Why the Chevrolet Small Block is such a popular engine swap. A lot of people wonder this question, and while some people will give you differing opinions, I'll present the ones I think hold the most truth.

These days you'll find a lot of import car fans who stand beside their import engines, who say there's nothing better than a 2JZ-GTE in their Mk. III Toyota Supra (Toyota is a company I'm going to use as an example in this WU). Sometimes these are the same people who bash and spit on others, with the same Mk. III Supra, yet with one glaring difference: Under the hood of that car, grumbles a Chevrolet Small Block (be it a 305, 350, 383, 396, 400, or what have you).

I don't know all the reasons why this engine swap is so popular, However I am a fan of the Chevrolet engine swap. (Small and Big Block) So here is a list of the reasons that I can come up with.

  • GM/Chevrolet has been in the business longer than most others (except for Ford, of course). Founded in 1908, and small block production in 1917-1919 and from the 1950's to today. Wisdom comes with age. Chevy has seen it all, built most of it all, tested a lot of theory's and designs, and experienced all of the problems that comes with producing a reliable engine. On the Opposite end of the spectrum, Toyota (which is my example in this WU) was founded in 1918. Producing primarily vehicles for the Japanese Military, Toyota (originally Toyoda) didn't begin public commercial production untill 1947. This is a big gap. While it doesn't mean that Toyota makes less reliable engines, crappier designs, and goes on making the same mistakes as others (and they have - every automaker does), it does mean a big gap in wisdom.
  • There's no replacement for displacement. Do not let anyone try to argue this point with you. Turbochargers, Superchargers, Nitrous Oxide, these come close (and they do improve engine efficiency) but they can't, nor never will replace displacement. It's simply a substitute. You know, like Aspartame - Great substitute, achieves a very similar result, but in the end sugar is just plain damn better and cheaper.
  • The aftermarket parts market is vast for the Chevy Small Block. It's far larger than many other aftermarkets for other makes and models of vehicle. (Transitional Man says you might want to mention the low cost of aftermarket parts compared to say a mopar which would be my choice. Also everyone knows how to build them, because so many have been built) I couldn't have said it better myself :)
  • It's eaiser to work on a Small Block. This is a proven fact. The layout is simple, accessible, and very logical. First time automechanics will find it a lot easier to take on the task of removing a starter from a Small Block Chevy, than from a Toyota Supra.
Of course, these are just my opinions, some will feel different (and even contest me, if they so feel the need) However, I do think these accurately reflect the feelings of a lot of people who opt for the Small Block swap.