The Chevy 350 Engine: Everything You Need to Know

May 13, 2013

Get the facts on the history and specifications of the Chevy 350 engine, finding replacements parts, and finding Chevy 350 crate engines for sale.

Chevy Engine Parts

The best-known small block V8 in GM's stable, the Chevy 350 engine is considered one of the 20th century's best engines. Sought after for its durability, quiet operation and performance, the 350 has also earned a reputation for reliability and usability in a variety of applications, including boats.

GM made extensive use of the 350 across its lineup until 2004, when it was discontinued in favor of more modern and fuel-efficient engines.

Chevy 350 Engine History
Chevrolet first produced the small block V8 in 1955 as a 256 cubic inch (4.3-liter) engine. By 1967, though, it had grown into the high-performance 350 cubic inch power plant used in the cars such as the Chevrolet Camaro. It went on to power everything from the Corvette to the Caprice, and was either standard or optional on many Buick, Cadillac and Oldsmobile sedans and wagons.

Beginning in 1985, Corvettes featured a fuel-injected version of the Chevy 350 engine; other passenger cars equipped with the 350 engine continued to use a four-barrel carburetor. Computer-controlled emissions systems became standard on all Chevy 350 engines in the early 1980s, with throttle body fuel injection becoming standard around 1988.

Chevy 350 Engine Specs
The Chevy 350 engine is a 350 cubic inch (5.7-liter) small block V8 with a 4.00 and 3.48 inch bore and stroke. Depending on the year, make and model of a car, horsepower ranges from approximately 145 to more than 370. Rated at up to 380 pound-feet of torque, this engine is great for towing; however, fuel economy is low and -- depending on the compression ratio -- it might require premium fuel.

GM uses RPO codes, or Regular Production Option, to identify its engines; Chevy 350 engine codes are stamped near the cylinder head on the passenger side, where the alternator may hide it. The majority of engine codes begin with the letter L -- L31, for instance.

Chevy 350 Replacement Parts
Long considered one of the easiest engines to rebuild, the Chevy 350 is commonly modified for increased performance with a plethora of aftermarket parts, including high-performance intake and exhaust components. Numerous websites and service manuals feature diagrams, as well as information on general maintenance, modifications and engine rebuilding.

Chevy 350 Crate Engines
Many companies offer new and rebuilt Chevy 350 crate engines for sale. Among them is Mr. Goodwrench, which produces new Chevy 350 crate engines in numerous configurations. The base version of this engine makes 195 horsepower and features an 8.5 compression ratio. These engines are available in 2-bolt and 4-bolt versions; those intended for cars built after 1987 have an enhanced hydraulic roller lifter camshaft for better performance.

Websites that offer crate 350s include Chevy350Engines.com, Rebuilt-Auto-Engines.com and Jegs.com. If you need a modified 350 for use in a high-performance muscle car, you can visit SummitRacing.com.

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