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Old 08-15-2012, 09:02 PM
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1965 pontiac 389

A few days ago I picked up a 389 pontiac engine. An older guy in the neighborhood who used to be a car guy but is now in his 70's cleaned out his garage and told me this 389 was rebuilt about 12 years ago. He sold it to me for 50 bucks. He said he does not remember who built it. The engine was on a stand and is painted the correct pontiac color and I can see it has new freeze plugs. Other than that I cannot confirm if the internals are fresh. The engine build date next to dist is july 30 1965, the intake number is 9782896 which is 1966 389 CI with a single carter 4bbl and the heads are number 76 which are 1965 421 heads. I would like to get the engine running but want comments from any engine guys as to the steps to follow to make sure the engine was rebuilt properly before starting it. I plan on removing the valve covers and oil pan to see if it appears new but what should be done beyond that ? I am not concerned with the carb or dist or spark plugs but the mechanical issues like cam, lifters, rings and bearings. Short of tearing it down would like suggestions from anyone who has been in this position. Thanks for any comments.

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Old 08-15-2012, 09:25 PM
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you dont want to take it apart for the price of gaskets to see what you have inside? make sure to prime the oil as it will be bone dry inside on the cam surface etc.If the valves that are in the open position have been that way for 12 years you might have a few week valve springs.
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Old 08-16-2012, 06:57 AM
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Correct, block is a '66 (after Jul 4). Heads are for BOTH 389 and 421. No difference between them. "77" is the '65 GTO and GP head, "76" is the '65 "big car" head.

Agreed, disassembly to see what things REALLY are "inside" is prudent. A full set of gaskets is about $90. An engine "sitting" for this many years will have a few issues that cannot be addressed without disassembly. The rings may be "fretted": to the cylinder walls. Valve springs, at least on the cylinders that the valves are "open", are shot. Assembly lube may have crystalized. Lots of 'little" things that COULD be "wrong".

Don't let any shop BS you, either. Pontiacs are NOT "rare" and parts are NOT hard to come by. Between 1964 and 1974 (muscle car era), there was only one engine built in larger quantites than 389/400 by any American manufacturer, and that would be small block Chevy, which was not in muscle cars (big blocks where Chevy is concerned). MAYBE 390 Ford approached the volume, but not relevant here. And Pontiacs are not "more expensive" to build than most, either. Depending on the level of power and application, they can be rather economical. MUCH less than BBC, but more than SBC.

You're welcome to PM me with more specific questions regarding this engine. Whatcha gonna put it in?


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