View Full Version : Aluminum Heads or Not

Mike O.
10-16-2007, 10:52 PM
Yet another question that I pose to all of you. Small block Chevy.......... Aluminum heads or not?

Mike O.

10-17-2007, 10:31 PM
Mike, with the cost of a good set of aluminum heads now about $799.00 pr. complete(Patriot) and others, (Ebay), this makes them an extreme value.

I always look at the cost of steel heads with proper valve job, valve size, quality parts and machine work at very close to the same price.


You can safely run about 1.00 point of additional compression over steel heads without damage or detonation on pump gas.

You can repair a damaged aluminum head much easier than steel.

Weight savings....about 45# total savings.

I am a Mopar guy and have always fought the price battle compared to a small block or big block Chevrolet.

It is simply cost efficient to run a small block Chevy or Ford. Pricewise, the aluminum heads are a real value and offer a performance upgrade. Chevrolet is still the best value, but the 5.0 market has really brought the prices down on small block Fords.


For a T or lightweight streetrod....do you really need an increase in performance? A good rebuilt 350 with a decent street cam, proper induction, and headers will give you around 300 hp without exotic combos and plain old steel heads. At 1900-2000 lbs., you are looking at 6.3 to 6.5 lbs. per horsepower for a mild combination. Most people cruise and nail it every now and then. A power to weight ratio like this will be lots of fun.

My opinion only...I thought about this very same question now that I am doing a Chevy for my T. I like the price....but went with a set of 58cc steel heads with 2.02 intakes and 1.60 exhausts. 58cc chambers on a plain old stock (dished 4 relief) piston for an actual compression ratio (measured) of 9.8 to 1. I paid $429.00 plus freight of $48.00 for fresh heads on new castings. Screw in studs, guide plates, etc. I am putting them on a basic rebuilt 350 with a decent cam and stock internals. Good oiling system, roller timing chain, MSD, etc.

The bottom line is this.....how fast do you want to go...and how much money do you want to spend? (same old story for as long as hotrodding has been around)

I love aluminum heads....I just did not use them this time.

Again others will have their opinions. Most guys/gals are on a budget and the $300.00 to $500.00 difference can be spent in other places. If you have the willingness and the green...let 'er rip.

There is no such thing as "too much fun".

12-12-2007, 04:41 PM
I would go with aluminum mainly to save weight. Ya wanna save bucks then cast iron is fine and cheaper. A few disadvantages to alum heads are 1.) you must be careful with bolt torque. You can very easily strip out a bolt hole. 2.) you need to use anti-seize on bolts threaded into alum especially if you are using SS bolts. 3.) DO NOT USE straight water in the radiator. Use demineralized water and radiator additives. Electrolysis will destroy the alum water passages and gasket surfaces around the themostat housing and intake water passages. Been there, done that, and got a set of Airflow Research heads to prove it.