Newbe needs help finding a motor - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 15, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Newbe needs help finding a motor

Hi all, I am a new member to the forum and I need a little help. So I own a 1979 pontiac trans am, which came with a 403 ci motor. The motor still runs fine but its a bit of a dog since this was a time that eco friendly and smog stuff was hitting the market. Because of that, the engine went from great to not so great. Add in another 35 years of age and several different owners, who knows what it has been through. I have been working with a local engine builder for two years now and would ask him to help me build it but he doesn't really have the time. We have talked about the set up that I should run since I want to use this as cursing and pro touring car. We have both agreed on an engine that will make around 500(+/-) hp and 500+ tq. I want the engine to be a 383 stroker or something ion that range that is a small block. We decided on the stroker because it makes more torque which is good for quick acceleration, and most of the time I will be under 5000 rpm when driving around with the occasional full throttle and what not xD. Of course horsepower cost money, and that is something I do not have much of since I am a college student. I can afford to do $3,000 but my limit is $3,500 or so. I am willing to drive depending on how far the location is. I have found a couple ads at racingjunk.com, but I don't have enough experience to be able to decided if it is a good or bad deal. I do know some parts to look for and some other things to look for but there are some things that I know nothing about such as heads and cam shafts.
This is where I need your help members. I need help figuring out questions to ask, if it is a good price for what you are getting, if the numbers they are saying are true or not, and if i should buy it or not. I know it is hard to judge if the engine will perform well or blow up, but I figure if I get other opinions and know what to look for and what not I might have a better shot. Here are the two links
First link: http://www.racingjunk.com/Road-Racin...**-550-HP.html
Second link: http://www.racingjunk.com/Drag-Racin...et-motor-.html

I am also running a TH350 transmission, so I would also like to know what stall converter I should run. I think I should run a 3000 stall converter, but I am not sure.

Thanks for any help.

Last edited by evob; Jun 12th, 15 at 08:03 PM.
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 15, 08:40 PM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

Don't put a small block in this car. Put a real Pontiac in it. SBC in a vintage Pontiac muscle is

Your transmission will have the BOP bellhousing, not chevy, so unless you want to change transmissions, you need to go with a Buick Olds Pontiac or Cadillac engine.

Since you are on a tight budget, the cheapest way to get big power is simply cubic inches. On your budget, you need big cubes with major stroke to get close to 500 ft-lbs for cheap.

Maybe you can find a Pontiac 455, or build up a pontiac 400 block with an aftermarket 4.25" crank & BBC rods and you'll have 455+ cubes with even stronger bottom end and better rod to stroke ratio.

Or, its already got an olds engine, how about finding an olds 455? Those are still fairly common.

Or... best bang for the buck ever: how about a cadillac 500. If you can find a '70 cad 500, these engines made over 500 ft-lbs stock. Any cad 500 can make huge torque. It should be easy to get 500 ft-lbs out of a cad 500 and be well under your budget of $3500. You might be able to score an entire good running car with a 500 for $1500. Pull the engine and send the land-barge for scrap and recover $400 in weight for the steel. Install new bearings, oil pump, cam/lifters. If you want to bring the compression ratio up, swap on 472 heads. Steve Magnante did this in Hot Rod magazine, stuffed the 500 in a chevette and they ran 11's in the 1/4 mile for $2000 total investment (including the chevette!) using mostly junkyard parts.


I think you're going to need more than $3500 to get 500 ft-lbs out of a 383. You've got to be realistic.


On any engine you build, build for torque. Then if you have extra $$$, then you can afford the fancy parts to make the engine able to rev high for the big HP numbers, otherwise, just forget about HP and build for max torque. HP is a function of torque x RPM.

Welcome to the Team Camaro forum by the way!!!


Edit*

I just went and looked at both those engines for sale on Racing junk.

The first one, swirl port 1.94 heads and a 292 cam? That is not going to make 550-600 hp. Sorry no way, that is way overestimated. My guess is 400 hp or less. Those are truck heads, just not that great for performance builds.

second engine sounds legit, but its a full on race engine. You would have to de-tune it with a less radical cam. No way that is streetable

The important thing here is that you ask me what kind of car I've got. "I've got a BITCHIN' CAMARO"
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Last edited by kookykrispy; Jun 12th, 15 at 08:59 PM.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 15, 09:10 PM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

X2 stuck with Pontiac Motor. 455 would be my 1st choice

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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 15, 10:28 PM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

evob,

if you go edit your 'location' and list your city & state, somebody might have a killer deal on an engine for you. You will never know who lives in your same town unless you tell us where you're at?

