The trademarked name Vortec first appeared on a 1988 GM model truck engine, 4.3 L V6. The name represents the technology which creates a “vortex” within the combustion chamber. This vortex is responsible for the mixture of air and fuel within the chamber allowing for better engine performance. The same concept has been applied to Vortec cylinder heads which have been in use since 1996. There is often some confusion as to whether or not certain cylinder heads are indeed “Vortec”, however there is little argument that this design will definitely improve engine performance and efficiency.
To determine whether or not you are purchasing and installing true Vortec cylinder heads you must first be able to recognize the difference between this type of cylinder head and the hundreds of other types available. To avoid confusion understand first that looking at a Vortec cylinder head from the exhaust side will look very similar if not exactly like that of all the other cylinder heads in use. The same can be said about the ends. The big difference and first indication that you are looking at a Vortec cylinder head is in the intake bolt pattern. The 8 bolt attachment as well as noting the casting mark will confirm if you are dealing with a Vortec cylinder head. The casting mark located at the end of the cylinder head will have a sawtooth or 3 triangle pattern.
The reason it is important to spot a Vortec cylinder head is to avoid confusing it with another design that will not deliver the same efficiency and power. Vortec cylinder heads are specifically designed using the same “vortex” technology to maximize combustion efficiency by evenly mixing the air/fuel charge. Since their introduction 15 years ago, there have been a number of different types of Vortec cylinder heads manufactured. For this reason it is not unreasonable to expect to find them in salvage yards and even at swap meets. You can also purchase them directly from GM either fully assembled or the bare casting.
Since the introduction of the Vortec cylinder head, many drivers have experienced the boost in performance and efficiency resulting from this unique design. This type of cylinder head can be found in all types of vehicles from racing vehicles to heavy duty pick up trucks. Any person who wants to increase power will find that Vortec cylinder heads will do the trick. The Vortec cylinder head like most other parts has continued to be tweaked and improved upon since it’s introduction. Today car enthusiasts can choose from a variety of models, however they should understand that other adjustments may have to be made based on the current set up under the hood. This may include changes in porting and other engine components to ensure everything is aligning just right to create the desired result of increase power, performance and efficiency. When Vortec cylinder heads are introduced to an engine set up it is not uncommon to see horsepower figured from 400 and up.