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Monday March 17, 2014
Chevy 348-409-427: Unique in Design, '62 406 Ford, '63 Wildcat, and '70 Challenger Tests, '07 Shelby Intro, Jeffries Porsche - and More!

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Chevrolet Big Blocks - Part One: the 348-409-427 Exposed
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W Series Block in Cross Section

1962 409 shown in side cross section. This is typical of
all W-Series engines. The staggered valves are clearly shown.

W-Series V8 in Cross Section

Early 348 shown in front cross section with the
combustion chamber in the block denoted by the arrow.

by Wild About Cars Staff - reprint with permission only.

Part One - Understanding the "W" Series V8

The big block V8 Chevrolet engine was called the "W" series and was released in 1958 for passenger car and truck use. The engine had offset valves and unique scalloped rocker covers, giving it a distinctive appearance. The offset valves were not designed with any mechanical advantage in mind - it was done to reduce the block's overall length. It did, however allow the fitment of larger valves without any major redesign or machining.

The "W" series was produced from 1958 to 1965, with three displacements offered: 348 cu. in., offered from 1958-1961 in cars, and through 1964 in trucks; 409 cu. in., offered from 1961-1965; and 427 cu. in., available only in 1963 in a special Z11 package. The "W" big block had a dry weight of approximately 665 pounds, depending on intake manifold and carburet ion, and was a physically massive engine when compared to the Chevrolet small block.

The block had 4.84" bore centers, two-bolt main bearing caps, a lubrication system with the main oil gallery located low on the driver's side of the crankcase similar to Ford's "side oiler" system and unique for its day. The heads used on the high performance 409 and 427 engines had larger ports and valves than those used on the 348 and the base 409 passenger car and truck engines, but were externally identical to the standard units and must be identified by casting number.

A minor difference between the 348 and 409-427 engines was the location of the engine oil dipstick: it was on the driver side on the 348 and passenger side on 409-427. As with the 265 and 283 cubic inch small block engines, the "W" engine valve gear consists of tubular steel push rods operating stud-mounted, stamped steel rocker arms. The pushrods also act as a conduit for oil flow to the valve gear. Due to the relatively low mass of the valve train, the "W" engine were capable of operating at RPMs beyond 6000 RPM, however, the head design limited HP above 5,800 rpm.

Unlike many of its contemporaries, the "W" combustion chamber was in the upper part of the cylinder, not the head, the latter having only tiny recesses for the valves. This arrangement was achieved by machining the block at milled at a 74 degree angle rather than 90, creating a raised portion of the block toward the outward side which became the combustion chamber. The concept for this unique head was to maximize brake mean effective pressure (BMEP) at relatively low engine speeds, resulting in a very fat torque curve . . .

To Read more about the 348 thru 427 W-Series Engine - Click HERE!

To See Our W-Series Engine Road Tests - Click HERE!


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1962 Ford 406 Test 1962 Ford 406 Road Test

Chevy had the 409, and Pontiac had the 421, Mopars were running 413s . . . and Ford? Well at the beginning of the year they had only the 390. Clearly under gunned at the drag strip and race track, something had to be done and the solution was the 406 cu. in. V8. While not completely there, this was a ground up design - as a performance engine from the start. Car Life said "Our test crew liked it very much - which is saying quite a lot. . ."

Click here to read the 1962 Ford 406 Test!

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To read the rest of this Buick Wildcat Test - Click HERE!

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CLICK HERE to see the Dean Jeffries Porsche Carerra.

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