Year One has long been associated with muscle cars and parts, but its new Speed Shop catalog includes crate motors, the small-block selection ranging from a 400hp 355 based on a 0.030-inch over-seasoned 350 iron block, or the "Extreme Tork 383" with 430hp and 460 lb-ft, both employing Vortec heads and roller cams, to the "Power Crate 383" with aluminum heads producing 500hp and 480 lb-ft. All are dyno-tested and come with a printout and 12-month/12,000-mile warranty, though they're supplied minus a carb, distributor, and plug wires.

As well as big-block Chevy and Ford engines, Smeding Performance also offers a range of small-block Chevy motors, from its mild 380hp "350 Magnum," four different 383 combinations (Cruiser, Hot Rod, Extreme, and Blown) to the 427 Mighty Mouse. All are built and dynotested in-house and are supplied with dyno sheets. Smeding also offers its engines complete with carburetors, distributors, spark plugs, and plug wires. Add a water pump, fuel pump, and plumbing and they're ready to run. There's also the advantage of knowing the timing is preset and the carburetors have been tuned and jetted on the dyno so there's no need to adjust anything. Smeding Performance offers a comprehensive options list, too, comprising not just performance options and accessories, but blockpainting options, too! This sounded good to me, especially given the competitive prices, but which motor to opt for?

Sure, huge amounts of horsepower and torque always sound good, but realistically, how often do you really get to use 500+hp? Notice I didn't say need it because as hot rodders obviously we all need 500hp! But why pay the fuel bills that come with a high-performance motor unless you're building a dual-purpose street/strip car? I was looking for a motor that would offer plenty of torque (because if I travel north or east from where I live I have to traverse mountain passes) with a broad power range (because I drive my cars and have a heavy right foot!), yet offer some degree of reasonable economy (again, because I drive my cars a lot). The solution was Smeding Performance's 383 Hot Rod small-block, advertised at 400hp and 440 lb-ft of torque, though I watched my motor on the dyno producing a peak 420hp at 5,300 rpm and 468 lb-ft at 4,100 rpm. Other benefits of the 383 Hot Rod motor are that it only requires 89-octane gas, a mechanical fuel pump, a 2,000-rpm stall converter, and works well with overdrive transmissions and power brakes. In other words, it's perfectly streetable yet has plenty of torque and power when required.

Stroker 383
Smeding Performance only builds performance engines, ready to run and shipped already broken in on the in-house dyno, plus Ben Smeding seems keen to constantly improve his products, as evidenced by the continuing R&D with blocks, heads, and new motor combinations. A collaboration with Jenkins Competition on a 572ci big-block is forthcoming, along with new aluminum heads. A two-year unlimited warranty is offered on all Smeding engines, and there's a reason for that. Every part in an engine that is built by the company is new, from the fresh GMPP four-bolt main blocks upwards, and many are manufactured exclusively for Smeding Performance.

Starting with a new GMPP block means the crank bores are perfect, there are no possible cracks to deal with, and the cam bearings and freeze plugs are already installed. After clearancing the blocks for the rod bolts to compensate for the longer throw on a stroker crank and honing each cylinder to achieve the desired clearance for the custom hypereutectic pistons, the block is cleaned and dried in preparation for paint, in my case a custom red color. Then assembly can begin.

Pace Performance
World Products
Smeding Performance
Dept. MMFF
3340 Sunrise Blvd.
Rancho Cordova
CA  95742
GM Performance Parts
Summit Racing
P.O. Box 909
OH  44309-0909
Dept. 5.0
2700 California St.
CA  90503