How to Hot Rod 6-Cylinder Chevrolet Engines

by Bobby R. Goldsmith

The muscle-car era inspires images of powerful, iconic V-8s powering sleek cars down the road with a throaty grumble. However, many classic cars came with inline-six-cylinder engines as well. While the Chevy inline-six models featured much less torque and horsepower off of the showroom floor, there are a number of methods available to boost performance and "hot rod" the engine, to pull as much power as possible from all six cylinders.

Step 1

Replace the cast-iron cylinder head and intake manifold with aluminum counterparts. It is crucial to shed weight, as well as increase performance, to get an inline six-cylinder functioning at peak capacity.

Step 2

Replace the cast-iron exhaust manifold with an exhaust header. There are numerous aftermarket manufacturers that produce inline-six single-exhaust headers. This increases the rate at which exhaust gases are expelled from the cylinder head, which allows the induction system to increase the rate of intake of both air and fuel.

Step 3

Install a custom-ground camshaft with higher intake and exhaust-lift duration specifications to maximize the amount of air, fuel and exhaust that the inline six is able to move.

Step 4

Replace the points or HEI ignition system with an electronically controlled ignition system to stabilize timing and delivery of spark to each cylinder.

Step 5

Install a higher flow carburetor onto the aluminum intake manifold in order to increase the flow of air and fuel into the engine. Do not install a carburetor that pushes too much air and fuel, though. Generally a carburetor that pushes 500-650 CFM is more than enough for six cylinders to handle.

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