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How to Build Max-Performance Chevy Big Blocks on a Budget (SA Design) Paperback – June 15, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Any library strong in auto repair and modification references must have this illustration-filled how-to." -Midwest Book Reviews, October 2011 (Midwest Book Review 2011-10-01)

From the Back Cover

The Chevy big-block, or Mark IV, has powered iconic Chevy muscle cars—Chevelle, Corvette, and Camaro—of the 1960s and 1970s. The big-block or Rat motor provides impressive stock performance, but this engine can be built into a giant killer and it can be done without breaking the bank. Within these pages, master engine builder and veteran author David Vizard imparts his 50 years of engine-building experience and unique insight, to help you wisely invest in maximum-performance Chevy big-block build-ups. Just as in his top-selling Max-Performance Chevy Small Blocks on a Budget, he shows you how to get the optimal machining performed, select the ideal parts, and assemble the strongest engine package for a budget of $2,000 to $15,000. Unknown to many, Chevy big-block heads suffer from poor port design and less-than-ideal valve positioning, and in effect, are undervalved. As a result, the heads offer limited breathing capacity for a big-cube engine. Vizard offers an affordable, real-world solution to maximize airflow of the heads and the performance potential of the engine. In addition, the ideal aftermarket iron and aluminum blocks for your application, street or strip, or a combination of both, is discussed. Special coverage is dedicated to selecting the best crankshaft, connecting rod, and piston combination, so you have a rotating assembly that performs at its best. He also covers all the crucial aspects of building a stroker engine. To get maximum cylinder filling and flow for maximum performance, he shows you how to select a stock iron head or an aftermarket aluminum head and match it to a cam and valvetrain to meet your budget and performance goals. If you’ve been looking for a book to stretch the performance frontiers of a Chevy big-block but not your pocket book, you’ve found it.

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Product Details

  • Series: S-A Design
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: S-A Design (June 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934709387
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934709382
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. David J. Martin on September 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
As someone who earns their living from building performance enhanced big block Chevy engines for a discerning marine clientele, I was delighted to get my hands on David Vizard's latest big block performance book. Over the years I have come to not just expect a professionalism second to none in his writing, but actually take it for granted, and once again, as so often in the past, I was not disappointed, as it exceeded what even I have come to expect from him. David Vizard has a way, just when you think you have read it all, and hopefully learnt most of it, producing a book that pushes the boundaries past anything currently available out there. It seems he really can "think outside the box". Also I believe the unique reason that he is held in such high esteem by so many people in the industry is that you can have confidence in the fact that there is no untested theory in his books. He has built, tried and tested for himself everything he writes about. The cam selection charts in this book are a prime example telling you exactly what is needed, where even the cam companies often leave you feeling a bit uncertain.

I was a little surprised by Mr, Halverson's comments regarding the lack of mention of GM parts and feel that he may have inadvertently missed the point. I think that my 45 year career as a successful engine builder probably gives me some insight that only comes with long experience. Reading between the lines it would appear to me that David Vizard must have had a hard time packing all the information he has into only 144 pages. I have his original, incredibly comprehensive book on tuning Mini Cooper engines, all 528 pages of it, (and confess I have not managed to read all of them!) I have however read all 144 pages of this one.
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As I anticipated, Max-Performance Chevy Big-Blocks on a Budget by David Vizard is superb. If you have read anything else by Vizard, you would expect nothing less, but I was a little apprehensive because the other titles that I have read by Vizard are general performance, while this covers just one engine. I was concerned that this book might end up being "How to Build Horsepower" with pictures and dynos of just Big Chevies. Just three pages in, I knew that would not be the case. This book is simply sensational.

The level of specificity is absolutely stunning. This book should be a guide to all other authors who intend to write books on a particular engine. For example, Vizard details in both words and pictures casting lumps that impede airflow. He gives precise measurements for critical tolerances such as minimum allowable cylinder wall thickness. Unlike most books which give generalities such as most blocks being capable of a .030" overbore, Vizard says sonic check the walls and go with the biggest bore that leaves you with .200" wall thickness or more. He even details where on the bore you should check and goes so far as to tell you the locations with the highest loads are so that if one cylinder would be .190" in a certain spot, you can judge the true level of risk.

While many authors understandably shy away from giving manufacturer names, Vizard does not. I understand it must be hard for an author to find the balance between providing the best information and biting the hand that feeds you (trashing the manufacturer), yet Vizard does it superbly. He doesn't tell you to skip brand X but he does say, "here are the brands I have used with success, and while I have tried many others, only those on the list do I recommend buying.
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I am a die-hard car enthusiast and self-made mechanic. With that being said, it's information like what you can find in this book that really helps you progress on your own. In just the first few pages, I already know much more on how to approach the task of increasing performance on my big block 454 within a reasonable budget. Everything from parts selection and matching to machining of the heads/block and their components. You cant go wrong with this book.
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Format: Paperback
I was intrigued to read David's book, "How to Build Max-Performance: Chevy Big Blocks On a Budget" after reading some of the reviews on Amazon.com. In the interest of full disclosure I must tell you that I have known and worked with David Vizard over the last 24 years. And the one thing I can say is that David always concentrates on the end result; when David says this is what works, you can rest assured that you are getting all of his knowledge on the subject.

More importantly, David seeks to expose all of the information to help the reader create the same results gleaned in the book. While blueprinting results to the Nth degree is virtually impossible, these steps will give you similar results as seen in the book. So when David did not include any information on "GM Performance Parts" as part of his discussion, he felt that there were more performance gains to be had -- at a more reasonable price -- than what was offered from GM at the time of this printing.

David is an engineer, with a remarkable understanding of fluid dynamics and air flow having worked as an engineer in the aircraft industry. David has taken the knowledge he's gained in aircraft engineering and transferred that knowledge into usable material in the automotive performance market. If you can read a micrometer, use a torque wrench, and have access to a qualified machine shop you too can build a high horsepower Big Block Chevy -- on a budget -- with excellent results.

I would not hesitate for a moment to use the information in this book to build my own big block Chevy engine, and I have built many over the last 38 years. Do yourself a favor; buy the book, read it, absorb its knowledge then go build yourself a kick-ass big block.
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