A marvel of engineering fifty years and counting
Chevrolet may not have invented the engine, but we did invent THE engine. You know the one. The reason wind blown became a hairstyle. Even the dust left in its wake packs a punch. We call it the Small Block and the 100-millionth one is about to roll off the lot.
“The introduction of the Small Block changed everything,” says Jim Campbell, vice president, GM Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It started a wave of innovation and escalating performance that influenced the entire automotive industry. In the process, the Small Block fundamentally changed the Chevrolet brand by powering our most iconic cars—on the street and the track.”
Before its 1955 introduction, Chevrolet offered only 6-cylinder engines. They needed to design an engine that could compete with industry heavyweight Ford’s flat head V8. The goal was to match the power of the V8 but to keep the engine lightweight and affordable.
Their answer, the Small Block, delivered 195 horsepower with an optional 4- barrel carburetor. An engine that outperformed almost everything it went up against.
“The Small Block transformed Chevrolet Racing, and soon fuel-injected Chevys were banned after dominating on the NASCAR® circuit, Corvettes were winning at Le Mans, Camaros were winning Trans Am championships,” says Campbell.
So what is next for the engine that brought innovation and performance to production vehicles and race cars alike? “We are already developing the fifth-generation Chevy Small Block,” says Sam Winegarden, executive director for global engine engineering. “No doubt, it will hold true to the power, light weight and affordability that made the original engine an instant success, while continuing the technological innovation that has made the Chevy Small Block an icon of performance.”