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415 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
In two words: "Stupid basic".

This car was my father's 1/8th mile race car that never came to fruition when I was a kid. He started the project when I was 2 or 3 years old, and then put it on the back burner after my younger brother was born a few years later. After going through the motions of youth and messing around with Hondas, Subarus, and BMW's, the V8 itch just had to get scratched. So, back in 2015, I took it upon myself to finish the car and making it "streetable" after sitting idle for the past 25 years.

My father built the 355 in the car with the intention of making it a strip car only, so it's on the radical side for a "street" car- ~12.5:1 compression, iron 461 heads, a lumpy solid lifter cam with 106LSA, 4.88 gears, etc etc... there's more on the car in my "car profiles" page.

The whole point of this build is to make the simplest street bruiser I can- no frills, minimal creature comforts- just a car that's built to have fun, do some burnouts, and maybe bust some heads... on a budget.

I'll try to bring this up to speed from when the project started back in 2015.

415 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
"The Starting Point"; July 2015.

-350 Small Block; .030" over
-TRW 11.5:1 pistons
-Comp 12-609-5 solid lifter cam
-461 iron heads w/ 2.02/1.60 forged one-piece valves
-Weiand XCELERATOR 7546 single plane
-Holley 750 4160


-Shift Improver kit
-GER 3,500 stall converter


-Stock sheetmetal
-Original glass
-Harwood 2" cowl hood

-2" drop spindles
-6 Cylinder springs
-TRS front disc conversion
-OE Mono rear leaf springs
-Slapper bars

Rear End:
-GM 12-bolt
-4.88 gears
-OE limited slip differential carrier

-Open headers

-Repop Rallye wheels 15x7F, 15x8R
-205/70R15 Front, 275/60R15 Rear

-Plastic bucket seat
-Heater core delete
-Blower fan delete
-Carpet removed
-Rear seats removed

-New front harnesses
-PLX Devices wideband O2 sensor
-Autometer oil pressure, oil temp, water temp, trans temp gauges

-The dome light works?

Sound system:
-See Exhaust section

This is exactly how the car sat when this project started in July 2015. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I loved the look.

415 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
This is when the project first kicked off.


I've been working on my dad's old 1969 Nova for the last two months, trying to get from a half-assembled drag car into a "street car". Originally, it was supposed to be an 1/8th mile car (short gears, loose converter, & a basic smallblock), but I don't really have the time or the money to trailer it back and forth to the races, so... my brother and I decided it would be a street sweeper instead.

The slicks and the aluminum wheels didn't fit worth a damn in the back thanks to the same 15x7 4"BS front and rear, so off they came for a set of GM rallye wheels I found on Craigslist locally. Of course, the factory drums (front and rear) were all leaking or ruined, so off they came in favor of a disc conversion kit.

Here's what I've accomplished so far.

  • Manual drum to power disc brake conversion
  • All new balljoints/tie rod ends/steering parts
  • 2" front drop spindles
  • Fabricated a custom 3" 'exhaust'
  • Rewiring the entire front harness
  • 4-core aluminum radiator
  • GM rallye steel wheels (15x6 front, 15x8 rear)
  • New tires (205/70R15 front, 275/60R15 rear)

Plus a handful of other odds and ends I know I'm forgetting.

It's been a refreshing experience working on something that's simple and easy to understand, while not breaking the bank when it comes to parts. Seriously, I waltzed into Advance Auto and left with a handful of things I needed and barely spent any money. :lol: There's still a ton of work to do, and I'm learning all of the old-school ways and tricks along the way and putting them into practice.

I'm gunning to have the car "roadworthy" by next weekend, as it's my birthday weekend and I plan on hazing the **** out of some tires.

And at home, next to my Prelude.


