Best Heads for 383 Stroker: Top Picks and Expert Advice

The 383 Stroker engine, renowned for its remarkable power and performance, is a popular choice among car enthusiasts. Selecting the right cylinder heads is crucial to unlocking its full potential.

This article dives into the best heads for a 383 Stroker, offering a blend of expert advice and top picks to enhance your engine’s performance.

Whether for street driving or racing, understanding the nuances of different head types and their impacts on your engine can make a significant difference in your vehicle’s capabilities.

Best Heads for 383 Stroker: Top Picks and Expert Advice

Understanding 383 Stroker Heads

When it comes to choosing the ideal set of heads for a 383 stroker engine, there are a few things I consider. Firstly, I need to know the purpose of the engine, whether it’s for a street-driven vehicle or for racing purposes.

One popular option for 383 strokers is aluminum heads. They offer several benefits, such as being lightweight.

This results in reduced overall weight, which enhances performance. Additionally, aluminum dissipates heat well, allowing the engine to run cooler.

For a street-driven 383 stroker, a set of well-performing heads is crucial. One interesting choice I’ve come across is the AFR 195.

It offers a good balance between power and efficiency, making it suitable for daily driving scenarios. Another durable and reliable option can be RHS heads. These are also quite popular among performance enthusiasts.

In conclusion, the choice of heads for a 383 stroker depends on the intended use of the engine.

By examining the pros and cons of each option and understanding their performance characteristics, I can select the most suitable set of heads for my specific needs.

Importance of Choosing the Right Heads

When it comes to building a 383 stroker engine, choosing the right heads is crucial. I’ve discovered that optimal performance and efficiency depend on matching the heads to the engine’s specifications.

For example, a head with 180 or 185cc intake runners could work well on a typical 350 Chevy street engine that makes 400 to 450 horsepower. If it’s a 383 stroker, 200cc intake runners might be a better fit.

Moreover, airflow plays an essential role in delivering horsepower. The more cubic inches the engine has, the more airflow the heads must provide.

Investing in the right heads can also save time and money. Having suitable heads from the start eliminates the need for future adjustments or replacements.

However, it’s essential to be cautious about exaggerated claims. Keep in mind when choosing that not all heads deliver the advertised performance improvement.

In conclusion, considering factors like airflow, engine specifications, and budget will help me make an informed decision on the ideal cylinder heads for my 383 stroker engine. With the right heads, I can maximize my engine’s potential and enjoy a better driving experience.

Benefits of Quality Heads

A quality set of heads can really improve my 383 stroker’s performance. Let me share some of the benefits.

First, quality heads enhance airflow. They help my engine breathe better, which boosts its power. Better airflow contributes to more efficient combustion.

Second, they optimize the engine’s power curve. This means my 383 stroker gets more power and torque throughout the rpm range.

For instance, I found that shorter runners give better velocity at lower RPMs. This results in a nice low-end torque for street use.

Best Heads for 383 Stroker: Top Picks and Expert Advice

As for the available aluminum heads, I can choose between brands like AFR, Dart, or DNA Motoring. These offer different benefits, such as being lightweight and providing better heat dissipation.

In my search, I discovered that 195cc and 200cc heads are popular choices for 383 strokers. These sizes balance low and high rpm performance.

To sum it up, quality heads are essential for getting the most out of my 383 stroker. They not only improve airflow but also optimize the motor’s overall output and characteristics.

Best Heads for 383 Stroker: Top-Rated 383 Stroker Heads

I’ve explored some popular options for 383 stroker heads and want to share my findings.

Brodix IK 180 or 200

Brodix IK 180cc heads have impressive flow for their size. Despite being considered small by some, they perform on par with 200cc heads.

ARF 195

ARF 195 heads are versatile and suit different build types. They’re a solid choice for those looking for an upgrade.

RHS Heads

RHS heads provide a worthwhile alternative to ARF 195. They serve as a viable solution for builds requiring different specs.

Here’s a comparison table to help illustrate the highlights of each head:

ModelPrice RangeFlow PerformanceSuitability for Street Motors
Brodix IK 180 or 200~$1,000High FlowYes
ARF 195VariesHigh FlowYes
RHSVariesComparable to ARF 195Yes

When choosing the best heads for a 383 stroker, consider your build’s purpose and budget. These options cater to several needs and offer exceptional performance.

Aluminum vs Iron Heads for 383 Stroker

When it comes to choosing between aluminum and iron heads for a 383-stroker engine, there are some factors to consider.

