Building the Ultimate Turbo Small Block Chevy-Part 1
The Small Block Chevy is a dead outdated hunk of iron that is best left to old guys puttering around restoring muscle cars in their garages, or is it?
The venerable Small Block Chevy was first introduced to the motoring public in 1954 and was installed on the assembly line until 2003 and is still in production as a replacement motor. This means that the good old small block has been around for 60 years, making it one of the longest lived and most produced engines of all time with over 100,000,000 units having been built to date.
The longevity of the Small Block speaks volumes to the genius of the original design. With a lightweight for the time 90 degree, thin walled, short skirt block and overhead valves, the Small Block was exceedingly compact and could pack a lot of displacement and power into a compact lightweight package. By being produced in such huge numbers for such a long time the Small Block also enjoyed what is perhaps the largest aftermarket following of any engine ever made by several orders of magnitude.
The Small Block Chevy was updated and modernized many times during its long life cycle but by the new millennium it had become painfully apparent the the old war horse was getting long in the tooth. Its single cam in block overhead valvetrain and iron construction became a symbol of how out of touch the domestic carmakers were with modern technology as the Japanese then European manufacturers pumped out lightweight alloy DOHC multivalve motors by the bushel.
GM responded with the all alloy world class LS series of V8 engines and those of us on the cutting edge forgot all about the Small Block. Until recently.
When looking to do an engine for Darren McNamara’s Formula D S14, Team Falken was looking to do something new. As the professional drift world has become more competitive, more and more power has been needed to keep up with the pace of competition. Long gone are the days when a 200 hp AE86 Corolla could win a drift event.
At first a 450 hp Nissan SR20DE was considered to be a big power motor, then as suspension and tire technology evolved, 550 hp then 650 became necessary. At this point the Chevy LS motor in naturally aspirated form started to become the dominant engine. With little stress, a big LS could reliably last an entire season and engine problems disappeared.
All looked relatively stable in the engine world until a Japanese guy by the name of Daigo Saito came on the scene. With a turbocharged and nitrous injected 2JZ engine packing an unheard of maximum of 1300 hp, Daigo shredded the FD field in his rookie year. Thus the power wars were triggered with 850 to 1000 hp becoming the new norm.
When looking for a way to develop 1000 hp reliably, the Falken team looked towards turbocharging a V8 engine. It would potentially be less stressful to run low boost through a big V8 instead of trying to develop super high compression and high revving motors to respond to Formula D’s current power demands. In addition, turbocharging made it easy to get more power in case future developments in tire and suspension technology dictated the need for more power.
When looking for a base engine to turbocharge, at first the Chevy LS engine was considered with its modern all alloy construction but with its 4 bolt per cylinder design, cylinder head sealing at more than 10 psi of boost was an issue, Racing versions of the LS can be had with 5 bolts per cylinder for better seal but those engines were prohibitively expensive. That being said, attention was focused on the latest developments in the Small Block Chevy racing world and after looking at stuff developed for Sprint Car and NASCAR racing, it was discovered that the Small Block could potentially be smaller, lighter and just as powerful as the LS.
Falken had lots of Small Block Sprint Car engine parts in inventory from older cars so the decision was made to build a turbo motor from some of these parts. Is the Small Block old and outdated? Not at all, let us show you how the modern Small Block racing engine is not what it was in 1954!