415 Posts
Discussion Starter #4

Last nights progress:

  • Disassemble the alternator bracketry, re-shimmed, and re-aligned
  • Modify the new harness to accept an internally regulated alternator vs. the old, original external regulator
  • Reverse-engineer the original wiring schematics to figure out a wiring path for the charging system, remote relay for power/accessories, and tie-ins for the factory harness
  • 'Clearance' the headers to clear the massive starter
  • Re-loom the starter/solenoid harness to avoid a fiery death
  • Adjust the shifter linkage for the garbage floor shifter
  • A ton of other **** I've forgotten because I'm on 3 hours of sleep today

In my usual fashion, I stayed up way too late (read: 2am) last night tinkering and chipping away at the little things. The order of operations for the snowball effect went something like this:

"Okay, time to wire the alternator... but wait, it's cocked to one side and it's not aligned. I better pull it and re-shim the brackets."

"...Well, that's odd. The old wiring just loops back to the old harness? What in the ****? Better pull this old wire so it isn't laying in there... Hey, it goes down to the power wire on the starter solenoid, it doesn't even reach the loom. What in the hell, the header is hitting the ****ing starter?!? Ugh, better pull this and 'adjust' it."

"Aaaaaand the ****ing flanges are as flat as a marble."

"Okay. Headers now fit. Starter has plenty of clearance, and all the wires are tucked out of harms way. The alternator brackets are square(ish) to the pulleys. NOW I can finish wiring this *******."

Finally, after futzing with everything else BESIDES the wiring harness since 7pm, all of the front lights work on the front of the car. Now I need to troubleshoot why the signals won't work when the lights are on, replace the hilariously blown driver's side sealed beam, and figure out the high beams.


415 Posts
Discussion Starter #5

Spent another late night in the garage last night.

Got home from work, fired it up, set the idle mixture screws right on the carb, and washed it off in the driveway. Started to get a twitch from working on a car that was covered in 2+ years of dust from the last time I washed it.

OCD struck again, I couldn't deal with the stinkbug stance. It just made the car look... goofy. The ass of the car HAD to come down, come hell or high water. (Because, let's face it, every passenger car I own is lowered to some degree.) Stance can make or break the attitude of a car, and I wasn't going to half-ass it's presence on it's first time out.

So, back into the shop it went for some disassembly. Luckily, I had previously purchased a ton of other stuff for the back of the car (wheel cylinders, rear shoes, spring bushings, shackle bushings, etc.) so I had stock to burn up anyway.

I had better get a ****ing Christmas card from Rock Auto, Summit Racing, and ACDelco for all the money I've spent with them in the last 2 months.

The rear axle is (obviously) leaf sprung, and the rear of the springs are held in place by these goofy shackles that were installed on the car by whoever my father bought the car from back in the early 90's. It didn't help that the rear shocks (which, sadly are also air shocks) were relocated inboard by my father in an attempt to clear the massive 30x10R15 slicks that the car had at one point. There was lots of improvement to be made here.

Out came the air shocks, upper "shock mounts" that were bolted to the frame, and off came the rear hangers. I didn't take any photos for some odd reason.

As luck would have it, I saved a pair of heavy-duty drag shocks that were in the trunk of the car with a pile of other old parts. On a whim, I looked to see if the factory shock mounting holes were still in good shape... and Lady Luck smiled upon me and said "**** yea, put them back in they place". This solved my issue of having to fabricate a center cross brace to relocate and 'tip' the shocks inboard, and the shocks fit like a glove once the rear springs were brought down two inches (or two eye holes) on the shackles. Once I got it all bolted together, I set it down on the ground to check for clearance issues.

The fitment on the wheels, tires, shocks, and quarter panels was ****ing money.

It's gonna be a snug fit, but we'll have to see how things play out once I get to playing on the streets and get some deflection on the rearend. For now, it's "Roadkill Good Enough".

Yet another step closer. (To both driving the car, and finally getting the car closer to the ground)


415 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
[8/9/2016: Day after D-Day]

I'll have to do an actual update of what I did the last few nights, since I basically glazed over taking photos and just thrashed there won't be much to show. :lol:

In case you're not friends with me on Facebook: it officially made it onto the road yesterday, dead on my deadline of my birthday. Cliff notes: Exhaust is way, way too loud for my neighborhood (so I'm adding two chambered 3" mufflers), I have a lot of tuning to do on the carb (runs okay, but not great past 4k), and 4.88's with a high stall converter and a full manual valve body make for laughable traction and a whole lot of fun.

