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Issue 06:08:02 - August 14, 2006

A Close look at the Chevrolet 350 engine (Part 2)

In this article, the Chevrolet 350 engine is covered from year 1980 through 2002. Each year often meant new changes and many improvements for this great engine.

1980: Manual transmissions say 'bye-bye'

In 1980, the Corvette L82 350 lost its manual transmission model, but another 5 horsepower was added to make up for the loss. It now reached 230 horsepower. To get the manual shift, consumers would have to order the 190-horsepower L48 350 engine. Californians were stuck with an automatic 180-horsepower L64 305. The dipstick for shifting was relocated to the passenger side of the engine block this year as well.

1981: Last carburetor for the Corvette

The Corvette L81 350 engine was the last carbureted engine offered. It had a Quadrajet carburetor with an 8.2:1 compression ratio. This engine replaced the L82 and L48 on Corvettes. It could reach 190 horsepower, which was available in each state with the choice of a four-speed manual transmission or a three-speed automatic transmission. This year was also the last for second-generation Camaros with optional LM1 350 engines that could produce 175 horsepower.

1982: Introducing cross fire electronic fuel injection

In 1982, the Cross Fire electronic fuel injection was introduced for the Corvette as standard. The L81 was replaced with a L83 350 engine, which featured dual Rochester throttle bodies. This had 750-cfm flow (combined) on an aluminum cross ram intake manifold. The power was increased to 200 horsepower with 285 pound foot of torque. Also, the manual transmission was not available on the Corvette this year. The Camaro got an all-new design for 1982 and did not offer the 350 engine. Instead it had a V-8 F-body until the 1986 models arrived.

1983: No Corvette

For 1983, no Corvette was offered. The 350 engine was used only in full-sized models of the Chevrolets, pickups, industrial vehicles and vans. The performance models of that year - Monte Carlo SS and Cross Fire (or Camaro Z28) - used carbureted 305 engines.

1984: The C4 Corvette is introduced

This year, the Corvette was re-introduced as the C4 L83 Cross Fire 350. This was identical to the 1982 version except for the engine changes. It could produce 205 horsepower. Also, the four-speed 700-R4 Turbohydramatic was released this year.

1985: More Corvette engine power

For 1985, the Corvette L98 350 engine was increased to 240 horsepower. The Tuned Port Injection, or TPI, replaced the Cross Fire's throttle-body system. The Camaro Z28 also got the TPI, but was limited to 305 inches.

1986: Aluminum heads for the Corvette L98 350

The 1986 Corvette L98 350 engine had the aluminum heads, which enabled an increased compression ratio of 9.5:1. Also, replacing the two-piece rear main seals were those with one piece along with mounting fixtures. Specific crankshafts were used for these.

1987: Camaro has optional 350 Power

In 1987, the Corvette 350 power became an option on the Camaro. Also, hydraulic roller cams were introduced for the EFI passenger cars with 350 engines, which gave them better performance and fuel efficiency.

1988: Last year for carbureted 350's

This year, the Corvette L98 TPI 350 engine received raised exhaust ports for its aluminum heads as well as revised seat and valve head angles. Iron heads were still used for the Camaro L98s. Both the Corvette L98 and the Camaro L98 had a LB9 Camaro camshaft. This increased the intake and exhaust valve lift by 0.015 inch and 0.011 inch. These changes increased horsepower capability for the Corvette to 245. For the 350-engine trucks, the throttle-body fuel injection was used. The carbureted 350 engines used in Caprices were discontinued this year.

1989: Multec fuel injectors added

The Camaro and Corvette 5.7L TPIs got Multec Fuel injectors this year, which would reduce any clogging from dirty gasoline. These injectors would also improve fuel atomization and lower operating voltage for better cold-weather startups. For the 5.7L IROC-Z models, a low-back pressure exhaust system became optional to buyers. The full-sized Impala and Caprice 350s for this year had throttle-body injection.

1990: Efficiency boost

For 1990, the Corvette and Camaro L98s received pistons that were lighter and also a speed-density engine-control system that would boost the engine efficiency. Chevrolet released the Corvette ZR1 this year, which had a unique double-overhead camshaft. The Chevy 350 engine was used in Cadillac Brougham models this year as well.

1991: Last year for the Corvette L98 350

This year marked the final year for the standard Corvette L98 350. It had low-restriction mufflers, but no power increase. The IROC-Z moniker was replaced with a Z28 badge this year also.

1992: Corvette gets the Gen II LT1 350 engine

The 1992 Corvettes got the Gen II LT1 350 engine, which featured reverse-flow cooling, aggressive cam timing, multipoint fuel injection and some other features that helped it produce a whopping 300 horsepower. This was the highest horsepower ever reached by a production small-block engine in the company's history. The Gen II had several features that were unique to this model year including a front timing cover, intake manifold and gaskets, head gaskets, front-mounted distributor and water pumps, upper camshaft timing sprocket, etc.

1993: Fourth generation of Camaro Z28s released

In 1993, the fourth generation of Camaro Z28s were released as well as the Firebird Trans Am with the Gen II LT1. The F-body LT1 could produce 275 horsepower.

1994: Iron-head Gen II LT1 for full-sized performance

This year, performance was increased once again for full-sized vehicles with the help of standard Gen II LT1 equipment for the Impala SS. This was also optional for the Caprice. It had 260 horsepower and would operate similar to the big-block engines of the 1960s. The speed-density system was replaced with MAF, or mass airflow, this year as well. Both fuel efficiency and the throttle response were improved this year by adding sequential fuel injection on the 5.7L Gen II engines.

1995: New exhaust system for California buyers

In California, the 1995 LT1 F-body got a 10-horsepower increase with dual catalytic converters, with a total of 285 horsepower. This exhaust system later became standard in all 50 states.

1996: LT4 for Corvettes; Vortec cylinder head for trucks and vans

In 1996, the LT4 was released as an upgraded option for Corvettes. It could produce 330 horsepower and had a compression ratio of 10.8:1. It also featured raised intake runners, hotter cam timing, increased port volume and Crane roller rockers (1.6:1). For vans and pickups, the Vortec cylinder head was added.

1997: New Corvette engine

For this year's Corvette, the Gen III LS1 replaced all other Gen II applications. It has an all-aluminum design. The Camaros and Firebirds kept the Gen II 350 one final year, and could produce 285 horsepower with the standard engine or 305 horsepower with a SS/Ram Air package.


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