One of the most common engines found in resto-mods is the Chevy 350. They are plentiful, reliable and can be built into a monster with after-market parts.
The big question about a 350 is whether they belong in a non-General Motors product.
Lately a growing number of car guys are saying no to this question.
The Ford and Chrysler boys have always felt a pang when a hood with their favorite non- Chevy car name gets opened and reveals a Bowtie power-plant. To some loyalists, this is a crime against nature- a Frankenstein’s monster of pure evil incarnate that runs on premium.
The unholy alliance between Chevy power and another Big Three make will never be accepted in some car guy circles. The sight of a 350 in a vintage F-100 is too much to bear for Blue Oval disciples.This is likely the root cause for the odd car show dust-up when the disagreement escalates between rival car guys.
The argument put forth by loyalists is the availability of Ford or Mopar power for Ford or Mopar. Both manufacturers offer a wide array of after-market engines that will run with any big GM dog on the block. Plus the vehicle retains a pure-bred pedigree with an engine from the manufacturer of origin.
The argument put forth by car guys that put a Chevy under another brand’s hood is the cost factor. A 350 is a reasonably priced engine that will last a long time under the hood of a rod. Then there is the freedom of choice issue that any owner can use when it comes to a custom job built for one guy’s personal tastes. That is basically the invocation of the “F—- you” clause by the owners, and they are well within their rights to use that clause.
But a vintage ride is also an investment on two fronts: emotion and money. A typical car guy usually invests in the sentimental side of an older vehicle based upon a part of their past. Names like SS 396, 428 Cobra-Jet and 440 Magnum associate themselves with specific manufacturers and their entry into a world of pure horsepower muscle.
They are names associated with big block warfare between the Big Three, and a lot of car guys picked sides in their youth. That is the emotional side.
The money side of the equation follows the emotional side of the formula. Put a manufacturer-correct powertrain in a resto-mod and it is worth more-simple fact of life. The average car guy will pay more for your vintage ride if it has the right heart under the hood.
So the choices are always going to exist for guys when it comes to the heartbeat under the hood. The old “Heartbeat of America” GM commercials may not be patriotic enough to convince the Mopar and Ford boys that they belong under the hood of their cars.
And the resale value alone may prove that they are right.
Jim Sutherland @mystarcollectorcar.com