The Boss has copped criticism from Chev heads for decades for the opening lines to Racing In the Street, Springsteen's ode to rev heads everywhere:
I got a ’69 Chevy with a 396, fuelie heads and a hurst on the floor
The Chevy boys are right: you can’t get fuelie heads for a 396. Fuelie heads were developed for the injected small blocks that came in two sizes – 283 and 327 cubes. Developed by legendary Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus Duntov, modified fuelie heads were still in use in the early 1970s on what was one of the all time great small bocks - the LT1 350 available in both the Camaro and Corvette. . .
Any street racer wanting to get the most from a Chevy small block knew he had to get a set of fuelie heads.
So what gives, Bruce?
The truth goes back to the Boss forever tinkering with his lyrics, so there’d often end up being several versions of the same song.
The original lyrics mention a 383, not a 396.
We have to assume the 383 Bruce mentions was a ‘stroked’ 327 or 350 (not the 383 mopar big block). Stroker kits are still available from hot rod shops today, when installed the kit will stretch a Chevrolet small block capacity to 383 cubes. And yes, fuelie heads would fit.
So originally the lyrics made sense, then somewhere down the track Bruce changed it from ‘383’ to ‘396’. Who knows why - he probably just liked the sound better. Does it really matter?
Hunt around on youtube and you can even find audio of the Boss performing an early version of the song live. In that version he’s driving a deuce coupe, not a 69 Chev. You’ll hear him sing
I got a 32 Ford she’s a 383
Fuelie heads and a hurst on the floor
The Boss knows his cars. And he name drops them more than any other songwriter I can think of - Cadillac, Buick, Ford, Dodge Challenger, Trans Am, even an Olds 442 is mentioned in an early version of Thunder Road. With so many briiliant car themed songs in his repertoire - one small mistake can be forgiven…