415 Posts

Alright, update time. The week of my birthday was kind of a blur thanks to exhaustion and excessive alcohol consumption so I'll post what little I took photos of and can remember doing lol.

After getting the fueling system tidied up, I threw together a fan shroud so the haggard flex-fan would pull some CFM's through the radiator. My biggest fear was the car boiling over in traffic or just cruising around- high compression mixed with an all-iron longblock makes for high temps and detonation if not left in check.

Speaking of detonation, thank you to everyone who gave me some info on hunting down some fuel for this *******. $60 later I left with 7 gallons of fuel to mix with some 93 octane, just to play it safe at first.

I'm glad I went through the trouble with both the shroud and the fuel, because it was damn near 94 degrees when I finally put the plates on it and went to go down the road! I hit my goal, get the car down the street by my birthday.

It was short-lived. I got about 3/4 of a mile down the road before the car fell on it's face, spat and sputtered a few times, then went dead. In a mild panick, I got the car to the edge of the road and looked it over. No leaks, it had 12.5 volts in the battery and ran like a *********** pulling out of the street... and I know the ****ing thing had spark and compression. I reached under the car and felt the electric fuel pump, and almost melted the skin off of my hand. The pump was pooched.

After sitting by the side of the road to let the pump cool off, I was able to get it going again and had to do an agonizing cycle of "cool down, pump up the carb, drive a couple hundred feet, shut off, repeat" about 4 times. Some good came of it- my neighbors on my street walked out and shot the **** with me as I was dead along the road for about a half hour once I made it back to my street. :lol:

Didn't matter. Had friends over that night, went to the Shriner's car show to stay motivated, ate a table-sized amount of pizza and drank a small lake of beer to celebrate. Life is good.

After nursing my hangover the next day, it was back to the grindstone. Something was ****-*. Turns out, the Holley electric pumps like to be mounted below the sump... and they don't like having a filter mounted BEFORE them. It idled and moved okay around the garage because the pump was just putting out enough to fill the fuel bowls, but not enough to feed the hungry savage when it got above 2k for any length of time and load.
Reading the directions is hard.

Luckily my son was down for the cause and supervised as I pulled the pump and filter out of their respective places to fab up some mounts and un-hack the hackery.

No pictures, but the pump is now mounted below the lowest spot on the tank, the fuel filter housing was mounted correctly, and new hardline was run to and from the tank to get it plumbed "correctly".

415 Posts
Discussion Starter #8

After I got the car running and driving, I started to nitpick at all the little things that needed attention. The exhaust, while sounding like a chorus of enraged grizzly bears on a vibration table, was a little loud for my current location. So, regretfully, the bullet mufflers got replaced with some chambered 3" mufflers from Summit. It's still egregiously loud, but it's slightly less obnoxious.

Thankfully, Subaru was gratuitous with their trunk space, and I was able to drive to my dad's shop to borrow his welder.

Here's an after video of it at idle. Slightly less "poppy" at idle, but a still incredibly violent.

After buttoning up the exhaust, I noticed there was ATF lining the bottom of the car from some kind of leak. Whatver, TH350's leak right? Well, not all the way down the bottom of the car. After thinking that it was probably the trans pan or the dipstick tube, I ordered a filter kit and a new o-ring to try to get rid of the leaks.

It was probably best to pull the pan off the transmission and do a fluid change anyway, since it probably hadn't been done in a while. The last time I drove it around, it felt like 2nd gear was wonky... like it couldn't find it, even with a manual valve body. As soon as the drain plug came out, the whole garage smelled like a woodburning kit...


The trans was toast. Fluid was everywhere on the trans, and the writing was on the wall. Even after desperate a fluid and a filter change, it was toast.

That's kind of where the car sat for the last month. Bathroom remodels, kids birthday parties, and other issues arose, so the car sat for a few more weeks.

415 Posts
Discussion Starter #9

After I figured out the trans was toast, focus shifted on all of the other things I still had control over while it was taking up room in my garage. :roll: Namely, the janky wiring that kept some of the items "functioning" in the car.

