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Chevy Big Block: Restoration Vs. Modernization  – Smeding Performance
Chevy Big Block: Restoration Vs. Modernization 

Feb 05 , 2024

LeachCo Marketing

Chevy Big Block: Restoration Vs. Modernization 

We all know that there are some awfully tempting engine upgrades out there. Innovation didn’t die at the close of the 1972 model year. There have been some really significant upgrades and improvements in automotive technology and manufacturing techniques since the days of “Nixon’s The One” bumper stickers.

When one is putting a hot rod on the road with a nice Chevy big block in it, the question arises as to what degree of innovation should be introduced into the equation. Purists will argue for nothing whatsoever. Middle-of-the-roaders may consider introducing structural changes such as stuffing that faithful old Rat with a complete set of new internal parts. These will work better than the originals, but they will never show to the external observer. Pragmatists may prefer to go with a fully-modernized unit that retains the original block but completely upgrades everything with the most modern components and external accessories possible. Modernists may not even want that old block in their car. Instead, they’d prefer having a 100% new power plant with all new parts everywhere.

Common Ground: Modern Roller Cam and Lifters

One thing all factions can probably agree on, albeit reluctantly in some cases, is that even the most pure restoration probably needs a modern roller cam and lifters in it. Unless someone has a stash of NOS flat tappet cams and lifters hiding in their toybox, current issues with quality control have called the old standbys into question. It is simply not worth the risk of lovingly restoring an engine and then seeing it all trashed due to soft metals and improper machining on something as simple as a bump stick.

Being Realistic with Big Block Engines

The point is that it pays to be realistic about things. Many rodders pull their mint-condition big blocks out of their cars and park them on a stand. That way, they are always available to put back in. In the meantime, however, one can experiment with the possibilities of owning an old factory supercar in the 21st Century. You’d never forgive yourself if you put a rod through your box-stock 396/375. Curate your old parts, put in a new drive train, and you don’t have to run that risk.

Alternative Solutions for Preservation and Performance

You can get yourself a nice short block or even a really top-quality crate engine for far less than the cost of replacing your priceless numbers-matching big block Chevy. Smeding has a full line of stand-ins ready to make your ride go fast while saving your irreplaceable original for a rainy day.

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