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Chevrolet—Small-Block V8

Produced in many variants over a 55-year lifespan, the Chevy small-block epitomizes the tried and trusted American engine recipe of a 90-degree V8 built of cast iron with pushrod valve actuation. It quickly became popular as a drag-racing engine and powered iconic sports and pony cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette, and the Pontiac Firebird.


Dubbed the “Mighty Mouse” after a popular cartoon character, the small-block Chevy lent itself to high performance roles, in part due to its oversquare cylinder dimensions (the bore being greater than the piston stroke). A short piston stroke reduces the peak acceleration, lessening the inertial forces acting on the pistons and allowing the use of higher engine rpm to increase the power output. Lower-powered versions of the small-block saw service in family cars, and the engine was also put to marine use. Over 90 million small-blocks have been made since the engine’s introduction.



Dates produced1955 to present
CylindersEight cylinders in two banks, 90-degree “V”
ConfigurationFront-mounted, longitudinal
Engine capacity265 cu in (4,291 cc), ultimately 400 cu in (6,570 cc)
Power output162 bhp @ 4,400 rpm, ultimately 375 bhp
TypeConventional four-stroke, water-cooled gas engine with reciprocating pistons, distributor ignition, and a wet sump
Headohv actuated by pushrod and rocker arms; two valves per cylinder
Fuel SystemCarburetor, later fuel injection
Bore and Stroke3.75 in x 3.00 in (95.3 mm x 76.2 mm)
Specific power37.8 bhp/liter
Compression Ratio8.0:1

Chevrolet’s second V8

Remarkably, given its subsequent success, this was only the second V8 engine Chevrolet had designed, the first appearing decades earlier in 1917. Despite this lack of V8 experience, Chevy hit on just the right design philosophy of keeping the engine as simple, compact, and light as possible, while engineering in the potential for higher power outputs.


It is a quote. The Definitive Visual History Of The Automobile 2011

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