You can’t make a silk purse out of a Sow’s ear - Testing the horsepower per dollar value of a set of swap-meet cylinder heads versus new aftermarket castings

When seeking out needed parts for their race cars, racers, especially in these difficult economic times, are much more inclined to clip coupons, shop sales, or look for parts at the local swap meet. Bargain hunting for used race parts can be a great way to stretch a dollar, and sometimes can even be the difference between making it to the race track and sitting out the weekend while saving up the dough for new parts. But if you aren’t smart, the practice can also cost you both money and races.

Can you really make out on the cheap by refurbishing a set of old heads? We decided to find out by comparing some stock Chevy heads to the gold standard for both value and performance, Dart’s Iron Eagle heads.

One area that seems to be popular for the bargain hunters is cylinder heads. After all, if your racing class requires either a stock head or a “stock replacement,” then they’re all the same and there’s nothing to be gained by going aftermarket, right?

Well, that’s exactly what we decided to test. The plan was to put ourselves in the shoes of the racer running any class that requires a cast iron 23 degree unported cylinder head (at least for Chevrolets).