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Old 02-21-2005, 05:43 PM
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260 HP or 290 HP GM Crate motor

My '76 El Camino SS needs a new motor. Her 350 (w/ 305 heads) has a dead hole (bad comp rings) & is overpressurizing the crankcase (very messy). She currently has a rebuilt TH350 and a non-posi 2:73 rear end. I have a new exhaust system w/ a new set of Hedman Elite Hedders, "H" pipe, 2 1/2 " pipe w/ Flowmasters. I also have a new Weiand Action+ intake and a new Edelbrock 600 cfm performer carb already on my sick motor. Because of these parts I don't want to switch over to Vortec heads, but I still want the best bang for the buck. Our local Chevy dealer has Goodwrench 260 hp crate motors for $1365 (+ core) and GM Performance 290 hp crate motors for $1745 (no core). The 260 hp motor comes with a 3 yr warranty and the 290 comes with only 1 yr. Is the 290 hp motor worth the extra bucks? My big 2 ton girl sure needs the extra grunt to move her large behind w/ those high gears. Thoughts? I really don't want to throw big bucks into a rig that is my daily driver (sport utility) and not worth the price of an Edelbrock crate motor.

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Old 02-21-2005, 06:05 PM
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I'd get a spec sheet and see the differences fir each engine. See what it would take to get the low-power engine to 325HP or whatever you'd like, and compare with the more powerful, and more expensive, GMPP engine.

If you buy the low-power engine and stick a mild (streetable) cam in it and stuff, you'll probably void the warranty, but you probably will also make more power than the 290HP GMPP version.

If the 260HP has 8.5:1 compresion or something miserable, I'd put thin gaskets on it and try to get 9.0:1 to 9.6:1; anything more and I think you'd need premium (expensive) fuel.

But... I'd swap the gears to something along 3.20s-3.55s for a daily driver. For me, I'd do 3.55s. The 2.73s I doubt are good for much beyond getting groceries and good mileage, and the 3.20s-3.55s would be a good compromise.

Regardless, yours is an Elky rarely seen; most are 70-72 and the 80s styles around here. It's pretty cool, especially since it's a SS. From my understanding, those smog-era SSs was pretty much a stripe/trim package, but it's still cooler than the other ElCamino models.
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Old 02-21-2005, 06:20 PM
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Get the 260horse version. The extra $400 is not worth 30 horsepower and two year less warranty. Take that $400 you save and put it towards new gears and a posi unit.
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Old 02-21-2005, 06:41 PM
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I was thinking the same thing about bang for the buck. It would probably be better to invest in a posi w/ better gears for my 10 bolt than spend close to $400 for only 30 hp. At a later date I also want to run a Weiand 142 blower on her anyway which should give me 50 - 100 more hp (the stock 8.5 compression would work great). Blowers are also only around a grand and would seem to be a better buy.
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Old 02-26-2005, 01:26 PM
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The only difference I can see, going by part#s, is a different cam. The compression is rated at 8to1, on the 290, and 8.5to 1, on the 260. Like I said, looking at the part #'s the only difference is the cams, but there has got to someting more. I would buy the 260, and change the cam. CarCraft had a great series of stories on building one of the 260hp crate engines. With very little work it made 300hp, 400+ with a head swap.
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