The Cleveland was Fords best midsized performance engine for many years. Until the advent of aftermarket heads for the Windsor, if you wanted to go fast in a Ford with a 351-displacement engine, the Cleveland was the only game in town. Derivatives of the mighty 351 4V have been seen at tracks across the nation and indeed the world. The Yates engines that power the Ford NASCAR efforts today are derived from this stout design. In fact, Australia used the Cleveland engine in its production cycle into the early 80s.
Of course, as with any race-bred animal or cast-iron wonder, the Cleveland does have some quirks. The valvetrain arrangement is one of these oddities. Though the canted valves make for better port placement and larger valves, they create a strain on cam lobes. Of all the Ford small-blocks, youre more likely to flatten a Cleveland cam due to the extreme valve geometry. Enter the roller cam. The roller cam can give the Cleveland more powerful breathing and less dramatic friction that comes about with a flat-tappet cam due to the odd valve angles.
Competition Cams has an excellent custom roller grind that we used on our Lazarus Project Mach 1s 351 Cleveland 4V. This grind has good vacuum, excellent power, and the cool operation of roller lifters. Overall, the cam is a most powerful grind from 2,800 to 5,000 rpm and will surprise you when you read the dyno numbers. We tapped Bob Little and Allan West at Regional Performance Machine in Haines City, Florida, for our cam install. Our dyno work and some additional headwork was performed by Gil Alfaro and John Douglas at A&S machine in Riverview, Florida.