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Discussion Starter #1
Just for the sake of discussion, I'd like to ask everyone what is your favorite SBC cylinder head, and why?

What is your favorite manufacturer?

Who do you think has the best quality?

Do you prefer iron or aluminum?

Who do you think makes the best "bang for the buck," for mild, street/strip, and full on race?

What is your preferred configuration?

What is the worst experience you've had, and what cylinder head would you want to warn people against?

....And, anything else you would like to share.
 

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I prefer Edelbrock heads as being the best bang for the buck. If I where building a sportsman (aka street/strip vehicle) car that I wanted to be competitive I would consider the AFR head, but as you will soon notice is twice the price of a Dart aluminum head of the same size. If I were building a trailered race car I would buy as set of Pro-Filer Air Strike SBC 12° Spread Port Heads.

All of these heads were designed cast and machined in the USA. With the exception of the Pro-Filer heads there are two to five intake port volumes to pick from. If you are going to buy a head buy one with a straight plug unless you are going with the Air Strike SBC 12° spread port head, as the two to three additional horsepower they might make definitely isn't worth the aggravation through out the life of the engine in replacing plug wires and just changing plugs.

Big Dave
 

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I am totally happy with AFR heads. If you are building any motor AFR has a out-of-the-box head that will fit the build. Great customer service, made in America, great people and extra nice quality.
http://www.airflowresearch.com/195cc-sbc-street-cylinder-head/

If you are on a budget VORTEC heads fit right in and make good power, from mild to semi-wild especially with a spring upgrade.

I am not a full-on race guy but I would go with Big Dave on his selection of the Pro-Filer 12* Head for a race dedicated engine. The flow numbers are INSANE...:beers::thumbsup:
http://www.besracing.com/cylinder-h...eads/gm/sbc/bes-pro-filer-air-strike-12-heads

JMO Jack
 

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I run Pro-Filer 23° heads. They were worked by Chad Speirer and flow just as well as AFR CNC heads. If I wanted a budget replacement head I would run World Products heads as they flow very well for the money or Vortec heads.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Interesting feedback so far! I have never had the opportunity to have an aftermarket head on my car, so I really appreciate the input and people sharing their experiences and opinions.

Big Dave and Jackel, I have seen a lot of threads here, and along with some of my (limited) reading on other sites, it seems to me one thing that seems almost universal is that AFR is one of the best out there.

Big Dave, what do you think of the E-Street SBC heads from Edelbrock? I see conflicting info: some sources seem to indicate they are re-branded or slightly updated Edelbrock performer heads (not to be confused with performer rpm), while others indicate they are their own design specifically designed to compete against import heads. In any event, they seem to flow about like ported fuelie heads. Does that seem like a fair assessment?

Brian Oneil, I have not heard of Pro-Filer heads before. Are they pretty much a race head? Do they make other, more mild versions?

As for me, when I had my 350 built, I had to use the heads I had available to me, which were stock # 3973493 1.94/1.50 heads, which were actually off my brother's Nova. They seem to be a head meant for 400s, but somehow were on my brother's 350 (car's original engine)...not sure if they were replacement heads, or just some weird combo that ended up on that car, due to the 1971/1972 auto worker strike back then. The heads those 3973493's replaced on my car were cracked 882's (my nova originally was a 307 car, but the previous owner replaced it with a re manufactured 350).

Anyway, if I were to buy aftermarket heads, based on my (limited) reading and from what I have heard, I seem to like Edelbrock heads (mainly because I am happy with my performer intake and carb) if I were to go aluminum, and if I were to choose an iron head, I've known people who love their Dart or World product Torquer S/R and Sportsman IIs.

I recently have been offered an opportunity to buy rebuilt Motown 220 heads (64 CC) for $800, and I am really tempted. Nothing wrong with my current 1.94 heads, but they weren't the head that would have been my first choice, and these seem to be a significant upgrade. The only thing that makes me hesitant is that it seems like these heads are really for 383 and larger SBC's, and it might kill my bottom end on my current engine (assuming I kept my intake, cam, and carb the same, which my budget demands).
 

