueprint Engines and Chevrolet Performance. Even our most budget friendly heads will obliterate the factory stock camel hump heads of the 60’s. Our Flo-Tek aluminum heads (part #7222000) are just a touch over 400 bucks each and are made from aluminum. In addition, they flow a whopping 232 cfm @ .500” lift. If a big 215 runner, ultra high compression 49 cc chamber head is your flavor for that fire breathing, high rpm oval track or drag car, then we’ve got those in the venerable Dart Iron Eagle #3041102 checking in at around 1,100 bucks for a pair/complete depending upon camshaft. We’ve even got modern “double hump” heads in aluminum that blow away the old stock “camel hump” heads (part #9103782462).  When it comes to Chevy 350 heads for all performance levels, Speedway Motors has you covered.

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