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Old 02-02-2006, 07:57 AM
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Total Newbie Question

Hi! I just joined, and after searching the forums, I haven't seen an answer to the question I have.

I am extremely new to working on my car. It is a 61 Chevy Bel Air sedan (4 door). It currently has a v8 283 engine. I want to put the most hp possible in it, but I have no idea how to figure out what I can put in there, and I am hesitant to talk to a mechanic, because I think they see dollar signs whenever I walk through the door (female - sheesh ).

On top of that, what else will I need to change once I get the new engine?

Any suggestions/opinions are appreciated!

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Old 02-02-2006, 08:16 AM
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Any SBC(small block chevy) v8 will basically swap right in there like 305. 350,400 etc. Most people go with a 350.

The most HP possible? well i don't think there is a most possible really, depends on how much money you are willing to put into it. in my 82 grand prix summer ride i got around 250hp with my SBC 350 and its fun, but im sure it will get boring this summer. i would aim for 300ish HP if you are just using it for street.

you can also swap out the rear end axle gears to get much better excelleration, but will suffer on the highway with higher RPM's which then could be solved by a Overdrive transmission.

you should check out Crate motors as well on places like jegs.com and summitracing.com

Do you plan on doing the work yourself? if you do just get some books and read up on it, and ask any questions at all on the forums as there is lots of people willing to help, thats all i have done.
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Old 02-02-2006, 08:17 AM
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hp

well lets see........

Do you have a budget to stick to???

Is this going to be a race only car???

Do you want it to run on 93 octane or are you ok with $5.00 a gal race gas??

Are you ok with doing maintenance on it every week or do you want to close the hood and drive it?????

Automatic or standard trans?????


Keith
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Old 02-02-2006, 09:07 AM
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well lets see........

Do you have a budget to stick to???
---nope. This is my 'toy'. I don't have a set time I want to finish it, and I really want to go first-class with whatever I do to it.

Is this going to be a race only car???
---no. I would like to be able to drive it around to show it off.


Do you want it to run on 93 octane or are you ok with $5.00 a gal race gas??
---I think 93 will be the most viable solution for what I want it for.

Are you ok with doing maintenance on it every week or do you want to close the hood and drive it?????
---close the hood and drive it. I do want to learn a lot more about the engine and how all the pieces work together, but I definately don't have the tools or knowledge to do the work myself right now.

Automatic or standard trans?????
Automatic.

Keith
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Old 02-02-2006, 09:11 AM
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The most HP possible? well i don't think there is a most possible really, depends on how much money you are willing to put into it.

---I don't have any other projects/hobbies that occupy my spare income, so I am not adverse to saving up and buying the best I can.

you can also swap out the rear end axle gears to get much better excelleration, but will suffer on the highway with higher RPM's which then could be solved by a Overdrive transmission.

---so...new tranny? Ok! Good to know.

you should check out Crate motors as well on places like jegs.com and summitracing.com

---I'll check them out. I really like the idea of a turn-key engine, so that I know all the parts will work together properly.

Do you plan on doing the work yourself?

---No. I don't have the stuff needed to yank the old engine, let alone the knowledge to put a new one in there.

---Thanks!
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Old 02-02-2006, 09:15 AM
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engine

If you have no real budget to stick to then, cubic inches are the way to go for fast reliable power....

A big block chevy will fit into your car with no drama to speak of...

The next thing i would do if i were you. Go find some local car shows and talk to the guys that have cars there and find out where they get there work done... That way you will not have to worry about getting ripped off by a shop that is un-known....Most guys are more then happy to help another rodder out...

You will get 1000 opinions on this site about what to do and not to do, but you really should work with the guy that is building the car or engine.... Take your time,listen to what others have done and liked or dis-liked.. Then make a informed decission with your engine builder.....

