Keeping it Cheap Unlike in years past, when building a 383 required procuring a stock 400 crank and grinding down the main journals to fit inside a 350 block, the aftermarket is now chock full of durable cast- and forged-steel 3.750-inch cranks. Given that our goal was to make in the neighborhood of 450 hp, a pricier forged unit seemed like overkill. Consequently, we ordered a complete Scat rotating assembly that fit out budget-stretching endeavors perfectly. It includes a Series 9000 cast-steel crankshaft, forged 6.000-inch I-beam connecting rods, Keith Black 10.2:1 hypereutectic pistons, Total Seal rings, and King bearings. The entire setup was balanced at Scat prior to shipping and lists for just $948. That’s one heck of a bargain in anyone’s book.

While a forged crank and pistons, along with Scat’s more rugged H-beam rods, would be a wise choice for forced induction or nitrous applications, all that would accomplish is add unnecessary cost without any appreciable benefits in durability for a moderate-rpm, naturally aspirated combination such as ours. Truth be told, even the budget-priced internals used in our 383 build can easily handle a 150-shot of nitrous without much fuss. Andy Mitchell of Outlaw Racing Engines, who manned the boring bar and dial bore gauge during our build, says the need to stretch a buck is a prevalent theme with today’s hot rodders. “The days when people spent $30,000 on 632ci big-blocks are over. People don’t want to spend that much money anymore,” he says. “They see complete motors selling for $5,000 on eBay, so that really changes their expectations. These days, people want economical combinations that they can get some longevity out of. They’re racing cheaper, but that doesn’t mean you have to use low-quality parts. By carefully selecting your parts combination, you can have performance and durability at a reasonable price.”

Seriously Cheap Airflow

A short-block is only as good as the cylinder heads that feed it, and to get the most out of our budget 383, we ordered a set of EngineQuest AC200BS aluminum cylinder heads. These castings boast 197cc intake ports, 65cc combustion chambers, and 2.020/1.600-inch valves featuring a three-angle cut. We’ve had great luck with EngineQuest’s Vortec-style iron castings in past engine builds, so we were eager to give their new aluminum heads a shot. Not only do they weigh 58 pounds less per set than their iron counterparts, at just $1,098 per pair, they cost only $118 more. “We’ve had great success with our iron heads, and our goal was to transfer that same technology over to our new aluminum castings. These aluminum heads are based on our iron castings, both of which relied heavily on wet flowbench technology during their development,” says Don Knetzger of EngineQuest. “Since most of the R&D from the development work on our iron heads carried over into our new aluminum heads, this enabled us to keep costs down. The cooling passages have been slightly revised due to the different cooling properties of iron and aluminum, but otherwise the two heads are very similar in design and airflow. With all the 350 to 383ci motors that are still being built, a 200cc casting seemed like the best fit for the marketplace, although we are considering larger 220cc heads.”

Summit Pro Packs

To make sure that the airflow potential of the EngineQuest cylinder heads didn’t go to waste, we matched them up with an equally capable induction system. Summit Racing isn’t just a premier retailer of major-label goodies; the company has been rapidly expanding its line of private-label parts, and they even bundle them together for you in convenient packages to further maximize cost savings. To finish up the induction system, Summit set us up with one of its top end Pro Packs, which includes a dual-plane intake manifold, a 750-cfm carb, an air cleaner assembly, and intake gaskets and bolts all for $531.