In terms of weight, aluminum heads can be quite an advantage. They are usually 45 to 50 lbs lighter than their iron counterparts, making them a popular choice among car enthusiasts1.

Aluminum heads also offer better heat dissipation compared to iron ones. This can lead to improved performance for your 383 stroker, especially if you are looking for a bit more power2.

On the other hand, iron heads may be more affordable in some cases1. Additionally, they are known for their durability and can handle higher temperatures.

Here’s a comparison table to help better understand the differences:

FactorsAluminum HeadsIron Heads
WeightLighter (45 to 50lbs lighter)Heavier
Heat DissipationBetterLower
DurabilitySufficientTypically Higher
CostCan be more expensiveMay be more affordable1

Considering both aluminum and iron heads have their pros and cons, your decision ultimately comes down to personal preference, budget, and your specific 383-stroker project requirements.

Budget Heads for 383 Stroker

When building a 383 stroker, one important aspect to consider is the head selection for the engine. In this section, I’ll discuss budget-friendly options for those looking to maximize performance without breaking the bank.

ProComp Electronics offers an affordable option that performs well on the street. With an aluminum build, these heads promote efficient heat dissipation.

They might not be the best choice overall, but they are perfect when you’re working within a budget constraint.

Another decent option for budget heads is Dart Iron Eagle. Iron Eagle heads are known for their durability and performance.

Best Heads for 383 Stroker: Top Picks and Expert Advice

While they don’t have the heat dissipation properties of aluminum, they can still deliver good performance at a reasonable price.

It’s worth noting that each head type has its pros and cons. To help you make a decision, let’s look at a comparison table:

Head TypeProsCons
ProComp ElectronicsAffordable, good heat dissipationMight not deliver the best performance
Dart Iron EagleDurability, performanceLesser heat dissipation

Ultimately, the choice between these two budget heads for a 383 stroker depends on your specific needs and the trade-offs you’re willing to make.

Installing New Heads on a 383 Stroker

When I want to upgrade my 383 stroker for better performance, installing new cylinder heads is an essential step. There are several options to choose from for improving airflow and increasing horsepower.

For example, Brodix IK 180 or 200 heads are often considered suitable. Their great value-priced performance and flow capacity offer a nice boost.

Regarding selecting the right size, 195cc or 200cc heads can be a great fit for most street builds. These sizes offer plenty of potential without necessarily sacrificing low-end torque.

Here’s a simple comparison table for the popular cylinder head sizes:

180ccGood flowLimited high RPM performance
195ccBalanced performanceMight not yield the highest gains
200ccGreat high RPM gainsPossible low-end torque loss

In my installation process, I ensure using proper gaskets, torque specs, and head bolts. Upgrading the valvetrain components, like high lift camshafts, might be beneficial too, depending on the chosen head.

Let me now share a step by step guide for the same.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • New cylinder heads
  • Head gasket set
  • Torque wrench
  • Socket set
  • Feeler gauge
  • Screwdrivers
  • Lubricants (engine oil, assembly lube)
  • Coolant
  • Gasket scraper
  • Thread sealer
  • Possibly other tools depending on your specific engine

Pre-Installation Preparation

  1. Engine and Workspace Preparation: Ensure the engine is cool and disconnect the battery. Clean the workspace to avoid contamination of engine parts.
  2. Remove Existing Heads:
    • Drain the coolant and remove the radiator hoses.
    • Take off the intake manifold, exhaust manifold, valve covers, and rocker arms.
    • Carefully unbolt and remove the old heads. Keep track of all bolts and components.
  3. Clean the Engine Block: Use a gasket scraper to clean the old gasket material off the engine block. Ensure the surface is clean and smooth.
Best Heads for 383 Stroker: Top Picks and Expert Advice

Installation Process

  1. Check the New Heads: Inspect the new heads for any defects or shipping damage.
  2. Install Head Gaskets: Place the new head gaskets on the block. Make sure they’re aligned correctly with the dowel pins and block holes.
  3. Position the New Heads: Carefully lower the new heads onto the block, aligning them with the gaskets.
  4. Bolt Down the Heads:
    • Apply thread sealer to the bolts if necessary.
    • Follow the manufacturer’s torque specifications and sequence to tighten the head bolts with a torque wrench. This usually requires several passes in a specific order.
  5. Reassemble the Top End:
    • Reinstall the rocker arms, pushrods, and valve covers.
    • Replace the intake and exhaust manifolds.
    • Ensure all bolts are torqued to specifications.
  6. Valve Adjustment:
    • Adjust the valves using a feeler gauge. This step is crucial for the engine’s performance.
    • Refer to your engine’s specifications for the correct valve lash settings.
  7. Reconnect and Refill:
    • Reconnect all hoses, wiring, and components removed earlier.
    • Refill the cooling system with coolant.
  8. Final Checks:
    • Double-check all connections, bolt torques, and hose clamps.
    • Reconnect the battery.


