Definition of big block vs. small block


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Musclecarclub
08-05-2003, 03:19 AM
I have never seen a really good explanation for the difference between a small block and a big block. I mean, obviously a big block is bigger, but what is the dividing factor? What was/is the largest small block and smallest big block? Any ideas?

Blue02R6
08-05-2003, 08:41 AM
I always thought they were differentiated in that way when a company/division had two different sized blocks, with the smaller one being a small block and the larger being a big block. It would seem, however that few share this opinion with me.

TorinoGT69
08-10-2003, 10:49 AM
I would pretty much agree with Blue02R6.
Cubic inches has nothing to do with it really. Example: 400cu chevy is a small block - 396cu is a big block. The difference is the type and size of the block.

-The Stig-
08-10-2003, 03:17 PM
Well seeing as of lately you can now buy 454ci Small Blocks from MoTown.

Basically, as mentioned above actual displacement doesnt matter much now with all the new stroker kits.

But what makes them a big block is just the size of the actual block and internals.



I still want a 427BB, nothing like turning 9,000rpm with a big block. Just to show the import guys who think they're the only ones with high reving motors. :biggrin:

Blue02R6
08-11-2003, 03:32 AM
Originally posted by RedNeck383
I still want a 427BB, nothing like turning 9,000rpm with a big block. Just to show the import guys who think they're the only ones with high reving motors. :biggrin:

I'm drooling. (Now I just need a chevy to put it in.)

Musclecarclub
08-11-2003, 04:29 AM
Cubic inches doesn't matter. Having two types of blocks doesn't matter. What is the definition? This is definitely a tough question.

Here is one website's (chevytrucks.com) definition, which seems to agree with the previous answers:

Small Block: The smaller of a manufacturers two series of engines. In the case of Chevy, the small block includes the 262, 265, 267, 283, 302, 305, 307, 327, 350, and 400.

Big Block: The larger of a manufacturers two series of engines. In the case of Chevy, the 366, 396, 402, 427, and 454.

73superduty
08-16-2003, 04:16 PM
A tough question for sure on a great explanantion, however, if you were talking just Chevies, then the previous answers would be just fine. However, let's talk old school and Pontiacs.
Pontiac engines utilize the same block from the 326 all the way to the 455. So when someone says big block Pontiac, it isn't true.
The only difference is the size of the journals in the block thus giving it the cubic inches nomenclature.
Take a minute once and look at a 350, 400 and a 455 and you'll see the basic engine block for all of these cars.
If we go by what has been posted here, then yes the 400 and the 455 would be big blocks. Pontiacs call it standard. They just play with the internals.
Chris

TorinoGT69
08-17-2003, 09:53 AM
You could kinda say a 301 is a small block pontiac.

73superduty
08-17-2003, 11:28 AM
You could kinda say a 301 is a small block pontiac.
I'll agree with that, but it doesn't match the "standard" Pontiac blocks, thus why I didn't include it.
Kind of the red-headed step child engine of Pontiac.
Chris

Blue02R6
08-17-2003, 07:23 PM
When I talk about Pontaic motors, I've always corrected people about them calling the motor a big block. I thought my answer took this in to account, but it's all in how one interperates it. The 301 is typically not called a SB because it was only a 301.

Pacfanweb
09-04-2003, 11:49 PM
A tough question for sure on a great explanantion, however, if you were talking just Chevies, then the previous answers would be just fine. However, let's talk old school and Pontiacs.
Pontiac engines utilize the same block from the 326 all the way to the 455. So when someone says big block Pontiac, it isn't true.
The only difference is the size of the journals in the block thus giving it the cubic inches nomenclature.
Take a minute once and look at a 350, 400 and a 455 and you'll see the basic engine block for all of these cars.
If we go by what has been posted here, then yes the 400 and the 455 would be big blocks. Pontiacs call it standard. They just play with the internals.
Chris
Actually, the 400 and 455 have different bearing sizes, so the 400 would not be included with the so-called Pontiac "big blocks".
400 internals are same as 350, 389, etc.
I think the 428 and 455 are the same, and maybe the 421.

galaxie500fb
09-05-2003, 07:33 PM
how about fords doing. a 351 is considered a small block but a 352 fe is called a big block. just 1 cubic inch difference.

Musclecarclub
09-06-2003, 03:17 AM
That must be one cubic inch. Actually, it seems to follow the bigger/smaller engine in a manufacturer's engine series, rather than the actual size theory.

PWMAN
09-07-2003, 03:21 PM
how about fords doing. a 351 is considered a small block but a 352 fe is called a big block. just 1 cubic inch difference.
Well there is a bunch of different 351's. The 351 Cleveland, modified, and Windsor. The windsor is the small blcok because it is much like the 302. The Modified is more of a big block, and the cleveland is a league of it's own. There is no distinction between SB and BB for the cleveland, it's just a cleveland and thats it.
The 352 is a FE blcok like you said, completely different than anything else Ford makes. The FE block include-330, 352, 390, 427 L/M/H riser, and the 428. The 429 is also completely different than the 428 FE.

As for a basic distinction between SB/BB, my guess would be it's that deck height that determines between a SB and BB. Or it could be just as simple as the actual size of the bare block itself.

GTStang
09-29-2003, 05:10 AM
the 302,351W,351C,351M, the always forgotten Ford 400(the missing link).