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You can over head and engine like you can over cam and engine for a particular set up. Yes Pro-Filer heads can be had in less performance level. I like them because they are Made in the USA. I have run S/R Torquer heads on a SBC 400 with no issues what so ever. Just had to have the steam holes drilled in them for the 400 block. If you plan on having a 350 that produces under 450HP the S/R torque in my opinion would be a excellent upgrade over stock heads, and probably cost less than rebuilding your current ones. Even if you just swap to the S/R torquer you will pick up HP/TQ because the head flows much better. You can also look for a set of used Vortec heads as well. This would also increase HP/TQ in your current build as these heads like the S/R torquer are better than what you have now. Both offer larger valves. You can have performance on the cheap especially at the lower HP levels. You don't always need to fork out big $$ for AFR heads if you don't need that performance level. Putting 235/245cc or a 220cc (might) heads for example of a build like yours is over kill, a waste of money and you will more than likely lose some power and torque because you are not spinning enough rpms, moving enough air and fuel to make the heads work as they are designed.
 

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World Products Sportsman II heads are excellent heads. They flow at the same rate as Chevy's Vortec heads which when they were introduced out flowed most of the aftermarket heads on the market below 0.400 inch lift. Sportsman II heads have the added advantage of accepting up to 0.700 inch of valve lift when equipped with springs and valves that can accept that level of lift. Vortec heads are limited to 0.420" lift unless they are machined to accept 0.050" to 0.070" more lift by machining the valve spring pocket and the valve guide for more room. This limit on valve lift to 0.500 to 0.520" of valve lift is why they are not used in racing.

It also illustrates what was in the mind of the engineers who designed these heads since additional valve lift is easy to configure when you are doing a clean page design for a new head. The Vortec head was designed to reduce emissions by improving the mixture of air with the fuel inside the combustion chamber. The first iteration of these heads had the moniker "Vortec" applied to them but they lacked the "Fast Burn" combustion chamber. Those early heads did have the raised intake ports that where narrowed to retain the same 172 cc intake port volume of the old head that it replaced. They had the changed intake manifold angle with fewer securing bolts. Because of this you can not use Vortec heads with older intake manifolds. They have their own intakes to fit the changes made just not as many as have been made to fit the older heads.

This is why a Sportsman II head is popular as it flows as well as a Vortec head at lower lift values, has more valve lift available to it, uses old style intakes, and it also uses old style valve covers (Vortec heads use center bolt valve covers which disturbs some people). The Dart 180cc aluminum heads also flow as well and have the same advantages plus they are almost a hundred bucks cheaper (than Dart Iron Eagles or the Sportsman II heads).

The E-Tec series of heads from Edelbrock are based upon the Vortec design (virtual clones except they offer old style perimeter valve cover bolts as well as center bolts). Edelbrock has one other advantage over any other Vortec clone head in that Edelbrock makes all of Chevrolets SBC and BBC aluminum heads and intakes sold through GMPP. As such they have the actual blueprints (and computer CNC programing used by Chevrolet).

Vortec heads do not use a 2.02" intake valve as the engineers learned that the head flows better with the smaller 1.94" intake valve as the chamber wall shrouds the intake valve. You can install the larger valve but it requires reworking the combustion chamber to unshroud the valve and with a cast iron production head you risk hitting water ruining the head while grinding the needed room for air flow.

Big Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Again, great info guys. That is very helpful.

I'd love to upgrade my heads, but at this point it's a want, not a need. But if I ever do, I think I want to keep the stock look. Vortec heads are clearly are like the "new" fuelies, but I would like to be able to reuse my existing parts, which is why I like heads like Sportman IIs, for the exact reasons Dave listed.

I think when it comes to the Motown heads I have been offered, I think I may pass on them. I believe they have 2.05 valves in them, and I've been reading up on them. Everything seems to say they are for 383s, minimum. Too bad, because for $800 and having been re-done, and the fact they are from a personal friend who has a machine shop that I can trust, they seem like a good deal.

That is unless it is possible to "downgrade" to a smaller valve where they could run well on my engine, without sacrificing the bottom end power I currently have. Any thoughts on that?

I don't go to the track, and really I find my acceleration excitement between 0-60 MPH, ( my engine tops out at probably about 5500 RPM, if that). It really is basically a stock engine, with a tad better cam. Would be nice to find a good head that retains that power band, with just a little more bottom end umph.

