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Engine Debate
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Sumtingwong
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:50 pm    Post subject: Engine Debate Reply with quote

Hi guys.. I thought posted this earlier, but it seems to have vanished.

I'm working on a 4th gen Camaro, and I am up in the air as to what kind of motor to put in a 3500lb car with limited engine bay space.. The car will be set up for road/ track use as opposed to drag strip.

First off- The cash outlay.
I figure on 1000 to $1500.00 for the bottom end, at the very least, I will get the strongest crank and rods I can for the motor.
Heads- 1500.00, 2000.00.

Here's my choices-


GM 302

Pros- Great high-winding motor, sounds like pure sex when wound up tight. My favorite motor of all time.
Cons- Gutless below 3500 rpm, hard to drive around town without having to shift at 4000 rpm all the time.

327

Pros- More torque than the 302, can still be wound up high for more "oomph".
Cons- Still not enough bang for the buck in a heavy car. More can be had for less money, I think.

LT1/ 350

Pros- It's already in the car, needs rebuilt, but it's good for 450 horse with decent heads and cam. Has fuel injection, good gas mileage.
Cons- There really aren't any, but it's just so.. Vanilla.

LT/LS1 383


Pros- Torque, cheap (ish) to build.
Cons- Just another 383. Everybody has one. I'd be afraid to wind it up with a long stroke. Revs kill a motor that isn't built to perfection.

400 small block de-stroked to a 377

Pros- Proven race motor, kind of the ideal balance between torque and RPM range. (At least in my mind..) My second favorite motor.
Cons- Hard to find a decent block, cooling issues, and parts might be pricey because of the race market.

500 Cadillac

Pros- Earth rotating torque. Well made with close tolerances, high nickel blocks. Cheap, if you can find the right block, and getting performance out of it doesn't take much.
Cons- How am I gonna shoe-horn one in a Camaro? Handling goes south, since it's a huge lump of Iron up front. Nothing in it above 4500 RPM.


I really like the idea of stuffing a Caddy 500 in there. Torque moves the car, and the big Caddy motor has tons of it. If Audi can win LeMans with torque from a diesel, there's gotta be something to that theory. I just can't fall in love with the idea, because it may be more trouble than it's worth.
I also like the de-stroked 377. That engine should have just enough torque, but you can wind it through the roof. Seems like the perfect balance, but cost may prevent me from doing it.

I thought I'd throw it out there for debate to see what your more experienced opinions are.
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10sec.et
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i would stay with the LT1 since its in the car and someone figured out how to put a distributor in the back of the LT1 intake. avoid the Cad 500. it seems appealing until you actually start the build then it gets real expensive real fast. your bottom end budget wont even buy the crank let alone custom made rods and pistons. even if you stay with a stock bottom end its still going to be pricey to do anything else like heads, cam, intake.....
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Sumtingwong
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

10sec.et wrote:
i would stay with the LT1 since its in the car and someone figured out how to put a distributor in the back of the LT1 intake. avoid the Cad 500. it seems appealing until you actually start the build then it gets real expensive real fast. your bottom end budget wont even buy the crank let alone custom made rods and pistons. even if you stay with a stock bottom end its still going to be pricey to do anything else like heads, cam, intake.....


I assume you're talking about the caddy bottom end? I really don't know a lot (yet) and I think I have a tendency to look at the motor, and it magically produces power from mystical parts that cost next to nothing. This is the reason I threw this out there- It's good to have those illusions driven off by informed opinions.

Keeping the LT1 does make the most sense, but I suspect the reason I thought I could keep the stock caddy bottom end is the fact that they don't rev- At all. They die around 42-4500 rpm.

I can see forged LT1 cranks on the web for about 7 to 900 dollars. Con rods in the lt1 are forged, but I don't know how tough they are. I may as well do pistons, and I'd like to think I can save up enough for some AI heads, if I decide to go that route.



Thanks for the opinion! I truly appreciate the advice.
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jeep_406
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been running 400 SBC based engines since the 80's and don't know anyone that ever had a heating problem with a properly prepped 400.
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disturbthepeace1
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LS1/LSX FTW.. All alum, great power, and you can find a used one on the cheap. check caigslist for crashed camaros, c5's.. anything less then 70k is gonna be good to go. If dont care about engine weight and you happen to find a iron 6.0 that would be even better Evil or Very Mad but none of the other mentioned motors dont have the benifit of being all alum!

cam/headers/tune= 500hp at the flywheel easy Cool

Joe

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Sumtingwong
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jeep_406 wrote:
I've been running 400 SBC based engines since the 80's and don't know anyone that ever had a heating problem with a properly prepped 400.


You run 409's, correct?
Can I pick your brain?
Since a 400 is pretty much bored out as far as you can safely go on a older style SBC block, I assume you are stroking the motor?
Are you partial to two bolt mains or four?
By now, I assume most know how to get around cooling issues- Steam and vent holes and whatnot.

Are decent blocks hard to come by, and what should I be wary of?

