All Small Block Chevys Together Equal 718 Moon Rockets and Other Small Block Facts
Updated May 21, 2018
The Small Block Chevy has an incredible record and reputation among enthusiasts. Here’s some amazing facts about the incredible engine now over 50 years old.
While the original first generation Chevrolet Small Block V8 is no longer being installed in new cars and trucks, its replacements rely heavily upon the original architecture set down by Ed Cole and his design team in 1954, and improved upon further by engineers inside GM as well as motorsports professional tweaking the motor for racing purposes.
At an average of 230 horsepower per engine, the collective output of all 100 million small block engines is 23 billion horsepower. Compare that to a Saturn V rocket used in every NASA manned moon mission, each of which produced 32 million horsepower.
Saved the Corvette
The introduction of the Small Block block V8 in the 1955 Corvette is widely credited among insider at GM with saving the car from cancellation. The 1953 model, with its 136 hp straight six was a slow seller and Chevrolet was supposed to be GM’s economy brands. Any hopes of keeping the Corvette alive hinged on the new lightweight V8 engine in the Corvette. So much so that Corvette Czar Zora Arkus-Duntov worked side-by-side with Ed Cole on the development of the engine.
Zora Arkus-Duntov at Pikes Peak
So involved was Arkus-Duntov in the Small Block development program that he offered his considerable race driving skills to the team and drove a heavily-disguised 1956 Chevrolet with a Small Block Chevy in the 1955 Pike Peak Hillclimb, not only winning the Stock Car class but beating the record by more than two minutes.
Corvette took its first class win at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1960 with a Small Block engine and won its eighth title at the famous French race in June 2015, with the latest generation of Chevrolet Small Block engine.
The most powerful Small Block ever produced is the all-aluminum, supercharged LT4 engine used in the current Corvette Z06. It is rated at 650 horsepower, making it the most powerful engine ever produced by GM for a regular-production car.
The lowest-output Small Block was the 1975-76 262 V8 rated at 110 horsepower (less than even the original 1956 motor). The L48 version of the Small Block (350 CID displacement) in the Corvette produced a measly 165 hp in 1975 and was raised to 180 hp for 1976.
Original-architecture Small Block engines are still produced as crate engines for Chevrolet Performance and manufactured for marine and industrial applications. In fact, there are 37 versions of the various generations of Small Block available as crate motors available from Chevrolet Performance, including 11 based on the original Small Block architecture. Further. its actually possible to build a Small Block entirely with aftermarket components without a single GM component.
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