It's a common misconception, bigger has to be better, right? when it comes to the selection of engine parts, nothing can be farther from the truth. Take, for example, the camshaft. A typical hydraulic cam can cost somewhere in the ballpark of 150 bucks. Now, if you feel you have to have the biggest one available, and you find out after you put the engine together that it doesn't work with your combination, what's it going to cost to tear the engine down and replace it with what the manufacturer suggested in the first place? How about the intake choice? How often have you heard someone say they have a single plane intake on their stock 360? Sure, that single plane may look racier on your engine. But how often is the combo your running going to see any rpm above 6,000, where a single plane is optimized. Again, the choices you make before you build are crucial to an optimized engine combo. A buddy of ours had a strong running 360 swapped into his nicely done '68 Barracuda. The engine ran fine on pump gas while delivering good pulling power up to the 6,000 rpm range. It also had enough of a lope with the Mopar Performance "508" cam to get noticed at cruise nights. After several years of running this combo, he was looking to remove the 360 primarily for detailing and decided to step up the basic combo just a little while the engine was out.

The Baseline Combo
The 360 was about as typical a combination as you'll ever see in a street small-block. Starting at the bottom end, the block was bored .020-over and fitted with a set of federal Mogul flattop pistons at a negative .020-inch deck. This put the compression ratio at 9.8:1. The stock rods and crank were retained, but reconditioned. Providing the engine's character was an MP .508 cam with a rated duration of 292 degrees, and reportedly having a duration at .050-inch of 248-degrees. Ground on a 108-degree lobe separation angle, the "508" small-block cam is known for its radical lopey idle-just the sound of power the builder was after. The valvetrain combo included a set of Comp Cams Pro Magnum steel-bodied, roller-tipped rockers. Topping the short-block was a pair of common 587-casting production heads, which had received basic reconditioning, and an increase in intake valve size to 2.02-inch. The heads were pocket ported, but never flow tested. Providing the induction, a Mopar Performance M-1 intake worked in conjunction with a 750 Speed Demon carb.

With the engine out of the car, we had the opportunity to baseline this combo on the dyno. The engine was taken to Westech Performance Group for initial testing, using the same pair of 1 5/8-inch tube headers as run in the car, but flowing through the dyno's set of Flowmaster 3-inch mufflers. With some basic tuning, the 360 delivered very good output considering the basic combination, netting 416.5 lb-ft of torque and 416 hp. With that, the satisfied owner took his engine home for a teardown and detailing, and began to formulate the upgrade plans.