I pulled all the "race-car spec" wiring my dad did in his younger days out of the car and started from scratch. Instead of pulling power for 5 different things from 3 different places in 2 different accessory power ports on the already- overdrawn fuse block, I ran a single wire to a remote relay, which ran power directly from a fused connection on the battery to a marine fuse block I picked up off Amazon.

Every accessory now has it's own fuse, powered directly from the battery, tucked neatly away in the glove box (for now). All have their own fresh grounds, single-sized, color-coded wire of the appropriate size, and nothing is dangling under the dash to be grabbed by wayward feet or tools.

Because of the freed up locations, I was able to get the factory fuel gauge, dash lights, dome light, and "BRAKE" warning lights to function. At least I know the car won't burn to the ground from some shagged wiring.

That left me with the elephant in the room: The transmission. Last weekend I decided to get my poop in a group and get the trans out of the car for it's last respects. After a full night of pulling parts off the car, some swearing, a few skinned knuckles and a pinched finger, I got it wrestled out with a jack and a piece of 3/4" plywood.

The trans that was in the car was full of "race car" guts. Full manual valve body, 3,500 stall GER converter, deleted vacuum modulator, and a shift kit. A full manual valve body is perfect for racing, not so much for street use.

Another drawback is that the trans REALLY doesn't like to be engine-braked, and you have to kind of "feel out" when to downshift for corners and other moves without dragging on the clutches. Now, in the name of keeping this low-buck, I did the sensible thing.

I pulled out a spare, low-mile TH350 that came from another project car that was gone through at some point, put all new seals in it, and stabbed an unknown, "higher stall" converter on it's nose. :lol:

Hopefully I'll be back in business and doing burnouts again by the end of next week.

415 Posts

Well I haven't visited this in a while.

Last fall, I was able to install the transmission in the car before the season ended and stabbed an "unknown" torque converter that we had laying around on the nose of the replacement unit. Even after flushing the race converter, I couldn't get it to wash cleanly. My hopes were dashed over the rocks to find that the mystery converter was in fact tighter than the race unit, and now the car only flash stalled LOWER than the original 3,500. :(

That allowed my dad to jump in the car and fart around with it though, so that's good I guess.

After driving the car around the block a few times to feel out the trans, the car kept surging at cruising speeds, which made me think it was starving for fuel. The plugs, however, read rich. Odd. After a quick rip up and down the street, it fell on its face and died... again. Even after swapping the location of the fuel pump and the pickup, the pump whined its way to a slow crawl after 10 minutes of driving. I crawled under the car again to discover why the pump was dying, and it became clear when I reached up to touch it again- it was overheating and dying a slow, painful death. I should have read the damn directions: these pumps need to be below the sump, instead of drawing out from the top. :horse:

On top of the pump being pooched, the tank still had the original 5/16" fuel feed line from it's 6-cylinder days. My father had clamped a 3/8" fuel line to the factory pickup, additionally causing the pump to cavitate, starve for fuel, and overheat.
:turn: FFS.

Instead of cutting of the factory fuel tank and welding in a sump, I winged the Holley Blue pump into the parts bin and bought a 3/8" feed pickup, mechanical pump, and a GMPP fuel pump rod from Summit. :spend:

Out comes the fuel from the tank, via the electric pump's final hours.

I robbed a fuel pump plate off of a 400SBC sitting in the shop, luckily it was still mint, although caked with old oil.

Bam, done and installed. I hated using the 90 at the output side, but there was no clearance whatsoever between the pump and the subframe thanks to the tight packaging. I'll be revisiting this at some point.


A quick trip down the street brought up another thing that needed attention... now that the car had fuel, it was pinging and did NOT want to pull past 3,500RPM.

Which meant it was time to visit the timing again. I yanked the distributor to check the mechanical weights and stops for the advance, which stopped at 13 degrees.

After getting the timing advance stop at 10 degrees mechanical advance, I dropped the dizzy back in and set the timing, but felt nervous about driving it around without knowing what the carb was doing, considering it was the same accelerator pump cam, jets, and vacuum secondary that it had out of the box. So, enter yet another toy.

