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Discussion Starter #1
So I pulled this Pontiac 400/400 tranny (I think that's what the tranny is) from a 76 firebird on 1/2 off day at Pick N Pull for $150 8 years ago. I was going to use it in a 73 formula that I ended up selling. It's been sitting in my folks' yard since then. They're probably going to be moving in the next few months, and I'm sure they'll bug me to do something with it.

My question is, if you had a 74 with a tired 250, and a free Poncho 400, what would you do with it? I'm pretty sure it's a smog engine that's probably not a terrific performer, but could it be decent with some freshening up, or rebuild?

Please don't be mad at me for letting it sit like this in the elements! Life has a way of getting complicated, and you can get distracted from what's really important.

I wasn't sure what numbers were what, so I tried to get all that I saw. Boy, that's ugly! :eek:











 

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The trans looks like a T-350 to me. The engine is most likely junk and the pistons are probably stuck in the cylinders and has water standing in the oil pan. You might get lucky but I doubt it.
 

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Id use it! its a low 8.0 compression smog engine but would be 10 times better than the tired six, take it apart and check it out. Id do a mild stock rebuild on it and keep it a torque monster, low cr , small cam, performer, headers, ect. a .060 overbore would clean the cylinders and boost cr to 8.5 just enough for a decent mild cam. good luck!
 

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Just go over and try to spin it overif it does great,if it doesn't try to get it unstuck.I'd keep it and rebuild it if that's what it needs.the Pontiac engine swap in a nova is quite simple.I think a nova w/a 400 Pontiac would be cool.
 

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My buddy put a trans am 455 4 speed in his 70 nova and i raced him and i got beat by a fender. I had a 78 with a 350 auto.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
That trans has a kickdown cable, so it is a th350
Thanks, that's useful info. I never really even looked into it, to be honest.

So, do you think that with some work, the smog heads could be usable? On the other hand, if not, how hard are better/budget pontiac heads to come by?

I don't have anything against the small block folks out there, but I've always wanted to do something different. I was thinking it'd be either something like this, or try to hop up the 250, or a 292. If I'm honest with myself, I think ultimately I'd want the sound and power of a V8.
 

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Sell the transmission and poncho engine, you'll have more money in a pontiac 400 build than a BBC and be behind powerwise. If you seperate the engine and trans and sell them seperately you may be able to double your $150 investment and move on. Chevy V-8's are so easy to find I don't see any reason to go the pontiac route.
 

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I think you should take it apart and see what it looks like inside but definitely don't junk it yet. If you don't sell it I'd at least put it in a garage and wait for its value to go up. Pontiac engines are getting slightly harder to find these days and the Pontiac racers like the 400 block. You can use a 455 crank in them and get the benefit of the smaller journals of a 400 engine. That's the combo my brother is using in his 67 Firebird right now. But Baddbob is right, they are expensive to build. If you do go with that engine, from what I hear it's about the same price for a good set of Ram Air heads as it is for a better flowing set of Aluminum Edelbrock heads.

Here is place with much more informed people than myself.
http://forums.performanceyears.com/forums/
 

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No, as a Pontiac man who just built a BBC, I have to disagree. The Pontiac engine isn't more expensive to build, the BBC was. Now, for all out power, the BBC will beat the Poncho with both using factory heads, but the Poncho will make more torque than the BBC. Those heads should be 6X's (maybe 4X). this number is located on the center exhaust ports. These are really good heads, just low compression, but they flow as well as any of the older heads except the round port RA-II and RA-IV's. There are Stock Eliminator racers running deep into the 11's with these heads, and many street cars running solidly in the 12's with them on a 400, and 11's on a 455. They have screw in studs so you don't have to worry about that either.

Here's what I'd do. Do a basic stock rebuild. Use TRW forged pistons (well Speed Pro). They list these for different year engines, use the ones listed for the 67-70 engines, they don't have the chamfer around the outside of the pistons that lower the compression. Have the heads decked .060, don't forget to have the intake side done to match. This will get you right at 9:1 to 9.25:1 compression. Have a good valve job done.If you're ambitious do a little clean up porting in the bowls before you get the heads rebuilt. Now run a decent hydraulic cam. I'd run a Lunati Voodoo, call harold for a recomendation.Also get a nice set of roller rockers so you have an adjustable valvetrain. Your stock intake will work just fine, or you could get a Performer for a better look and a little lighter weight. Get a good Q-jet and a set of 4 tube headers with a HEI distributor and you'll have a tire fryer. It'll run well with stock gearing, but I wouldn't go any steeper than 3.55's. It'll make it's torque pretty low in the rpm range, and you won't have to spin it any higher than 5500rpm. In a light weigh car like a nova, it'll flat out move. And this isn't an expensive engine.

Look around the engine mount. Does the block have just the 3 holes for the mount or are there 2 extra holes not used? If it has the 5 holes, just buy frame and engine mounts for a 67-69 Firebird and it'll bolt right in. If just the three, still buy the Firebird mounts and look at Ames's Performance website and get the engine mount adaptors. Now if you're lucky enough to find a 79-82 Grand Prix with the 301 in the junkyard, grab the engine mounts off it. They will bolt directly to Chevy clamshell mounts, or look up a company called Indian Adventures. They sell an engine mount that'll bolt to the clamshell's as well.
 

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i think ,

i'd try and trade it to a 350 block and make life easy for yourself. Not knocking the big indian , but why take on the extra hassel when everything for a 350 or maybe even build a 383 will be so much easier
 

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I'd pull the plugs...and the timing cover/chain...Get a two foot pipe wrench and put that sucker on the crank gear...Thats how I got my crank to turn...rust came out of my #4 and #8 cyl.. after about 7 months...Its in my Nova and running just fine....
 

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Dont know why everyone steers around the original question. Torque is what you need to have fun on the street and a mild 350 wont cut it with your 3.08 gears and weight, i get why you ask the question, budget and you have a decent poncho laying around and a six banger that will only smoke em' with a wet donut spare. Id just do the stock rebuild, dont port anything, bore it out to clean the cylinder and get compression up past 8.0 so you can get a decent street cam and run 87 octane.
 
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