Dave, the Edelbrock heads I was looking at are these: http://www.edelbrock.com/automotive/mc/cylinder-heads/chevy/e-street-sb.shtml

Those aren't the same heads you are describing, are they?

One other question for the night: what are the thoughts on the Dart Iron Eagle Platinum heads? I was looking at them here, and they seem comparable to Sportsman IIs https://www.summitracing.com/parts/drt-10411111p/overview/
 

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The 2.02 if installed already will work just fine. You are not going to be racing full time where a small advantage can amass a lot more win lights. Racers have to spend cubic yards of money for very small gains to remain competitive.

Motown Heads are the big brother of the older Sportsman II heads. Both were cast by World Products based upon Bill Mitchell's design (rework of a Chevy Small Block head).

http://www.superchevy.com/how-to/engines-drivetrain/sucp-0107-world-products-heads/


Those E-Street heads you cited from Edelbrock are not E-Tec (Vortec) heads but rebranded Performer heads which were a recast SBC Fueile head in aluminum with better valves. Look at the flow numbers and you can see the flow is maxed out at half an inch of lift. The springs used on these will go into valve float if pushed beyond 5,600 RPM.
A poor investment considering what else Edelbrock offers for similar money.

Iron Eagles are very competitive and are priced to be in competition with the Sportsman II head. A lot of racers have made great gains with these heads which has kind of eclipsed the older Sportsman II head's glory. Motowon heads were brought out to compete with them.

People are sheep. They follow the herd. Dart offers the same head cast in aluminum for one hundred dollars less than the Iron Eagle. People still want the high priced spread because of Dart's success with the Iron Eagle.

Here is a list of SBC heads that I researched when looking at heads for my car (it was Word documents so it will be hard to read without tabs).

World Products 011150-2 $644.01 ea. Jeg's
Sportsman II Cast Iron Cylinder Head 200cc Intake Ports
1.437'' Valve Springs, .600'' Max Lift for Solid/Hyd. Roller Cam
No Rocker Arms or Studs, 64 cc, Angle Plug

World Products 012150-2 $644.01 ea. Jeg's
Sportsman II Cast Iron Cylinder Head 200cc Intake Ports
1.437'' Valve Springs, .600'' Max Lift for Solid/Hyd. Roller Cam
No Rocker Arms or Studs, 72 cc, Angle Plug


Dart Products 10321112P $679.16 ea. Jeg's
Iron Eagle Platinum Cast Iron Cylinder Head 200cc Intake Ports
1.437'' Valve Springs, No Rocker Arms, 64 cc, Angle Plug

Dart Products 127122 $588.80 ea. Jeg's
Cast Alminum Cylinder Head 180cc Intake Ports
1.437'' Valve Springs, No Rocker Arms, 64 cc, Straight Plug

Dart Products 1273122 $588.80 ea. Jeg's
Cast Alminum Cylinder Head 200cc Intake Ports
1.437'' Valve Springs, No Rocker Arms, 64 cc, Straight Plug


Vortec Cylinder Heads 12558060 $320.01 ea. Summit
1.250'' Beehive Valve Springs, No Rocker Arms, 64 cc,
Straight Plug, 0.475" maximum valve lift

Vortec "Bow Tie" Head 25534446 $532.78 ea. Jeg's
225cc intake ports, 66cc combustion chambers, Machined
for 2.000"/1.550" valve springs, Maximum 0.530" valve
lift (without further modifications), Straight spark plug


AFR 0916 SBC Street Eliminator Head $1,597.59 ea. Summit
180 cc intake ports, 1.290'' Valve Springs, No Rocker Arms,
65 cc combustion chambers, Straight Plug, Raised exhaust port

AFR 1034 SBC Street Eliminator Head $1,597.59 ea. Summit
195 cc intake ports, 1.290'' Valve Springs, No Rocker Arms,
65 cc combustion chambers, Straight Plug, Raised exhaust port

AFR 1110 SBC Competition Head $2,133.31 ea. Jeg's
Full CNC, 220 cc intake ports, 1.580'' x 1.750" 0.800" Lift Valve
Springs, No Rocker Arms, 65 cc combustion chambers, Straight Plug,
Raised 0.250" exhaust port


