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

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Figure 1: Seen below is a little block Chevy 350 crate engine. Source: Ohio rate Shops.

Gearheads an especially enjoy exactly how easy come rebuild the engine is, fan to the plethora the off-the-shelf aftermarket parts. The 350 was mass produced with an exceptionally an easy design that facilitates basic upgrades. It is tough, affordable, reliable, and also can endure lot of of abuse.

Further, it may well it is in the most transplanted engine in the background of automation, as it has actually been put into Fords and also any number of other vehicles past Chevrolets.

While the 350 was discontinued in 2002 to make room for an ext fuel-efficient models, it stays on in the hearts, minds, and engine bays that drivers roughly the world. All in all, it enjoyed one the the longest manufacturing runs of any engine ever produced.

But what model year 350 engine is the best? those the one Chevy 350 to rule them all? that’s what we’re below to discuss today.

Sources: On every Cylinders.

A bit of History
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Figure 2: The original Chevy 350 from 1967. Earlier in the day, this little guy can get an superior 295 HP. Source: Mecum Auctions.

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

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

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Figure 3: A 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, one of the an initial cars come boast a Chevy 350 engine. Source: Auto Evolution.

Power output and also torque ratings have, the course, varied rather a little bit throughout the years. However, the original Chevy 350 placed out 295 HP and 380 lb-ft the torque. another fun fact: the engine’s exact displacement is 349.85cubic inch (5.7 together if you go by metric). However the “Chevy 350” provides for a lot catchier name, if we execute say therefore ourselves.

A fuel-injected version of the 350 was added to Corvettes beginning in 1985. Through the early on 1980s, computerized emissions systems came to be the standard in addition to throttle human body fuel injection systems.

Sources: CarsDirect; Novak Conversions; On every Cylinders.

The Chevy 350 throughout the Years

There have actually been rather a few variations across the decades. Right here is a rather exhaustive perform (not accounting for the plenty of sub-variations of each that have actually been created for various specific vehicles end the years).

VariantStart YearEnd YearNotable Features
L4819671980Hydraulic cam; Quadrajet carburetor, power output the 300 hp and also 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 trucks under 8,500 lbs.; Rochester 4-bbl carburetor; 165 HP.
L6519701976250 HP High power 2bbl Rochester carburetor.
LT-119701975Solid lifters; 11.0:1 compression; 178 high-performance camshaft; rams’ horn exhaust; max that 370 HP.
L8219761989Rochester Quadra-jet 4bbl carburetor; dual-plane aluminum entry manifold; hydraulic-lifter cam; 9.0:1 compression; 250 HP.
LM1197919884-barrel carburetor; maximum 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 in between 9.0:1 and also 10.0:1.
L0519871996Used in Chevrolet/GMC van in the GMT400.
L31199620025.7L V8 truck engine; burning chambers and also intake ports; compatible v all older small blocks; eight bolts it is registered the intake; 255 HP.

Source: Wikipedia.

What’s the ideal Chevy 350 Engine?

Okay, on to the key event! out of every the 350 engines produced throughout the years, which one take away the crown?

Plenty of human being are going to have actually plenty of different opinions top top this. Asking 10 Chevy fans about their favorite variety of engine and you’ll probably obtain 10 various answers. Yet we’ve done our ideal to compile a rather objective list of few of the ideal 350 engines out there.

LT-1 (1970)

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

When it an initial came out in 1970, the LT-1 was a marvel the engineering. Through a high-performance 178 camshaft, hard lifters, and also a carburetor v a one-of-a-kind aluminum intake that can reach 780 cubic feet per minute, this engine was able to churn the end 370 HP as soon as fitted into a Corvette. In ~ the time, this to be a big number indeed.

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

However, Chevrolet was forced to steadily mitigate the power output and torque that the LT-1 to meet brand-new emissions standards. In 1972, the power was diminished to 255 HP. The 1975 version of the LT-1 ultimately succumbed to brand-new emissions standards that lugged its horsepower all the method down to 145 HP.