(By the way- All that I know about motors is what I've read- I have never torn down an engine, much less built one, BUT-
I did teach myself how to shape metal and weld it on. I melted a lot of steel in the process, but I'm stubborn and persistent. I can now make almost any piece I want and weld it on without ruining it)
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MufflerBearings69
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Id avoid the cad 500. As a guy who has a Ford FE, I can tell you that its more effective to run a more commonly modded powerplant.

More cost effective, more time effective- and youll get more done in less time with fewer odd setbacks.

My 2 cents- I cant say which engine is right- but I would avoid the cad unless youre going for the dare-to-be-different angle. If so, hold onto your pants- and your wallet.

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af2
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1933 Willys Coupe

PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:19 am    Post subject: Re: Engine Debate Reply with quote

[quote="Sumtingwong"]
Here's my choices-
GM 302
nope
327
nope

LT1/ 350
400 small block de-stroked to a 377
Mabey

Pros- and parts might be pricey because of the race market.
No way!

500 Cadillac

quote]
500 Cad is the same weight as the small Chevy. Now think why!?
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Sumtingwong
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I certainly don't want to annoy those with experience by repeating the question until I get the answer I want. Believe me, that's not the case..

Maybe I'm being dense, but I do think that Caddy motors are making a comeback. Here's why:
Places like MTS and http://www.cadillacperformanceparts.com make heads, cranks, cams, for about the same as you'd spend on an SBC.
I did a little research to see what was out there, so I was drawn to the caddy motor because you CAN get parts now. Five years ago, that was probably not the case.

Check http://caddy500.com out if you want to see some frankencars with caddies shoehorned in- Some well done, some not so much. Lots of Fox body mustangs, Chevelles, 2nd gen Camaros, etc..

That being said, I'm not completely sold on the caddy, honest. I just wanted you guys to see what I was seeing, and why I was scratching my head a little at all the dire warnings, wondering if I'm snorting magic motor dust and seeing only what I want to see..
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Big Dave
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cadillac 500 cube motor is cheap compared to a a 500 cube BBC but the BBC will walk away from the Caddy every time because the BBC has better heads.

Heads are what characterize an engine and limit the performance of the motor. The Cadillac is designed just like the SBC because the man who "invented" the SBC had first worked on and designed the motor that preceded the 1968 472-500-425 line of motors. However just like an earlier Buick engine with large displacement for its valve size it is restricted in port size and valve area. To add to that the heads do not have an efficient cooling path so there are hot spots in the head that create problems with not only detonation (even with a very mild tune used for little old ladies) but will cause the head to crack if the motor isn't well maintained (as happens to older cars once their luxury appeal is gone and they become simply a used car being consumed by an uncaring owner).

You can buy aftermarket heads that are billet aluminum or cast but neither are cheap and still have the same port design as the factory head (by comparison expensive aftermarket heads for the BBC realized that they were being used for racing and abandoned the factory push rod limitations and moved the push rods around instead of the ports in the head for better performance).

Your best buy for your car in terms of a small block motor (or for one up to 7 liters 427 or cid) would be an LS-x engine built on a 6.0 liter block (the 6.2 liter all aluminum block would be the best one to buy, but also the most expensive, as they are out of less than two year old 'vettes).

Second best would be the LT-1 second generation SBC out of an Impala SS like you have now. The heads and cam can be improved over stock, but the best option would be to convert it over to a carb that way you remove all limitations imposed by the knock sensor and the MAP sensors with EFI. Aluminum reverse cooled heads allow you to run a lot of compression on pump gas which is "free" horsepower that is left on the table by earlier engines running pump gas.

To make up for that lost compression you have to build the motor bigger, which is why the 400 SBC is so popular today as the basis of a hot small block. A 406 (0.030" overbred stock small block engine) is a frequent flyer at a lot of tracks. I have one as well in my daily driver. The 409 is a 0.060" over bored block which is a bit much as the cylinder walls start to get thin. Thin walls promote heat loss to the coolant which makes the motor run hot and you loose power that could be used to drive the wheels.

Big Dave
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jeep_406
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

400's come with a bore of 4.125 and a stroke of 3.750 in stock configuration. Most of my stuff was .030 over which is 406.9 cubes. My latest is .040 over yielding 408.7 cubic inches.
Most articles refer to the .030 over as a 406 and the .040 as a 408.
I run a Callies crank with Scat rods and Mahle full floating pistons.

I have a 4 bolt block in the shed, but I'd only use it for a street only application. They're not as strong as a 2 bolt therefore I always use the 2 block version. Wish I had 4 bolt splayed caps installed but to be honest I didn't think of it until after all the block work was done. I've not experienced any walking in the main caps and I spin the 408 up to 7,000rpm. I always have the rotating assembly balanced. The block is squared and zero decked with plugs screwed in for strength. I always put steam holes in any head I use and never, I repeat, Never had a cooling issue. I use a Stewart High Performance water pump , a 160 performance thermostat, water with water wetter, a either a 19 or 21 pound radiator cap, (I forget which) and a Griffin aluminum radiator. I use dual electric fans. Don't remember the manufacturer but I got them off ebay from Skip White. I think Adam will back me up on this. . . I have never gotten a thing from Skip White that wasn't as advertised.