Brodix Dragon Slayer Series 23° Cylinder Head $2,101.64 pr. Jeg's
225cc Intake Ports 64cc Combustion Chambers 1.550'' Springs
240# Seat Pressure, Steel Retainers, Includes: Heads,
Head Bolts Intake, Exhaust & Valve Cover Gaskets


Edelbrock Victor Jr. Heads 77589 $740.86 ea. Summit
215cc Intake ports, 64cc Fast Burn Combustion chambers,
2.08"/1.60" valves, 1.550'' Hydraulic roller springs,
Steel retainers, Angled plugs

Edelbrock Performer RPM Heads 60895 $729.50 ea. Jeg's
195cc Intake ports, 64cc Pent Roof Combustion chambers, 2.02"/1.60" valves,
1.250'' Single springs, Steel retainers, Straight plugs

Big Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The 2.02 if installed already will work just fine. You are not going to be racing full time where a small advantage can amass a lot more win lights. Racers have to spend cubic yards of money for very small gains to remain competitive.

Motown Heads are the big brother of the older Sportsman II heads. Both were cast by World Products based upon Bill Mitchell's design (rework of a Chevy Small Block head).

http://www.superchevy.com/how-to/engines-drivetrain/sucp-0107-world-products-heads/


Big Dave
Thanks again Big Dave. SO, just to be sure I understand, do you think if the Motowns had 2.02 intake valves installed instead of the 2.05, they would flow more like Sportsman II's and therefore would be alright for my 350 as a head swap?

I saw that same article, which is what scared me off from the Motowns, especially this part:
"These heads really weren't designed for the average 350 small-block," Mitchell says. "They're for 383s and 427s that need to breathe at high rpm. You can achieve good benefits by putting them on a smaller-cube small-block, but the whole engine should be designed for it."
as to the Edelbrock E-streets
Those E-Street heads you cited from Edelbrock are not E-Tec (Vortec) heads but rebranded Performer heads which were a recast SBC Fueile head in aluminum with better valves. Look at the flow numbers and you can see the flow is maxed out at half an inch of lift. The springs used on these will go into valve float if pushed beyond 5,600 RPM.
A poor investment considering what else Edelbrock offers for similar money.
I suspected that it was a rebrand. THank you for confirming that. Now, if I swapped out the springs on those with the comp cams springs recommended for a Comp 270 magnum cam, do you think that might do those heads any good in my case?

People are sheep. They follow the herd. Dart offers the same head cast in aluminum for one hundred dollars less than the Iron Eagle. People still want the high priced spread because of Dart's success with the Iron Eagle.
Thank you for the comprehensive list, Big Dave.

Wow, if they are the same design other than one being aluminum and one being iron, and the aluminum is less, I have to say that is a no brainer!
 

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Tom, you want a head that will put out the best flow in the .300, .400 to .500 lift area to keep the peak HP RPM low and make the best power possible down in that lift range and staying within your budget.

[/B]Edelbrock E-Street 185cc head flow as advertised: $922.00 Summit Racing
Lift .300 Flow 182 .400 225 .500 248

Jegs 195cc Head flow as advertised: $1,000 Jegs
Lift .300 Flow 209 .400 254 .500 273

AFR 195cc Head flow as advertised: $1,597.00 Summit Racing
Lift .300 Flow 201 .400 247 .500 275

Vortec 185cc Head Flow as advertised: $680.00 Summit Racing
Lift .300 Flow 178 .400 212 .500 227

See how this helps make your decision......Jack :beers:
 

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"... do you think if the Motowns had 2.02 intake valves installed instead of the 2.05, they would flow more like Sportsman II's and therefore would be alright for my 350 as a head swap? "
No it has nothing to do with the size of the valve. It has everything to do with the size of the intake port. It was Tony Mamo at AFR that was the first to promote heads with high velocity ports. This is what Chevy did with their Vortec head. By narrowing the port and raising it they increased the velocity of the air going through the port, compared to the larger but lazier ports in the old school bigger is better philosophy of head design.