Keith
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Old 02-02-2006, 09:28 AM
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i suggest you do work yourself unless you make a ton of money, i was just quoted for $300 in labour to change a throw out bearing in my clutch plus parts. i do all work myself but i just wanted to really know how much i was saving.

its really not that hard to do it after reading up on it, i was 15 when i did my first motor swap all by myself, actually ive done everything by myself. best part of it is you can show your car off, and also say ya i did it myself too.

if money is no object your lucky

crate engines cost anywhere around $1,500-20,000

just dont get anything to big and go kill yourself, cause i know if i had money i would get the biggest baddest motor possible and end up in a ditch or around a light pole.

Do we get to see a picture of this car? sounds fun

Good luck
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Old 02-02-2006, 12:35 PM
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If you really dont have a money issue, and a big block will fit, I would build a 10.5:1 598 with AFR 335cc or 357cc CNC ported heads. All in all, you will have a minimum of $12000 in the motor with good parts, but this should be good for around 800hp in a really streetable form. If you wanted more than that, you could always put a procharger on it. If you dropped the compression and ran a little boost from a procharger 1000+ hp is easily attainable. Look at the video below. It is a pump gas intercooled procharged 572 that makes 1050 hp on pump gas at 5500 RPM. The same company has made as much as 1680hp on pump gas with the same sized motor just more boost and RPM (roughly 25 psi and 6300 RPM).

1050 hp motor: watch the third video from the left on the top row here.
http://www.procharger.com/multimedia.shtml

1680 hp motor:
http://www.procharger.com/1685_dyno.shtml

Huh... I just noticed you were from Omaha. I lived in Bellevue for 6 years but now go to UNL.

I found these pictures of the car. Nice.
1961 Chevy Bel Air


Adam
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Old 02-02-2006, 02:40 PM
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Do we get to see a picture of this car? sounds fun

---I posted pics on my into thread, but I'll put them here, too.
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Old 02-02-2006, 03:02 PM
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Did you hear that Americruise is comming back to Lincoln this year? It was supposed to be the last time the last time they came. Have you ever come to Lincoln for the Americruise Friday or Saturday night cruising?

Adam
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Old 02-03-2006, 06:45 AM
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Did you hear that Americruise is comming back to Lincoln this year? It was supposed to be the last time the last time they came. Have you ever come to Lincoln for the Americruise Friday or Saturday night cruising?

---I've never been to Lincoln for that. Is there somewhere I can find more information on it? Sounds like fun!
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Old 02-03-2006, 07:22 AM
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hey you got one wicked looking car there! if i lived close, id be asking for a ride in it lol

Did you buy it like that or have you fixed it up? its beautiful
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Old 02-03-2006, 08:46 AM
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emerald -- why do you want a new engine with more power? That's the very first thing you need to ask yourself. You've got a nice looking ride there that's probably easy on gas and has a bit more than adequate power. Is the engine using a bit of oil, or just has lots of miles on it and you're concerned about wear? Just want more power to show off? If you need to replace the engine, do check on the crate engines and an installer. Installation and removal of the old one alone will run $1000-$1500 plus engine cost. To keep costs down I'd only go with another small block, but no harm in going with something like a 377 or 383 stroker instead of a plain old 350.

If your engine is basically in good condition there's a lot you can do yourself to give it a bit more power without a major expense. Any parts you add should work on a larger small block you might want to stick in later as well, with some exceptions -- like an intake you buy for the 283 is not going to work on a late model LT-1, but it will work on most crate engines.

An intake and carb are pretty easy to change in your driveway with just basic tools. A socket set and a 3/8" drive torque wrench are all you need. The torque wrench is the only tool you aren't likely to have. If you're not going to be building an entire engine, just doing bolt on stuff, I'd recommend you get a 3/8" drive beam type. They are easy to use, relatively cheap (Sears #00944690000 is around $25), and don't need calibrating like the clicker type. If the beam pointer gets bent somehow and points to say 10 lb/ft all the time, just add (or subtract, depending on which way it's bent) that from what you need. Cheap clickers can get out of calibration and just just don't know until something comes loose or breaks (I mean like in the engine!).

