BudgetWhile stock cylinder heads can make good power, aluminum heads such as the Edelbrock
With so many cylinder heads for Mopars on the market today, how do you choose the right heads for your engine? When considering an upgrade for any of your car's systems, we've always said that the right combination of parts is more important than the parts themselves. As an example, adding the best shocks available to a worn-out, stock suspension probably won't help your car's handling one bit because the rest of the suspension won't perform to the level the new shocks are capable of. So it would make more sense to buy good shocks, and spend the rest of the money on new suspension bushings and sway bars for a well-rounded package. This same theory can be applied to the car's engine. While it's tempting to put a wild race cam or huge CNC ported cylinder heads on a stock engine, a well thought-out combination of average parts will likely perform better. While hitting the right combination can be difficult, our Quick Tech column this month will give you some basic rules of thumb when picking cylinder heads for your next project.
Whether it's big or small, we all work under the constraints of a budget, and our budget usually dictates what parts we purchase for our car. Yes, it would be nice not to worry about price, but the fact is our old cars are toys, coming in second to paying bills and putting food on the table. So when considering a cylinder head for your project, you must first consider your budget or lack thereof. Fortunately, for a basic engine build, factory Mopar cylinder heads will work great. Simply having a quality valve job performed and adding good valvesprings will certainly improve stock heads, or for even better performance, swap a set of Swirl-Port or Magnum heads onto your small-block or a set of closed chamber heads onto your big-block. Before you spend too much on stock heads, however, consider the aftermarket. Several manufacturers have good cast-iron and aluminum cylinder heads available for about the cost of upgrading and porting your factory units.
Whether you're into street performance or race performance, the right cylinder head for yo
Are you on a budget? There are lots of factory cylinder heads that will work great on your
Another step in choosing the right heads for your application is defining the intended use
People love to talk about their cars, so ask around at car shows, the local cruise night,
While there is no magic formula for selecting cylinder heads, talking to the guys who buil
As a rule of thumb, the horsepower a cylinder head can support is about double the intake
Another consideration when choosing a cylinder head is the intended use of the car. It just doesn't make sense to put race-oriented heads with huge ports on a daily driver that sees street use and the occasional dragstrip pass. But if your budget allows for more than just a rebuilt stock head, there are advantages to running an aftermarket cylinder head. A pair of aluminum heads is generally about 50 pounds lighter than cast-iron heads, and aluminum heads are more detonation tolerant, so cheaper fuel and/or more compression can be utilized. Care should be taken, however, not to overdo it just because you can afford an expensive set of heads. If you want to run big heads on your engine, remember that large port volume heads must be matched with big cubic inches, high rpm, and a large cam to perform properly. For a reasonably built street engine, heads such as the Edelbrock Performer RPM or Indy SR are good choices because they offer good flow, large valve size, and work well with a warmed-over engine.
There really is no one cylinder head that works perfectly for all applications, so when it comes to cylinder head choice, the key is to closely define your budget and the intended use of the vehicle, then speak with people who have run combinations like yours and make your decision based on all the information you gathered. We don't mean talking to your friend Joe whose uncle put some new heads on his car and can now do a burn-out better than before. we mean talking to qualified engine builders, car owners at the local cruise night, or Mopar racers at the local track who are running combinations similar to yours. And don't just take their word for it, ask for dyno numbers or timeslips. And no matter what you decide, remember that the rest of the engine must be matched to the potential of the cylinder head to work properly.