These 4 small-block screamers tackled muscle car brutes


There’s something fantastic about good ol’ big-displacement American torque. Is there anything more fun than smashing the gas pedal and glancing back to see the rear scrambling to gain traction while smoke billows out like a chimney?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/08/07/4-small-block-screamers-that-tackled-muscle-car-brutes


The Boss 351 Engine would’ve been the " PERFECT " Engine for the Ford DeTomaso Pantera !


I owned a 1971 Duster 340 ! it had a 3 speed Manual Transmission.

By adding a Moroso Valley Baffle, under an Edelbrock TM5 " Tarantula " Manifold

with a Holey 700 cfm " Double Pumper " Carburetor,

When you " Floored It ", the " Blue " Primary Pump Cam ( # 2 hole, 30 cc ) & the " Brown "

Secondary Pump Cam ( # 1 hole, 50 cc ). THE CAR WOULD ABSOLUTELY FLY !

Stock Exhaust Manifolds, connected to a pair of 2 1/2 Exhaust Tubing, X-Pipe & Corvair Turbo


Finally an Accel Dual Point Distributor, 12 deg in the Distributor Plus 10 Deg Lead @ Idle.

My best guess was it had a 3.23 " Open " Rear End. 275 HP, at the Rear Wheels, MAYBE !

ALL OF THIS MADE THE CAR SUPER STRONG & in a Race on Sunset with a Ford Boss 302,

I was leading them, until the light changed to Red. I STOPPED, they Didn’t, they passed me,

running the red. I LAUGHED MY HEAD OFF, when I pulled away from the light & saw a

Motorcycle Cop Ticketing the Mustang. I NEVER SAW EITHER OF THEM AGAIN !


I was just thinking that, myself!

Many years ago a friend of mine had a Boss 351 Mustang, and it was quick. Astounding midrange grunt for a “small block”. He had the intake off it once, and I was dumbstruck at the size of the ports for a 351 CID engine. They looked like they belonged on a big-block Chevy.

Really cool car, and I’m glad they’re finally getting some respect.


Wow, I can’t believe that the number one small block in my opinion is not even mentioned. Where is the GM DZ 302 in this mix???



How about the 1970 351 Cleveland 4V?


AMC 390!!!

Moves my SC/Rambler plenty fast!!


How about the 69 S/C Rambler, or the Rebel SST with a 390?


The Boss wasn’t good enough?


That’s not a giant-killer.


A 343 '67 would be more in the vein of the article, and it’s not a giant-killer.


It should be noted that they are talking about a Cleveland smallblock as opposed to a Windsor small block. All Panteras in the Ford era, 71-74, used 351 Clevelands.

The 71Pantera had 310 HP, European spec cars were 330HP. By 1974 it was only 270 HP because of the smog regulations.

Clevelands are easily and inexpensively modified with more bolt-on horsepower.


Not sure how Panteras became part of the discussion…?


It was really to comment that the Boss was a Cleveland motor. There were two earlier replies about the Pantera.

In a message dated 8/9/2018 11:22:05 AM Central Standard Time, hagerty@discoursemail.com writes:


The 302 might not have been (a giant killer @ 14.5 quarters) but just the sound of mine got me a ticket.
Great fun. I didn’t have a tachometer but just revved it till it quick pulling.
A great bunch of fun when I was young…

My 2006 400HP Corvette if faster than any (giant killer) of the day. Don’t even have to turn off the air to run quarters in the high 12’s. But we are talking about classics aren’t we?


Ah! Gotcha on the Pantera.


The 65/66 Mustangs with the K-code 271HP 289 with 4 speed and a bit of gear were another giant killer.


I can’t think of any giants the K-code would slay. The Boss 351 is a much better example.


I’m curious diegorosenberg – how much time did you spend at drag strips in the mid-60’s watching cars like this run?

The Hagerty editors identified 4 examples for us – the Boss 351 was one of those. But there were definitely others. I spent many a Wednesday and Saturday night at Jackson Drag Strip in Jackson, SC when these cars were new. In my example above, they’d start with the K-code Stang, free up the exhaust, re-jet/tune to match, throw in a posi and 4.30 or 4.56 gears with traction bars and a set of slicks – and many a (much heavier) stock big block was 2nd through the lights. And the sound of that small block Ford at high revs…memorable. My brother ran a '61 Falcon (the basis for the Mustang) with what was basically a Cobra-spec 289 (306hp), T10 BW 4 speed and 4.56 posi. Car ran consistent low 12’s on cheater slicks. LOTS of unhappy big blocks.

In that same vein - there were a couple of 1965 Valiant Formula “S” 2-door post cars with the 273/235HP small block, 4 speed manual and 3.91 gears that would run mid to high 14’s all night long stock. Same recipe as the K-code - light car, free up the exhaust, add a bunch more posi gear, and lose the 13" dog dish wheels/tiny tires for some small slicks – as often as not, the stock big block competition got embarrassed.

I think the other thing I’d add here – the term “giants” is subjective. It conjures up different images for each of us. I’ve found, particularly for younger enthusiasts who didn’t actually live through this time frame (65-71), that many people think the real American muscle giants - Hemi-whatevers, LS6 or 396/375 Chevelles, R-code Cobra Jets, W30 455 Olds, GSx Buicks - were everywhere. Well, my experience was that they were few and far between. The “average” big block muscle car was a 396/325 Chevelle with automatic, A/C, some power accessories, or a 351/390 Mach I or Torino, or a 383 Road Runner. Almost all of them came with long gears from the factory because they weren’t very practical as a daily with steep gears and 3 speed automatics. The average driver was, well, an average driver. On street tires, most of them were having a real good night if they could break out of the low 15’s into the high 14’s. Granted, with a few mods, they could be much quicker - but most of the stuff running was stock with very average drivers. When Hagerty referred to ‘giant killers’ - it was these average big(ger) block cars driven by drivers who occasionally raced the car that came to mind for me. Lightly modified, lighter weight small blocks with good drivers often handed them their asses.

At least that’s how it went down when I was there. :wink:


Very interesting observation regarding what were considered the giant muscles cars of the day and just how often you really saw them. Tend to agree.

As to discussion on wicked “Giant Killers”, a rare and one year only version, would include the 1969 350 H.O. Pontiac. Little known but very quick.