Chevy Nova Forum banner

Torque or HP for the street?

4598 Views 30 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  big dog ss
so i still have some things to take care of on the car before i will get around to building the motor (suspension,wheels, tires,tranny). But lets face it, its much more fun to plan/think about all the torque and HP you'll have!

My car is a 66 sedan with a small block 355. The car is 99% street driven. Therefore, i dont care about going much over 100 mph. I really just want a very crisp, fast reving, hard pulling, tire burning car!

So my question to everyone is, what is more fun for a street motor and will do what i am looking for? A motor with a big fat torque curve and maybe not the usual high HP numbers everyone shoots for? Or a high reving, big HP motor? Also what kind of HP/torque numbers would you shoot for to get the results i'm looking for?
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Sounds like you'll want both. If you are't that worried about top speed, concider a numericaly higher (lower ratio) rear axle ratio as well. gears are torque multipliers. I think it's fun to rip thu the gears real fast!!:yes:
Sounds like your looking for torque. A 400 sbc or even a big block would suffice. Build a motor for lots of low end tq
If you're running a stick, you'll need the torque.

If you want "off the line" take off feel, install a 700R4 tranny. The 3.06 first gear will give you quite a launch.
Install a 200-4r....

GREAT DEBATE (700-R4 vs. 200-R4) Which is the Better Overdrive?
Here are a few highlights that I copyed straight for the article.

All 200-R4s offer full-throttle upshifts into overdrive while only the '91
and later Corvette 700-R4s offer this feature.

The early '82-'84 700-R4s units had a smaller, 27-spline input shaft
and should be avoided. The '85-'87 700-R4s can be upgraded, but most
companies recommend starting with an '88-'93 700-R4. These transmissions
offer a number of advantages that enhance durability. The best 200-R4s are
between '86-88.

While the 700-R4 offers the deepest first-grear ratio, this does not
necessarily make it the best choice. Note that the 700-R4's
first-to-second-gear drop is far greater than the 200-R4's. This will hurt

1st 2nd 3rd 4th
200-R4 2.74 1.57 1.00 .67
700-R4 3.06 1.62 1.00 .70

"The key is that the 200-R4 is as durable as the 700-R4"
See less See more
If your going to stay with the 355 then I to would say 200r4 with 3.73 gear or 700r4 with 3.42/3.55 gear
I would add one of those little Magnuson blowers for some great, killer Torque.

Save the comments against a blower if you've never owned/driven a car with one. A car with a blower like this, even wiht a glide, will out accelerate the same car without a blower and a 200/700 trans. They bring a huge fun factor and are nice to look at under the hood. Can't say the same for the trasn swap.
700 vs. 200.... Pictures speak volumes:

Also, why do you think they never put a 200 in a Corvette?
700 vs. 200.... Pictures speak volumes:

Also, why do you think they never put a 200 in a Corvette?
Pandora, That was a good review between the two in a relative stock configuration. I never had a 200 apart to know the differences.
Pandora, That was a good review between the two in a relative stock configuration. I never had a 200 apart to know the differences.
Yeah that definitely separates the men from the boys.

That also shows why it costs so much to build a 2004R to hold up. You need to change out almost every internal hard part in order for it to hold any kind of power.

Remember, the most horse GM ever put behind a 2004R was 276 horse from the Buick GNX. And the GNX didn't have that power at the bottom end, it had it at the top end because it was a turbo.
You want a broad powerband in the rpm range that you are geared for. Broad power allows the engine to accelerate quicker. The quicker the engine can accelerate the quicker you can change gears.
tons of good info here!! so you have all basically confirmed what i had already thought i wanted, which is a motor with a good amount of torque over a large rpm range! and you all started to debate my other question of what tranny to put behind a motor like this. Right now i have a th350. This is a fun setup, but i do want something with more gears or overdrive. The two trannys i am considering are a tremec TKO600 or the 700R4. This will be a tough decision!
Well if I was strickly driving my car on the street I'd have a stick in the car just for the fun factor. But I race my car as well as drive it on the street, so I need the consistancy of the automatic with the fuel economy of the overdrive.
I've built a 77 Grand Am (think Malibu) with a 472 Cadillac, th350, and two series gears. If you make enough torque, overdrive isn't needed.

