Last post on Jan 09, 2007 at 8:32 PM
You are in the Classic Cars
What is this discussion about?
Aug 20, 2002 (7:36 am)
Probably the ubiquitous 350 crate motor and TH350 transmission, but I wouldn't build it too strong, as you'll tear the guts out of that old car. Keep it at standard compression and all stock intake, cams, carb, ignition,etc, and it will still have plenty of power to motivate that old Chevy.
Eek, rust, that's a big issue as well. Just make sure you get it all. Rust never sleeps.
#25 of 63 GMs greatest engines...
Aug 20, 2002 (8:28 am)
Just for the record, I think the small block Chevy has to be the greatest, based on it's versatility, longevitty and track record in racing
of many kinds.
The Stovebolt six follows, based mostly on it's longevity and it's reputation for indestructability.
Third place? I dunno, the OHV, high compression
V8s from '48-'49 (Cadillac & Olds) were superb motors for their day but a previous poster makes a good case for the big-block Chevies, still in service today.
Aug 20, 2002 (10:41 am)
I don't know quite where the Stovebolt got a reputation for durability. I think they are pretty fragile old things. I suspect it came from the fact that they made it so long, but length of production doesn't always mean the engines are the best. I'd say the 230 was better all around.
Chevy small blocks had a good racing record in some areas of domestic racing but not much of anything in international endurance racing. Still a mighty fine engine considering how simple and cheap it was.
Aug 20, 2002 (11:37 am)
But the Chevy small block is still a durable and reliable engine, depending on the year, I presume?
Aug 20, 2002 (12:33 pm)
...the 305 in my Mom's Monte Carlo had 192,000 miles on it when it got totaled, and, aside from leaky valve cover gaskets, was still running well.
I'm about to get my Granddad's '85 Silverado, which has a 305-4bb, and (I think) about 120-130K miles on it, so I'll let ya know how it holds up!
For the most part, I think the Chevy smallblock is okay, but it just depends on who you talk to. Any Ford or Mopar guy is going to tell you it's a POS. Actually, any Pontiac, Olds, or Buick guy will tell you the same thing!
It might be fine, built up for racing, but in stock form, and Olds engine of similar displacement is usually more durable, and has better low-end torque. I believe Pontiac engines could take more of a bore before they started getting unreliable. For instance, the Chevy 400 smallblock they had for a few years in the '70's was pretty well-known for premature self-destruction, while a Pontiac 400 was pretty solid, as was an Olds 403.
As with anything, once they start getting old, how the car was maintained and cared for is much more important than how the thing was built in the first place. You could take the crappiest Chevy smallblock and the best Ford or Mopar smallblock, but if you pamper and maintain the Chevy but dog out the other two, then obviously the Chevy is going to win out.
FWIW though, I heard the main reason the chevy smallblock won out over the Olds, Buick, or Pontiac units in production runs was cost. The Pontiacs also ran kinda cool, which didn't bode well with emissions controls. But in the end, the Chevy engines were just cheaper to produce than the others.
Aug 20, 2002 (3:31 pm)
400 Chevy didn't have enough material around the cylinders to keep them round, especially if the engine overheated. It was just too much of an overbore, something like the 4.1 version of the 3800.
The Olds 403 was IIRC just a stroked (and how) 350 with maybe a taller block to accomdate the stroke. It hadn't been bored out to within an inch of its life like the Chevy 400.
Aug 20, 2002 (5:40 pm)
Those 216's weren't all that bad. They were actually pretty tough. It just takes an old timer who knows how to shim and adjust those bearings once in awhile.
And, they weren't all that gutless either. I remember driving my old '52 in excess of 80 MPH with no problems at all.
#31 of 63 I've never driven anything that old...
Aug 20, 2002 (7:05 pm)
...but I've ridden in a '50 DeSoto Custom that a friend of mine used to have. Considering that inline-6 (I think it was a flathead too) had maybe a whopping 116 hp gross, and probably weighed around 3800+ lb, it had no trouble getting around. It seems like they just knew how to gear cars back then.
If you tried to floor it and do some 0-60 or 1/4 mile stunts, the resulting times would probably be laughable, and because of the short differential gearing, I'd guess they'd top out at what? 90-95 mph? Still, in everyday driving, it definitely wouldn't hold up traffic!
A 6-cyl Chevy wouldn't have as much hp, but wouldn't weigh nearly as much as my friend's tank either, so I'd guess performance would be at least equal, if not better.
I guess also, considering the interstate hadn't been invented yet, there really weren't too many places back then you could go 100+ mph anyway!
#32 of 63 Oldest car I drove...
Aug 21, 2002 (5:11 am)
...was a 1950 Buick Roadmaster with the big straight-eight.
Aug 21, 2002 (9:59 am)
216s are pretty fragile by modern standards is what I meant. I mean, 15 lbs of oil pressure and little tin buckets throwing oil up to the pistons? LOL!
Thing was, back then people thought nothing of rebuilding or at least "refreshing" engines at 50,000 miles or less, and they drove a lot slower then we do.
I'd certainly upgrade to a 235 if I were rebuilding an old Chevy. Many old Chevys you find today have been upgraded years ago. There was a reason people did even back then.