I yanked the driver's side header to install the bung, got wrapped up in cleaning up leaves for the fall, and basically pushed the car to the side for the rest of the year. It was October, and the time I had to wrench and tinker was over. Game over. I've been wrapped up with home projects, baby projects, and other stuff around the house until now.

415 Posts
Discussion Starter #11

Well... I guess it's time to dust this off. I was going to keep this "low key" but quickly realized that I enjoy sharing fun experiences too much to keep a secret.

The last I had left off, things were kind of in a state of disarray. I got the other TH350 tranny swapped in with the "mystery" converter, fiddled with the timing for about an hour, and then tucked it away for winter of 2016/2017. With Son #2 on the way, I knew funds and time would be tight, so the car pretty much sat idle for all of the summer. Coming up on the month of June 2017, I did the smart (although sad) thing; it went on the trailer and off to longer-term storage. A few weeks later, #2 popped out, and I pretty much forgot about the whole thing.

Now, as most of you guys are more than well aware, newborns require most, if not all, of your direct attention, so car projects were pretty much nixed. I paid to have the car there until this past spring, which came and went. After getting a few house projects done and keeping up with detail jobs, summer was pretty quiet. For my dad's birthday, my brother and I joked about going to the race track for the "vintage weekend" with him, which basically consisted of my favorite kinds of drag cars... 60's and 70's muscle with antiquated technology and hairy launches.

The bug... it bit hard. That ache at the pit of my stomach meant one thing; it was time for a comeback tour once time, energy, and money allowed.

Now, the engine in the car is too much, as previously stated. High compression TRW pistons, lumpy Comp solid lifter cam, iron 461 heads, aggressive (albeit simple) timing components, a single plane Weiand intake manifold, and a 750 with vacuum secondaries don't play well on pump gas. Putting my head against the wall for the last year or two, I've narrowed it down to one reasonable solution to keeping that engine in the car and getting it to live on pump gas: new, modern, large-chamber 74-76cc cylinder heads with good machine work to stand up to the bottom end. The problem is, new cylinder heads are big bucks, and I don't have big bucks to spend. I'm on a the "couch cushion change" budget, which equates to scraping together money that I've stashed from side jobs, extra OT at work, and selling stuff that I don't need. So, that's off the table.

Enter: The unlikely hero.

The engine is a throwaway 400 SBC transplant that's been shuffled around my dad's family for a while now. It started out in my great-grandmother's '73 Impala, was ripped out when the car was scrapped, then tossed into a '79 Chevy 3/4 ton pickup my dad drove for nearly a decade when I was just a little guy. We scrapped the truck ages ago, saving the block, trans, and a few peripherals because, well, it ran well, and there wasn't anything wrong with it beyond being a stock, 2-barrel, land yacht pushin' small block.

The plan is to take this turd, rub some awesome on it, toss some performance parts at it (most of which are laying on the shop shelves), and rob what I can from the existing 350. Once it's together, toss it between the fenders of the Nova, and drive the damn thing.

Which brings us to our current installment.

415 Posts
Discussion Starter #12

For the past few months, I put the plan together, little by little. This has required an absolute balancing act of "what parts do I have laying around, what can I afford to buy, and how will this all pull together harmoniously to produce a tire-melting giggle machine". I'll save the details for later.

Two weeks ago, I went to go visit the car for the first time in a little over a year. It had gas in it that I pumped in back in 2016, but other than that, it was barn-mint.

I took a ton of reference photos to compare and contrast what would be going in it, and to take stock of what has to be done to genuinely get it "ready" for next season. Although I had a new distributor and coil on hand, I left well enough alone, figured out what I had to do to get the car running, and left.

Since the Prelude is ready to get tucked away for winter, and I desperately need my garage space back, I had planned a "swap". The Prelude would take the Nova's spot, and the Nova would go to my dad's shop for the winter, where I'd have more room to work and access to the heavier tools to get stuff done.