The important thing here is that you ask me what kind of car I've got. "I've got a BITCHIN' CAMARO"
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 07:14 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

Quote:
Originally Posted by kookykrispy View Post
Don't put a small block in this car. Put a real Pontiac in it. SBC in a vintage Pontiac muscle is

Your transmission will have the BOP bellhousing, not chevy, so unless you want to change transmissions, you need to go with a Buick Olds Pontiac or Cadillac engine.

Since you are on a tight budget, the cheapest way to get big power is simply cubic inches. On your budget, you need big cubes with major stroke to get close to 500 ft-lbs for cheap.

Maybe you can find a Pontiac 455, or build up a pontiac 400 block with an aftermarket 4.25" crank & BBC rods and you'll have 455+ cubes with even stronger bottom end and better rod to stroke ratio.

Or, its already got an olds engine, how about finding an olds 455? Those are still fairly common.

Or... best bang for the buck ever: how about a cadillac 500. If you can find a '70 cad 500, these engines made over 500 ft-lbs stock. Any cad 500 can make huge torque. It should be easy to get 500 ft-lbs out of a cad 500 and be well under your budget of $3500. You might be able to score an entire good running car with a 500 for $1500. Pull the engine and send the land-barge for scrap and recover $400 in weight for the steel. Install new bearings, oil pump, cam/lifters. If you want to bring the compression ratio up, swap on 472 heads. Steve Magnante did this in Hot Rod magazine, stuffed the 500 in a chevette and they ran 11's in the 1/4 mile for $2000 total investment (including the chevette!) using mostly junkyard parts.


I think you're going to need more than $3500 to get 500 ft-lbs out of a 383. You've got to be realistic.


On any engine you build, build for torque. Then if you have extra $$$, then you can afford the fancy parts to make the engine able to rev high for the big HP numbers, otherwise, just forget about HP and build for max torque. HP is a function of torque x RPM.

Welcome to the Team Camaro forum by the way!!!


Edit*

I just went and looked at both those engines for sale on Racing junk.

The first one, swirl port 1.94 heads and a 292 cam? That is not going to make 550-600 hp. Sorry no way, that is way overestimated. My guess is 400 hp or less. Those are truck heads, just not that great for performance builds.

second engine sounds legit, but its a full on race engine. You would have to de-tune it with a less radical cam. No way that is streetable
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vega$69 View Post
X2 stuck with Pontiac Motor. 455 would be my 1st choice
I agree with you both. Now I am still a new and have only taken motors apart and never put them together before (the main reason I am trying to buy one already built. I thought to go with a 455 because I always hear good things about them and how they are great motors when done right. Of course I suggested this to the engine builder who I am talking about, which he said, "Yes, 455 engines are great motors, but your car is already heavy enough as it is. So since you want to pro-tour this car and mostly do corners with the car, I would advise again it. The reason is because we want to make the car slightly lighter, and lighting the front will help with steering and getting the car around corners fast." His reply was something to that effect. I had no idea about the motor mount locations, no one had even mentioned those. Most people have actually told me that a SBC would bolt right in, which surprised me being a Pontiac and not a chevy but, like I said, I am a newbe. I had no idea about the transmission either. I think someone did say something about just changing the bell housing though, but I know nothing on transmissions, they are a mystery to me. As far as I am aware of, the engine in the car is an olds 403. I don't know how to confirm that, but I can if someone knows how. I think it would be cool to use the engine that is still in the car, which would also save on cost of some other things (headers mainly), but I still love the idea of the 455. Ya my location is South Bend, Indiana. After I read the posts it dawned on me that I might want to included some location to help everyone out.

I am obviously a newbe so the guy in the first ad, could have told me 800 hp, I would be suspicions but probably fall for it with a bunch of shiny stuff and what not. When I saw the word "swirl port heads" I didn't know what that was, I googled it (of course) and no one really had anything good to say about them, which just left me more in question about this motor. The second post I agree Kookykrispy, he told me that he used it for drag racing and what not, which made me think that it could be to much for the street, but I don't know for sure.

I'll be honest, I have been brain washed for years on end to think horsepower. I have been told, and yelled at, that you want torque, torque and more torque. But I feel brain washed in to thinking differently because of all your tv shows, and big numbers. As anyone can tell by now, I don't know a whole lot of what I am doing and need quite a bit of help. I originally bought the car to do auto-crossing with my gf at the time (now ex). I wanted to do something different, rather than try and beat people in a new car, I wanted to do it in an old car. I had support from family, friends, and my mentor who is the engine builder that I have been talking about (heres his website if people are interested or curious http://www.hirevpower.com/) I personally have nothing bad to say about him because I see him as a friend trying to help me out and a mentor. I bought the car because it was the best one I could find in my general area and after the hype of buying the new car left, so did everyone else. And so I have to learn things as I get to them.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 07:31 AM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

Why would you go down in cubes from a 403 to a 383? There's a guy in Michigan who has two Pontiac 400 engines for sale. $250 each!!!!!
http://www.racingjunk.com/Street/182...ntiac-400.html
Get one. NOW!!!! Then read up on how to build up Pontiacs for power.