Ford had a series of Boss engines: specifically the Boss 302 the 351 Cleveland and the Boss 429 that were famous for tennis ball size intake ports. these engines were developed for racing, The Boss 302 to compete in Trans-Am, the 351 Cleveland in drag racing, and the Boss 429 to compete in NASCAR racing. All had more or less mediocre success. On the street these engines were dogs. That is why the 351 you think about as being successful is the Windsor variant not the Cleveland. Same applied to the HiPerf head for the BBC designed in 1962. Back then bigger was better in designing a race engine. It worked as the motor ran well in road racing, and NASCAR but it is a dog on the street. Eventually everyone realized you had to have an engine at least 500 cubes in size to use those heads as the smaller Pass head at 230 cc ran better on the street, and that the smaller Pass head with the bigger HiPerf sized valves would out perform the bigger port heads on a 427 or a 454.

"Now, if I swapped out the springs on those with the comp cams springs recommended for a Comp 270 magnum cam, do you think that might do those heads any good in my case?"
Yes replacing the springs is required any time you swap a cam. Hydraulic lifters can not handle the loads that a solid lifter cam spring can because if they shared the same spring pressure required to keep the lifter in contact with the cam lobe the hydraulic lifter would collapse. This is why if you select a hydraulic cam you are limited automatically in your RPM range and why race cars all use a solid tappet (either flat bottom or a roller). They (racers) choose a solid lifter (called a tappet because of the tapping noise cause by the valve train taking up the valve stem gap required of a solid lifter) because the higher you can spin a motor the more power strokes you can make in a minute of time. More power strokes equals more power. To get that high RPM you have to be able to control the valve, which requires more and more spring pressure the higher you spin the motor (or the larger and heavier the valve). To reduce valve weight aftermarket heads utilize a reduced valve stem diameter to shave off a bit of weight. Racers go even further and change the material the valve is made of to Titanium (along with the valve spring retainers). Hydraulic roller lifters further complicate the issue by adding a lot of mass to the reciprocating weight in the roller and added material to support the roller. I can use a hollow shell solid roller tappet that weighs less than a hydraulic flat tappet and combine that with a Rev Kit (a bunch of additional springs that push down on the lifter body being held in place by the heads) to spin a 555 cubic inch BBC to 10,000 RPM. A stock 350 would puke trying to keep up if it ever could spin that high with a stock hydraulic cam and stock 280 pound springs.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Tom, you want a head that will put out the best flow in the .300, .400 to .500 lift area to keep the peak HP RPM low and make the best power possible down in that lift range and staying within your budget.

[/B]Edelbrock E-Street 185cc head flow as advertised: $922.00 Summit Racing
Lift .300 Flow 182 .400 225 .500 248

Jegs 195cc Head flow as advertised: $1,000 Jegs
Lift .300 Flow 209 .400 254 .500 273

AFR 195cc Head flow as advertised: $1,597.00 Summit Racing
Lift .300 Flow 201 .400 247 .500 275

Vortec 185cc Head Flow as advertised: $680.00 Summit Racing
Lift .300 Flow 178 .400 212 .500 227

See how this helps make your decision......Jack :beers:
This does help. To me, the best budget head probably would be the Vortec, at least at the level my engine is at, but if I picked from that list, I would probably do the edelbrock estreet or the jegs (which I read may actually be pro-filers?).

Just to clarify, I am looking at it from a head swap point of view, with everything else staying the same. I have no idea what the #493s are that I currently have, but I am sure they are terrible by comparison to even the Vortecs, since they are smog heads that haven't really been modified beyond hardened seats and 3 angle valve job, and running 1.94/1.5. The rest of my engine is mild, running a 355, edelbrock performer with edelbrock 600 cfm carb, and cam is a Comp 270 (.224/.224 durration & .470/.470 lift).

I also found this site: http://www.theengineshop.com/images/headflow.pdf

The motown is what I am looking at. It shows:

Intake 2.080"

.300=191,
.400=235,
.500=266,

Exhaust 1.600"
.300=154,
.400=176,
.500=189

When looking at the numbers compared to the others listed, the Motown seems to be in the middle, when you are looking at between .300 and .500. Since my cam is .470, and I wrong to think that the Motown just might be the best buy for me, after all? To me, it looks like it is scoring right in between the E-Street and the AFR, at least at those lift levels. Assuming I keep the same cam and carb/intake, what are your thoughts? Worthwhile upgrade over the 493 heas I currently have, and if so, how much would my bottom end suffer? My excitement is usually the 0-60 MPH, so if the motown would slow me down, compared to my current 493 heads, I don't think I want them. If it is an upgrade, then yeah, I do.
 