The biggest hurdle to getting the car "home" for winter was getting it running again without ingesting a bunch of garbage 2-year-old fuel. Since draining 10 gallons of old gas out of the steel tank wasn't time friendly or storage friendly, I rigged up my own fuel cell out of a fender washer, rubber gasket, some rubber butyl tape, and two pieces of copper than I bent up into seperate "feed" lines to the bottom of the tank and out the neck, and a "vent" line with a braided line to displace the fuel as it got sucked out. 4 gallons of race gas, two tie-downs, some 3/8" fuel line to bypass the stock tank, and a piece of bent wire later... we were in (sketchy) business. Sketchy, 'out of registration and inspection but thankfully still insured' business.

My dad and I both tinkered together on it, which was fun. We got the timing set as good as I could without a timing light, raised the idle up a little bit to keep it happy at stop signs, and hoofed it with the old guy leading the charge. Staying out of the throttle to avoid pinging and breaking **** was an exercise in self-control, the 4.88's wound the motor right up going 45mph and the thing was an inch of throttle away from pulling. But... patience and safety ruled the roost. Mostly.

Now, ironically, this sketchy trip home was the furthest I have driven the car thus far. It was some 6 or 7 miles of grinning ear to ear while ingesting raw fuel fumes, going slightly deaf, and looking over my shoulder for law enforcement. But, we made it.

Now, the teardown begins. In the coming weeks, I'll be ripping apart the donor motor and slowly bringing the whole idea together. Hopefully, this super-tight-buck-budget-build should be a fun experience.

415 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
It is time.

Friday night, I slinked off to my dad's shop to set to work on Heart #2 with a laundry list of questions and a gut full of coffee at 8pm. Happily, my dad wanted to be a part of the fun so he hung around and gave me a hand.

After doing some shuffling, we got the engine hoist out and and yanked the engine and trans to an easier spot to get at. Before we even began, we pulled the plugs and rolled it over with a ratchet on the crank bolt; luckily with zero resistance. Hilariously, a bunch of of old mouse next fell out of the gap between the transmission housing and the flexplate. :lol: "It's just a mouse motor."

Then we rigged up a pair of jumper cables to the starter to get a compression check. Even with "some weirdness" (which I'll revisit later), all 8 cylinder thumped out 150-160psi of pressure with a hint of penetrating lube down the spark plug holes. Looking back on it, I should have held the throttle plate open, but it is what it is. I'm just glad they were all within 10% of eachother. At this point, the plan was a go; it was go time to order the rest of the performance parts.

Off came the TH400 4WD transmission and torque converter so the whole thing could be pegged to the engine stand, where it will live for the foreseeable future. We drained what was left of the coolant and oil to keep our boots dry, too.

Off came the accessories, intake manifold, exhaust manifolds, and the valve covers, luckily with minimal fuss. While this motor isn't the cleanest war pig in the world... it was actually a little better than I was expecting. Very little sludge and minimal cleaning to be done.

Now, remember the "weirdness" I mentioned earlier? This is where it comes into play.

Before I ripped the motor apart, I did all the "archaeological" digging I could on it. Block casting, intake casting, and the heads. As is with most old Chevy engines, you can typically identify the heads with the casting marks on the front of the heads, even when they're obstructed a little by the accessory drives. For some strange reason, I couldn't identify what casting was on the right head; the symbols didn't fall within anything that I could find for the early 60's/late 70's. And, more strangely, the left was easily identifiable as the factory 997 low-po smogger 76cc head using the marks.

After popping the valve covers off while the car was still in its original resting place, I figured out what the hell was going on. And, genuinely, I couldn't believe that this thing was running for over a decade without any major issues.

Left casting:

Right casting:

The left casting was the original 76cc head that yields roughly ~8.0:1 compression. The right... a high-performance "601" casting, 305 H.O. head that measures at 53cc's, giving the right side a quite largely different ~9.6:1. :lol: As far as both my father and I could figure, the head was swapped even before my grandmother came to own the Impala that it came out of, and the "dealer" that she bought the car from in the early 80's never disclosed it.

