Choosing the right cylinder head is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. This small component has a huge impact on the overall performance of your engine.
It is responsible for several functions inside the engine, like preventing it from overheating and providing a channel for air and liquid mixtures.
Vortec and SBC Chevy are among the best cylinder heads. These will be a good choice for your engine. There are many to choose from in the market so to narrow down your search we’ve made a comprehensive list of only the best choices.
With the products on this list, your engine is sure to have its long-needed upgrade.
Best Vortec and SBC Chevy Cylinder Heads
These heads deserve a spot on this list because of their many handy features. You won’t go wrong with choosing from any of these for your engine.
1. Edelbrock 2116 Performer Vortec
To start this list, we have the 2116 Performer Vortec from Edelbrock. Several years of experience is the reason why Edelbrock’s products have the performance that they have now. You can expect nothing less from this one.
This intake manifold is modeled from the well-known Edelbrock 2101, which also produces high power.
Its main component is aluminum, which makes it more lightweight and a great choice for race cars. And since it’s made of aluminum, repairing it is also easier because it is a softer metal.
It is designed with a dual-plane intake that makes it great for industrial and street engines. There is also a low-rise design that only has a 180-degree firing order so that it can improve torque over the wide rpm range.
This design also helps to enhance the throttle response ranging from off-riddle and up to 5,500 rpm.
Another great thing about this cylinder head is that it has provisions for an external water bypass.
You can use this on Vortec blocks and also 1995 and earlier blocks. The only downside is that it isn’t provisioned for exhaust heated chokes.
Component compatibility will be the least of your problems with this because it accepts spread bore and square bore carburetors. It also accepts alternator, HEI, water neck with a later model, and even air conditioning.
Overall, it would make a great asset to your engine. And it’s not that expensive either.
- Capable of producing higher torque
- Great component compatibility
- Provisioned for an external water bypass
- It is lightweight
- Helps to enhance throttle response
2. Edelbrock 3704 Performer Intake Manifold
Another option for a cylinder head is this next one that’s also from Edelbrock.
This 3704 Performer can add more power and reliability to your engine thanks to its many features. You will surely find this to be an impressive upgrade for your car.
Throttle response is vital for every engine. This refers to the capability and the speed of your car’s engine to increase power whenever you need to accelerate.
With this cylinder head, the throttle response of your engine will be significantly increased. It even increases its torque.
The rpm of this cylinder can also reach up to 5,500, which is enough to give enough power to your engine.
It can fit most car models, but if you have a Buick and Cadillac B bodies or Caprice, you may have to find something else on this list because this will not fit it.
Aluminum is the base material and the plenum of this cylinder head. This has a natural finish too. It can give your engine just enough level of durability.
And since it’s made of aluminum, it won’t burden your engine with any unnecessary weight. Welding is also easier if it develops certain cracks over time.
- Has an Aluminum plenum and base material
- Adds lesser weight to the engine
- Increases throttle response
- Reaches up to 5,500 rpm
- 50-state street legal
3. DNA CYLH-SBC-350 Cylinder Head
If you’re looking for a durable cylinder head that’s going to last you longer, then you’ve just found it. With the CYLH-SBC-350 from DNA monitoring, your engine will be made more powerful and sturdy. It’s one of the best SBC heads.
This cylinder head is mostly made of aluminum and not just any aluminum alloy but high-grade aluminum to give it high durability.
And for its valve guides, it uses bronze. Cylinder heads experience extreme temperatures and pressure, and this will be able to endure all that easily.
Aluminum is a very light metal, so if you’re into racing, this will suit your car well. Your speed won’t be dragged down by any unnecessary load.
Another great feature of this CYLH-SBC-350 is that it has a great porting design. It will be able to circulate air and fuel efficiency.
An overheating engine will also be the least of your problems because the coolant is sure to go through all the right parts of your engine.
You can use this for your small Chevy block engines. It also fits SBC engines perfectly, like the 327, 350, 302, and 400, reaching up to 1986. All in all, it will be worth every penny.
- Made with high-quality materials
- Prevents overheating
- Adds to additional weight
- Improves thermal efficiency
- Easily heats up and adds reliability
4. Edelbrock 7116 Performer Vortec Intake Manifold
This next one has earned a spot on this list because of its high-performance. It is modeled from Edelbrock’s previous 7101 intake manifold model.
