The Chevrolet 350 engine is a small-block V8 engine known roughly the human being for the durability, performance, and also smooth, quiet operation. It has actually earned its call as among the most popular, sought-after, and also overall ideal engines the the 20th century. That has end up being the conventional bearer for every Chevy small-block engines.

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Figure 1: Seen here is a small block Chevy 350 crate engine. Source: Ohio speed Shops.

Gearheads specifically enjoy how easy to rebuild the engine is, owing to the plethora of off-the-shelf aftermarket parts. The 350 to be mass developed with an exceptionally basic design the facilitates easy upgrades. That is tough, affordable, reliable, and also can endure lot of of abuse.

Further, it might well be the most transplanted engine in the background of automation, together it has been put right into Fords and also any number of other vehicles beyond Chevrolets.

While the 350 to be discontinued in 2002 to make room for much more fuel-efficient models, it stays on in the hearts, minds, and also engine bays that drivers around the world. Every in all, it took pleasure in one the the longest manufacturing runs of any kind of engine ever produced.

But what design year 350 engine is the best? what’s the one Chevy 350 to ascendancy them all? that’s what we’re right here to comment on today.

Sources: On all Cylinders.

A bit of History
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Figure 2: The original Chevy 350 native 1967. Ago in the day, this tiny guy can get an impressive 295 HP. Source: Mecum Auctions.

First created in 1967, the initial 350 was occurred from the original little block V8 engine created by Chevrolet. Together a high-performance 350-cubic-inch strength plant, it to be used originally in the Chevrolet Camaro. In fact, it’s an initial appearance was together an L-48 alternative for the 1967 Camaro.

However, the 350 later on went top top to power the Corvette, the Nova, the Caprice, and numerous other vehicles. Buicks, Cadillacs, and also Oldsmobiles have all featured the Chevy 350.

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Figure 3: A 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, among the very first cars to boast a Chevy 350 engine. Source: Auto Evolution.

Power output and torque ratings have, the course, varied fairly a bit throughout the years. However, the original Chevy 350 put out 295 HP and also 380 lb-ft of torque. one more fun fact: the engine’s specific displacement is 349.85cubic customs (5.7 l if you walk by metric). Yet the “Chevy 350” makes for a much catchier name, if we execute say therefore ourselves.

A fuel-injected version of the 350 was included to Corvettes starting in 1985. By the at an early stage 1980s, computerized emissions systems came to be the standard together with throttle body fuel injection systems.

Sources: CarsDirect; Novak Conversions; On all Cylinders.

The Chevy 350 throughout the Years

There have actually been fairly a few variations across the decades. Below is a somewhat exhaustive perform (not accounting for the plenty of sub-variations of each that have actually been created for various particular vehicles end the years).

VariantStart YearEnd YearNotable Features
L4819671980Hydraulic cam; Quadrajet carburetor, power output that 300 hp and 380 lb⋅ft (515 N⋅m) torque; 10.25:1 compression ratio
L46196919702.02 / 1.6” valve heads; 11.0:1 compression ratio; high octane gas
ZQ319691974300 HP; 10.25:1 compression; hydraulic lifters; Rochester Quadra-Jet 4-barrel carburetor.
LS919691986Used in C/K/G 10/20 van under 8,500 lbs.; Rochester 4-bbl carburetor; 165 HP.
L6519701976250 HP High performance 2bbl Rochester carburetor.
LT-119701975Solid lifters; 11.0:1 compression; 178 high-performance camshaft; rams’ horn exhaust; max of 370 HP.
L8219761989Rochester Quadra-jet 4bbl carburetor; dual-plane aluminum entry manifold; hydraulic-lifter cam; 9.0:1 compression; 250 HP.
LM1197919884-barrel carburetor; best 175 HP; mechanical ignition points; computer-controlled spark system.
L8119811981190 HP; 8.2:1 compression ratio; cam and computer manage spark advance; “smart” carburetor.
LT-919811986160 HP; 8.3:1 compression; carbureted with Rochester Quadrajets.
L8319821984200 HP; 9.0:1 compression; “cross-fire” fuel injection.
L9819851992Tuned-port fuel injection “TPI”; 230 HP; aluminum cylinder heads; compression varying between 9.0:1 and also 10.0:1.
L0519871996Used in Chevrolet/GMC van in the GMT400.
L31199620025.7L V8 van engine; burning chambers and also intake ports; compatible with all older tiny blocks; eight bolts attaching the intake; 255 HP.

Source: Wikipedia.

What’s the ideal Chevy 350 Engine?

Okay, on come the main event! out of all the 350 engines produced throughout the years, i m sorry one takes the crown?

Plenty of human being are walk to have actually plenty of different opinions on this. Asking 10 Chevy fans around their favorite selection of engine and you’ll probably gain 10 different answers. But we’ve excellent our finest to translate in a rather objective list of few of the ideal 350 engines the end there.