A 302 and 351W are small blocks. But also note that a 302 and a 351W are different blocks due to the 351W's taller deck height.
Now the 351C,351M, and Ford 400 are all actually the same block except that the 351M/400 have larger crank journals, also they are all big blocks.
The cleveland came first, then Ford wanted to use the block in trucks and passengers cars so the stroked it to 400 and changed the mains and ditched 4V heads. All this to make more torque at lower rpm's more suitable for a car/van/truck. Once the gas crunch hit they destroked the 400 back to 351. It was a modified 400 hence the name 351M.

I don't know about Chevy/Mopar etc.. but I know why Ford has such a messed up line is purely cause of History. Once you know the chronological order you understand.

SamBlob
10-16-2004, 01:53 PM
And then, of course, there's Mopar, with:
A and LA (small block) engines: 273, 318, 340, 360;
B (big block) engines: 350, 383, 400; and
RB (bigger block) engines: 413, 426, 440.

AWP9521
10-16-2004, 05:10 PM
Mopar small and big block Engines (revised) Source: www.allpar.com

A ("Early A", Small Block, 1656-1966): 277, 301, 303, 313, 318, 326 (Dodge only):

LA ("Late A", Small Block, 1964-present): 3.9 (V-6, actually a 318 with 2 less cylinders), 273, 318 (Including the 5.2 "Magnum Engine", 340, 360 (Including the 5.9 Magnum Engine), and the 488 & 505 V-10 Engines derived from the LA Design;

B ("Low Block", Big Block, 1958-1978): 350, 361, 383, 400;

RB ("High Block" or "Raised Block", Big Block, 1960-1978): 383 (Smaller bore and longer stroke than the B Engine), 413 (Standard and Max Wedge), 426 (Max Wedge and Hemi), 440.

MrPbody
10-18-2004, 01:44 PM
Yup, a real bag of worms! As an engine builder, I can tell you, there are as many descriptions of big and small blocks as there are people describibg them.
The Ford blocks are more of a source of confusion than any other of the American V8s. As previously stated, 221, 255, 260, 289, and 302 are "small blocks". So is 351W, with a taller deck and larger mains. But there are those that use the bellhousing pattern as a determining factor with the Fords. That being the case, 351C is also a small block, as it shares the bell housing flange with the others. 351M (Midland) and 400 share the same pattern with Lima (370, 429, 460). So, are they big blocks? Nope. Modified blocks. At least, that's what we call them in the "industry". FE is the "original" big block Ford, with the 390 being the banner carrier (they made about 8 390s for each of the other CID). There was a 330, 332, 352, 360, 361, 383, 390, 391, 406, 410, 427 and 428. (man, what a list, and I probably missed a couple!) Bullit proof engines. Very inefficient when it comes to fuel vs. power.
The Pontiac is perhaps the biggest anomoly of all, having CID anywhere from 287 to 455, all with the same basic "block". As noted earlier, there are variations in bearing diameter and bore diameter, but all the main parameters are the same. Please, don't use "301" and "Pontiac" in the same sentence... And don't forget the 265!
Suffice it to say, an engine "family" shares bore centers, cam-to-crank centers, cylinder head patterns, etc.
One last thing. You will note the Fords are all named after cities. Those cities are where the foundries are that produced that particular engine family. All but Windsor are in Ohio, and Windsor is in Ontario, Canada.

SamBlob
10-18-2004, 07:07 PM
One last thing. You will note the Fords are all named after cities. Those cities are where the foundries are that produced that particular engine family. All but Windsor are in Ohio, and Windsor is in Ontario, Canada.

So the 1.6 litre OHV "Kent" engines are named for Kent, Ohio (home of the infamous Kent State University) and not Kent, England? O.K., I guess I learn something new every day...

What about the "Cologne" V-6s?

curtis73
10-19-2004, 03:37 AM
In general, it can all be narrowed down to some generalizations. Engines like the Pontiac, older Cadillac, and some others don't really have big and small blocks. Every Pontiac engine from the 301 up to the 455 share external dimensions. Things like heads, exhaust manifolds, accessory bolt holes, intakes, and cams all interchange. There are subtle differences like main bearing journal sizes and rod bearing sizes that differ in some families, but they are the same "configuration."

Engines like the Olds are much like the Pontiac. All engines share almost all parameters. The difference is that the "small" block has smaller journals and a shorter deck. The only thing differentiating a small block from big block is deck height and main/rod diameters. Small and big block heads interchange, however don't always work well with in those combinations for compression/port size reasons.

Where I consider the true differentiation is with engines like the Chevy and Ford V8. A chevy small block is a completely different "clean slate" design compared to the big block. A BBC has no more in common with an SBC than it does with a Buick 455. Similarities occured, but mostly for the sake of making it easy at GM to offer both engines in one chassis. Little things like alternators, A/C compressors, and sometimes pulleys and hoses were the same, but otherwise, they are black and white. Ford is very similar, although as somone pointed out, the line is blurred. The most common small block is the Windsor, so its considered the "Ford small block" in many situations. The 289, 302 and 351W are nearly as interchangeable as a chevy's 283, 305, 350, and 400 are to each other.

MrPbody
10-19-2004, 08:01 AM
The names of the FORD V8s was my only point, when engine families have "names". Anyone know where FE, Ohio is? Gimme a break...
The 265/301 Pontiac "baby block" shares only bore spacing and main journal diameter. Virtually nothing else fits the "real" Pontiacs.
The 400, 425 and 455 Olds are similar to the small blocks, but have a MUCH higher deck and longer connecting rods. They could be considered remotely similar, but they are definitely called "big" and "small" block... Same is true of the Buick.
Although very similar in design, and just a bit bigger, very little of what fits the little Fords, fit the 351W. Heads, some of the gaskets, that's about it. And even the heads need modification to fit. You could say the cam/lifter does, but there are differences between early and late.
The purpose of this posting is not to dispute anyone's statements, but to clariify what does and does not fit between engines. If you've ever had a customer crying the blues because they "heard" all the parts were the same between a 327 and a 350, only to find the 327 crank WON'T fit in the 350 block, you will appreciate it.

stefanzhr
10-21-2004, 08:32 PM
TOTALLY NEWBISH DUMB QUESTIONS:

What is a block?

