It’s one thing knowing you’ve got a quality part to work with—but it’s even better when that quality part’s already been tested and tuned before it wound up in your hands. And that’s exactly the case with SO-MO Speed Shop’s Widow Maker induction systems, as they run their kits on a test engine prior to shipping, ensuring each and every component performs above standard.

Obviously, the small-block Chevy setup we’re working with is meant to be used on pre-’87 engines—but the actual engine we got happened to be a ’93 5.7L purchased from a local, reputable salvage yard (and came with a 700-R4, both with limited warranties). So, while updating the intake manifold was not an option, going backward with the heads was, even if we were going backward in technological terms in doing so—in more ways than one, as a trio of two-barrel carburetors pales in comparison to modern fuel injection. In this particular case, updating performance is not the name of the game—it’s all about “retroformance”!

After stripping the engine down to a short-block, the center-bolt cylinder heads were exchanged for a set of earlier standard cast-iron ones with closely matched chamber/valve size from nearby Magnolia Machine. With the 350 all cleaned, freeze plugs and seals replaced, etc., the new-old heads were installed and the now long-block painted the desired color. Engine painting’s no science, but there are various ways to go about it; just depends on how nice you want it to look, and more importantly, how long you want that nice look to last. Thorough stripping/de-greasing is a must, and so too is using the right materials, namely the type of paint—garden-variety rattle can spray paint won’t hold up nearly as long as the proper high-temp paint.

That was the hard part—and the dirtiest and most time-consuming. The rest, thanks to SO-MO Speed Shop, is a piece of cake.

Literally, the complete intake system can be removed from the box it came in, installed on your engine, and be up and running in no time. In the past, this was definitely not the case, but with a pre-assembled, pre-tested, pre-tuned setup, all the tough stuff has already been done for you. However, that said, you will need to spend a little time with the fuel lines (routing, bending, etc.), probably the only thing SO-MO doesn’t do, and for obvious reasons, as there are too many variables involved for a standard configuration to accommodate. Ultimately, it’s a very small task compared to setting up the linkage or dialing in the carbs, right?