I think the overheating problems are a myth. I have a bunch of personal friend that have run 400's without overheating issues. My 408 runs cold. I can litterally lap the car and the temp never goes over 180 and I have an AC condenser in front of the radiator. I had the car in a parade for the first time last summer. I think it was around 80 degrees that day and the car never went over 160 degrees. I kept the fans on throughout the parade route and I also ran down the quarter mile with them on. I've tried running with or without the fans running and it never made any difference in MPH or ET so I leave them on.

If I was going to build another 400, I'd use an aftermarket block. Right now I'm putting together a 418 using a "Little M" block. That's a .020 overbore with a 1/4 inch larger stroke. I mentioned this engine in another post.

I have a friend that has a Caddy Engine with a Turbo 400 trans and an independent Vette rear end in an early 50's Buick that should be hitting the street next spring. It's pretty much a stock Might have a little cam.

Before I decided to do up a 400 for my Nova I thought long and hard on going with a 3.8 V6 Turbo out of a Grand National. Crank up the boost and have great driveability and probably sneak it into the 10's without a lot of problems. The theme would have been "Yesterday's Chevrolet with today's technology"
If I didn't have a bunch of small block parts around I'd lean toward the new LS engines.

Damn, I'm long winded today. What else could I possible throw in here. . . Oh yea. . . Go Bruins
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10sec.et
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1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass

PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sumtingwong wrote:
I certainly don't want to annoy those with experience by repeating the question until I get the answer I want. Believe me, that's not the case..

Maybe I'm being dense, but I do think that Caddy motors are making a comeback. Here's why:
Places like MTS and http://www.cadillacperformanceparts.com make heads, cranks, cams, for about the same as you'd spend on an SBC.
I did a little research to see what was out there, so I was drawn to the caddy motor because you CAN get parts now. Five years ago, that was probably not the case.

Check http://caddy500.com out if you want to see some frankencars with caddies shoehorned in- Some well done, some not so much. Lots of Fox body mustangs, Chevelles, 2nd gen Camaros, etc..

That being said, I'm not completely sold on the caddy, honest. I just wanted you guys to see what I was seeing, and why I was scratching my head a little at all the dire warnings, wondering if I'm snorting magic motor dust and seeing only what I want to see..


as Dave pointed out, the heads are going to be your limiting factor. if you want a 500 Cad just to be different then great. i seriously doubt you could port the factory heads enough to do you any good. you would most likely either hit water somewhere or make them so thin they crack. without good heads, youre looking at basically a stock motor..... thats why they dont rev and die at 4500 rpm.

you also have to consider the possibility of parts failure. i cant count the number of "this thing blew up again, im quitting this lousy hobby" threads that ive seen on various boards. if its really expensive to build the first time, its not going to get cheaper when parts fail. parts WILL FAIL. be it due to installer/tuner error or just parts issues. thats why youre being told to leave the Caddy alone.

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MufflerBearings69
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty much what I finally realized with the FE.

Eventually I will just find a clean F-250 to put it in and build a 460-based engine for the Galaxie. Makes more sense than spending a pile of money at Survival Motorsports to build a 445 ci FE that still wont make the power a 521 will on the same money... By the time I buy a rotating assembly heads intake- well, I could spend a few bucks more and do any other setup instead...

I love my 390 and all- I just have come to terms with the reality of what it would cost to make it really make power, and its just not the brightest venture given the ease of building a 521 BBF or a 408W, much less going to a clevor if I want to spend some bucks...

Maybe its stating the obvious but if lots of very experienced and skilled engine builders, and many successful racers too, tend to lean towards an engine line, there are definitely reasons beyond just flipping a coin...

I know I keep rambling on about Ford stuff but its the same deal- people build a 410 ci. FE and get mad when a 408W comes around them hard for less money... How many aftermarket SBF head choices are there? Sky is the limit and they are available readily new and used and cheap.

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Sumtingwong
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guys, I can't thank you enough for your patience and input..

I knew there were a lot of options out there, but sweet jeebus, there seems to be no end to the combinations you can run.

As for the caddy- Well.. By the time I cut the cowl, and try to make the steering and headers work, I could have had a SBC in and running. The hard-core 500 guys will tell you that the heads and valvetrain are the weakpoint in that motor- It was never designed for anything other than moving a luxobarge around. If I find one for a price I can't ignore, I might snap it up, but I think it'll be better served in another project later on.

It's funny- Event though there's so much LSx stuff out there, the LT crowd seems to be fanatical, even with the dreaded optispark.

I dunno- Toss up between an old-school 377 and re-doing the LT1.
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10sec.et
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1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass

PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sumtingwong wrote:
It's funny- Event though there's so much LSx stuff out there, the LT crowd seems to be fanatical, even with the dreaded optispark.



the optispark is a non-issue. do a search here and you will see what i mean.

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