What is a good place to learn all this terminology?

SamBlob
10-22-2004, 09:49 PM
TOTALLY NEWBISH DUMB QUESTIONS:

Here we have one who loves truth. This is generally a good thing.

What is a block?

It's the part of the engine between the crankcase and the head. The crankshaft is held in bearings that are mounted in the crankcase, just about where it meets the block. Most engines (I think) are "wet sump" engines, which means that the engine oil is stored in a tank at the bottom of the crankcase. The block is usually one casting made up of cylinders, cooling jackets (or fins on Corvairs, old VWs, and other air-cooled cars...) and mounts for sensors, hoses, pulleys and other $#!+ like that. Engine blocks on musclecars also have bearings in them in which the camshaft is mounted; some newer American cars and most non-American cars have the camshaft(s) in the head, where the valves, combustion chambers and manifold mounts are.

What is a good place to learn all this terminology?

Look in a search engine for "Glossary of Automotive Terminology". Or ask a mechanic, preferably one with good manners and lots of patience.

SamBlob
10-22-2004, 10:11 PM
I think we all forgot to mention the Buick Special 215 alloy-block V-8 from the early '60s...

Sadly, the only survivor in passenger use is the Small-Block Chevy. Ford, Cadillac, Dodge and Chrysler all use more recent V-8 designs with no link to the classic designs. Buick and Pontiac no longer have V-8s of their own, although the small-block Buick lives on in part in (and maybe in parts of...) the Buick 3800 V-6. Oldsmobile does not even exist anymore, much less have a V-8 of its own. The Rover Group no longer makes the Rover 3500 (formerly Buick Special 215). Sad, sad situation.

MrPbody
10-23-2004, 10:41 AM
Stefanzr, you can find a bit of what you're after, on our website. I've written a "glossary of terms" and put it out there. It may not answer ALL your questions, but it will certainly hit a few!

centralvirginiamachine.com

stefanzhr
10-23-2004, 10:51 PM
Thanks SamBlob and MrPbody.

MrPbody, the url doesnt work.

MrPbody
10-25-2004, 08:20 AM
Try www.centralvirginiamachine.com

Woody313
01-08-2006, 05:11 PM
I have never seen a really good explanation for the difference between a small block and a big block. I mean, obviously a big block is bigger, but what is the dividing factor? What was/is the largest small block and smallest big block? Any ideas?


For American Motors V8 cars starting with 1967. The design of the AMC engine is a small block. Based on the physical size and the deck. 290, 304, 343, 360, 390 and 401 are all from the same block. You can not tell from looking at an AMC block what cubic inches it is. The only way to tell is a casting number on the side of the block. NONE of these engines are from, Ford or Mopar! as many people think. These are 100% AMC made in USA. So, from my point of view.. it is not based on cubic inches, rather it is based on the mass, physical size and deck.

MrPbody
01-09-2006, 01:02 PM
Woody,

You dragged up an old one! It's okay. This subject has been debated in another thread, as well.
Your assertions about the Rambler are correct. All the external dimensions for the various CIDs are the same. So, like the Pontiac, there is no "big block" or "small block" AMC, there's simply the "Rambler" (in the shop vernacular...).

Jim

ramairgto72
01-12-2006, 01:26 AM
The same kinda question could be asked if any of AMC's cars were muscle cars because of the 2 seater. Only AMC had the only entry 2 seat muscle car.

Sorry Vette and Viper guys , you have sport cars, not muscle cars.

Or did AMC want it's car to run with sports cars, or was it more of a Pony car?

MrPbody
01-12-2006, 02:46 PM
AMX was a "short wheelbase" Javelin. it could be considered a "mini pony"... (:- The Rebel "Machine" was AMC's muscle car offering. It was a Rebel (midsize car) with the same (I BELIEVE, but don't quote me... 330HP) 390 as the Javelin SST and the AMX.

Jim

ramairgto72
01-12-2006, 06:36 PM
AMX was a "short wheelbase" Javelin. it could be considered a "mini pony"... (:- The Rebel "Machine" was AMC's muscle car offering. It was a Rebel (midsize car) with the same (I BELIEVE, but don't quote me... 330HP) 390 as the Javelin SST and the AMX.
Jim


http://www.javelinamx.com/JavHome/articles/amxanim1.gif
I think if AMC would have gotten into it sooner they would have had cars that would have made a bigger mark, I think the AMX has some nice lines, and some of it's factroy paint and decals felt more "70's" then a 69 judge.

Is it me or dose AMC and Scout cars and trucks seem more import-ish then American?

Long live the tubed gremlin!
http://www.javelinamx.com/JavHome/articles/wbooth3.jpg

terzmo
01-13-2006, 05:26 PM
With mopars, the best I know is small blocks had the distributor in the back...BB had it in the front

MrPbody
01-14-2006, 10:16 AM
It's you... AMCs were notorious for poor quality of construction, which is what led to their demise. But they had Motorcraft carbs, MOPAR alternators, GM distributors, etc.