Here's another guy that has rebuildable pontiacs for sale. http://www.racingjunk.com/Engines-Co...and-PARTS.html
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
Brant
 
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

Those both look good onefiness, but my other problem is that I don't know how to build an engine or have the tools to do it. I can get parts because I have connections with motorstate, but I don't know where to even start with parts, or what to pick out. About the only thing I have that I can contribute to an engine build is that I have a holley (or proformer) 750 carb. Only thing it needs its jets and new seals. But I don't even know how to pick out jets and seals for that.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 09:05 AM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

If you post a pic of the engine in your car, I can confirm it is an olds. If you are saying its a 403, then that is an Olds engine. GM put the 403 in the transams in 79 so that makes sense. The problem with the 403 being a great street engine is the relatively short 3.385" stroke, but you might consider building it since you already have it in your car.

Here's an article about hotrodding the 403, with a pic of a 403:

http://www.hotrod.com/how-to/engine/...le-403-engine/

Notice the front oil fill tube and also the curved water tube on the front. This is a quick way to ID an olds engine.

The pontiac engine is not that much heavier than a small block chevy, depending on the source of information. I have found information here stating engine weights.

Pontiac 590 lbs or 650 lbs. (two different weights are listed? which is curious)

Small block chevy 575 lbs.

Big Block chevy 685

Olds 403 560.

Olds 455 620.

Cadillac 500 625.

The pontiac 455 is hard to find, but 400's are easy to find and you can buy aftermarket cranks for them to build up a 455.

HP is fine, but torque what you will actually feel. Torque is what does burn-outs, wheelies, and what you feel pressing you back in the seat when you accelerate. Torque a mathmatical expression/measure of work done. HP is a measure of work done over time, i.e. Torque x RPM = HP. I think "Horsepower" is a more handy marketing term, but real gearheads know that on the street, torque is king. I wouldn't worry too much about added weight as long as you are adding cubic inches too. You can stomp the **** out of most anyone on the street even with a heavy car if you have a huge cubic inch engine that makes gobs of torque at low RPM.
This is why cadillac put 500 cubes in their cars, so a 70's 6000 lb. land barge sedan deville could still be quick and fun to drive.

So build for torque, and then after that if you can afford the trick lightweight rotating assembly and valvetrain parts, then build and carefully balance your engine to rev high.

At a dragstrip, torque gets your car moving off the line, HP helps it go faster at the big end of the track. ET = torque. MPH = HP

You have a heavy car, so you want big cubes with Torque. Build for torque and the HP will come.

As far as motor mounts, you're going to have to change motor mounts for any of these engines, but that is no big deal. The 403 frane mounts should be the same as for Pontiac. The factory put Pontiac engines in these cars too. There are solutions for all the engines, even cadillac.

The important thing here is that you ask me what kind of car I've got. "I've got a BITCHIN' CAMARO"
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 09:33 AM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

OP,

Just google Pontiac engine builds. You will find all the parts listed to build a stout Pontiac 400 or 455. Don't even waste your time with that Olds 403 "corporate" engine. Heads are junk. You are limited to Edelbrock RPM heads if you want to keep that Olds engine.

http://forums.hotrod.com/high-perfor...0hp-400-build/

http://www.hotrod.com/how-to/engine/...-engine-build/

talk to these guys or look at what goes into their builds: http://www.butlerperformance.com/pro...es/engineS.htm

You CANNOT build a high performance Pontiac as you would do a Chevy. Here's all the build recipes you will ever need:

http://www.pontiacstreetperformance....turedcars.html
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 10:00 AM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

Maybe not quite what you had in mind but on a limited budget and being still in school and all the things life will be tossing at you over the next few years; why not use what you have! I know your 403 started life at about 185hp but unless it's completely worn out it can be warmed up for a lot less than a crate engine.

Think about the general condition of your car before even thinking about dropping a 500hp mill under the hood. Can your trans and rearend hold up to it? Are your brakes up to reeling the beast in after a wot pass? Can the suspension get you through a corner when you hit it hard on a straight and now need to turn?

My point is the cost of a new engine is not going to stop at the engine. If you shoot your whole wad on HP your car could be sitting dead within a couple weeks with a broken axle or blown transmission or worse you could get on it and wrap it around a tree because the steering or brakes were not up to snuff!

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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 10:21 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

Quote:
Originally Posted by DjD View Post
Maybe not quite what you had in mind but on a limited budget and being still in school and all the things life will be tossing at you over the next few years; why not use what you have! I know your 403 started life at about 185hp but unless it's completely worn out it can be warmed up for a lot less than a crate engine.

