The Boss has copped criticism from car nuts for decades for the opening lines to Racing In the Street, Springsteen's ode to petrol heads everywhere:
I got a ’69 Chevy with a 396, fuelie heads and a hurst on the floor
Yep - 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, and were used later on non fuelie small blocks.
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 this 383 Bruce mentions was a stroked 327 or 350 (not the 383 Magnum Mopar big block). You could buy a stroker kit from hot rod shops that stretched Chev 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. 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 Olds 442. But that's grist for another article - so I'll leave it there and cut loose like a Deuce...