Throwback Thursday: A 550-horse 87-Octane Big Block On A Budget

The clock is ticking and another week is nearing completion. That means that once again, Thursday has landed on our doorsteps. If you’re like me, weekend garage plans have already made. If your plans for enjoying some garage time with your project include a little engine building, we can help with that.

In this edition of Throwback Thursday, we’re taking a leap back to June 2013, to check out: Hardcore Horsepower Builds 550-horse 87-octane Big Block On A Budget. That article was put together by Jason Reiss to give our readers a deep dive into building a tire-shredding engine that drinks pump-gas swill.

pump gas big block

Measuring the bore after final machining operations is critical – it allows Hardcore to place each measured piston in the best cylinder to complement those dimensions. These measurements are taken in ten-thousandths of an inch.

It’s no surprise the engine Jason is highlighting is a big block. Let’s face it, those are decent numbers for a big block, and a small block might be able to accomplish that accolade, but probably not without a power adder.

In the original article, Mike Petralia of Hardcore Horsepower began by explaining why this build actually occurred. “This customer called me with the goal of having an engine that could achieve between 500 and 550 horsepower, but he was only looking to spend about $10,000,” Mike stated.

pump gas big block

Degreeing the camshaft is an important step in the build process. It ensures that the engine will operate as intended. Each cylinder head is inspected numerous times throughout the build – they need to be put together and taken apart to check the springs, valve seal, and perform the port work and valve-seat machining operations.

Throughout the article, Mike gets into great detail about what went into building this potent maven of power, and the article is in-depth enough that you could even copy this build for your hot rod. Who wouldn’t want a powerful big block motivating their cruiser?

Mike finished by telling us, “We built it with a lower compression, in order to tolerate the lower-octane fuel. Once we were done with the development work on the dyno, I realized just how happy the engine was. It delivered 550-horsepower and 586 lb-ft of torque, and all of it done before 6,000 rpm.”

Engine development goes hand-in-hand with hours spent testing and proving theories, and it’s apparent that this engine lives up to its billing. Putting it all together requires proper planning and careful parts selection, and Hardcore Horsepower showed us that gobs of power are still well within the realm of possibility, at a price that won’t wreck a customer’s vacation plans.

I know there are a multitude of power junkies reading Chevy Hardcore, and that is why I thought: Hardcore Horsepower Builds 550-horse 87-octane Big-block On a Budget was the perfect article for this week’s Throwback Thursday.

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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