Think about the general condition of your car before even thinking about dropping a 500hp mill under the hood. Can your trans and rearend hold up to it? Are your brakes up to reeling the beast in after a wot pass? Can the suspension get you through a corner when you hit it hard on a straight and now need to turn?

My point is the cost of a new engine is not going to stop at the engine. If you shoot your whole wad on HP your car could be sitting dead within a couple weeks with a broken axle or blown transmission or worse you could get on it and wrap it around a tree because the steering or brakes were not up to snuff!
You are completely right about all of that. It has been very difficult with not only college and homework, but also trying to be social and have a job. I am an engineering student at Purdue university in Indiana (if anyone was wondering what college), and I get lots of homework, sometimes it will take a full week to do because the homework is so long. Add in that I have an engineering job that I work at 3 times a week doing ~24 hours a week (from 6:00am to 3:00pm) to try and pay for this "toy". But, honestly I'm okay with working hard long hours and what not, because I enjoy learning about the car and working on it, and I look forward to working on it each weekend. So I understand what you mean when you say that life will be throwing many surprises at me, and I'm sure this is only the beginning. Surprisingly I did start out with safety in mind. The first thing I ever did to the car was replace the brakes. I put wilwood 12in 6 piston calipers on the front and 12in 4 piston in the back. New master cylinder and booster. I have been working for months to fine tune the brakes and make sure they are working perfectly. It has been a learning experience to say the least. I figured the next step was suspension and leave the engine for the vary last thing. But I discovered that changing the engine and all that stuff would change ride heights and all kind of different things. BUT I guess since now that I am officially doing a big block again things won't change as much. Honestly I know nothing about transmissions. I have heard from other people and read other people saying that a with a good rebuild kit for about ~$400 or so, the transmission can take the power. Whether this is true or not I don't know. Because we can't believe everything on the internet ha...As for the drive shaft and rear diff, once again, I have no clue. I estimated what my rear diff gear is and I believe it to me a 2.40. But this is an estimation. I found this number by jacking the car up and rotating the tire 1 rev and counting the number of times the drive shaft turned. Of course this is a rough number, but I have no previous records to tell me what I have, and I am not sure how else to find it. But honestly I haven't really looked, because of not really knowing where to begin. I hope none of that came of as mean or rude, because I don't intend it to sound like that. I thought I should say where I am in my life, and explain that I honestly do understand what you are talking about DjD. I'm sure many people have it harder then me, and I applaud them for having the strength to continue on, and for doing what they do to get what they want.

Last edited by evob; Jun 13th, 15 at 10:34 AM.
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 10:50 AM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

Your Trans Am most likely came with a 3.42 posi rear end. You're in school. Funds will be tight. I suggest you read the links I provided, do a little ebay shopping and see how much it will cost to give your car some more oats. Make your plan, budget for your plan, and make it happen when you're out of school.
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 01:02 PM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

Get a budget in mind and then double it. It sounds like you are on your way to having a nice ride though. I personally would make plans for the car and gradually get parts, and put them aside for when you have the time ( graduate).Keep a catalogue of what you have and take notes for each part you have researched. After you are out of school you can buy whatever engine you want. I have more time than you it sounds and I have to work on mine either after a 10 hr day at work or on some rare weekends off. That's why I research during the week and try to have parts in by the weekend. Hang in there it is fun and you will always have problems to overcome, but that's what keeps it interesting. This site has some really great and knowledgable people to help guide you in the right direction. Also there are a couple of pro touring sites you can use as well. You might could even do a ls swap too.
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 03:30 PM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

Put a 400 or 455 Olds in your TA.
It's a bolt in.
Next is a 400 or 455 Pontiac
Best is a 402-454 or 502 BBC but you'll need subframe connectors if you have T-tops with any of these more powerful engines.
You probably have a 2.56 or so rear gears, and need at least a 3.42 to 4.10 gear as well as a 5 or 6 speed stick or 4L80E trans.

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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 15, 05:18 PM
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Re: Newbe needs help finding a motor

Quote:
Originally Posted by hhott71 View Post
Put a 400 or 455 Olds in your TA.
It's a bolt in.
Next is a 400 or 455 Pontiac
Best is a 402-454 or 502 BBC but you'll need subframe connectors if you have T-tops with any of these more powerful engines.
You probably have a 2.56 or so rear gears, and need at least a 3.42 to 4.10 gear as well as a 5 or 6 speed stick or 4L80E trans.
You do actually read the entire thread before posting, right? How much more in expensive rare power parts for an Olds engine do you think a kid in college in college can afford? It was also determined by the OP to put a Pontiac engine in his Trans Am.
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