To Be “Single” or Not? That Is The Question

Well we see this topic a lot. Even the infamous Chevy LS7 and the notorious ford Modular 5.0 are still on this battle ground.

Now there is an ambiance about the words “Twin Cam”. We’re mesmerized with all these moving parts working in symphony. Single cam just seems so old tech and out of touch.

So, why In the world does Single Cam still exist in this world of hi-tech? My answer is well “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

Seriously, Single Cam does have its advantages.

Simplicity. Think about it. There are a lot less parts in a Single Cam engine. For example take your standard V-8 application. In a Chevy small block you have one cam working all the valves. However in a Ford mod motor you’ll find 4 cams. That’s right even though we are talking about Twin Cams there are actually Twin Cams per left and right bank, totaling four cams.

Tuning. OMG you drop in your Single Cam and set your Timing with your crank.That's it. (and let’s be honest your engine builder will most likely do this step for you) Your grind on your cam is set from the manufacture and that’s that!

Cost. It’s a lot cheaper to buy one cam the four or two for that matter. So, you do the math.

Now why have most manufactures moved to Twin Cam.

• A Twin Cam design will allow room for more valves in the combustion chamber. Thus increasing the area used and maximize the airflow into the engine.

Eliminate the push rods. This may be the weakest link in a Single Cam.

Eliminate the rockers. That’s right some manufactures have even eliminated the rockers to reduce the mass of the valve train. This helps to open and close the valves at a faster rate and to minimize valve float. As a result the engine will be free to rev to much higher rpm’s giving you a much broader power band.

• Utilizing Twin Cam to adjust the timing of the intake and exhaust cams independently have resulted in power gains. Especially on forced induction. Example: Turbo and Supercharged.

• In Twin Cam applications, the valve angle can be optimized from the manufactures engineers for the best airflow into the cylinder.

• Variable Valve Timing. With modern Twin Cam engines the addition of VVT can increase gas mileage and horse power at the same time.

So, in conclusion I think both engine designs have their advantages. If its simplicity, ease of installation, and reliability you desire, your choice will be the Single Cam.

If its technology, extracting the most power for a given liter, while maintaining drivability, then your choice will be the Twin Cam.


Agree Disagree?

Which is it for you?

Leave your comments below.

3 Responses to To Be “Single” or Not? That Is The Question

  1. jesse June 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Very good topic. To be able to adjust the VVT to get beter fuel milage and still get horse power all while running the junk pump gas that we get here that they say is beter( the A.Q.M.D). I think the auto makers are doing a grate job with the twin cam design.

  2. Keith October 4, 2012 at 2:19 am #

    I just want to touch on a typo here…
    “and the notorious ford Modular 5.0 are still on this battle ground”
    This statement is slightly flawed. The 5.0L pushrod engine was not considered “modular” the 4.6l and 5.4l engines were. In 2011 Ford released the Coyote 5.0L MODULAR engine. It is a variant of the 4.6l modular engines, and bares no relation to the pushrod 302 “5.0 HO”, aside from displacement.

  3. Joe October 5, 2012 at 1:25 am #


    Very valid point. The Old school Vanilla Ice 5.0 was absolutely NOT a “modular” motor.

    The statement between the LS7 and the notorious modular 5.0 was a reference to the topic:
    Single Cam vs. Twin Cam.

    Thus Single Cam is the LS7 and Twin Cam is “NEW” 5.0 Modular engine.

    Dun dun dun did-it dun dun…ice ice baby…

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