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What is GM's Vortec Engine? Is it a Good Engine to Buy Used?

Posted at Mon, Apr 25, 2016 9:45 AM

The Vortec line of engines, I4, I5, I6, V6, and three V8 versions, were introduced by General Motors in the mid-90s. When you speak about Vortec engines, mainly it is about the 5.0L/5.7L engines based on the original 1955 Small-Block Chevy V8. The redesigned cylinder heads of a Vortec engine provides for improved combustion efficiency. The intake ports (reshaped) of the engine provides for better cylinder filling and fuel atomization by promoting higher air flow velocities to the combustion chambers via the ports. The redesigned chambers create a vortex-like flow of the fuel/air mixture within the cylinder. It helps to keep the fuel evenly combined. It is then distributed through the hole of the combustion chamber. Upon ignition, the faster and thorough burn result in the production of more heat, which in turn means more cylinder pressure. More cylinder pressure means more pressure on the piston. Increased pressure on the piston in general means increased power.

Vortec cylinder heads (generation I) can be used to upgrade older SBC engines. In fact, it is a popular upgrade with automobile enthusiasts and custom car designers. However, there are certain points to keep in mind:

  • Vortec heads of the LS-series will not fit on a classic SBC-style engine
  • The Vortec heads will improve low/mid rpm operation, however, they are not suitable for high rpm operation (above 4000 rpm)

You will be able to pick up generation I-style Vortec heads for a fair price. They have been in production from 1996 till 2002, which means there are a lot of them out there. They are easy to install on older generation I SBC V8.

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