LT-1 (1970)

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Figure 4: one LT-1 set up in a Corvette. Source: Wikipedia, courtesy of rich Niewiroski Jr.

When it first came the end in 1970, the LT-1 was a marvel that engineering. Through a high-performance 178 camshaft, solid lifters, and also a carburetor with a special aluminum input that can reach 780 cubic feet per minute, this engine was able to churn out 370 HP when fitted right into a Corvette. In ~ the time, this was a big number indeed.

CLICK here FOR A video DEMONSTRATION of THE LT-1 IN A 1970 CORVETTE.

However, Chevrolet was compelled to steadily minimize the strength output and torque that the LT-1 come meet new emissions standards. In 1972, the power was diminished to 255 HP. The 1975 version of the LT-1 eventually succumbed to brand-new emissions standards that carried its horsepower every the means down to 145 HP.

The LT-1 to be the last and arguably best of the old fuel-guzzling, emissions-spewing 350 engines. Those initial LT-1s indigenous 1970 will certainly go under as several of the finest engines of their time.

Sources: AutoTrader; hot Rod Network.

L98 (1992)

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Figure 5: The L98 was a sleek redesign the a standard engine. Source: Corvsport.

We’ve picked the 1992 variation of the L98 since it represented the 350’s successful metamorphosis right into an emissions-friendly, fuel reliable engine. It to be a rebirth for engine, in a way, and also the initial L98 remains one of the most famous 350s ever produced.

New to this version was a TPI (tuned-port fuel injection) system and aluminum cylinder heads (released around halfway v the 1986 model year). The resulting engine might reach 230 HP, a figure that steadily climbed to 250 HP over its years of production. The 1992, v its ability to max the end power and also torque while keeping tight emissions standards, is our choose for the finest L98 engine.

This engine was placed in Corvettes primarily, but additionally made its method into Camaro and also Pontiac Firebird models

Sources: Corvsport; ItStillRuns.

L31 (2002)

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Figure 6: The “Vortec 5700”, far better known together the L31. Source: Speedway Motors.

From a purely technological standpoint, the most recent version of the Chevy 350 would normally be the finest of the bunch. Marketed as the “Vortec 5700” engine, yet known within by the moniker of L31, this engine to be used generally in GM vans and also trucks until 2002. We talked to a couple of folks at Bob King Buick-GMC in Wilmington, NC, who added that “the 2500 and also 3500 every come through a 3-year 100,000-mile warranty on totality engine block assembly” and are all incredibly reliable regardless of their age.

Notable features include cylinder heads with burning chambers and also intake harbor very similar to the LT-1. Because that this reason, the L31 head is compatible through older small-block engines and is easily upgradable and also can be popped right into all kinds of trucks, vans, or SUVs. Just be mindful that a specific intake manifold is required, fan to the 8 bolts supplied (4 per head) to attach the manifold come the block.

CHECK out THIS video UNBOXING that A CRATE variation OF THE L31.

According to Rosedale Chevrolet in Roseville, MN, the L31 is an extremely dependable and versatile engine, and also “you deserve to put in just around anything, it’s been developed off and on due to the fact that the mid-1950s.” Dale Willey Automotive in Lawrence, KS added that “the aftermarket dealers can offer you the ideal information about picking increase a L31” and highly recommended checking out any kind of aftermarket seller for terrific condition supplied engine or parts. However, “we can say that the L31 comes with cylinders that work-related with many older models” of Chevys. For this reason, this engine is quite flexible and easy come whatever car you need.

As the most recent 350, that is also one the the most readily easily accessible today. As the most modern 350 out there, that is well-known for its strength, reliability, and also durability (much favor the van it walk in). You have the right to pick one up used or acquire a half-finished crate version at a really reasonable price.

Bonus Feature: The brand-new 350 V8 company Engine

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Figure 7: The new 350 service engine, make to be a low-cost replacement because that older GM vehicles. Source: GM Authority.

This really year, GM released a special company version that the Chevy 350 to serve as replacements because that older trucks and also vans. Despite it provides a novel 4-bolt block and also includes new cylinder heads and block castings, in addition to a forged steel crankshaft, this engine is in all crucial respects a contemporary upgrade to the standard Chevy 350. You can order yours and find an ext information here.

Source: GM Authority; GM actual Parts.

Conclusion
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Figure 8: A classic Chevy Corvette indigenous 1972. Source: car Gurus.

At the end of the day, the finest year because that a Chevy 350 engine comes down to 2 things over all else: classic feel vs. Modern-day performance.

If you want a classic Chevy 350 in its heyday, prior to emissions standards clamped down on the brand, aim because that an LT-1 native 1970. Grab part aftermarket parts and also restore it to top performance in no time in ~ all.

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On the other hand, if you desire the finest performing 350 the meets emissions standards and still packs plenty that power and also torque the L98 indigenous 1992 and also the L31 native 1996 top top (or the brand-new service engine discussed above) space both great choices.