And this would go great with your street or strip engines and give it enough power for higher accelerations.
The design of the cylinder head is impressive. It has a 4-barrel intake design and multiple pathways to carry around fuel and promote better airflow all through the system.
Other than that, it can also carry coolant to prevent your engine from overheating.
You can only use a carburetor with a square-bore for this head.
And it is important to note that this is not provisioned for exhaust-heated chokes. It also isn’t an ideal choice for engines that are already equipped with emissions.
Performance is where this product excels because it can operate on a wide range of rpm. This can operate from idle up to 5,500 rpm. With this, your engine will be able to have sufficient power for better performance.
Aluminum is the main component of the 7116 Performer, so it’s very lightweight.
If you’re into racing events, this would also make a great choice for your engine because when it comes to racing cars, lesser weight is always better. It’s one of the best Vortec heads out there.
- Operates from idle up to 5,500 rpm
- Highly durable
- Great for racing cars
- Has a 4-barrel intake design
- Promotes better air circulation
5. DNA Motoring CYLH-SBC-350 Cylinder Head
Adding to this long list of great cylinder head options for your engine is the CYLH-SBC-350 that is manufactured by DNA Motoring.
This company specializes in car accessories and other components, and so far, they have done a great job with their products, including this one.
High-grade aluminum is used for most of this product, which not only makes it lightweight but also has a faster heating rate for more reliable engine start-ups.
It is also very durable, which is an important factor for cylinder heads because they are often exposed to high temperatures and pressures.
For the valve guides, it uses bronze; its seats are also hardened for better resistance to wear. The advanced porting design of the product helps in promoting a better airflow.
Both its intake and exhaust valves also have just the right diameters to the entering and exiting of air and other fluid mixtures.
There is a 200ccs intake runner together with 68ccs combustion chambers, which overall improve its performance.
Considering all its amazing features, it will be worth your money. And the best thing is you don’t have to break the bank for this either.
- Has an advanced porting system
- Made of high-grade aluminum
- Heats up faster for reliable start-ups
- Can stand high temperatures and pressures
- Lighter than iron cylinders
6. GM Parts 12558060 Cylinder Head
If you’re familiar with GM Performance Parts, then you’ll understand why they had to be on this list.
This automotive performance parts brand has been around for decades, and they have managed to produce consistently great products. The 12558060 Cylinder Head is just one of them.
This is perfect for a small block Chevy. It’s made from cast iron, and this gives it its high durability.
You’ll be able to use this for years without needing much maintenance. The only downside with an iron head is that it’s much heavier than aluminum ones.
But if you’ll be using this for street engines, then the additional weight of this cylinder will be no problem at all.
There are high-velocity ports that are included in its design. These make way for bigger power production.
It also features a combustion chamber that burns at a much faster rate. For better performance, you can simply port it mildly. And if you want a higher compression ratio, you can mill it up to 0.040 inches.
When you compare this with its predecessors, this has the advantage of 20 to 40 more horsepower. It may not be the cheapest cylinder head around, but it is surely worth it.
- Highly durable
- Features high-velocity ports
- Greater by 20 to 40 horsepower than previous models
- Performance and compression ratio can be further increased
- Heats up fast
7. Edelbrock 7516 Performer RPM Air-Gap Intake Manifold
Edelbrock is one of the leading manufacturers of various excellent performance replacement parts on the automotive market since 1938. This 7516 RPM air-gap intake manifold is one of their best.
Moreover, this is made and designed based on the exceptionally great Performer RPM Vortec 7116. It’s a single intake with four barrels intended to fit well with the 262-400 small block Chevy V8.
Not to mention, this is also suitable for the 1996 and later cast iron heads of Vortec L31 or the E-Tec aluminum heads from Edelbrock.
One of its noteworthy features is the air-gap. This comes with an open-air space separating the hot engine oil from the runners. With this, it will result in a denser and cooler air or fuel charge for increased power.
Much more, it also comes with an external water bypass boss that’s machined in front of the water crossover for utilization on the 1996-up production engines of Vortec.
These incorporate the nitrous bosses, temp sensor that can clear water necks, rear water outlets, heater outlet that is angled to provide a precise fit on the valve cover, and two distributor clams locations.
