What makes a Small Block a Small Block? Since 1955 this engine has featured 8-cylinders in a 90-degree "V" configuration, with overhead valves and pushrod valvetrain, all within a relatively compact design. That means you could lift the hood of a early-80's C3 Corvette and see something remarkably similar to the powerplant in the 1960 'Vette we drove in TRANSLOGIC 68, but still improved. "Constant innovation and evolution have made the Small Block relevant for more than 50 years," said Sam Winegarden, GM executive director for Global Engine Engineering.
The Small Block remains a favorite among hot rodders. Its simple design, compact size, and abundance of available aftermarket parts make the Small Block easy to work on and around. In fact, General Motors Performance Parts has continued this legacy by offering a range of new Chevy V8 crate engines, from the classic 350 cid Small Block to 720 hp "Big Blocks."
As for today, the Small Block's impact can still be seen in GM's current line of V8s. "Without question, the current Chevrolet V8s are lineal descendants of the 1955 small block," said Winegarden. "They retain the 90-degree V-configured eight-cylinder layout, overhead valve placement and characteristic pushrod valve train. Where they differ are the modern technologies that would have sounded like science fiction 50 years ago, such as all-aluminum blocks, titanium connecting rods, Active Fuel Management, and variable valve timing."
Click the image below to watch TRANSLOGIC 68: Chevy Small-Block Evolution: