When it comes to choosing a small-block Chevy to power your ride, the number of options is huge. From stone-stock 350ci crate motors to the latest LS1, fans of the Chevy small-block have seen their favorite engine become the standard by which all others are judged.
One of the most popular versions of the small-block on the street today is one that was never installed in any vehicle by General Motors--the 383ci stroker. By teaming a long-stroke, 400ci crankshaft with a stout 350ci block, enthusiasts found a delightful marriage of torque and horsepower. Now, 383s are readily available from many sources, including GM Performance Parts (the HT 383 is one of GM's newest engine offerings). There are other options that may not have been so well explored, so we'll do that now. After combining the 400 crank with the 350 block, you'd have a 400 block and a 350 crank left over. How well would these two components work together?
Contrary to popular belief, there is no real shortage of 400ci blocks. Also in direct contrast to popular myth are the inherent cooling issues associated with the 400ci block's siamesed cylinder design and its steam holes. Modern engineering has shown this to be a fallacy, and probably was a condition more relative to improper assembly and poorly designed cylinder heads than to the block's initial design. Regardless of the myths, the 400ci block and 350 crank combo will result in a 377-cube (after an overbore), de-stroked 400 with a nice big bore and a nice short stroke.
While this combo may lack the bottom-end fortitude to support massive horsepower and push giant vehicles, it's still a viable combination with merit for the street enthusiast. If that enthusiast also happens to be on a budget, we've got even more good news.
We spoke with California Discount Warehouse (CDW), located in Long Beach, California, about their 377ci (4.155-inch bore, 3.48-inch stroke) package, and learned that this can be a great street setup for the cost-conscious. Offered in various states of assembly with many options, the 377 relies on proven spacers to properly locate the smaller-diameter crankshaft main journals into the bigger-bore 400 block. Reliability has not proven to be an issue with the spacers in place.
CDW also offers the 377ci small-block Chevy as a completely assembled long-block package with World Products Sportsman iron heads for $2,800. CDW claims these engines make around 375 hp with the Sportsman heads (and 10.3:1 compression, which would require only 92-octane gas) in place. Refurbished factory heads are also available for those looking to save even more coins. No core charges or exchanges are necessary with CDW, they simply send you what you're after.
If you've got a great set of cylinder heads, but would like an assembled short-block to put them on, CDW also offers the 377ci short-block as an assembled unit for $1,400. This includes the two-bolt main block, pistons, crankshaft, 5.7-inch rods (with ARP bolts), bearings, and rings. The rotating assembly is balanced prior to assembly and shipment. As we mentioned, using a 64cc head (like the World Products Sportsman units) will deliver 10.3:1 compression, while the larger 72cc chambers found in many common factory heads result in a 9.5:1 compression ratio.
If you've got a good 400ci block, and would like to outfit it with one of these rotating assemblies, CDW will send you their rotating assembly, consisting of the pistons, crank, connecting rods (again, with ARP hardware), bearings, and rings for $699.
We stopped by to check these engines out, and were pleased to see many name-brand components being used in these budget-friendly powerplants. Naturally, the blocks were standard two-bolt main units with reconditioned stock 5.7-inch rods. The pistons are new Federal-Mogul Hypereutectic units with Sealed Power rings, and the bearings are Clevite. The valvetrain uses an Elgin cam and COMP roller-tip rockers when the long-block is part of the program. Other camshafts (like Isky and COMP profiles) are offered as extra-cost options. The stock-replacement harmonic balancer and flywheel are reliable Pioneer parts.
Check out the photos and compare the prices. We know there are many options out there for small-block Chevy enthusiasts, and if the popular-and-pricier 383ci is option A, we'd suggest a long look at option B, the budget-beater 377ci package.
Rocky at CDW told us "This is a great setup for your daily driver, weekend cruiser, or even your pickup truck. There's plenty of power, and we do our best to keep these engines affordable."
Naturally, if an enthusiast wanted even more power, this is still a small-block Chevy. It will respond to bolt-ons and other upgrades. In fact, CDW offers many of the more popular options directly for purchase and will gladly work with you if you have the desire for more.
Again, CDW told us: "We feel each of these engines is being custom-built for our customers, so we'd love to work with people to give them what they want. We offer the base engines, of course, but for a little more money, one of these engines could quickly become a very solid performer."
Forged pistons, high-volume oil pumps, double-roller timing chains, and a wide choice of camshafts only begin to describe the extra-cost options available to enthusiasts. Rather than go through the infinite variety of choices, we'd rather encourage readers who are interested to call CDW directly and work with them to determine the best-possible course of action for your particular combination.
The CDW 377ci short-block...
The CDW 377ci short-block kit is a solid deal at $1,400. The balanced rotating assembly is comprised of some top-quality parts. While it's not a racing engine, it could certainly shine as a street piece.
Each block is carefully machined...
Each block is carefully machined and assembled for reliable quality. Then, a .040-inch overbore is accomplished to provide a fresh sealing surface for the rings.
The small-journal 350 cranks...
The small-journal 350 cranks can live comfortably in the big-journal 400 block through use of these spacers (arrow) on the main journals. Manufactured by COMP Cams (PN 5620), these spacers are proven and reliable parts when used correctly.
The two-bolt mains are fine...
The two-bolt mains are fine for the street. Note the balanced 5.7-inch 350 rods, outfitted with ARP bolts. Great stuff for a street machine or pickup!
The complete 377ci engines...
The complete 377ci engines can be outfitted with these World Products heads and other aftermarket goodies of your choosing. That's a great deal for $2,800.
That price includes the COMP...
That price includes the COMP Cams roller tip rockers, too. This great mix of new and completely refurbished parts is a proven combination.
If you've got your own block...
If you've got your own block and you'd like to fill it with this setup, CDW has you covered. They sell all the parts to do it and as you can see, only brand-name goodies are used. Complete packages are available, but if you've got some good parts of your own, you can save cash by only getting what you need.