Top 10 U.S. Hot Rod Engines: #1

- Review: #10 Olds Rocket, #9 Buick Nailhead, #8 Buick, Olds, Pontiac 455 combo, #7 Buick, Olds, Pontiac 350 combo, #6 Hemi, #5 Windsor Fords, #4 Big Block Chevys, #3 GM LS, #2 Flathead Ford...
- Honorable Mentions...
- The Ford Model A 4 cylinder. Before '32 & for a while after, this was the only choice for Hot Rodders. Their is still a market for speed equipment for these engines. If you plan on driving your stock A on modern roads any speed advantage helps!
- The Ford Pinto 4. When one of these is put into a stripped down pre war Hot Rod, the speeds are surprising!
- The Chevrolet/GMC 292 inline six cylinder. One of these engines that is tuned up correctly & has some speed equipment on it can easily embarrass a small Cubic Inch V8.
- The Chrysler 318 or LA engines. With the right intake, cam & exhaust manifold combo these are potent engines.
- The Dodge 440 Six Pack. A great engine that will run well with other big cubic inch engines. The only problem is they are difficult to get away from those crazy Dodge people!
- Can you feel the anticipation?
- #1 The Small Block Chevy! Seen that one coming didn't you? In 2003 the last SBC rolled off of the assembly line. It was installed in a cargo van. That engine, a Vortec 350, shared 90% of its components with the 1st SBC produced in 1955
- In fact, with a few easy modifications, that '03 Vortec would have fit easily into any '55 Chevy. I suppose that means the old 262 cubic inch SBC from the '55 would fit into the cargo van, too.
- That's the reason the SBC lasted so long and has such a large aftermarket following. Because the engine never changed much in those 48 years, it was easy for parts places to make speed equipment for the engine.
- With very small and easy changes the engine is capable of making over 350 horsepower. While that seems low today, for 35 of its 48 years that was low budget big power.
- Between 1955 & 2003 Chevy only made 5 different distributors for the engine. In contrast, most other U.S. automakers, seemingly made that many different ones on any given week!
- These are all valid reasons why the SBC found its way into so many Hot Rods, but the best reason, the first reason, happens to be very simple. Most Hot Rods were Ford body cars, that came with engines that had rear mounted oil pumps.
- During the 50's & 60's the new engine Ford was making had the oil pump in the front. New Ford engines, physically couldn't fit in old Ford cars. The Chevy could. Problem solved. Love it or hate it, the SBC propelled the Hot Rod & its world forward!
- So there it is, the definitive list of Best Hot Rod engines. Did I miss something? Did I mix up the order? Let me know in the comments below!

The best Hot Rod engine, to ever have Hot Rodded, is...

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Comments (11)

  • I have a 318 in my truck, it's okay. It's the magnum though. Tricky little thing to get power out of. Been trying different things for a few years now.

      2 years ago
    • I've heard those 318s sound pretty good before. They'd have to be a good engine for Dodge to put them into so many things.

        2 years ago
    • It gets run hard, seems to put up with it okay. They like to ping a bit of your not careful with it. And brutal fuel mileage lol.

        2 years ago
  • The 455 rocket, used alot.

      2 years ago
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      2 years ago
  • The 300m Ford engine may be one to look at as well as the slant 6 from dodge. Leaning tower of power I think it got called.

      2 years ago
  • Hi congratulations - your post has been selected by DriveTribe reviews Ambassador for promotion on the DriveTribe homepage.

      2 years ago