I've got 4.88 in my 65 with a 4 speed, but nothing is like the kick in the pants you get from a monster torque motor kicking down a gear with an auto.
which one would be easier/most cost effective to swap from the th350?
tko600 or 700r4?
After seeing that comparison of the 200 vs. the 700 I can quit second guessing myself if I picked the right tranny for my 72 . I had a 700 built and the trans builder gave me a 3 year gauranty on it thats how much he stands behind his 700's he doesn't reccomend the 200's unless it is a light low powered car .He also built mine with a K MD8 case later model trans
which one would be easier/most cost effective to swap from the th350?
tko600 or 700r4?
700R4 - Tranny, rebuild, convertor, external cooler, lines, crossmember, driveshaft, shifter

Any stick - Tranny, belhousing (or scattershield your going to race), clutch, pressure plate, throwout bearing, pilot bushing, clutch fork, Z-bar (cross shaft), linkage, shifter, pedal assembly, driveshaft

I may have left out some minor items but you'll get the point.
For street you want a torque monster. Build it so that the torque curve doesn't have any valleys up to the RPM limit.

Since top end cruising is not really the goal, I'm gonna assum the OD trans options is so you can put lower gears and not change your current cruse RPM and gain a buch of torque. You may want to try running a real small rear tire to simulate how the car will respond to the lower gear ratio.

I swapped a glide in a 69 Camaro for a 700 trans and the driveability really improved. Also droped a second off the 1/4 mile et. It was a pretty simple swap. Slid the crossmember back, had a cusotm drive shaft made, re-used the column linkage. That was back in 1998 or so. Still running great. Trans was removed form a delivery van from the junk yard and I was lucky to have success with very little invested. I think I had more into the drive shaft than the whole rest of the swap.

There is always someone out there who can find a way to do it cheaper. With hat said, if you factor the dollars into buying a fresh trans and all associated with it- I think you'll be in the ballpark of one of those small blowers. I still think the small blower will make a significantly broader torque curve than you'll acheive through gearing. I think the blower will give you a better retur on your investment.
See less See more
Need to ask what you want from the car!

Are you very concerned about mileage? (wanting the very best!)

Are you wanting dead stop take off?

Are you wanting a very drivable car that can smoke the living hell out of tires?

Do you want a automatic? Are do you prefer the clutch pedal and feeling the gears?


One of the most fun cars I ever had years ago was a 69 Camaro I shoveled a stock 396, with a manual 3 speed and 2.73 gears. Car was a blast! And burn rubber down the interstate!

Low first gears mixed with high ratio rear end gears are not street friendly! And you don't burn rubber because of the low wheel speed!

My 89 Corvette, 700R4 came with a performance rear end upgrade HE3 rear end ratio! it was a 3.07 and it burned rubber and was quick.

Ask Don. his 66 Chevelle, 427, 5 speed manual with a 4.10 gear and 28 inch tall tires. First gear is useless! Second gear burnout is the hot ticket! Yea, first gear would be great with slicks and a drag stip, but thats never ever gonna happen!

A few months back I did Tim's 63 Convertible, stk GMPP350/290hp 700R4 3.08 rear end. TIRE BURNER! And it's quick and 20 plus MPG.
Yea, 3.42 to3.73 gears would have made it quicker but no mileage.

There are many variables, and tons of engine combinations, with many transmission rear end combinations.

And most who believe they have the best combination with no real world combination comparisons.

I have done many!

It's a all in the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

You have a light car! So your 50% ahead of the game!

See less See more
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.