So far my writings are about engines have been ones I owned and the 283 was the engine in my very first car. It was a 1966 Chevy Impala. It was a gift to me for my 1976 high school graduation. The car was restored by my father, who was a master auto body man. The car was a convertible with A/C and glass rear window. It sported an automatic Powerglide transmission.
The 283 was a simple engine and of course the engine bay of the ’66 Impala could hold a family of four, with lots of room to work in there. Oh…those were the days…a piece of cardboard on the ground and 3 bolts later you’d have the starter out. I wish I could find a picture, I know there were some taken, polaroids back then, but they’ve disappeared over the years, much like the car.
So what’s the history of the 283 and what was it used in. Well those answers are coming up as well as two special uses of the 283, one in the past and one modified restro-mod use…(yeah…someone mod’ed a 283..very cool, but that is later).
As with most engines the 283 wasn’t drawn up on the design boards and produced. It was a result of Chevrolet’s desire to increase performance of a power plant they already had on the shelf. The 265 cubic inch small block underwent transformation that resulted in a new engine in 1957.
The modifications made to the 265 to create the 283 were increased bore from 3.75” to 3.875″, the main bearing was given 2.30” journals and 2.00” connecting rods. The base configuration (with a two barrel carb) for the 265 produced 165 hp, the 283 made 185. Twenty more horsepower doesn’t seem much but toss on a 4 barrel and the 283 takes off at 220 hp which tops the 265 similarly configuration producing 185-195 hp.
1957 was a good year for Chevy. Bill “Grumpy Jenkings took a 283 fitted with a dual carb set up and achieved 270 hp. It was also the first year for Chevy’s Rochester Ram Jet and what better engine to use than the new 283. This combination took the 283 in to the history books by producing horsepower that equaled the displacement – 283 c.i.d. and 283 hp.
And that is what led to the installation of the 283 in Chevy sports car platform, the Corvette.
More on that coming up in Part 2.
Thanks for reading.