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Old 08-31-2010, 12:29 PM
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Just bought my first GTO, I need a pontiac expert!

I found a stellar deal on a 68 gto. I am still amazed that I got it. It is in fantastic shape, very straight, newer paint and vinyl top, new interior, good wheels and tires, clean engine bay. Everything is a dream except for the "rebuilt 400", or so he says it was rebuilt, it just seized up on me. Even so, the car was still a great buy.

Here's my story. I spent about everything I had on the car. Now it needs an engine. From what I have been reading, pontiac engines require experience to build, and they are not as easy to build right as a sbc. This would be my first engine build, so I'd rather not attempt to build an engine that requires a lot of care.. I would rather start on a cheaper project build like a ford 302 or 350 chevy.. Anyways, I have been looking online at complete engines, from places like Butler Performance. I am looking at about $7000 to $8000 minimum for a decent build. I roughly researched the parts and work I would need to build a decent street engine around 400hp, and the cost was about $3500 plus whatever the machine shop would cost, plus I would want them to assemble it too, so it would be right back up around 6 or 7 grand.

I dont have that kind of money. I have been looking for alternatives, and I was recommended to check out a gm 6.0 ls motor. I see there are a lot of them, and I might be able to get one for a good price, but I dont know if it will fit in my car or if I will end up spending just as much money in the long run gettin it set up and making the conversion.

I have found a 73 400 on craigslist, and he says it's been overhauled and is ready to drop in and go. He wants $2500. It is sounding like that is my only option at this point, but there are many risks I'd be taking such as I have no idea what he has really done to the motor or how long it will last.

What should I do? I really want to drive my car..

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Old 08-31-2010, 12:47 PM
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Tell us more about why/how it siezed up, what happened?

Since you are going to fix it anyhow just pull it and dismantle it yourself if you can, take a look at it and determine what is wrong, you may have a good enough engine to work with or maybe not, if you want a basic strong 400 pontiac at about 350-400hp it should not cost you 6-7 grand to have this done. I would be mighty leary about getting another "rebuilt 400" at this point. Have you asked/told the guy you bought the car from about this? I'd be pi$$ed off.
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Old 08-31-2010, 01:06 PM
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That makes sense. If this motor is toast anyways, then there is nothing to lose by taking it apart. The guy bought this car from a local muscle dealer 2 years ago for $20k. He wants to build his boat, and has been trying to sell this car for a long time. Several people have made commitments to buy it, but all backed out. I had made him an offer awhile ago but he turned it down. After another deal break, and another guy not showing up, he told me that he would sell me the car. I got it for about half of what he paid.. so, even with a bad motor, it is still a good deal. I initially was upset, but it's ok I'd rather put my energy into figuring out a solution instead of dwelling on the misfortune. Now I have an opportunity to learn more about the car.

The engine is pretty clean. He was told by the shop that it had 30k on a rebuild. He said that it smoked a bit when he drove it to portland, (we live in WA) and he tightend the valve covers and it went away. When I got the car, the only problem I could hear with the engine was a small tick, which really sound like an exhaust leak at the passenger side header. I drove it for a day, and it was fine. I got on it a few times but not too much. The next day, I took it on the highway. When I stepped on it, it would smoke out of the tail pipe. Not a black smoke, but you could smell oil burning. It would go away when I let off. I also noticed power seemed to be down. Then a new sound began, a muffled clanking sound. As I pulled into Gig harbor, it started getting worse. I decided to take the car to my mechanics. On the way, the clanking got louder, and it's noise level was consistent with the amount of throttle I'd give it. More throttle=louder noise. It got worse and worse and about a mile before the shop, the car turned off. There was metal in the oil, My guess is that a rod or crank bearing got chewed up. The motor is seized.

If it is just a bearing, I was thinking that maybe I can just buy an eagle crank for 250 and new bearings? Is it possible to do A bottom end job without removing the entire engine from the car?



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Old 08-31-2010, 01:16 PM
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Cheapest most reliable option is probably to swap the entire drivetrain to a 5.3L ls engine, trans, and pcm. About 2500 to do it but its reliable and makes good power.
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Old 08-31-2010, 01:16 PM
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You know the 400 wasn't Pontiac's strongest engine. "IF" you wanted to keep it Pontiac I'd look for a 389 or a 421 (good luck finding this one!). OR I'd drop a Chevy engine in it, it's a bolt up project, and of course alot easier finding parts!
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Old 08-31-2010, 01:24 PM
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my KARMA ran over my DOGMA
 

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Hey nice wheels, my dad sold pontiacs/GM's back in the day and I can still remember him coming home with some nice demo's at lunch time, 70 judge was the one that is still clear in my mind, I was 6 and it has burned itself into my memory...

mmmm well you should yank it out of there, IMHO there is no way to know for sure whats going on until you do, don't mess with trying to rebuild it in the car, thats just crazy talk (no offence). We could all speculate what happened but sounds like a piston and/or rod broke...ooouch.
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Old 08-31-2010, 01:33 PM
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I'm pretty much a Chevy guy now but whatever you do , do NOT put a Chevy in it!!!! Once you do that it's not a real "Goat" any more.

