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The 100-millionth Chevy Small Block engine will be produced in 2011, commemorating a defining chapter in Chevrolet’s 100-year history. Introduced in 1955, the   Chevy V-8 transformed the brand, and fueled American’s love of performance that continues today.

“The introduction of the Small Block changed everything,” said Jim Campbell, vice president, GM Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “The Small Block was an instant success because it offered customers high performance and an affordable price, in a compact design that was very easy to modify. The Small Block also started a wave of innovation – and escalating performance – that transformed the cars Americans drove on the street and the track.”

The more things change - Since it was introduced in 1955, the Chevrolet Small Block has consistently featured a compact, efficient 90-degree V-8 design, with overhead valves, pushrod valvetrain, and 4.4-inch on-center bore spacing.

The Small Block Redefines Chevy Performance

From 1929 and 1955, Chevrolet only offered six-cylinder engines. To address the burgeoning performance market, chief engineer Ed Cole set out to design a Chevrolet V-8 that was powerful, lightweight and affordable.

His solution was elegantly simple: a compact, efficient 90-degree V-8 engine, featuring overhead valves, pushrod valvetrain, and 4.4-inch on-center bore spacing. The Chevrolet Big Block follows the same formula, with the exception of a wider 4.8 inch bore spacing.

When it debuted, the Small Block delivered 195 horsepower with an optional four-barrel carburetor, and outperformed most anything then on the market. But that was just the beginning. New technologies rapidly increased horsepower. Just two years after the Small Block was introduced, the addition of fuel injection increased output to 283 horsepower – or one horsepower for every cubic inch of the 283 cid engine. By 1970, the Chevy V-8 family grew to include a staggering 450 horsepower, 454-cid Big Block.

“The performance of the Small Block transformed Chevrolet,” said Campbell. “The Small Block made Chevrolet the weapon of choice for grassroots racers on the drag-racing and sports-car tracks across America. It also powered Chevrolet’s factory racing programs, leading to wins in stock car, endurance, and Trans Am series. Chevrolet’s racing experience in turn led to more potent production cars, creating legendary names like Corvette, Camaro, Impala, and Chevelle.”

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