Greg Zyla: Buick Club and Chevy engines
Q: Greg, I read your columns in our local paper here in Middleboro, Mass. Your "Cars We Remember" is very interesting and of a good variety. You actually make them exciting to read.
I really like the old car ads that you run with your column as I'm a member of the Buick Club Of America, (member number 8478 --- see www.buickclub.org) and collect old Buick car ads. Although I am always looking for the Buick ads and have some nice ones from old Playbill and Metro Opera magazines, I have to admit I have enjoyed your articles on the 1949 Olds Rocket 88 and that ad, too. I just picked up a bunch of old magazines with lots of car ads, but they are getting more difficult to get these days.
I also wanted to mention about the Chevy 396-454 engines you have mentioned in your articles, and although I know you are aware of the 402- and 427-inch versions, many people don't know that there was a 366-inch big block V-8 that came in the trucks. I know many forget this short stroke big block that came with two or four barrel Holley carbs.
Keep up the fun and informative columns!
-- Arthur L. Tetreault, Middleboro, Mass.
A: Arthur, thank you so much for your nice comments. Since you are a Buick Club Of America member, you are certainly aware that there are many Buick fans out there who enjoy the camaraderie of this well known and professional club. Also, the old-time car ads you mention are a big item nowadays on the public auction sites, where they bring some decent money.
I also admit I have written many times in the past about the 366-inch Chevy big block V-8, correctly stated as the "forgotten big block." It was used in numerous heavy duty trucks and longer chassis application school buses.
However, much to my surprise and I'm sure yours, too, I always thought the 366 was a short crankshaft stroke engine, but it has the exact same 3.76-inch stroke crank as the 396-402-427 series. Chevy used a smaller bore and piston of 3.935 to arrive at the 366-inch size. The only big block to receive a larger throw crank was the 454, which came with a 4-inch stroke crank, necessitating an "external balance" torsional damper and flywheel.
Thanks again for your hand-written letter and good luck with those car ads. The Buick Club is holding its 2011 convention in Danvers, Mass., and I'm sure you'll be there. Have fun.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for GateHouse Media on collector cars, auto nostalgia and old-time motor racing and welcomes reader comments and questions at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840, or email him at email@example.com.