On a 283 an Edelbrock Performer and 600 cfm carb would be a nice kick in the pants! Or a Demon carb and Performer intake. You can install that in a weekend for around $500. Don't go larger than 600 cfm on the 283, and unless you know for sure you're going to get a larger engine later you might want to stick with a 500 or 525 cfm carb (good for up to a mild 350). A lot of people have the idea that the bigger the carb the more power, but that's not the case! The bigger the holes in the carb the slower fuel and air will pass through it, and if it gets to slow you lose power.

What kind of exhaust system does the car have -- stock? If so, just running 2" duals or 2.5" single exhaust with a nice turbo muffler (depending on how loud you want it -- a large diameter stock type muffler will increase flow and power and keep noise down) will increase power and give the engine a really nice sound for cruising. That's some thing usually left up to the exhaust shop, and will set you back $500-$1500 depending on what kind of tubing and mufflers you get. Aluminized steel bent at the shop is probably your best bet, with a generic turbo muffler or something like a Walker Dynomax. Duals would run in the $1K range. I'd stay away from headers for now on a cruiser. Shorty headers might be good though. You can have the exhaust installed with the factory manifolds for now, then the shop can modify the front of the pipes for headers later.

Another thing to consider is a better air filter. I don't like the popular K&N because it will clog if regualr oil gets on it, and can't be cleared. I prefer an oiled foam filter such as sold by AMSOIL dealers. No special oil is needed, and it's easy to clean. It flows as good as a K&N as well, or nearly so.

Any of the things above will be good for a mild 350-383 later. You might want a larger carb for a hot 383, but a 600 cfm would still be a good start.

The only other thing I'd consider changing even if the engine is in good condition is the transmission. You should have a two speed Powerglide automatic (unless it's a stick). Even a three speed is better than a two! If you only had money/time (I know those aren't big issues) to do one mod, the transmission is the one I'd do. A three speed trans will generally have a little lower first gear, which when coupled with the lower rear axle will improve acceleration (and should improve around town mileage). High gear will still be 1:1 like the Powerglide, but highway mileage will go up a slight amount because the trans will downshift a lot sooner, putting less strain on the engine. If you go with a three speed, get one with a lock-up torque converter. Otherwise go with a four speed (three speed with OD) auto like a 200R4 or 7004R. Just make sure the trans will be up to your expected later upgrades. The 200R4 can be built to take 400 hp easy enough, but if you're thinking more than that you definitely want a 7004R.

To be honest, there's really no reason for over 400 hp for a street cruiser -- especially your first "hot" car. The only thing it will do is burn more gas than something with say 300 hp. Of course it may accelerate faster, but a well built 300 hp engine will still burn the tires (only good for showing off -- spinning tires = wasted power!), out accelerate most newer cars, and deliver decent economy (20-25 mpg on the highway). So be realistic. 350-400 hp is a good target for a medium build 350-383 (I know you can get more!) with good lower speed torque (torque is what gets great take-off and spins the wheels, not big hp numbers, which come in at higher rpm). 300 hp isn't off target for a nicely built 283, though around 250-275 is more like it with just bolt-ons. As a guide, the 1961 283 two barrel engine put out 170 hp, four barrel carb 230, and fuel injection 315 hp. A nice modern 4V carb and aluminum intake with a good exhaust system (2" duals or 2.5" single) should boost you to close to 240 hp. The factory engines did have higher compression with 4V carbs, but the Performer is a much better intake and the exhaust improvement will be better than factory. So a 50 hp increase will run $1000-$2000 depending on the exhaust system. $20-$40 per pony isn't to bad.
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Old 02-03-2006, 10:29 AM
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Your car, with the exception of the wheels and stance, looks fairly original. I tend toward visual originality, so my suggestion is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

My $.02.
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Old 02-03-2006, 03:10 PM
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Here is an article about Americruise in 2003. On the Friday and Saturday night of the weekend they are here alot of the cars here for it along with alot of local guys cruise up and down "o" st. Hundreds of people line up and down o street from ~56th to ~9th and watch all the cool cars go by.



http://www.rodandcustommagazine.com/...mid/index.html
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