Pontiac 400 compared to Mopar 383, Ford 390, and Chevy 396 - Pontiac GTO Forum
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post #1 of 41 (permalink) Old 07-23-2014, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
 
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Pontiac 400 compared to Mopar 383, Ford 390, and Chevy 396

So my curiosity got the best of me today and I was wondering how all these motors stacked up against each other. I chose these motors because they are all very similar in displacement, they were all readily available back in the day, and with the exception of the Pontiac, were all big blocks. For comparative basis let's assume these were all 1970 motors with no rare options such as Ram Air IV, dual quad setups, etc. All of the horsepower and torque ratings these cars had from the factory were conservative to say the least for insurance purposes. What I would like to know is how these motors compared to each other, brand new back in the day, side by side. I'm not necessarily interested in opinions. This is a Pontiac forum... obviously our opinions will strongly lean towards the 400. I'm more interested in factual information. So throw some numbers at me! Peak horsepower and torque and at what RPM's, bore, stroke, airflow, compression ratios, engine weight, whatever you can think of.

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post #2 of 41 (permalink) Old 07-24-2014, 02:19 PM
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I have driven all of the above, at one time or another. I have laid waste to all of the above with a Pontiac 400, including a 396 in a '67 Firebird when I had a burnt exhaust valve. Pontiac under rated their engines HP wise, and the others tended to over rate them. Don't get me wrong, they are all strong engines. It's just that the Pontiac has a bit more oomph, especially down low in the RPM range. The 390 Ford is the slowest of the bunch, with the 396 and 383 being about the same. I've driven Chevelles, RoadRunners, and Fairlanes with these engines, and they were all slower than the lowly 400 Pontiac V8. As for actual numbers, you can research 1/4 mile times of the day to get a good picture of what was what. Back then (late '70's), I always found that the unmodified 383-390-396 engines ran better than the back yard modified ones, though.
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post #3 of 41 (permalink) Old 07-24-2014, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
 
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That's pretty interesting. I'll look up some things here in a bit. But now I have to ask, what has laid your Pontiac 400's to waste over the years??

"You Gotta Have Fun When You're Little!!"
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post #4 of 41 (permalink) Old 07-24-2014, 04:43 PM
 
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389 tri-pwr
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post #5 of 41 (permalink) Old 07-24-2014, 05:27 PM
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LOL....Roger That is right. My 389 tripower '65 will eat the 400 in my '67 for breakfast. But the '65 is a 4 speed with steeper gears and weighs less. With the '67 400 in my '66 4 speed 3.55 4bbl GTO back in the day, the only guy who beat me was a '69 Roadrunner with a built (5k in the engine in 1979 dollars) 440 and a Torqueflite. But I was selective. I didn't race that Camaro that pulled a wheel stand, or my co-worker with a '67 Dodge Dart with a pumped 440 and a 4 speed, and I picked my battles. Raced 'like' cars. But the garden variety encounters were no issue. Raced an LS-6 454 '70 Chevelle and beat him, as well as a bunch of '60's 'Vettes. A friend had a bone stock '67 GTO with an automatic and a 2.93 rear gear, and he beat everybody except a guy in a Shelby GT500 and a guy in a Superbird with a 440 sixpack. We paired him up 3 times against a built '69 SS 396 with 427 parts, and he blew the doors off of the Chevelle each time. I tuned and drove a '69 383 Roadrunner with a 4 speed, a '66 Fairlane 390 GTA, and a '66 SS396 Chevelle, and none were a match to my '66 GTO with a 400 Pontiac under the hood. I owned a '66 Coronet with a 375HP 440 and a 4 speed, and it was slower than my 389 powered '65 GTO. I sold the Coronet.
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post #6 of 41 (permalink) Old 07-24-2014, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
 
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Well here are the "official" numbers:

383 Magnum 4-bbl: Bore/stroke: 4.25 x 3.38. CR: 9.5:1. HP: 335 @ 5200. TQ: 425 @ 3400
Ford 390 4-bbl: Bore/stroke: 4.05 x 3.78. CR: 10.5:1. HP: 325 @ 4800. TQ: 427 @ 3200
Chevy 396 (402 in 1970): Bore/Stroke: 4.1259 x 3.76. CR: 10.25:1. HP: 350 (no RPM found). TQ: 415 (no RPM found)
Pontiac 400: Bore/Stroke: 4.12 x 3.75. CR: 10.5:1. HP: 345 @ 5000. TQ: 430 @ 3400

I was surprised to see such a low compression Ratio for the 383 Magnum. I wish I knew the RPM's for peak horsepower/torque for the Chevy. Anyone know the answer to this?