For many years, AMX was the top dog in B/SS and B/SSA. They're still quite competitive at certain levels within NHRA and IHRA. There's a local Richmonder (actually Dinbwiddie), that has a '69 Javelin that runs in the 9s all month. 401, solid roller, considerable modifications to the engine.

Nope, nuthin' "importish" about them. Pure American, but not REAL good cars (don't confuse "good" with "fast"). They were made in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Because they were in such financial trouble, the engineering and construction were pretty barbaric.
Gremlins (like the one in the above pic) can be MONSTERS! There's one in Tucson, with a blown 401, does 4' wheelies and runs in the high 8s (on 93 octane, a true "street car").

The IH stuff (Scouts and pickups) were also purely American. The old IH engines are tough and good low-end, but not much use for performance. Until they were discontinued, IH pickups were considered the "highest level" of American light trucks. They DID cost a bunch more than the equal F-250, but I doubt they were significantly better.
I worked at a dealer in Idaho when I was younger, and worked on the pickups and Scouts. The farmers that owned them wouldn' give them up for anything! They were absolutey NO FUN to work on... (like the AMC products, rather barbaric in nature, but much better engineered and constructed)
FWIW

Jim

MNSnowTruckin
01-15-2006, 04:59 PM
I have always been taught that the difference between BB's and SB's is this...no matter what the displacement, no matter the manufacturer, it is the thickness of the cylinder walls and their ability to be bored out. a small block does not have thick enough cylinder walls so to to afford it the ability to be bored. a big block does however have thick enough cylinder walls and is so call a "Big Block".

Now I may be wrong, however that is the simplest definition that I have ever recieved and the only one that makes sense.

sub006
01-15-2006, 05:04 PM
I have a 383 small-block Chevy in my Suburban and my son has a 388in his '63 Chevy II. Both of these engines have big-block power in a small-block package. To say nothing of the new 'Vette Z06 427 small-blocks.

But big-block Chevies DO have room in their heads for bigger valves! They are physically bigger and they're HEAVIER.

And by the way, the "Cologne V6" got its name from the town where German Ford made them!

ramairgto72
01-16-2006, 02:51 AM
When you add the stress of what a SB has to do, say a 383SBC to what a BB396 does all day long without the stress, I would take the BB any day of the week, that is if I was a Chevy guy. wow allmost puked,,,,

Mr. P I sould have said Mopar-ish, or is it Slow-par-ish?

IH did have the Scout, it did good in the 4x4 world (rust issus) and had some cool looking ideas, they sadly came late.

SpinnerCee
01-16-2006, 11:12 PM
The Chevrolet BB (Rat) and SB (Mouse) are totally apples and oranges -- that basically means that the design is fundamentally different -- it also means that the basic parts do not interchange between them, and that's true -- cams, crank, heads lifters, pushrods, intake and exhaust manifolds, water pump, fuel pump, harmonic balancer, flywheel, etc... are all "long-block" specific. The head design is significantly different as well, with the BB valve angles, and port config being vastly different from the SB.

Heck, if you "know" Chevrolet engines, you can tell them all apart at first sight. :) [The valve cover bolt patterns are a dead give away]

ramairgto72
01-21-2006, 09:32 AM
can you tell a BB tall deck apart from a BB?

I love hearing people ask me if I have a BB under the hood, I say no it's a Pontiac.

Then about 15mins later they get it.

The Pontiac is the working mans car, if you have a Pontiac you can change just about everything out of it and put it on another engine, pontiac engine.

Like a have allways said, if Pontiac had a Truck line things could have been different.

Well atleast for a while longer, the Ford SD may have never come to be, because Ford used it, but if Pontiac had a truck line i'm sure SD PMD P/U would have been a hot ticket.

SpinnerCee
01-21-2006, 12:07 PM
Yes, even the Chevrolet tall-deck BB is "easily" distinguishable from the standard deck block -- I don't know too much about Pontiacs, but the distance between the water pump outlets and the head above them is the first place to look to ID a tall deck Chevrolet block.

I would call the Pontiac DRCE (Drag Race Competition Engine) a Pontiac big block [ala NHRA Pro Stock], but I don't think you'll find too many of them in a street car.

67ROCKETPOWER
02-08-2006, 03:17 PM
ALL OF YOU PEOPLE HAVE NO CLUE!

I USED TO BE LIKE ALL OF YOU, BUT BECAUSE I LOVE CARS SO MUCH, I HAVE READ ALOT.

I BET MOST OF YOU ALSO REFER TO ENGINES AS MOTORS:nono: AN ENGINE REFERS TO THE IRON / SOMETIMES ALUMINUM LARGE COMPONENT UNDER YOUR HOOD THAT CONVERTS FUEL INTO POWER. A MOTOR IS THE COMPONENT THAT USUALLY BOLTS TO THAT ENGINE, TO ROTATE THE CRANKSHAFT AND START THE ENGINE. OF CORSE THERE ARE OTHER MOTORS THROUGHOUT SOME VEHICLES AS WELL.
SO PLEASE - AN ENGINE IS AN ENGINE, AND A MOTOR (STARTER) IS A MOTOR!

NOW THE DEFINITION OF A BIG BLOCK HAS NOTHING TO DUE WITH CUBIC INCHES OR DECK OR BORE OR STROKE...
ALL DOMESTIC AUTO MANUFACTURERS IN THE 60'S WERE FIGHTING THE GOVERNMENT TO PUT LARGER CUBIC INCH ENGINES INTO THERE SMALLER AND MIDSIZE CARS, SO THE SLANG WORDS OF SMALL BLOCK AND BIG BLOCK CAME ABOUT...

