Last post on Apr 30, 2002 at 8:03 AM
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Coupe, Convertible, Sedan
Mar 27, 2002 (12:30 pm)
The Buick 350 is kind of an interesting case, since it (and the V6) were based on the aluminum V8 that had a less-than-stellar reputation. I think it is a deep skirt design, although that's just a hangover from the aluminum engine--aluminum blocks need more material than iron to have the same rigidity. They actually removed some of the head bolts when they went to iron. The Buick small block was a very understressed design in the late '60s. They were tuned for low speed torque, not horsepower, in keeping with the generally conservative nature of a Buick buyer. They did have a funky oiling system with lots of right-angle corners.
It's absolutely amazing when you realize that the GM 3800 and Land Rover V8 are directly based on the 1961 GM aluminum V8. That's quite an impact for an engine that was considered an embarassing failure when it was in production.
#461 of 469 Funky oiling...
Mar 27, 2002 (12:34 pm)
...I remember someone in one of my Mopar clubs ragging on the old 231, saying that parts of it were practically "splash-lubricated" and if you wanted the thing lubricated properly you'd better find a bumpy enough road to splash it around
Mar 27, 2002 (9:48 pm)
The Pontiac 350 is also a little different. It's got the 400 stroke with a small bore, so it's an undersquare engine just like 1948. Valve size was good and the four barrel version had high compression and one of Pontiac's great street cams, but this engine never really caught on even in the Firebird.
The Olds is the opposite, a short stroke engine and that would make me think it would run hot, like the Mopar 340. And like the 340 there was a hot version called the W-31 that was so overcammed it didn't have enough manifold vacuum to run a power brake booster. As far as it being a superior design, I don't know, but it was the newest design (dating from 1964) so probably had the latest engineering refinements. Both the Chevy and Pontiac were around since 1955.
One more thing that might have enhanced the life of the Buick 350 was that they typically used very conservative gearing and that cut down on revs. Come to think of it, so did Pontiac--standard ratio with automatic was 2.56 as I recall.
And there's one factor that I think might have had a significant effect on engine life. Most full size Chevies had small blocks and that's a lot of weight for a relatively small engine to haul around. The Impala I learned to drive on had 283 cubes to drag around almost 4000 pounds. Not only did it work harder but it needed shorter gears, probably 3.36s, so it saw more rpm. Although some of the full size BOP cars also used small blocks, proportionately more used engines of at least 400 CID with taller gearing somewhere in the 2s. The only BOP equivilent of a 283 Impala I can think of would be the '64-5 Buick LeSabre with 300.
#463 of 469 Chevy Small Block
Apr 12, 2002 (6:08 pm)
I agree the Olds v-8 was a great engine. I worked in auto repair facilities in the 70's and 80's and a cutlass with even a 350 was a great performing car. But the facts are hard to deny. The small block chevy was lighter, easier to modify and as durable if not neglected. I have owned quite a few vehicles with this engine that have had over 100,000 miles and a few with close to 200,000 miles. You just can't beat them! They are the basis of the performance and racing industry.
Apr 12, 2002 (6:26 pm)
I thought the Chevy 350 was the short stroke, and the Olds 350 was the long stroke.
Apr 12, 2002 (9:07 pm)
Apr 27, 2002 (8:00 pm)
My choices are based on experience:
1. Pontiac SD-421 (455 hp version)
2. Chrysler 392 hemi w/ special manifold option.
3. Ford 427 side oiler
4. Buick Turbo 3.8 Grand National series
5. Chev Corvette 427 L-88 engine
6. Mopar 340 w/ six pak
7. Ford 351 Cleveland HO series
8. Olds 442 edition special powerplant
9. Pontiac 455 HO engine in the Firebird
10.Ford 428 CJ
All of these are great performers and if blueprinted correctly hold together quite well.
Apr 27, 2002 (9:25 pm)
That's a bulletproof list. You won't get much argument from me but I think maybe I'd trade the 455 HO for a 400 Ram Air III.
Apr 30, 2002 (6:58 am)
"....but I think maybe I'd trade the 455 HO for a 400 Ram Air III." - speedshift.
Why? The 455 Super Duty was an outstanding engine, especially given the national conversion to lower octane fuel (and corresponding compression ratios) and new smog reduction regulations.
The SD Firebirds were the last of the truly fast old fashioned muscle cars - for this reason I believe the 455SD should be on any "best engine" list.
gmengine - I had a Ford Torino with a 351C4V and a four speed manual. The sounds that car made at high rpm were intoxicating.
Apr 30, 2002 (8:03 am)
He said 455 HO, not 455 SD.
They're similar but the SD was beefed up to rev to over 6000 rpm, and only about 1238 SDs were made. The 455 HO maxed out around 5200 rpm. Both have better heads and manifolding (from the old Ram Air IV) than the Ram Air III 400 but have a much longer stroke than the 400.
The 455 HO engineman mentioned and 400 RA III I like use the same "068" cam. There isn't much difference in net horsepower between the 400 RA III, 455 HO and 455 SD--they're all making around 300 net. What makes the 455 SD special (not the 455 HO) is first, it came out in '73-74 when no one was making hi-perf big blocks and second, it had a lot of potential because it could rev.
As a Pontiac fan I still prefer the 400s, especially the 400 HO which later became the 400 RA III. They sold lots of them and they were fantastic street engines. I know from experience that they were the equal of the 440/375. Pontiac went to the long-stroke 455 only after smog controls and low compression ratios started killing the 400's output.