All in all, this product can, for sure, improve the functionality and performance of your vehicle. It’s indeed packed with great specifications that are way beyond its cost value.
- Basic operating RPM range from 1500 up to 6500
- Accommodates 1976-later AC brackets and alternator
- Intended for square-bore carburetors
- Unique air-gap design
- Made of aluminum
- Hi-performance or Street utilization
- For Chevy small block (262-400)
- Comes with a patented runner design offering outstanding performance
8. DNA Motoring CYLH-SBC-350 Aluminum Bare Cylinder Head
Next up is this CYLH-SBC-350 aluminum bare cylinder head from DNA Motoring. This component is specifically manufactured to work well with small block Chevy engines, including 302, 327, 350, 383, and 400 up to 1986.
It is a cylinder head that is made from high-grade aluminum. To promote a much greater airflow, it comes with valve guides made of bronze, seats that are hardened, and port with a more advanced design.
In addition to that, this head is a 200 ccs intake runner that works along with 68 ccs combustion chambers.
These chambers have been promoting a much-improved performance of your vehicle. Also, it retains the stock compression of the 1970 and earlier models.
With this enhanced performance, the horsepower will also increase. This will then make sure that you will be able to boost the efficiency of your engine. You can enjoy its utmost functionality for sure, and this is what everyone opts for.
Both these outstanding airflow and efficiency of the combustion will have a certain effect on improving the output of your car’s engine.
Hence, this is indeed considered as an exceptional performance-oriented cylinder head — no wonder why many consumers have loved this product.
- High-quality product made of aluminum with hardened seats, bronze valve guides, and advanced port design
- Offers greater airflow
- Intake and exhaust valve diameters are 2.02-inch and 1.6-inch respectively
- 68 ccs combustion chamber volume and 200 ccs intake port volume
- Square intake and exhaust port
9. Auto Dynasty Replacement Cylinder Head
If you are looking for a replacement cylinder head that can offer you the utmost functionality, then this product from Auto Dynasty might be a perfect choice for you.
It comes with outstanding specifications and attributes that let your vehicle deliver the utmost performance.
This is a cylinder head that’s lighter as compared to iron heads, weighing only about 10.33 kg. It is made and constructed from top-of-the-line aluminum, making it a high-quality product.
Much more, it comes with an advanced design for the port, hardened 3-angle valve seat, and bronze valve guides. Having all of these characteristics, this cylinder head will promote much better airflow.
To promote improvement in its performance, the 200 ccs intake runner, along with a 68 ccs combustion chamber, will do the job.
It can do this while retaining the stock compression in 1970 and earlier. This will indeed have a huge impact on the operation of your vehicle.
As for its compatibility, this cylinder head is exceptionally engineered to perfectly fit with small block Chevy engines up to 1986 models, namely 302, 327, 350, 383, and 400.
Overall, this is an amazing product that has all the features that you opt for in a cylinder head. It can deliver the most enhanced performance, indeed!
- Suited for Small Block Chevy Engines
- Offers a much-improved horsepower and functionality increasing the efficiency of the engine
- Lighter than heads made of cast iron
- 3-angle valve seat and straight spark plug angle
- Intake port volume at 200 ccs and combustion chamber volume at 68 ccs
10. Southwest Speed Carburetor and Intake Manifold Combo
This product from Southwest Speed is a combination of a brand new Holley Street Demon carburetor and a Weiand Street Warrior intake manifold.
For a fully complete installation, it comes with everything you need - bolts, gaskets, and air cleaners.
Furthermore, the Street Demon makes the street carburetor easy to operate and gives it clean looks.
This is practically engineered and designed to offer a much stable idle and crisp response of the throttle giving it a smooth performance.
What’s more amazing is that it comes with a dual mounting pattern and an optimized calibration allowing it to be run-ready for various large engines and vehicles.
This is a four-barrel cylinder head that’s compatible with small block Chevy Vortec.
In addition to that, it is designed for utilization on most stocks up to mildly upgraded V8s.
It is developed from square one that comes with a patented smooth, timeless design that suits all the traditional and modern vehicles out there.
To eliminate all the possible paths for any leakage, it has no plugged passages and it also comes with an integrated fuel bowl, or the main body has a gasket just above the fuel level.