Now the only problem I have with these figures is that these are what the cars were rated at from the factory, and we all know these numbers are BS. What I would like to know is these engines' actual power output measured on a Dyno in pure stock form. Does anyone have access to such information, if it even exists? I've seen the youtube video where they put a Chevy 409 up against a SD 421, which was cool, but I'm more interested in the engines the average joes had under the hood back in the day.

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post #7 of 41 (permalink) Old 07-24-2014, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
 
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Here's a good video of a stock 396 dyno pull. It put out a respectable 444HP @ 5760, but only 455 lb-ft of TQ @ 4900. Surely Poncho has this beat...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCzmr1_GgNM

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post #8 of 41 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 08:17 AM
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As a friend of mine (Jim Lehart) likes to say,

"The GTO didn't gain its street reputation by making a habit out of losing to the SS 396..."



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post #9 of 41 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
 
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This is very true Bear!

The reason I started thinking about all this is because my good friend is rebuilding a 1970 Challenger with a 383 Magnum and we got to discussing the issue. Also Chevy guys love to talk sh*t but I don't think I've ever heard of an SS 396 consistently outdoing a Pontiac 400. As for Ford, from what I've seen the 390 was primarily a truck engine with nothing special, but they were used in some Fairlanes and Galaxies. The 383 Magnum might have an advantage because of the bore/stroke ratio, and it has a lower compression ratio, so it's got room to grow if you want to build it up.

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post #10 of 41 (permalink) Old 07-25-2014, 09:26 AM
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Again, Orion, this might be just me, but I drove dozens of these cars when they were 8-12 years old back in the day, and my take on it is this: the only Mopar that could compete with the Pontiac was a 440 with multiple carbs. I never drove/raced a 426 Hemi, but I drove 426 and 413 Wedges. Raced a friend with a 340 Scat-pak dart with a 3.91 rear gear, and i had him by a fender until 80mph, and then left him in the dust (I was driving the '65 GTO I still have). 383's were '0K', but nothing to write home about. 390 Ford was the slowest of the bunch. I must have raced against 50 SS 396 Chevelles and Camaros, and none of them ever even came close to my 389 or 400 Pontiac. The actual closest race I had was against a friend with a '69 Z-28 with a built 302, dual quads on a cross ram, 4.11 gears, and a 4 speed. I was running my '66 GTO with a $150 junkyard '67 Catalina 400 engine with a 066 (2bbl cam), 3.55 gears, 4 speed, and tripower. I beat him by a single car length. He never lived it down, and that was over 30 years ago. Still pissed. A $4k blueprinted engine in a light car losing to a junkyard engine out of a 4 door sedan that used to be a 2bbl. In a heavier car. Also, realize that only Pontiac and Olds had the Hurst shifters. The Chevelle had the crossmember mounted Muncie shifter, which you couldn't speed shift. (it would bind with engine torque under WOT). The Chrylsers had the notchy, long throw Inland shifter (slow to shift), etc. The Pontiacs were ALL AROUND better equipped cars: just look at the interior/guages of a Pontiac and compare them to a Chevelle or Fairlane or Roadrunner. Not even close. When I was in high school, all of these now high dollar Mopars were everywhere, and were $500 cars. I chose a '66 GTO instead, because it was fast, good looking, and most of all, much higher build quality than the tinny, cheesy Mopars. I worked on a ton of these cars back in the day, and could go on and on about the crappy Falcon based suspension of the Fairlanes, the loose steering and poor quality of the Mopars, and the over rated, underwhelming performance of the Chevelles. Hopefully, other old guys with similar experience will give their 2 cents............
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