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History Anyone know around what year...

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by DirtyThirty, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. DirtyThirty
    Joined: Mar 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,396

    from nowhere...

    The terms "Rat" and "Mouse" motor came about?
    Did they refer to the little Chevy as a mouse motor before the introduction of the Big Block? Was it regional?
    I know...its not the most important question going, but I'm curious, and the pills are starting to work...;)
  2. I'll wade in on this one, being involved with a drag racing explorer scout troop when I was in high school, '65-'69, and the machinist for the junior fuel team told me "there are small blocks, big blocks(396-427 at the time), and the fat blocks(348-409)."

    The term Rat came about when the big block came out, the small block already owned the "mouse" label, the rat label was natural selection.
  3. DirtyThirty
    Joined: Mar 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,396

    from nowhere...

    O.K., so they DID call the small block by the "mouse" moniker prior to that.
    I didn't know about the "fat block" nametag...I've heard the 385 series Ford's reffered to as this, too.

    I just remember in my fathers time, in the 70's, it was quite common, nowadays you don't hear it so much.
    Kinda like "bitchin"...
  4. The term "mouse motor" came about because the big Hemi's were called "elephant motors" or "elephants." There is a myth that elephants are afraid of mice, so the bowtie fans came up with "mouse motor." Rat is a bigger rodent, so BBC became "rat motors." Or so I have been told. Year this stuff happened....dunno.

  5. Just to throw something different in the mix...

    one story says that the BBCs were originally nicknamed "porcupines" because of the multiple angles on the valve stems, rather than the "inline" valves seen on most engines. "Porcupine" is kind of unwieldy, and they are vaguely rodent-like...and some clever writer morphed that into Rat, with the SBC naturally becoming the Mouse.

    Dunno if this is true- it's been repeated in several books- but the names go back to at least the mid-60s, and the Mk. IV BBC was introduced in the '65 model year.

    One story is probably as good as the next. :)
  6. DrJ
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 9,418


    Both terms were probably coined and printed in the magazines.
    I was told JimA has them all memorized so ask him.
    Seriously, He'd know.
  7. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    Member Emeritus

    I remember the porcupine moniker. (didn't the first 396 engines have pushrod rocker arm problems?) I have no recollection of the Chevy V8 being called a mouse before 1965. I don't know when it became popular but if you researched Hot rod magazine you can probably figure it out. I have no documentation but my recollection is that the BBC got the rat motor nickname first and then the SBC obviously inherited the mouse nickname.
  8. AnimalAin
    Joined: Jul 20, 2002
    Posts: 3,417


    The "porcupine" moniker goes back to the 427 "mystery motor" of 1963. It wasn't too long (I would guess not more than a year or two) after the 396 became a production item that the term "rat motor" was coined. As noted above, I am pretty certain it was one of the clever writers for Hot Rod or PHR that invented it. The term "mouse motor" followed, as did the "elephant" and "whale" (early hemi) nicknames.
  9. They broke valve springs, a Friend of mine had one in the late 60's, he carried a valve spring tool in his trunk along with a supply of springs and keepers. the engines came from the factory with up to 425 HP as I remember. As for small block Chev's they have been mouse miters as long as I can remember, that's back to the early 60s.
  10. 2-TONED
    Joined: Jan 31, 2005
    Posts: 1,683


    this makes sense im going with this one.
    i like it!
    i also like to see an itty bitty mouse motor PULLLLLLLIN away from a big ol fat elephant motor. :D

    yes BIG block chevs have been known to break rockers bend push rods & break springs. but it seems like it was the old 396s mostly & this was due to OVER revvvvin!
    i have some big blocks & owned some for well over 20 years & i rev & crank on them but have NEVER had any valve train problems!
    one sees over 7000 once in awhile.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2008
  11. As I remember it, the guys who got their butts beat by the new Chevrolet V8 had to come up with a nasty name to call them and that was "Mickey Mouse motors'. Disneyland opened around 55, Disney world was on TV, and Mickey gave them a cutesy name. When they couldn't beat them, they called them a put down name. Things haven't changed all that much.
    I had a new 56 Chevy and I had it called that many times, but I still outran them.
    "It's a small world after all"

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