With all of these features, it can indeed give you the maximum outstanding operation of your vehicle at all costs. This is indeed a worthy component to purchase.
- Easy to maintain and clean one-piece airhorn
- Single fuel inlet for easy and simple installation
- Dual mounting bolt pattern
- Small primary bores for throttle along with a proven Triple-Stack booster
- 750 CFM total airflow
11. Flotek 102505 Aluminum Cylinder Head
Flotek is one of the top-notch manufacturers known for its fabrication of some of the best high-performance aluminum cylinder heads since 2007. They are offering broad options of heads perfectly designed for Chevrolet, Ford, and GMC engines.
This 102505 aluminum cylinder head is, indeed, one of their best. If you opt for a budget-friendly yet reliable component, this assembled cylinder head might be the perfect choice for you.
It is carefully engineered to deliver optimal performance and airflow perfect for SBC engines having a 4-inch bore.
The large 180 ccs intake runners come with an enhanced short-side radius to increase the torque by providing a rush of air in the cylinders.
Moreover, the 64 ccs combustion chambers are fast-burn, making it the primary factor for obtaining a big power. The 62 ccs exhaust runner will make sure that it emits all the spent gases. A 3-angle valve allows the air to flow in and out of the chambers.
As for its construction, it is made of aluminum alloy casting. This is great to be used as a base for any mild small block Chevy engine build.
In addition to that, this cylinder head is built along with high-nickel valve seats, bronze valve guides, straight or angled configurations for the spark plugs, and drilled and milled ends for the bracket mounting of accessories.
In conclusion, this Flotek cylinder head is a commendable performance upgrade especially for small block engines that can bring life to your vehicle for sure.
- Accommodates both center and perimeter bolt valve covers
- 180 ccs and 62 ccs for intake and exhaust port volume respectively
- 64 ccs quick-burn chambers offer big power
- 3-angle valve job improves the flow at low up to mid lifts
- Hardened steel spring cups for additional sturdiness
- Optimum heat transfer and wear resistance made possible by nickel-powdered finish
- Valve guides made of manganese bronze lessen friction
- Suits flat tappet camshafts
12. Speedmaster PCE281.2010 Chevy SBC 350 Cast Aluminum Cylinder Head
To complete our list of the best ones on the market is this cast aluminum cylinder head from Speedmaster.
It is a one-piece component that comes with a 270 ccs intake runner and 68 ccs combustion. The special aluminum alloy used reduces porosity and enhances thermal efficiency.
This component includes individual O-rings that come in a full set. It is put around each port to seal the intake manifold from the cylinder head.
Furthermore, the head gaskets are made of 100% stainless steel that also adds to the seal. Both the gaskets on the outer layer have undergone and are treated with a high-temperature coating.
Also, it comes with a 3-angle machined ductile iron valve seat and bronze valve guides. This product is the standard OEM upgrade/replacement for 2007-2009 SBC 350 applications.
- CNC-machined oval intake and exhaust runner
- Bronze valve guides and iron valve seat
- Stainless steel gaskets
- Includes a full set of O-rings
- 270 ccs intake runner and 68 ccs combustion
What to Look for While Buying Cylinder Heads?
In the mechanics of a car, one vital component that you can find is the cylinder head.
Choosing the most appropriate product for you can indeed make a huge difference and impact on how your vehicle runs and can also help you in avoiding any costly repairs for your engine.
It may seem simple and easy to select one, but there’s more to it.
There are certain factors that you should consider to make sure you get what you desire and what suits your needs. This will also help you narrow down your choices, making it easy for you to end up with one excellent product.
Here are the few attributes and specifications that you must look for in the cylinder heads before making a purchase.
If you don’t want your money to go to waste, then it’s just necessary to check the compatibility of the cylinder head you’ve chosen to the specific make, model, engine size, year, and engine enhancements, like supercharger and turbo, of your car.
You need to select a cylinder head metal, whether it’s aluminum or cast iron, that suits well with the engine blocks’ materials as they’ll expand and contract at various rates.
If you tend to choose the wrong one, they’ll be more prone to cracking.
It’s also important to make sure that it has the right hardware like the bolts for the engine block to be guaranteed that the cylinder head will fit precisely and correctly.
