Small Block Chevy V8 Timeline 1955-2002
265 cubic inch 4.3L
Chevrolet introduced the 265 Turbo-Fire V8 engine. The brainchild of chief engineer Ed Cole and his design team, it debuted in the Bel Air and Corvette. Although not the first V8 from Chevrolet (1917 Series D 288), the 265 was the first “small block” V8 and the first in a storied line of engines now known as the iconic Small Block Chevy or simply SBC. Chevrolet did not produce a “big block” until 1958 with the W Series 348 but the 265 was considerably lighter and dimensionally smaller than its competition in 1955. The 265 had a three year lifespan, last produced in the 1957 model year.
283 cubic inch 4.6L
Building on the remarkable success of the 265, Chevrolet released the 283 Super Turbo-Fire V8. Cole and his team increased the 3.750″ bore of the 265 by 1/8″ to 3.875″ in the 283. The resulting displacement, combined with mechanical fuel injection offered in some models, raised available output to an impressive one horsepower per cubic inch. The 283 had an 11 year lifespan, last produced in the 1967 model year.
327 cubic inch 5.4L
1962 saw major changes from Chevrolet with the introduction of the 327. New block castings with a 4.00″ bore and new crankshaft forgings with a 3.25″ stroke increased available horsepower ratings to 375 in some models. In 1963 GM started the use of three character alphanumeric engine RPO (Regular Production Option) codes. Notable 327 engine RPO codes include the 1964 L76 (365 HP) and 1965 L84 (375 HP). The 327 had an eight year lifespan, last produced in the 1969 model year.
302, 350 cubic inch 4.9L, 5.7L
The 1967 model year was significant for Chevrolet with the introduction of both the 302 and 350. The 302 was the product of Chevrolet’s desire to compete against Ford in the SCCA Trans Am road racing series in the division limited to 305 cubic inches. Both engines used the 4.00″ bore block but the 302 crankshaft shared the 3.00″ stroke of the 265 and 283, while the 350 crankshaft received a stroke increase to 3.48″. The 302 had a three year lifespan and was last produced in the 1969 model year. The 350 had a 37 year lifespan, last produced in the 2002 model year.
307 cubic inch 5.0L
Chevrolet introduced the 307 V8 engine. The 307 had a six year lifespan, last produced in the 1973 model year.
Cylinder head accessory holes
Accessory holes were added to the front of all small block Chevrolet cylinder heads.
400 cubic inch 6.6L
Chevrolet introduced the 400 V8 engine. The 400 was the largest displacement production small block, with the largest bore of 4.125″ and the longest stroke of 3.75″. The increased bore size required casting changes to the block resulting in siamesed cylinders. This design, unique to the 400, prevented the flow of coolant between cylinders, a design inherent to all other small block engines. To compensate for the changes in coolant flow, modifications were made to reduce the chance of hot spots in the cooling system. The 400 had a 11 year lifespan, last produced in the 1980 model year.
262 cubic inch 4.3L
Chevrolet introduced the 262 V8 engine.
305 cubic inch 5.0L
Chevrolet introduced the 305 V8 engine.
267 cubic inch 4.4L
Chevrolet introduced the 267 V8 engine.
Computer controlled Quadrajet
Chevrolet introduced the Rochester E4ME, a new electronic feedback version of the Quadrajet four barrel carburetor. The E4ME was part of the new CCC (Computer Command Control) system which included an ECM (Electronic Control Module) that used input from a throttle position sensor and oxygen sensor to control fuel mixture using a metering solenoid. The E4ME was introduced on both the Camaro and Corvette 305 RPO LG4. More here…
Cross-Fire fuel injection
Chevrolet introduced the CFI (Cross-Fire Injection) system, consisting of two offset single injector throttle bodies mounted to an intake manifold resembling the 1969 Z28 Cross Ram manifold used on the DZ302. As with the Rochester Quadrajet E4ME, CFI was part of the Computer Command Control system. The Cross-Fire system was the first electronic injection system for the SBC and only the injection system since the Rochester RamJet mechanical injection system introduced on the 1957 283. Cross-Fire injection was introduced on the Camaro 305 RPO LU5 and Corvette 350 RPO L83. More here…
Aluminum cylinder heads
Chevrolet introduced aluminum cylinder heads on the Corvette 350 RPO L98. 1986 also saw the introduction of the one piece rear main seal, superseding the two piece seal used in 1985 and older engines. Another notable change in 1986 was the introduction of the engine size being cast into the block next to the casting number.
Roller lifter camshaft
Chevrolet introduced the roller lifter camshaft in some passenger car engines. Truck engines did not get OE roller lifter camshafts until 1995. Another notable change in 1987 was the introduction of the center bolt valve cover, superseding the perimeter bolt design used in 1986 and older valve covers.
350 cubic inch 5.7L Gen 2 LT1
Chevrolet introduced the Gen 2 LT1 350 V8 engine.
265 cubic inch 4.3L Gen 2 L99
Chevrolet introduced the Gen 2 L99 265 V8 engine.
350 cubic inch 5.7L Gen 2 LT4
Chevrolet introduced the Gen 2 LT4 350 V8 engine.
305, 350 cubic inch 5.0L, 5.7L Vortec
Chevrolet introduced the Vortec 5000 and 5700 truck engines, the last of the Gen 1 SBC V8 in production vehicles. The Gen 1 SBC V8 is still being produced as an aftermarket crate engine, predominantly for performance applications. The Vortec engines had a seven year lifespan, last produced in 2002. The Vortec 5000 (305-5.0L), RPO L30, was replaced by the Gen 3 Vortec 4800 (293-4.8L), RPO LR4. The Vortec 5700 (350-5.7L), RPO L31, was replaced by the Gen 3 Vortec 5300 (325-5.3L), RPOs LM7, L59, LM4 and L33.