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350 Chevy small block Dyno Test E-mail
V8TV uncovers an engine built in 1990 and stored till today. Does it make the power the high schooler predicted and bragged about 15 years ago?


Way back in 1989 Paul Wieshuber was a high-school kid with no money and a big desire to go fast.

After claiming that the stock 307 in his 1971 Chevy Nova didn’t have enough oats, Paul and his shop-class buddies set out to build a competent 350 small block replacement. However, once the costs came into play, the visions of aluminum headed street/strip terror faded and the reality of an iron head 355 became clearer. Even so, Paul's motor ran pretty good, and he claimed it kicked out 300-350 hp back in the day. Paul's Nova is no longer with us, but we've uncovered his unmolested high-school built 355, and it hasn't run in 13 years. We decided to run Paul's mouse on the engine dyno at to see if the high-school kids' small block really churned 300 plus HP.

Here's Paul Wieshuber's 1971 Chevy Nova doing illegal things in anytown, America circa 1990. It succumbed to the rust demons years ago, but the venerable small block V8 Paul built in high-school still lives today.

We literally unbagged the engine to discover that it remained in pretty good shape. It only logged 5000 miles on it since the rebuild, and the Original combination wore an Edelbrock Performer intake and a Holley 600 carb.

The first stages of the inspection teardown revealed a clean intake valley, but lots of dead bugs and little debris. Fortunately, there was little corrosion, but lots of RTV! Paul must have liked the stuff, because it was pretty thick on this engine. He was surprised to find the oil pickup was not completely sealed off with orange goo. Note to self: a little dab will do 'ya

Removing the heads revealed a story of an overly rich tune on the old Holley. The heads are stock 76cc iron smog castings, with 1.94 intake and 1.5 inch exhaust valves. Coupled with the flat-top pistons, this combination is good for around 8:1 compression ratio. The high level of carbon indicates the dual-point Distributor didn't have enough juice to light off all the fuel in the mixture. The heads wore a 5000-mile valve job, so they were put back on the engine.

The block showed more evidence of a rich mixture, but the bores looked good. The block is a mid-1970's Chevy 350 bored .030-inchover to reach 355 cubic inches. It had been line-bored as well to assure straight holes for the cam and crank.

The bad news came from the mains… check out the tri-colored bearing. Apparently, the engine was heated up pretty high during it's initial break in, so the block may have twisted and pushed on the crank. With intentions to re-machine and rebuild, Paul put it back together for the dyno runs.

The Original Holley 600 looked pretty good until further inspection revealed it once had living occupants! That's some sort of dead arachnid in the accelerator pump. A new accelerator pump, bowl gaskets, needle and seat assemblies, and transfer tube o-rings were needed to revive the carb and stop leaks.

Smilin'" Graham Jones set up the engine on the Superflow engine dyno at Fast Times Motor Works. It didn't kick off with the old dual point, so he stabbed in an MSD Ready-To-Run Pro Billet Distributor in its place. The MSD unit fired the engine on the first crank. The 355 sounded pretty good with the lumpy .510-inch cam sporting 292 degrees of duration on both the intake and exhaust sides. Graham Jones also loaned a pair of Headers for the test. Jones warmed up the engine and prepped the dyno for some pulls.

Power runs logged a best of 288 HP at 5300 RPM and 330 ft. lbs. of torque after running initial timing up to 42 degrees and switching to Royal Purple Racing 21 Synthetic oil. The large-chamber heads are pretty knock resistant, so 93-octane gas allowed for big timing advance. Best-tune runs and Royal Purple netted 6 HP and 10 lb-ft. over the first run.

Overall, the little 355 came close to the high-school prediction. Now it's time to tear it down and build it again… we're thinking a complete Holley Systemax setup is on the way. This motor is now destined to power Paul's '62 Buick (see yellow car in photo above) and it needs to make torque! Stay tuned.


Fast Times Motorworks


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