  1. Start the Engine: Initially run the engine at a low idle to check for leaks and unusual noises. Monitor the oil pressure and engine temperature.
  2. Break-In: If the heads are part of a new build or significant rebuild, follow a proper break-in procedure. This often involves running the engine at varying speeds and loads for a certain period.
  3. Re-torque and Re-adjust: After the engine has been run for a while, re-torque the head bolts (if recommended by the manufacturer) and recheck the valve adjustments.

Safety and Best Practices

  • Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and torque specifications.
  • Use quality tools and parts to ensure reliability and safety.
  • If unsure about any step, seek professional assistance or refer to detailed service manuals.

Remember, every engine build is unique. So, choose the right cylinder heads based on the overall performance goals and desired driving experience.

Here’s a video guide that could be helpful as well.

Maintaining Your 383 Stroker Heads

Choosing the right heads for your 383 Stroker engine is important, but equally as important is maintaining those heads, so let me share some tips on maintaining the heads on your 383 Stroker engine.

First and foremost, I believe that frequent oil changes are crucial. High-quality synthetic oil keeps the internal parts of the heads lubricated, and fresh oil ensures there’s no buildup of sludge or contaminants.

Alongside the oil changes, I also make sure to replace the oil filter regularly, as it plays a big role in keeping the oil clean and preventing engine wear.

Occasionally, it’s important to inspect and clean the intake and exhaust valve ports. I find that using an appropriate cleaning solution and brushes can help remove any carbon deposits, leading to more efficient airflow and less chance of damage to the valves.

Additionally, I like maintaining my cooling system to avoid overheating, which could damage the heads.

This process involves keeping the coolant levels in check, replacing coolant when necessary, and examining the water pump, hoses, and thermostats periodically.

Best Heads for 383 Stroker: Top Picks and Expert Advice

To ensure proper function, checking the head gasket is essential as well. Look for signs of leaking coolant or oil, because a blown head gasket can cause significant damage to the heads by allowing coolant into the combustion chamber.

Lastly, I make it a point to inspect and adjust the valvetrain components as needed. This includes checking the rocker arms, pushrods, and valves for wear or damage.

I also follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for adjusting the valve lash to reduce the risk of valve damage and keep the engine operating efficiently.

Of course, different head options for 383 Stroker engines may have specific maintenance requirements, so always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions.

Proper maintenance of your 383 Stroker heads ensures longevity, performance, and your engine’s overall health.

Signs of a Failing Head for 383 Stroker

I’ve noticed that a few signs can indicate a failing head for a 383 Stroker. Let me share them with you:

  • Coolant leaks: If the head is cracked or has a warped surface, it can cause coolant to leak into the combustion chamber or the exterior of the engine.

  • Overheating: A damaged head can prevent the engine from dissipating heat correctly, leading to overheating issues.

Some other issues include:

  • Loss of compression: This may result in weak engine performance or poor fuel efficiency.
  • White or blue smoke: A failing head can cause coolant or oil to enter the combustion chamber and burn, leading to white or blue exhaust smoke.

It’s essential to address these issues as soon as possible. Keep an eye out for such signs and take your car to a professional mechanic for diagnostics and repairs.

Replacing Your 383 Stroker Heads

Tools and Materials Needed

  • New cylinder heads
  • Head gasket set
  • Torque wrench
  • Socket set
  • Feeler gauge
  • Screwdrivers
  • Engine oil and assembly lube
  • Coolant
  • Gasket scraper
  • Thread sealer
  • Other tools as required for your specific engine model

Pre-Installation Steps

  1. Safety and Preparation:
    • Ensure the engine is cool and the vehicle is securely parked.
    • Disconnect the battery to prevent electrical hazards.
  2. Access the Engine:
    • Remove any components obstructing access to the cylinder heads (like the air intake, hoses, or radiator components).
  3. Remove Ancillary Components:
    • Detach the exhaust manifold, intake manifold, valve covers, and rocker arms.
    • Keep all bolts and components organized for reassembly.
  4. Remove Old Heads:
    • Drain the engine coolant.
    • Carefully unbolt and remove the old cylinder heads.
    • Clean the engine block surface, removing old gasket material and ensuring a smooth mating surface.
Best Heads for 383 Stroker: Top Picks and Expert Advice