-CHEVY'S - YOUR SMALL ENGINES 302,307,305,327,350,400, AND OTHERS ARE SMALL BLOCKS, IN THERE YEARS THESE WERE THE BASE MODEL ENGINES. THE LARGER ENGINES 396,454 AHH WHAT EVER-YOU KNOW, THESE WERE THE ENGINES THAT WERE APPROVED FOR THE CERTAIN YEARS TO BE INSTALLED IN WHAT THE MANUFACTURERS CALL SPECAILTY CARS.

-PONTIAC'S REAL EASY. 1966 LEMANS 326 (SMALL BLOCK) 1966 GTO (SPECIALTY CAR) W/389 (BIG BLOCK). LATER GTO'S GOT THE PONT 400, CONSIDERED BIG BLOCK BECAUSE OF THE CAR IT WAS IN... BY THE WAY THE MUSCLE CAR ERA WAS STARTED BY PONTIAC WITH THE GTO!

-OLDSMOBILES - ANOTHER EASY ONE '64,'65,'66, & '67 F85 OR CUTLASS' CAME WITH THE 330 (BASE MODEL ENGINE) 442'S CAME WITH THE 400 (BIG BLOCK). OTHER LARGE CUBE ENGINES WERE ALSO REFERED TO AS BIG BLOCKS AND WERE USED IN EXTREMELY SPECIAL CARS LIKE THE HURST OLDS. '68 & '69 H/O'S HAD 455'S....

BUICKS THE SAME THING... CADILLAC - I THINK THEY ONLY CAME WITH LARGE CUBE ENGINES, BUT THEN WHEN DID THEY START MAKING A SMALL OR MID SIZE CAR?

THE REST ARE ALL THE SAME - FORDS, CHRYSLERS, ANY MANUFACTURER THAT MADE A MIDSIZED CAR AND WANTED TO PUT A LARGER ENGINE IN IT.

IN THE MID 60'S THE GOVERNMENT WOULD ONLY ALLOW NO BIGGER THAN 400 CUBIC INCHES FOR THOSE SPECIALTY CARS, THAT'S WHY THE HURST OLDS (455) WERE SO SPECIAL, AND THOSE COULDN'T BE FULLY PRODUCED BY GM, THEY HAD TO BE FINISHED BY GEORGE HURST TO BE SOLD TO THE PUBLIC.

ANY QUESTIONS, SEND ME A MESSAGE, OR REPLY TO THIS POSTING.

AL

Andrewh
02-08-2006, 05:31 PM
Well, for mopars it is pretty easy. A BB will only bolt up to a BB transmission. The bolt pattern is larger for the BB engines.
273,318,340, 360 are all small blocks, LA engines.
the 361,383,400,426,and 440's are BB, B and RB engines.
If you go way back, the 352,352,and 392's are all SB bolt patterns even though they have more CI then some of the BB engines, so CI still don't matter here.

MrPbody
02-10-2006, 01:44 PM
Rocketpower,

I'm afraid it's YOU that is missing a clue or two.. The physical dimensions are what determine a "big block" from a "small block". There is NO SUCH THING as a "big block Pontiac". 287 through 455 all share the same deck height, bore spacing, rod length and rod journal, timing set, oil pump and driveshaft, head bolt pattern, valley cover (also known as a "pushrod cover"), distributor, camshaft, etc. The only variation on that are the 265/301 from the late '70s, and those blocks are mostly the same, except the MUCH shorter deck. Pontiac engines are broken up in "journal" sizes, not unlike small block Chevy (large journal, small journal), as the main journals and corresponding bearings vary from 2.65" to 3.25" in diameter, depending on year and displacement.

DRCE is STRICTLY an Oldsmobile "offering". They also originally produced the "Rocket Block", now being distributed by Dart. Pontiac Engineering DID produce their version of BBC (which is also what the original DRCE block is...). It's called "Big Chief", and is currently the dominant force in Pro Stock.

The 400 CID limit was in no way anything "government". It was internal GM policy. If it had been "government", there would have been no 428 or 429 Torinos and Fairlanes, no 440 GTXs or Chargers, no Hemi-ANYTHING short of Polara... The list goes on.
The Hurst Olds' were sent from the assembly plants to Hurst with either the "base" engine (400) or no engine, and had the 455s from the "big" Olds transplanted "aftermarket". Pontiac did the same thing with the Royal Bobcats, Chevy did it with the Yenkos.
You're right, though, before 1970, no engines larger that 400 CID were "allowed" to be factory-installed in GM intermediate cars. Same was true with the "F" and "X" bodies (Firebird/Camaro, Nova).

It must be stated here. All this attempting to redfine what something is or is not, based on hearsay and supposition, is similar to the arguement over what consitiutes a muscle car. You can argue 'till the cows come home. The definitions have been in "stone" since before most of us were either born, or at least in my case, before we got out of elemntary school. Arguing it will NOT change it. A "big block" will always be the larger of the engine choices (physical size) from a given maufacturer that offers(ed) more than one. A muscle car will always be an intermediate body with a "big car" engine.

Lastly, please turn off your caps. It sounds like you're hollering at everyone...!

