If you have been following along, in last month’s issue we gave you the rundown on how we assembled the bottom end in our little homebuilt small-block Chevy. Now comes the fun part—heads, valvetrain, and the finishing touches. Working with a basically stock rotating assembly, it’s still very feasible to squeeze out some extra power. The next big priority was bolting on a great set of heads. It’s a practice hot rodders have played with for over a century, and the concept is simple: higher compression plus better airflow equals more power. But we also wanted to be careful not to sacrifice reliability and driveability.
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The horsepower per dollar scale is always tough when you’re on a budget. You want that best- bang-for-your-buck type of thing. Reliability and longevity are worth something, too. I was looking for the best of both worlds when it came to the engine—that perfect mix of driveability but with an old-school muscle vibe.
Along with roller rockers, we ordered a set of Comp Cams’ Beehive 280-pound valvesprings (PN 26986-16), Comp spring retainers (PN 787-16), locaters (PN 4696-16), locks (PN 648-16), and a set of Manley stainless 2.02/1.60-inch intake and exhaust valves (PNs 91014141-1 and 91014146-1). Always consult your cam card for the required set of valvesprings. Note: With new valves, we had a valve job done at our local machine shop prior to install, which is not necessary with assembled versions.When you dive into it, it’s not hard to find a great set aftermarket heads, or even factory options when budget is a high priority. A set of iron Vortecs (L31 ’96-’00 truck and SUV) could work for some applications, but with higher-lift cams they require additional machine work at additional expense. After some cost analysis and shopping around, I looked to Speedway Motors for help.
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After working with one of their lead techs, they pointed out the new Speedway Motors aluminum double-hump heads, which really checked all the boxes. They’re sold assembled or bare at a budget-friendly price. Performance wise, expect a little bump in compression with 64cc combustion chambers, and with 2.02- and 1.60-inch valves, better-flowing intake and exhaust runners, they should outperform many of the other aftermarket options. Best of all they’re packaged with that old-school ’60s fuelie look.