Video: Pushing A 540 ci BBC To Its Limit With Steve Morris Engines

Steve Morris Engines is well known for building some of the biggest and baddest custom engines at the highest quality possible. Most enthusiasts would assume this to mean that most of the customers that come to Steve Morris to build their dream motor are walking through the door and writing out huge checks. This is far from the truth and the big-block chevy build in this video posted to the Steve Morris Engines YouTube channel is a perfect example of that.

This monster 540 ci big block chevy was a rebuild for Kevin Johnson, a long time customer of Steve Morris, who like many of us, got used to the power of his 1971 Chevelle and was looking to tighten his harnesses some more, while sticking to a budget. Alex Esnaola of Steve Morris Engines elaborates, “We worked with Kevin over the course of about three years to build this engine for him, while staying within his budget. If we are going to be designing and building the entire engine for them from beginning to end, we will work within our customer’s budget every month, every quarter or however they want to work it.”

Esnaola excitedly explained that Steve Morris sells all of the parts available in their engine packages individually on their website. They will look at your budget and will begin ordering parts for you, piece by piece, as you can afford it. Esnaola continues, “When Kevin got to the point where he had about 80 percent of the parts needed for the build, he packaged them all up and sent it out to us. We then collected the remaining parts and finished the assembly and dyno tuning at the shop.”

This Dart Big M block is the same one used in their 2,000-2,500 horsepower engine package, which was perfect for Johnson since he had a goal of 2,000-2,400 horsepower for this build. Internally, they upgraded to a Crower forged crankshaft, a newly designed custom grind Bullet camshaft, Oliver billet connecting rods and custom set of Diamond pistons to help handle the added boost coming from the F-3R-136 Procharger. The team at Steve Morris Engines put a lot of R&D into the port program and chamber modification used on these Brodix 383 cc conventional cylinder heads that cap off the block.

Steve Morris also decided to show the benefits of using their ProVolute bell and internal CNC mod on the F3 Procharger by doing back to back dyno runs with and without the volute. On the first run without the volute, this big block pumped out 2,649.7 horsepower and 1,799.4 lb-ft of torque, with peak boost hitting 32 psi at 7,900 rpm. After the ProVolute was installed, the motor produced 2,910.2 horsepower and 1902.5 lb-ft of torque, with peak boost increasing by almost 3 psi to 34.95 psi at 7,900 rpm. To learn more about Steve Morris’ ProVolute and the 5 years of R&D that went into the design, check out our tech article here

Esnaola is very proud of the approach Steve Morris Engines takes when building these robust engines; Esnaola explains, “We designed this engine package to be a really good platform for your hybrid street car/race car and is something that we can custom tailor to what our customers specific wants and needs are. We work closely with our customers to develop an engine package that will fit within what they’re trying to accomplish. If the chosen package isn’t the best choice for what they need to accomplish their goal, we will educate the customer on what we feel is best for their application and guide them in the right direction by supplying the right parts.”

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About the author

Kyle Kitchen

Born and raised in Southern California, Kyle has been a gearhead ever since seeing his first Mitsubishi Evo VIII in 2003. He is almost entirely self taught mechanically, and as an inexperienced enthusiast always worked on his own vehicles, regardless of the difficulty, just to learn how to do it himself. Prior to becoming a freelance writer for the company, Kyle started his automotive performance career with Power Automedia as a shop technician, where he gleaned intimate knowledge of LS platforms and drag racing builds; then later joining the editorial team as the Staff Writer for EngineLabs And Turnology. Today, Kyle is an experienced EFI calibrator; hot rod builder; and motorsports technician living in the San Jose area. Kyle is a track junkie with lots of seat time. You can usually find him racing his Mitsubishi Evo X in local time attack and road race events.
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