Sub006,

You may have close-to-big block displacement, but there's one thing seriously lacking from the strokers to really make the claim of "big block power". It's true, one can easily extract well over 400, and even 500 HP from them, for a pump-gas streeter. We do it all the time. But they're lacking something important, that 396, 400P, 400 Olds, 440 Dodge, etc. ALL have. TORQUE! Small block strokers typically come up 50-100 lb. ft. shy of similar displacement big blocks. The BIGGEST reason is the rod length. Secondary reasons involve more complex issues, such as runnner length, port efficiency, etc.
What does this mean? Not a lot, but if you have a 3,600 lb. car, it will go significantly quicker with the 396 than it would the 400SB (at a similar level of "tune"). If it's a "mild" build, the 400P or 400 Olds would beat 'em both... (let the bantering begin!) (:-

Jim

zx2guy
02-11-2006, 05:18 PM
just to add a little more flavor into this seeing as ive already become confused lets do a little more of it:
whats the difference between a small block, big block, and short and long blocks...(any other blocks i forgot?... add them in if i did)

SpinnerCee
02-12-2006, 12:59 PM
Short block vs long block has nothing to do with "size" -- it is a set of engine components.

A short block is typically (but not always) the internal engine components that reside in, and are connected to the engine block from the oil pan up, including the block itself -- crank, rods, pistons, oil pump, timing set, but not including the heads, intake manifold, and stuff above. Covers, like the oil pan and timing cover may or may not be included in a short block.

A long block is the short block plus -- heads and intake, and possibly everything else to just drop the engine into a car out of the box [crate] as-is -- this may even include the distributor, harnesses, hoses, and accessory pulleys, belts and mounts.

You would want a short block if you blew up your bottom end [spun bearing, threw rods, etc...], but your heads and everything else was still in good shape -- sometimes the cost of buying a pre-built short block is cheaper than the labor and parts to rebuild your existing one. It's also a good way to upgrade a bottom end to more displacement.

zx2guy
02-12-2006, 05:00 PM
and this stands for all motors in general? i just hear it about the old cars and then i can hear it again on these modern cars from v8's to i-4s. but thats cool that they arent like a 3rd and 4th style block. i can get big and small. most the time just by the general size, but when someone drops the work long block im left there thinkin: it doesnt look any longer then the others?

SpinnerCee
02-12-2006, 11:10 PM
If you're ever in the market to buy or rebuild an engine they'll become very important to you, otherwise it means little.

Long blocks and short blocks are essentially parts lists, so they're subject to very broad interpretations [just like big -v- small block lol] -- my description was in general, so ask questions to know for sure.

MrPbody
02-13-2006, 09:00 AM
Spinnercee,

You pretty much nailed the "long block/short block" thing. These are traditional "names" from rebuilders. A short block will come with the rotating parts installed, a gasket set and oil pump "taped" to it. A "long block" will have heads, at least. Some rebuilders include pan, covers, etc. Some do not.

Jim

67ROCKETPOWER
02-27-2006, 06:29 PM
BACK TO REALITY,

The phrase "BIG BLOCK" came from the muscle car era! -- Period!

It went like this...... " Hey, does that thing have a BIG BLOCK"? refering to the larger diameter engine offered after 1964 when the muscle car era started.

And if you don't have one of those wonderfull BIG BLOCKS, than you have a what? ----------- A SMALL BLOCK!

For the ease of any puny brains - Pontiac engines are mostly, all the same exterior dimensions, I agree.... But the larger 389, 400's and eventually 455's offered in those pontiac's were CONSIDERED BIG BLOCKS, with no actual external dimensional difference! - Further more, the 428 was called a BIG BLOCK because it was larger than the "BIG BLOCK" 389..... So yes there are BIG BLOCK & SMALL BLOCK Pontiac's - by catagory, not by dimension.:banghead:

Slang wording took over through the years refering to certain size engines as big or small blocks, when by that time the muscle car era was killed by the emissions era with poor compression, and looking for fuel economy.

For the meat head that knows sooo much about Oldsmobiles.... The first two production years of the Hurst/Olds, came with the high-output TORONADO engine, not fullsize car BIG BLOCKS. The full size 455's of the late 60's were pukes compared to the high-output of the NEW - COOL FWD TORONADO 455!!!

So everyone knows, the first couple dozen Hurst/Olds that were built, were shipped with no engines so George Hurst could build these cars, but after the first couple, it became overwhelming and Oldsmobile just put the drivelines in them before they were shipped to Hurst.

No one before the mid sixties ever refered to engines as Big or Small block, some just refered to the CID or some had designations refering to a style of block or valvetrain.

To recap - After the mid 60's when the muscle car era started, most american car manufacturers had midsize cars with larger or smaller engines, and not relating to actuall external dimensions but cubic inches that made that car special.

Oh, to the meat head, or anyone else I upset with my CAPS ON, I appologize.

AL

K15004X4
03-02-2006, 06:54 PM
QUOTE//It went like this...... " Hey, does that thing have a BIG BLOCK"? refering to the larger diameter engine offered after 1964 when the muscle car era started.//QUOTE

Diameter of what?? Read MrPbody's post, he explained it perfectly.

The Big/Small block classification is based on the external dimensions of the block. So a 396 Chevy is considered a Big Block and a 400 Chevy is a Small Block. Displacement is not the determining factor - even though big blocks tend to have a higher displacement of course.

Small/Big block terminology is used when the manufacturer offers both a larger and smaller exterior engine design. So to use Pontiac as an example, since all of their V8's had the same exterior dimensions, a Pontiac V8 is not referred to as a big or small block. Just try to find a die-hard Pontiac Enthusiast that calls a 455 a big block....you won't.