The LT-1 to be the last and arguably best of the old fuel-guzzling, emissions-spewing 350 engines. Those original LT-1s native 1970 will go down as several of the finest engines of your time.

Sources: AutoTrader; hot Rod Network.

L98 (1992)

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Figure 5: The L98 to be a sleek redesign that a classic engine. Source: Corvsport.

We’ve choose the 1992 version of the L98 due to the fact that it stood for the 350’s effective metamorphosis into an emissions-friendly, fuel effective engine. It to be a rejuvenation for engine, in a way, and the original L98 remains among the most famous 350s ever produced.

New come this variation was a TPI (tuned-port fuel injection) system and aluminum cylinder heads (released about halfway with the 1986 model year). The resulting engine could reach 230 HP, a figure that stability climbed come 250 HP end its years of production. The 1992, with its capability to max the end power and also torque while keeping tight emission standards, is our choose for the ideal L98 engine.

This engine was inserted in Corvettes primarily, but additionally made its method into Camaro and 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 many recent version of the Chevy 350 would naturally be the ideal of the bunch. Marketed together the “Vortec 5700” engine, but known inside by the moniker the L31, this engine was used mainly in GM vans and also trucks till 2002. We talked come a couple of folks in ~ Bob King Buick-GMC in Wilmington, NC, who added that “the 2500 and also 3500 all come through a 3-year 100,000-mile vouch on entirety engine block assembly” and also are all extremely reliable in spite of their age.

Notable features encompass cylinder top with burning chambers and intake port very similar to the LT-1. Because that this reason, the L31 head is compatible with older small-block engines and is quickly upgradable and also can be popped into all kinds of trucks, vans, or SUVs. Just be conscious that a specific intake manifold is required, fan to the 8 bolts provided (4 every head) to attach the manifold to the block.

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

According come Rosedale Chevrolet in Roseville, MN, the L31 is very dependable and also versatile engine, and “you have the right to put in just around anything, it’s been produced off and also on because the mid-1950s.” Dale Willey Automotive in Lawrence, KS added that “the aftermarket dealers can give you the best information about picking up a L31” and also highly recommended check out any type of aftermarket seller for an excellent condition provided engine or parts. However, “we have the right to say the the L31 comes v cylinders that work with most older models” of Chevys. For this reason, this engine is rather flexible and easy come whatever auto you need.

As the many recent 350, it is likewise one of the most readily easily accessible today. Together the most modern-day 350 the end there, that is well-known for its strength, reliability, and also durability (much like the trucks it walk in). You have the right to pick one up supplied or get a half-finished crate version at a very reasonable price.

Bonus Feature: The brand-new 350 V8 company Engine

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Figure 7: The brand-new 350 company engine, made to it is in a low-cost replacement for older GM vehicles. Source: GM Authority.

This really year, GM released a special business version of the Chevy 350 to serve as replacements for older trucks and vans. Despite it provides a novel 4-bolt block and includes brand-new cylinder heads and block castings, together with a forged stole crankshaft, this engine is in all vital respects a modern upgrade to the standard Chevy 350. You can order yours and also find more information here.

Source: GM Authority; GM genuine Parts.

Conclusion
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Figure 8: A standard Chevy Corvette indigenous 1972. Source: automobile Gurus.

At the end of the day, the finest year for a Chevy 350 engine comes down to 2 things above all else: standard feel vs. Modern performance.

If you want a classic Chevy 350 in that is heyday, prior to emissions criter clamped under on the brand, aim because that an LT-1 native 1970. Grab some aftermarket parts and restore the to top performance in no time at all.

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On the other hand, if you want the ideal performing 350 that meets emissions standards and also still packs plenty that power and also torque the L98 native 1992 and the L31 from 1996 on (or the new service engine stated above) room both terrific choices.