Throwback Thursday: The Great Cylinder Head Debate

The week is nearing completion, and once again, Thursday has landed firmly on our doorsteps. If you’re like me, your weekend garage plans have already been made, and if those plans for enjoying some garage time with your project include a little cylinder-head work, we can help with that.

There has been a long-standing debate about whether it is better to rebuild or buy new or reconditioned cylinder heads, and it will likely never end. There will always be those that feel it is less expensive to rebuild, and those that feel the upgrade of a newer cylinder head is worth the small up-charge. But, we wanted to make sure you guys have good information, so we got some professional opinions to help you decide. You my friend, need to check out: Rebuild Or Buy New, The Great Cylinder Head Debate

cylinder head

Edelbrock’s E-Street (PN 5089) cylinder head is designed for applications where budget is a big concern. They are for engines building less than 400 horsepower and utilizing a rev limit of 5,500 rpm. The 1.250-inch valve springs, are compatible with mild flat-tappet cams with less than .550-inch lift. The combustion chamber is available in either a 64 or 70 cc configuration, and come with 2.02-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust valves.

Once again, we celebrate another editorial look-back and jump into the way back machine to open the Power Automedia vault that houses our vast collection of articles and revisit another great informational piece.

In this Throwback Thursday, we’re taking a leap back to May 2016. That’s when we reached out to Aerohead Racing Components, Air Flow Research, Edelbrock PerformanceRacing Head Service, Auto Performance Engines (APE).

cylinder head

The Chevrolet Vortec cylinder head is designed to fit 1955 and newer engines. This Vortec head (PN 12558060) is a great mild-performance cylinder head. They come fully assembled, and feature 1.94- and 1.55-inch valves, a 64 cc chamber, and a high-velocity port. The Vortec head outflows stock non-Vortec heads, and according to Chevrolet, deliver a 20- to 40-horsepower increase over earlier cast-iron heads. These cylinder heads are ideal for applications up to 350 horsepower, but they do require the use of a Vortec-specific intake manifold.

When it comes to deciding if you should you rebuild and modify the cylinder heads you have, or buy a set of new-and-improved castings, Eric Blakely of Edelbrock had this to say, “Edelbrock does not offer a rebuild service for our cylinder heads. We do sell all of the components individually for a consumer or shop to purchase and do the rebuild. We understand that consumers on a budget are going to find used cylinder heads in junkyards and online, so Edelbrock has chosen to support the engine builders by giving them the business and opportunity to have consumers bring them our cylinder heads for servicing. This is why we have chosen to offer all of the components for each of our cylinder heads for purchase.”

According to Kevin Willis of APE, “companies that sell complete, ready-to-run cylinder heads don’t necessarily offer a rebuilding service, that’s where I come in. If you already have a performance-oriented head that just needs rebuilt, rebuilding can be cheaper than buying new. If you need a performance cylinder head to begin with, it’s hard to beat the bang for the buck you get with those aftermarket heads.”

cylinder head

When rebuilding a cylinder head, adding screw-in studs is an upgrade that will cost you more money.

When it comes to purchasing stock-style cylinder heads that are ready-to-run, we contacted Russ Flagle of Aerohead Racing Components, and asked him about how he is able to sell his complete, refurbished cylinder heads so inexpensively. “The rebuilt heads that we sell are factory castings that are bought as a core and then rebuilt. We buy our parts in such large quantities, that we get a big discount, and are able to pass that on to the consumer. It’s tough to beat the deal we can deliver. Our heads are not built to be a performance-oriented cylinder head, but rather, an inexpensive replacement that can be worked on.”

The original article gets deep into the pros and cons of each choice, and even has a financial estimate of you might expect to pay for certain aftermarket heads and rebuilding your exiting units. Hopefully, that can help you make an informed decision.

cylinder head

Used cylinder heads are plentiful, but are they worth rebuilding?

There is a lot of information in the original article that can help you resolve your car’s peg-leg status, and that information is good to know. Therefore, if you’re planning to take a good hard look at upgrading to a better differential, I suggest you check out: Tech: Rebuild Or Buy New, The Great Cylinder Head Debate

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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