MrPbody
03-03-2006, 09:14 AM
I'm a meat head, huh? Fine. Go to any of the "all Pontiac" sites and ask questions about your "big block" Pontiac. Prepare for an onslaught of "there's no such thing!".

A 366 Chevy is definitely a big block Chevy. It's even a "tall deck", and has absolutely NOTHING to do with muscle cars.

Today, the BBC offered by GM is called "Mark VI". In 1958, Chevy introduced their first "big block" engine, 348. It was later known as "Mark I". 409 was released late in '61. Mark II. Again, well before "muscle cars". In January of '63, Chevy showed up at Riverside with the infamous 427 "Mystery" engine. It was a cross between 409 and what we now call "Mark IV". It was immediately banned from competition in both NASCAR and NHRA, as it was NOT a production engine, available to the general public. Mark III... Mark V was a cross-over design, used only for about 1 1/2 years in the mid '90s. It was the first BBC to sport the 1-piece rear main seal. Mark IV is the BBC we know and love. 366 CID through 502, it's among the best automotive powerplants ever made by anyone. Produced from '65 through '94, 366, 396, 400 (GMC, really a 402), 402, 427, 454 and 502.

According to Jim Wangers, in his book "Glory Days", no engine larger than 400 CID was EVER installed at the factory in intermediate bodies until the beginning of the 1970 model year. He specifically included the Husrst Olds, as an aftermarket option. Now, we know there were a few 421 GTOs, 425 442s and a handful of 427 Chevelles used as "ringers" in magazine tests before '68. Jim admits to this, at least regarding the Pontiacs, in his book. We ALL know, a '67 442 is NOT going to go 12s without some serious help, both with power and traction. Same with a 389 TriPower GTO and a Chevelle SS396.

It's clear, you're redifining the designation to fit your perception of the concept, without regard to both technical and traditional names and vernacular. As stated before, all these things were "named" and in our car culture, before we knew we HAD a "car culture". Having worked "in the business" for 30 years, I believe I'm in a good position to reflect and pass on some of the "old ways" to the younger set, to help keep myth and superstition at a minimum. As an ASE Master Engine Builder and legally recognized "expert" (both criminal and civil court), I must be careful how I word things, and what the technical content is. I will NEVER post ANYTHING I don't KNOW to be accurate. Unless I qualify it as an "opinion", you can take it to the bank! it is NOT my opinion that Pontiac is not a "small block" or a "big block", it's a matter of physics. None are bigger or smaller than the others. Perhaps one of your "buds" called it a big block, and being ignorant, you thought he was more informed than you... NOT!

Now, lighten up and stop trying to rearrange things to meet YOUR view, and accept what has been since before you were born.

Jim

RamblinMan
02-14-2007, 05:51 PM
By general consensus, even in this forum, there is such a thing as "big block" and "small block" when speaking about certain engines from various manufacturers. The terms are called "jargon"; expressions used by people in specialized fields, that are not otherwise universal terms or words. In this case, terms like "small block" are used by the auto enthusiasts of a certain marque to identify a particular engine made by that manufacturer. In the fifties, V8 engines were just becoming accepted by US consumers and most manufacturers had only one design, with several displacements. Because the general consensus felt Vee design engines would not be dependable, these early V8s were of heavy duty construction, to replace the proven inline eights. It could be argued the smaller V8 designs were done to replace the large displacement inline sixes by citing how Chevrolet debuted their "big block" as a truck engine, and the "small block" for cars, but one case does not make a statistical average. The Ford "Windsor V8" began with quite small displacements; 230 cid? -like a six size. But by the sixties, GM, Ford and Chrysler had two V8 engine designs; a larger and smaller design, along with their proven inline six engines. At that time, it was easy to differentiate between the two by saying "small block" or "big block", not venturing off into the hairsplitting of displacement variations. Confusion comes into play when the terms "big block" and "small block" are applied to manufacturers who did not have two V8 engines designs, as in the case of makers like Pontiac and AMC. The breakaway point is naming the engine as the maker named it, and what the particular marque enthusiasts refer to it as being. The next level of understanding would be noting the year model, displacement and weight, along with the name of the motor, such as a '58 650 lb. 332 cid. Ford "FE V8", or a '66 540 lb. 290 "AMC V8", without using the jargon of other marque enthusiasts. In the case of AMC, confusion abounds for lack of good information; The US Society of Automotive Engineers awarded the '69 and '70 AMX the "Best Engineered Car of the Year Award", not for AMC's "barbaric" engineering... but for it's quality of design. Perhaps it was for AMC holding the lowest priced car made in USA catagory with the Rambler American and the AMC Gremlin they are derided by non-enthusiasts for being a manufacturer of "cheap" cars, but the Gremlin has no poor quality reputation like the Chevrolet Vega with it's absurd aluminum sleeved four cylinder engine. Fact is there is alot of variation of design by the car manufacturers, all steps in history, no perfect eternal cars, no perfect eternal engines. The everlasting car became a problem of how to deal with discarded cars. Cars are designed for recycling nowadays, for good reason. As for me, any car from any US automaker in the sixties is a good candidate for a hobby car, for a having a favorable mix of tough durable engines, strong workable and weldable steel auto body contruction, and the superior quality American Standard nut and bolt fastener system. I expect the audience here will enjoy the several cutaway views of V8 engines at my website <amcramblermarlin.1colony.com>

sub006
02-18-2007, 03:34 AM
MrPbody,

Always appreciate your real world knowledge on automotive subjects! Excluding aluminum blocks, perhaps we could set a dividing line for big block vs. small block by weight? I'm thinking somewhere between 450-500 lbs for complete engines as a dividing line. Might make the difference between a Ford 351 and 352 more clear. I'll bet you've got the relevant numbers in your head!

