The Chevrolet 283-cubic-inch V-8 engine was the second in Chevy's popular small-block engine family. It was the first V-8 offered by Chevrolet that accomplished the goal of having an engine generating one horsepower for every cubic inch. It did not garner much attention because it was not the first small-block V-8, nor the strongest, like its siblings the 327 and 350. But it was a durable, underappreciated workhorse that endured for a decade.
The 283 was introduced in 1957 following the 265 that broke the small-block V-8 ground in 1955 when the 265 was installed in Corvettes. The Corvette from 1953 to 1955 had been powered only by the in-line 6-cylinder engine. The early 283s were fitted with mechanical fuel injection to be installed on the Corvette. Mechanical fuel injection was in its infancy and wasn't particularly reliable, but it allowed the 283 to deliver 283 horsepower. These early versions led to the larger cubic-inch displacement small-blocks that played a role in the muscle car wars in the 1960s.
One HP Rule
In the 1950s and 1960s, Chevrolet engineers were an intelligent, aggressive and competitive bunch. Perhaps for no other reason than ego, a goal was set to guarantee that a Chevy engine could deliver one horsepower for every cubic inch of displacement. However, it wasn't entirely an exercise in hubris. Delivering greater horsepower from a small engine block increased fuel efficiency and gave the engine a longer life. Later, the 302 and 327 accomplished these goals with greater success, but the Corvette-equipped fuel-injected 283 proved the goal could be accomplished, according to Hiperformer.com and Novak-adapt.com.
The 16-valve 283 featured a 3.87-inch bore and 3-inch stroke within a 283-cubic-inch displacement (4.6 liters). It featured a single overhead camshaft and overhead valves. It generated the expected 283 horsepower at 6,200 rpm, but also a healthy 290 foot-pounds, the twisting force generated inside the engine to give the vehicle its get-up-and-go. In all, five separate versions of the 283 were produced between 1957 and 1967. Horsepower was offered as little as 185. But the 283 could be boosted to a maximum 315 horsepower, which is a remarkable feat given its displacement.
The 283 powered just about every Chevrolet passenger car, most notably the Bel Air, Impala, Malibu and Chevelle. It also was a mainstay for Checker taxi cabs until replaced by the 327 in the mid 1960s.
The 1957 Corvette, the first year the 283 became available, was fitted with a Ramjet mechanical fuel-injection system to pump the horsepower to the desired 283. In straight speed testing, the Corvette hit 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, which was considered very fast for that era. Top speed was 133 mph. The 283 paved the way for the second-generation Corvettes starting in 1962 to use the 327, which also was capable of achieving the one-horsepower-per cubic-inch rule.
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