Installation Process

  1. Inspect New Heads:
    • Check the new heads for any damage or defects before installation.
  2. Install Head Gaskets:
    • Place new head gaskets on the block, aligning them with dowel pins and ensuring proper orientation.
  3. Install New Heads:
    • Carefully position the new heads onto the block.
    • Apply thread sealer to head bolts if required.
    • Bolt down the heads following the manufacturer’s torque specifications and sequence. This often requires multiple passes in a specific order.
  4. Reassemble Upper Engine:
    • Reattach the rocker arms, pushrods, and valve covers.
    • Reinstall the intake and exhaust manifolds, ensuring all gaskets are properly seated.
    • Torque all bolts to specifications.
  5. Adjust Valves:
    • Adjust the valve lash according to your engine specifications using a feeler gauge.
  6. Reconnect Components:
    • Reattach any removed components like hoses, wiring, and radiator parts.
    • Refill the cooling system with fresh coolant.

Post-Installation Checks

  1. Initial Engine Start:
    • Start the engine and let it idle, checking for leaks or unusual noises.
    • Monitor oil pressure and engine temperature closely.
  2. Engine Break-In:
    • If the heads are part of a larger rebuild, follow a proper engine break-in procedure, which typically involves running the engine at varying speeds and loads.
  3. Recheck and Retorque:
    • After the engine has been run for a while, recheck and retorque the head bolts if recommended by the manufacturer.
    • Recheck valve adjustments.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal top end kit for a 383 stroker?

When building a 383 stroker, selecting the right top end kit is crucial for optimal performance. An ideal top end kit for a 383 stroker should include performance-oriented heads, manifold, camshaft, and other necessary components. It’s also essential to consider factors such as intended use (street, drag, or marine), the type of fuel system you’ll be using, and engine compression. Some popular top-end kits include Edelbrock Total Power Packages and Trick Flow Twisted Wedge kits.

Which AFR heads work best with a 383 stroker?

For street performance applications, the AFR 195 Eliminators work well with a 383 stroker. They offer excellent flow characteristics and are known for enhancing horsepower and torque across the RPM range. AFR heads are available in various specifications, and it’s crucial to choose the best match for your camshaft, intake manifold, and exhaust system.

What is the optimal cam for a 383 stroker using Vortec heads?

When pairing a 383 stroker with Vortec heads, you’ll want a cam designed to maximize the potential of these heads without sacrificing streetability. An excellent cam for this combination is the Comp Cams 12-326-4 Magnum 236/236 Hydraulic Flat Cam, which works well with AFR heads. Please note that your camshaft choice should also complement your compression ratio, gearing, and vehicle weight.

How can I achieve 600 hp on a 383 SBC build?

To achieve 600 hp or more on a 383 SBC build, you’ll need to focus on several performance aspects:

  • Aggressive camshaft profile
  • High-flowing cylinder heads and intake manifold
  • Proper carburetion or fuel injection
  • Efficient exhaust system
  • High-strength internals (forged crankshaft, rods, and pistons)
  • Adequate cooling and fuel system capacity

Keep in mind that while it’s possible to achieve 600 hp, reaching it may come at the cost of streetability, reliability, and increased budget.

What SBC heads are suitable for 500 hp?

For a 500 hp Small Block Chevy, you’ll want high-quality, high-flowing cylinder heads. Some options include AFR 210 competition heads, Brodix IK 200 heads, or Dart Iron Eagle Platinum heads. Remember to match your heads to your camshaft, intake manifold, and exhaust system for the best results.

What is the potential horsepower for a 383 stroker?

The potential horsepower for a 383 stroker engine depends on various factors, including the components you select. A well-built street-oriented 383 stroker can produce between 400-450 hp, while more aggressive builds with upgraded internals, heads, camshaft, and fuel/ignition systems can make 500-600 hp or more. As power increases, reliability may decrease, and other vehicle components must be upgraded to handle it.


In the realm of performance engines, the 383 Stroker stands out as a versatile and powerful option. The journey to maximizing its potential is significantly influenced by the choice of cylinder heads.

From lightweight aluminum to durable iron options, each type offers unique benefits to suit various driving demands and budgets.

By carefully considering factors like airflow, engine compatibility, and performance goals, you can make an informed decision that not only boosts your engine’s output but also enhances your overall driving experience.

Remember, the right heads are not just about power; they’re about transforming your vehicle into a more efficient, responsive, and enjoyable machine.


  1. Hughes Engines 2 3

  2. Team Chevelle

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.