BTW my Suburban 383 made 150hp and 250 lb ft torque at the rear wheels on the dyno. Do we roughly double those numbers for advertised figure comparison?

SpinnerCee
02-18-2007, 01:25 PM
I wouldn't go there sub006 (weight) -- basically we were initially talking about Chevrolet Only -- and only Chevrolet guys use the common terms of "big" and "small" block to refer to the Mark IV "big block" V8 vs the original Chevy V8 that are more different in design than in size -- so when Chevy guys talk about big and small blocks they're implying an internal and external design difference, thus different frame mouning, etc, enough so that few parts interchange. Also from a car builder's perspective, if a car has a small block in it, it can be replaced with any other small block regardless of displacement without much modification to the host automobile and external engine accessories, and the same applies if the host had a big block, just about any one will do without major surgery to the car's basic chassis.

Everyone else other than Chevy has differing designs for V8 engines of the same and different sizes, so you couldn't really "tag" any particular engine a big block and have it mean much -- "bigger" block would be more like it, and for some manufacturers, there exists more than two block sizes and designs, so there is more than just big and small.

Now, even Chevrolet has multiple small block and big block engine designs, but they still all fall into either the big or small block engine family.

* We Chevy guys would also never consider antyhing other than a V8 for small or big block "tagging," so things like displacement, weight, and physical size really have nothing to do with the names.

newdriver88
01-04-2009, 04:22 PM
Help i would like to learn about the differance between the big block and the small block. Cus my bro is buying me a 350 small block hes racing a 410 big block. Can i still beat him on the track?????? :confused: :1zhelp:

MagicRat
01-04-2009, 06:14 PM
Help i would like to learn about the differance between the big block and the small block. Cus my bro is buying me a 350 small block hes racing a 410 big block. Can i still beat him on the track?????? :confused: :1zhelp:
Welcome to AF.
It would be a REALLY good idea if you were to start a new thread on this subject in the Chevrolet subforum in this Muscle Car section.

We try to discourage anyone resurrecting old threads like this one, especially when they want to discuss an unrelated issue.

The answer to your question is complicated but here goes:

Winning on the 'track' is partially dependent on the car set-up and the driver skill. So it may be better to ask if a small block has more power than a 410 big block. In that case the answer is...... maybe.

It depends on how each engine is built. It is easily possible to build a sharp 350 that can out-power many big blocks. However, in theory, the big block engine has more power potential because of a better cylinder head design, more displacement and a stronger reciprocating assembly than a small block. However, it is slightly heavier, physically slightly larger and is usually more expensive.
But, there are literally hundreds of variables when building an engine. If you take advantage of these variables when building a small block, it will out perform many big blocks.

eatingbabies
03-13-2009, 02:00 PM
Why are you guys even talking about cars older. They invented something called computers for a reason, thats why your 40+ year old midlife crises overcompensation mobile gets less horsepower per litre than a GTI or WRX STI. A bunch of old men reliving the days with an engine that only proved how uneducated they were about real cars is quite sad. That being said, get off your high horses on cars that have less realistic value than a new maytag fridge.

MrPbody
03-16-2009, 08:44 AM
Sounds like someone had their "ass" handed to them by a V8 car, invalidating what he saw in the movies...

Eatingbabies...

Are you for real? The majority of MY customers are in their 30s, some in their early 40s. The "midlife crisis" guys are building Corvettes. And there's no Jap crap 4-cylinder available "new" in the USA that can TOUCH a big engined American performance car. When engines are built to the same "level of tune", the laws of physics take over.

A friend of mine has built what was (at the time) the quickest N/A Honda 4-cyl. there was. He made 500 horsepower! WOW! 500!!! Oh, my "pump gas" 461 makes 600 and over 650 lbs. of torque. My customers drive them thousands of trouble-free street miles and take them to the track and stomp those trailered-in Hondas.

It's okay you like the ricers. Just stop acting like anything else is inferior. You're starting to sound like a small block Chevy person, that believes a small block can beat ANYTHING. While it may be true, it CAN beat a LOT of other small blocks, there are certain Ford and Chrysler small blocks out there that can run 'em down.

Seen on a T-shirt at a NOPI meet here in Virginia: "Racing imports is just like the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded..."

Now go back to your collection of 1/2 engines and stop trying to stir up the natives! This IS the "muscle car" forum, which has no "import" category, simply because there does not exist, an "imported muscle car", possibly excepting the '04-'06 GTO.

Jim

Jacob2k8
05-19-2010, 10:51 PM
What about in today's cars and trucks, what would determine small block or big blocks? According to the definition of the two sizes of a manufactures offerings, would the two options for v8 motors be the small and big blocks? For example would dodge have the small block 4.7 and the big block 5.7 and ford the SB 4.6 and BB 5.4 and etc with GM options? Thanks to all

PWMAN
06-22-2010, 05:52 AM
What about in today's cars and trucks, what would determine small block or big blocks? According to the definition of the two sizes of a manufactures offerings, would the two options for v8 motors be the small and big blocks? For example would dodge have the small block 4.7 and the big block 5.7 and ford the SB 4.6 and BB 5.4 and etc with GM options? Thanks to all

There are no more big blocks. Manufacturers don't build them as large anymore to save weight.
Small/big block is NOT from the cubic inches. Chevy had a 400 small block and a 396 big block. It purely based on the physical outside size of the engine really.

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