The bottom end package was buttoned-up with a Milodon oil pump, windage tray, and pan. What we had on the engine stand at this point was a typical street performance 360, with sensible upgrades that were anything but extravagant. The piston to deck checked out at .013-inch deck clearance, with the previous block machining. Although this is off from our normal target of a zero-deck, but the deck checked square to the crankshaft, so we left it alone.

Power Combo

Looking to make the most from our utilitarian short-block, we would focus on two key areas—the camshaft and flow system, and we weren’t looking to go for the super-expensive stuff in either area. We opted for a hydraulic flat-tappet camshaft, since this configuration is the cheapest and most common setup in a budget build. The KV3H cam, however, was a very fast ramp .904-inch lifter lobe-profile, custom ground by Engle. Spec’ing out with 284-degrees of gross duration at .008-inch lift, and 241-degrees at .050-inch, 155-degrees at .200-inch, and with .368-inch lobe lift, the lift curve of this stick is extremely quick, but the overall duration is moderate by today’s performance standards. The camshaft was ground on a lobe separation angle of 110-degrees. We had tested this cam in a previous 360 engine combination, and found the stability and power production to be exceptionally good. A set of standard Johnson hydraulic lifters were modified with circlip snap rings and the cam and lifter combination went into the block with the installed centerline set at 104-degrees for 6-degrees of advance.

For cylinder heads, we turned to Dr. J’s Performance to try a set of their new Airwolf 220 CNC ported heads. Unlike high-end race units, these heads feature a stock intake and exhaust configuration, and accept straight rocker arms rather than specialty offset rockers. The sum of all of this is a cylinder head that is a direct bolt-on replacement for the stockers, taking advantage of readily available and moderately priced standard LA-series engine components. Where the Airwolf 220’s differ from other heads of this configuration, is in port capacity and flow. The heads feature intake ports with a minimum cross-sectional area of 2.48-inch – sizable enough for serious power. These heads are built for maximum flow from a “straight rocker” valvetrain arrangement, and with over 320-cfm peak intake flow on tap (see flow table), they set a new standard for a head of this type.

We had our Airwolf heads cut for a 66cc chamber volume, and when combined with Mr Gasket .028-inch head gaskets, we had a compression ratio of 10.38:1, and an ideal quench clearance of .041-inch. To provide valvetrain stability with our very fast Engle cam, the heads were fitted with Comp Cams’ 26918 Beehive springs, along with Comp’s locators, retainers, and 10-degree locks. The springs were installed at 1.71-inch, giving 151 pounds of seat load. With a set of Erson 1.6:1 rockers, our Engle camshaft delivers a whopping .589-inch theoretical peak lift, a point at which the Comp springs provide 395 pounds of open load pressure.

To feed the Airwolf heads, we brought a Weiand X-celerator intake manifold to Dr. J’s for the full porting treatment. The X-celerator is a small-runner single-plane intake that works well with production sized heads, but Bryce Mulvey of Dr. J’s noted that even fully ported this intake is a little on the small side for the large runner Airwolf heads. In retrospect, an Edelbrock Super Victor or Holley Strip Dominator would have been a better choice, but hey, it’s what we had. The induction system was completed with a Holley 950 Ultra HP carburetor, a giant member of Holley’s 4150 family of carbs. Ignition was accommodated by an MSD distributor working in tandem with the dyno’s MSD 6AL ignition system and MSD coil. To handle the exhaust, we just bolted on a set of tti 15⁄8 to 13⁄4-inch step headers that we came out of an A-Body Dart.