Intake and Exhaust Port Volumes
Some may consider that a bigger intake port is always much better, but this is not always the case. It merely depends on the engine size and intended application. Hence, smaller ones may be more suitable.
Smaller intake ports often offer much better performance, especially for street applications, as they produce crisper throttle response and lower-end torque.
On the other hand, larger ones are more advantageous for higher revving engines since they can allow more airflow.
Selecting a good-flowing port for the exhaust is very crucial. It must be in the right size. You can do this by simply comparing it to the size of the valve and volume of the stock exhaust port.
Combustion Chamber Size and Design
One of the most important factors that you should scrutinize in a cylinder head is the size and design of the combustion chamber. You need to determine the right one that you need for your engine.
Now, one benefit that you can get from picking the combustion chamber with the right size is that it will be able to increase the compression ratio, which gives it the capability of providing maximum efficiency of the engine.
You must also make sure that it is designed to match the components of your car’s specific engines.
These components include stroke, piston shape, bore, head gasket, deck clearance, ring location.
If you get all of these with proper dimensions, then you’ll be able to enjoy the utmost performance of your vehicle.
It is also just necessary to consider the various applications in which you intend to use it.
Moreover, you must be aware that some works best for certain utilization whether you’ll use your vehicle for off-road driving or just in the street, or maybe for a drag, road racing, circle track, or any other activities.
Decide the primary or main application of your engine to select a cylinder head that will suit your needs.
Also, you will be able to modify the airflow, valve lift, and duration to offer the best performance and functionality of your car for the specific application you are going to use.
Do Cylinder Heads Increase Horsepower?
Cylinder heads serve many functions for the operation of your engine. And one of its many functions is increasing the horsepower of the engine. The right cylinder head can increase its horsepower significantly.
It does this by improving the throttle response of the engine and its torque curves. The throttle response of the engine is its capability to produce power whenever you accelerate your car.
Another way it increases engine power is by promoting better airflow throughout the system. It also acts as a channel where exhaust fumes can flow towards the exhaust valves.
Why Are Vortec Heads Better?
Vortec heads are capable of giving more power to your engine. They have several differences with your ordinary cylinder heads.
One of which is its great design, which makes it easier to clean. These are also designed with advanced porting for better airflow.
The main distinction of Vortec heads is its sawtooth casting mark pattern at the ends of the head.
And its combustion chamber, on the other hand, has a heart-shaped design that is smaller than Gen I heads. Its valve lift can even reach a maximum of 0.460 to 0.480 inches.
How Much HP Can Vortec Heads Make?
Vortec heads are some of the most popular products on the market that will, for sure, make an amazing impact on your vehicle. Nonetheless, Vortec heads come in various types and produce different HP as well.
General Motors (GM) Vortec cylinder heads are utilized along with the Comp Cams Xtreme Energy camshaft to deliver a 390 HP and a torque of 426 ft-lbs.
These ratings are obtained with 87 octanes. Remember that the higher the octane, the higher HP you’ll get.
There are also some methods that you can do and modify from your vehicle to achieve a lot of HP out of the heads.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is a cylinder head important?
A cylinder head is an essential part of the engine. It serves several functions. This acts as a channel for airflow and other fluid mixtures.
And this also helps in preventing your engine from overheating by circulating cooling agents around the system.
2. Does a cylinder head improve the throttle response?
Yes, cylinder heads improve throttle response. It will allow your engine to produce enough power whenever you need to accelerate.
The degree by which it can improve throttle response will depend on the specification of the product.
3. How much HP can a Vortec cylinder add?
A Vortec cylinder can add a significant amount of horsepower to your engine. The amount of HP it will add will depend on the model of the head. Generally, most cylinder heads can produce above 300 HP.
4. What is the best intake to exhaust flow ratio?
Usually, the general standard for cylinder heads is to have a 75% exhaust to intake flow. But not all heads employ this principle.
A cylinder head should have just the right diameter for its intake and exhaust valves because if they are too small, it could result in lower power.
5. Why are aluminum cylinder heads better for racing?
When it comes to racing even just a little unnecessary added weight can affect the performance of your car. Aluminum heads only add minimal weight when compared to iron cast heads.
The right cylinder head can level up your engine. And while there are tons in the market, not all of them are perfect for the job. With this list of the best cylinder heads, you won’t have to look any further.