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Old 06-11-2011, 10:10 AM
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Preparing for rebuild, Pontiac 400

after falling in love with the sound of them a few years ago, I finally found an 78 trans am with no rust at a price I couldn't pass up. The only problem is the previous owner has no idea if/when the engine was rebuilt, or how many miles it has. currently running strong at what feels like stock power, but with the rest of the car being well sorted, rebuilding the 400 into something I can have confidence in will be a top priority. Have absolutely no experience working on these motors (little with performance v8s at all for that mater, have been throwing a rotary engine down the strip the last 2 years)
Hoping to build something ~4-600hp with enough manners to drive on the street without resorting to doing the regular ls swap I see at every car show and build.
Currently looking at using an edelbrock performer rpm power package, but wanted to see if the more experienced minds here had a better option.

Goals: pump gas/able to be daily driver if needed
4-600 hp range with room to grow
and with the economy the way it is, if there is a way to do the build smaller investments at a time retaining the ability to drive it lightly a few times a week while reaching the goal, so much the better.

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Old 06-11-2011, 11:47 AM
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You are bound to hear many opinions, and among them will be to build a bigger engine than the 400, namely the 455- and I am among that faction. Reason is, you can build a mid 12 second quarter miler w/nothing at all exotic- including the heads, as they can be 6X-4 heads like what may even be on your 400 now. When used on the 455 the compression is raised w/the 6X-4 heads to allow a performance cam to work well, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In my way of doing things, you would be driving the car as-is, while working on the 455 in the garage as time and money allows. Once completed, the original engine comes out and takes the place of the 455 on the engine stand to await further orders or to be stored for posterity.

The 455 will not usually require a rear gear swap like the 400 engine almost certainly will, if the rear end is stock. If it's a T/A it will be a posi, other models can be a posi if optioned that way, but the ratios were all highway gears. Fine for a 455, not so much so for a 400.

Let me just say that there's a world of difference between 400 and 600 HP in cost and complexity. And at 600 HP there's not much room to grow unless you're committed to an aftermarket engine w/little or no actual "Pontiac" parts from the factory involved. Instead of trying to answer a broad spectrum question like yours in any greater detail, I will offer up some sites for more info on the Pontiac. You will have even more questions after checking through some of the info, no doubt.

Good luck w/whatever you decide and welcome to the flock.

SOME SITES FOR PONTIAC PARTS & INFO:

Ken “Ace” Brewer @ Pacific Performance Racing- http://www.pacificperformanceracing.com/index.html

Butler Performance- http://www.jbp-pontiac.com/

SD Performance- http://www.sdperformance.com/

Performance Years Pontiac (One of the largest sites)- http://www.performanceyears.com/

Ken’s Speed & Machine Shop- http://www.angelfire.com/fl4/pontiac...chineshop.html

Nunzi- http://www.nunzi-pontiac-expert.com/

Fulper* aka Rock & Roll Engineering- http://pontiacpower.com/
*Two of the Pontiac guys here have warned about this guy. I have had no dealings w/him personally, so have no comment either way- except to say his claims and rhetoric is definitely "over the top".

SD Performance- http://www.sdperformance.com/

Tin Indian Performance http://www.tinindianperformance.com/

Kauffman Racing Equipment- http://www.krepower.com/

All Pontiac.com- http://www.allpontiac.com/

Wallace Racing- http://www.wallaceracing.com/


A FEW SELECTED ARTICLES BY JIM HAND (there are many more)

Jim Hand “BUILDING A STRONG STREET MACHINE”@ Classic Firebird
http://www.classicfirebird.com/hand/hand.html

Hand on Cams
http://www.dapa.org/jhpages/pontiac-cams.htm’

Hand on ROCKER RATIOS/MODS
http://www.pontiacstreetperformance....ockerArms.html


PONTIAC MAGS ON THE WEB:

Pontiac Street Performance
http://www.pontiacstreetperformance.com/

Pontiac Street Performance Featured Cars & Engines
http://www.pontiacstreetperformance....turedcars.html

Pontiac Street Performance Tech Articles
http://www.pontiacstreetperformance....harticles.html

High Performance Pontiac
http://www.highperformancepontiac.com/

Also, there have been numerous threads here- hit the "Search" for more info.

Last edited by cobalt327; 06-11-2011 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 06-11-2011, 01:48 PM
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Pontiac build

Go to your local book store and buy Jim Hand's book on building Pontiac's. He's a good friend and is the best hotrodder I know. His book details several builds and you can pick the performance level you want. Pretty cool that he even mentions me in the book.

Ron
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Old 06-11-2011, 02:17 PM
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You can stroke a 400 to 455 with a kit from butler performance , and the price is pretty decent
Keep the 400 build a 455 from it if you like, 455 ponchos are pretty scarce.

www.butlerperformance.com
Welcome fellow Ponti- yacker
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Old 06-11-2011, 03:43 PM
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That was going to be my next question, since a quick look through eBay makes it seem that outside of getting lucky at a swap meet buying a new block from butler would be close to the same cost after having a shop get an old 455 ready to go, but building the current engine up seems like a better option for the immediate future (although building one of those as a pure race engine seems like a good way to blow my next reenlistment bonus)
Will have to see if the current block had room to be bored when I bring it into the shop, if not then I suppose upgrading to the larger engine would be a good investment.
Thanks for all the info, I'll have to through it all before ordering anything
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 78ta
That was going to be my next question, since a quick look through eBay makes it seem that outside of getting lucky at a swap meet buying a new block from butler would be close to the same cost after having a shop get an old 455 ready to go, but building the current engine up seems like a better option for the immediate future (although building one of those as a pure race engine seems like a good way to blow my next reenlistment bonus)
Will have to see if the current block had room to be bored when I bring it into the shop, if not then I suppose upgrading to the larger engine would be a good investment.
Thanks for all the info, I'll have to through it all before ordering anything
A 400 block is a better option, all the way around. It's stronger in the main saddles, because there is more meat there with a main bore of 3" vs 3.25", and at around 700 HP even a well prepared large main block will start to split. Ask me how I know! There is a 400 block to avoid because of thin main webbing. That would be the late '75 and '76 block with casting number 500557.

Bill

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