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All things considered the best and most noticeable improvement in performance is a rear gear change. Unless you or a former owner changed it out you are most likely running a 2.73 rear gear. A 3.73 rear gear (or a 4.10-4.11) will wake up your car's performance. It allows your car to rev faster. Z/28 Camaros had a 4.10 installed in almost all of the cars ordered by sales managers as the 302 had such poor bottom end performance it needed all the help it could get to move under it's own power.

Of course you won't be able to do seventy miles an hour in first gear any more. But you will be surprised at the noticeable jump in acceleration with your existing engine. I mention this because everyone thinks of hopping up the engine but gives little to no thought to the rest of car until there is a problem (such as wheel hop or broken parts).

I wouldn't obsess about flow numbers. Just like with a dyno numbers they have little affect on a car's overall performance.

Big Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #16
My nova did originally have a 2.73 peg leg, but I have since upgraded to posi and 3.42 gears. I felt for my driving that was the best all around gear.

Also, my exhaust is dual 2.5" with flomaster 2 chamber knock offs from IMCO, and the stock exhaust manifolds.
 

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Headers alone could be worth 10HP over stock exhaust manifolds. Heads in reality is where the majority of all your HP is going to come from, but, it has to match the rest of the engine build. CFM in which heads are measured normally at 28" of water is a number that the heads flow (volume), one other things is pressure. The higher the pressure the higher the CFM. One also must look at the fixture plate being used in the test. For example it is often seen that a fixture plate of 4.125 or 4.155" (commonly a 400 bore + .030) is being used. Well that wont do you any good if your bore size is 4.030" (commonly a 350 bore + .030). The data becomes scewed. Same if the test fixture is 4.030 and your bore is 4.125". That being said, your intake manifold also plays a role in this. If you have a set of head capable of flowing .330 CFM @ .700 lift, and your manifold can only supply 250CFM at the same lift, then the heads are 250 CFM @ .700 lift because that is all the head is going to receive. Heck even carbs are measured the same way. You buy a Holley 750 CFM carb, it is measured in a dry condition, when there is actually fuel in the carb it does not flow 750 CFM it is less. Marketing takes over, just like in the heads. In my opinion CSA is more important in a set of heads than the flow CFM.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That is good advice and I appreciate it.

I guess I am just wondering if a set of motown heads alone, are worth the trouble and money to upgrade over my 493 heads. Like, would the heads afford a very noticeable power gain, a slight one that isn't worth $800, or maybe even hurt low and mid range power.
 

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Just bolting on a set of heads ain't going to work magic. You have to build a combination. Lets say your engine is making 300HP in your current set up, and you bolt on a better set of heads, you could see and increase of up to 40HP. Will you feel that in the seat of your pants, maybe, maybe not. Will you see a difference at the track, more than likely. Will you see it on a dyno, yes. If the heads are too large for your combination you will loose power. If you plan on future upgrades then it may be a decent idea for now in the short term. Short term to me is within 6 months or so. If you buy and install heads with the plan to go to a larger cam and better intake and carb later that will be fine as long as it is short term. If not buy the heads but don't install them.
Big Dave stated earlier NO2 would give you immediate in the pants, on the track and dyno results (I would not recommend anything more than 125 shot) and still have your decent street manners too. You just have to decide what you want out of the build, make the decision and then work towards that goal.
 

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Dave Vizard is a degreed English mechanical engineer that used to work for Chrysler. He grew up trying to wring the most power that he could find from a 1.2 liter English four cylinder in MG Midgets and Morris Minors that he raced every weekend.

More importantly he had a side carrear as a journalist writing for most of the car magazines published by Argos and Petersen. He has written a number of books supporting his research in the SBC. I highly recommend them as being accurate, including theory and the results explained in layman's terms (no calculus required).

I would start with his book on the SBC head since that is the topic under discussion then read his book on building the combination and how the components interact.

On selecting and modifying SBC heads:
https://www.amazon.com/Chevrolet-Sm...&qid=1484409051&sr=1-13&keywords=david+vizard

On how to build a killer SBC on a budget:
https://www.amazon.com/David-Vizard...8&qid=1484408779&sr=1-1&keywords=david+vizard

If you go to Amazon dot com and search for David Vizard yuou can fill a library with the rest of the books he has written.

Big Dave
 
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