Though somewhat overshadowed by Chrysler's Hemi and big-block powerplants, the small-block Mopar engine has always been an economical way to go fast, especially if installed in a lightweight A-Body. In stock form, these engines make respectable power and also respond well to modifications, making the small-block Mopar a great choice for street, strip, or dual-purpose vehicles. Lately, the small-block Chrysler engine has gotten a little bigger, with stroker kits available that can increase displacement to 440 ci or more! So if your ride has a small-block, don't feel self-conscious, there are plenty of ways to make your small-block perform as well as your buddy's big-block. Just follow along as we detail both bolt-on and in-depth performance upgrades for the small-block Mopar.
Bolt It OnThe easiest way to improve your small-block's performance is by simply bolting on some performance goodies. There are literally hundreds of aftermarket companies supplying thousands of performance parts for the small-block Chrysler, so finding what you need is usually as simple as surfing the internet for your favorite performance company's web site. Since an engine needs to flow a high volume of air and fuel to make power, performance intakes, carburetors, and headers are logical bolt-on components that can make a big difference in the performance of your small-block. Even having a solid electronic ignition is crucial in making power.
Increasing the air flow into any engine will only help build power if the spent gasses are given an easy way out of the engine. Factory cast-iron exhaust manifolds are heavy and don't have the flow potential for real performance, so we recommend replacing them with a good set of headers. For the cost, you'll probably notice a bigger difference in your car's performance by adding headers than you will by doing any other bolt-on upgrade. A low-restriction exhaust system should always back up the headers as well. We prefer to use no less than a dual 2 1/2-inch exhaust diameter with a crossover tube in ours. X-crossover systems have also been shown to dramatically improve performance. Several aftermarket companies build exhaust systems for popular Mopar applications, but be sure the tubes are mandrel bent for the best flow. Remember, an exhaust system doesn't have to be obnoxiously loud to flow well. Companies such as Flowmaster and Dynomax are manufacturing great, high-flow mufflers that won't give you permanent hearing damage during normal driving.
For the money, a good set of headers is one of the best performance upgrades you can do to
Headers like these from Hooker are a great way to improve performance. For mild street and
Headers work best when combined with an efficient dual-exhaust system. The options here ar