My first performance build was a '67 GTO 400 when I was 20, if you just want a fun street engine then a Pontiac is no harder than a Chevy to build. Keep it simple, build it for TQ and it will give you years of "Smiles Per Mile" and run easy high 13's without breaking a sweat. If it were me I'd hunt down a 428 or 455 core or at least another 400 if your's is terminal and can't be rebuilt.

I have to ask though, when it started making noise and smoking why did you keep going? You could have saved yourself a lot of grief and money if you had just pulled over and shut it off.
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Old 08-31-2010, 01:36 PM
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Things happened really fast, the noise was muffled at first, so I just figured I' drop it off up the street. I did make matters worse by driving it...lesson learned...the hard way as usual
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Old 08-31-2010, 01:42 PM
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I would love to rebuild it, but I dont have the tools or an experienced partner to help show me the ropes and particulars. I'm pretty sure I could handle the bottom end with a few more tools, But setting up a valve train makes me nervous...
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Old 08-31-2010, 02:38 PM
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I agree with hippie, keep it poncho. Putting an engine together to save loot you must do as much of it yourself as you can but:

The bottom end machining and parts matching is were you want to have someone else do it for you. If you think you can handle the assembly then you still need to have everything sized and bored to fit together once you get all the pieces, better just to have the short block machined/assembled by the same crew and pick it up complete with cam installed and timing gears done and pan on there. Then just bolt on the heads which you may have freshened up and checked for cracks, spring condition, seating etc. The valves/adjustments are easy when compared to the short block assembly:

http://www.boyleworks.com/ta400/psp/rockers.html

lots of good poncho motors featured here...cool

Still all this is no were near 7 grand for a basic motor, but as I suggested take it out first and see whats up doc, she may be too far gone
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:00 PM
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The bigger the hurry you get into the more money your going to spend. You can always get another engine but body's like that are hard to find. I would take my time and wait for a good engine to put it back to stock form. It would be worth more money that way and everyone would still be envious of it regardless if it's fast or not. Nice car!
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sqzbox
The bigger the hurry you get into the more money your going to spend. You can always get another engine but body's like that are hard to find. I would take my time and wait for a good engine to put it back to stock form. It would be worth more money that way and everyone would still be envious of it regardless if it's fast or not. Nice car!

Thank you! That is always my first priority when buying a car, a good body. Body work is something that I have zero experience in, or tools to do so. And it is the most expensive to get done. You're right about taking my time. From experience, I have learned that rushing and being naive gets me into trouble. I have put an add out for a complete 400 on craigslist to see what happens. For now, I am going to tear down this one and see what the damage is. I'll post some pictures of the progress, and I'm sure I'll be back to ask about any potential motors I find.

Does anyone know of a good gto or older pontiac forum? I'd like to see what the members have for sale.

Where can I find out what all the numbers on my fender tag mean? Is there a website I can use for free like for mopars?
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbolover
Cheapest most reliable option is probably to swap the entire drivetrain to a 5.3L ls engine, trans, and pcm. About 2500 to do it but its reliable and makes good power.
Might as well buy a chevelle instead of a gto
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:28 PM
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I'm sticking with pontiac...
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:36 PM
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For now, I am going to tear down this one and see what the damage is. I'll post some pictures of the progress, and I'm sure I'll be back to ask about any potential motors I find.

Does anyone know of a good gto or older pontiac forum? I'd like to see what the members have for sale.

Where can I find out what all the numbers on my fender tag mean? Is there a website I can use for free like for mopars?[/QUOTE]

Go to http://www.ultimategto.com if you look you will find everything there from data plate decoders to production numbers.
You have a BEAUTIFUL car .dont F*%# it up by putting a chevrolet engine in it. the 400 you have will probably be best to have rebuilt and you can see if the numbers match by doing a PHS documentation on the car.( Pontiac historical services) Nothing wrong with a chevy motor ,it just wont win anything at a car show without a pontiac engine

Also go to http://www.highperformancepontiac.com for other good info.
Tomohawk makes several affordable crank kits for the 400 and you can strech it to 428 with a stroker. The 400 is a real good motor. Also read this

http://www.wallaceracing.com/enginetheory.htm

Look up http://www.eaglerod.com/

If that dont get your heart pumping best check into a nursing home .
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