I have no idea how the hell this thing ran so well for so long being so vastly different side to side, but I'll take it as another credence for "old small blocks are bomb proof" and move on; especially since the cranking compression was healthy on both sides.

Here's a picture of the heads, side by side. Top is the 305 H.O. head, the bottom is the 400 Lo-Po head. Note the difference in the intake runner design, the size of the chamber, and the chamber design near the spark plug hole.

Happily though, the cylinders all looked happy with average wear with no severe gouges to worry about. A little ring ridge was to be expected, but not really a major concern.

I guess the good news is, that heads that I have sitting on the shelf for this build will mate nicely to this bottom half, and at 64cc's, it will give the whole thing a healthy bump in compression up to ~9.2:1, and around 8.1:1 dynamic with the cam of choice. Things may be a little lower after factoring in engine wear and deck height differences, but it's a good spitball to start with. All in all, it will be a happy little mouse that can run on pump gas and won't knock like a motherlover.

All of this teardown came to fruition over the course of one night. The next step is to clean it all up, pull the front covers, evict the wimpy factory cam, and do some more disassembly to add moarrrrr speed parts.


415 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Parts are here.

Got the block cleaned up a little bit, some 20+ years of garbage and leaked fluids caked to the block were finally shed with the help of a dull paint scraper, a wire brush, and some engine degreaser. Happily, the OE block stamps were visible on the passenger's side, confirming what it all originated from! I still have to finish removing the freeze plugs, but baby steps.

I was going to spend some time cleaning up the heads a little bit, fixing up the poorly cast oil return ports and the like as time allows. I'll be leaving the OE springs in the heads for the cam break-in, just to give it a fighting chance. I'm afraid the thing will go flat if it has more than the OE 80lbs springs on the nose of the rocker during break-in.


1,372 Posts
Nice build story, love following along these journeys.... Keep us posted, and let us know if you need any parts - most of us have a stash that most likely will never use!!

415 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
I keep forgetting that this is a forum of people who may actually have parts stashed away I may need. Thank you for the kind words, guys. I'm just grateful to be able to do fun stuff and spend some time with my dad. :)

The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is finding a dual plane intake manifold to use on this combo, versus slapping on the Weiand 7546 single plane I have on the 350 right now.

Here's what I'm slapping together (for now):

-400 Small Block (3951511 block casting)
-Stock bottom end (dished pistons)
-291 double hump heads (1.94/1.50 valves, no porting)
-Factory 1.5 lifters
-COMP XE262 cam (110 LSA, 262/270 adv. duration, .462/.429 lift to favor the exhaust side of the heads)
-COMP 981-16 springs (105lbs seated, 273 closed)
-New timing set
-Holley 4150 converted 750cfm vacuum secondary carb
-1" carb spacer
-Weiand XCELLERATOR single plane intake (reused from the 350, would like to replace it with a Performer EPS if $$$ allows)
-Pertronix as-cast distributor with Ignitor III module
-Pertronix Flame Thrower 3 coil
-Some cheapy 1 5/8" primary tube headers

-Turbo 350 with a mild shift kit
-~2,200 stall converter - ??? (This was a "mystery" converter I stabbed on the end of the replacement trans that we had laying around, I have no idea what the actual stall rating is. I haven't driven the car enough to know, but would really like to grab a ~3,500 stall Freak Show Performance converter)
-3.73 rear gears
-OE limited slip differential

All in all, if it makes 300hp and 400lbs/ft at the crank on pump gas, I'll be more than happy with this combo. I just want to drive the car and go do burnouts.

415 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Finally got some more wrench time in the past week or so.

Hosed down the block with some engine degreaser and scraped 20+ years of leaking oil, antifreeze, and road grime to reveal some of the OG orange still clinging on for dear life. Started to pop out the freeze plugs to replace them and inspect the coolant jackets, too.


Home-brewed a valve spring compressor to pop the stock springs out of the heads and give the valve job and seals a once-over. Measured my total available height for a cam, and I think I may go the next size up in a bumpstick now because, well, reasons.

Smacked down some steam holes to drill using a replacement head gasket.

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