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Carburetor Buyer's GuideCarburetor Buyer's Guide

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No matter what it is, sometimes we have to recognize certain things as being “king." If you are talking about rock 'n roll, we might say Elvis was the King. If it’s stock car racing, the recognized king is Richard Petty. In the world of performance carburetors there is really is no question that the Holley 4 barrel carburetor is the undisputed king of carburetors.

The modern style, modular design Holley 4 barrel carburetor debuted in 1957 on the Ford Thunderbird. This style of Holley carburetor became an instant hit with car enthusiasts and racers around the world due to it’s simple design: a main body, a base plate, metering blocks and two removeable float bowls. This meant that jet changes could be done without disassembling the entire carburetor. The Holley carb had changeable accelerator pump “cams” and the floats could be adjusted with just the turn of a wrench! There was nothing like it at the time. 

In the 60’s the Holley four barrel carburetor came as standard equipment on many factory muscle cars like the SS396 Chevelle, the legendary Chrysler 426 race Hemi, and the factory built 427 Ford Thunderbolt racers. The Holley four barrel carburetor is still the go to carburetor today for many oval track racers, drag racers and street car owners. If you didn’t have a Holley carb on your machine back in the day, that probably meant it wasn’t fast. It was considered a hot rod necessity. 

There has been millions of carburetors built and the various models are far too numerous to even attempt to talk about them all, but we’ll cover some of the basic models you’ll find at tracks and stores shelves everywhere.

  • Holley 4160 is a 4 barrel model that uses a single accelerator pump and has vacuum secondary operation. Popular models include the 1850 and 3310 and many others.
  • Holley 4150 is similar to the 4160, but it has double accelerator pumps and mechanical secondary operation. This carb is often referred to as a “double pumper”.
  • Holley 2300 is a modular designed Holley 2 barrel carburetor. It is commonly available in both 350 cfm and 500 cfm air flow ratings.
  • There are many variants of these basic models including Holley “HP” carbs that are designed for both gasoline and alcohol use. 

When choosing a Holley carburetor for your car, it’s often handy to stick to some basic and simple rules:

  1. Do not make the mistake of buying too large of a carburetor. Consult Speedway Carburetor’s Buyer’s Guide on our website. The average 350 Chevy street engine will hardly ever need anything larger than a 600 CFM carburetor. A mild Big Block 454 would be happy with a 750 size. Just remember that the factory Holley carb on a 66 396-325 HP Chevy was only 585 CFM!
  2. Most street cars and particularly, cars with automatic transmissions will be much happier with a vacuum secondary vs a mechanical secondary “double pumper”.
  3. Electric choke models are the go to choice for street cars. We’ve never regretted it,  we doubt that you will either.
  4. If you are having to be what you perceive as “trouble” with a new carburetor, be sure that your fuel pressure, float settings and that your ignition timing is spot on. These 3 things alone have caused more than one builder to blame a carburetor for problems when there was nothing  at all wrong with the carb to begin with. 

Speedway Motors has been selling Holley 4 barrel carburetors since the beginning. Our shelves are lined with the Holley 4150, the Holley 4160 and the Holley 2 barrel carburetor for both street and racing applications.  There are so many choices, we can’t list them all here. Speedway Motors also sells Holley carb small parts like jets, metering blocks, floats, rebuild kits, power valves and more. We have it all when it comes to the venerable Holley. Heck, we’ve even got books you can buy that will tell you how tune, modify and rebuild your Holley 4 barrel carburetor.