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The thread will be aimed at the following:

Can the average, handy, GTO owner, build a Pontiac engine, at home, and have it be dependable? And if so, can additional attention to detail, get you close to one HP per cubic inch?

That's what I hear most users trying to find.

As for what goes on the engine, obviously, I was proceeding under the assumption that most of us were working with "paper-route" bucks, but if you're offering to dress up as Daddy Warbucks, then aluminum heads and a balanced Eagle rotating assembly it is!

However, IME, anyone with $6000 for aluminum heads and a forged, balanced rotating assembly, probably isnt going to build an engine in their driveway.

Suffice it to say that anyone who chooses to follow along, will be able to substitute whatever they want, with whatever they want.

I would LOVE to use aluminum heads, but aside from saving weight, for the same money, I can do iron heads, making the same HP, and have enough money left over for a cam, lifters, intake, carb, timing chain, and water pump... maybe even manifolds!
Yes. The one I built at age 20 with no experience is still running strong in my '65 42 years later. The key is to stick with GM parts and build the engine mild enough so it can operate in its engineered parameters. That way, it won't be over-stressed and blow up. The key is a competent machinist and decent parts to start with. My machinist HATES the aftermarket Chinese cranks. For the budget minded beginner, please watch Uncle Tony's Garage on youtube. He has an engine building series he's currently doing for beginners. The information is free, and it's gold.
 

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Cameo Ivory 1967
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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Yes. The one I built at age 20 with no experience is still running strong in my '65 42 years later. The key is to stick with GM parts and build the engine mild enough so it can operate in its engineered parameters. That way, it won't be over-stressed and blow up. The key is a competent machinist and decent parts to start with. My machinist HATES the aftermarket Chinese cranks. For the budget minded beginner, please watch Uncle Tony's Garage on youtube. He has an engine building series he's currently doing for beginners. The information is free, and it's gold.
Thanks for the input! Those are the valuable tips we need.

The machinist has been building Keith Black drag engines, since I met him in 1987, and he says he has state of the art crank equipment, so Im confident... although, I dont know if the crank is good
 

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Yes. The one I built at age 20 with no experience is still running strong in my '65 42 years later. The key is to stick with GM parts and build the engine mild enough so it can operate in its engineered parameters. That way, it won't be over-stressed and blow up. The key is a competent machinist and decent parts to start with. My machinist HATES the aftermarket Chinese cranks. For the budget minded beginner, please watch Uncle Tony's Garage on youtube. He has an engine building series he's currently doing for beginners. The information is free, and it's gold.
hagerty has a porting video he's porting pontiac heads.
 

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Yes. The one I built at age 20 with no experience is still running strong in my '65 42 years later. The key is to stick with GM parts and build the engine mild enough so it can operate in its engineered parameters. That way, it won't be over-stressed and blow up. The key is a competent machinist and decent parts to start with. My machinist HATES the aftermarket Chinese cranks. For the budget minded beginner, please watch Uncle Tony's Garage on youtube. He has an engine building series he's currently doing for beginners. The information is free, and it's gold.
Same, I only had three years of auto shop experience and put my 428 together in dad's basement, biggest problem I ran into was getting a full dressed motor up the basement stairs! Had a machine shop work everything then bought the parts from him, I have no idea what any of the specs were on the motor now or the heads. Never degreed the cam in nothing because I didn't know any better also never blew it up, just bent a valve trying to power shift after a few Old Styles, it ran like a scalded dog...
man I liked the 80's 😉
Toy Religious item Art Cross Fictional character
Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive design Automotive tire Wheel
Gas Machine Wood Engineering Auto part
Gas Audio equipment Machine Engineering Metal
 

· 64-67 Expert
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Thanks for the input! Those are the valuable tips we need.

The machinist has been building Keith Black drag engines, since I met him in 1987, and he says he has state of the art crank equipment, so Im confident... although, I dont know if the crank is good
Here's my take, and you've been around almost as long as I have: Until the early '90's, our old muscle cars were still ruling the streets. Even in stock form. New production domestics couldn't compare. Coming of age in the 70's, ten year old musclecars were not only affordable, but a lot more fun than the smogged out disco mobiles that were current at that time. Fast forward a bunch of years and our badass musclecars are still baddass---for what they are. Styling. Sound. Stance. Raw Emotion. Soul. But a new Camry will humble us. I like to drive my cars with spirit, but my days of replacing a blown up rear, trans, or engine on the weekend so I can get to work on Monday are over.
What has ALWAYS worked for myself and customers is to rebuild/restore these cars to close to stock condition, and then drive them like adults. It's cost effective, fun, and the car will behave on a drive to the coast or a formal night out to the opera. Factory parts= reliability. Aftermarket parts=issues.
What I've seen over the past 15 years or so with the new availability of aftermarket cranks, rods, heads, etc. is the misconception that that every street car has to have 500 HP or more to be worth anything at all. It's possible. A few gents here have just that. And these cars are rocket ships and a blast to drive. BUT---they are higher strung. More likely to be abused. More likely to break, and break PARTS. So---it's the 'end game' that determines the build. My slowest GTO happens to be my cruiser '67, with a stock detuned engine, carb, points, TH400 and retro-fitted 2.56 posi. But it's the one I drive most because it is the most drivable. 21 mpg on the road. Still no oil burning after almost 90,000 miles on my rebuild done in 1988 on a then-173,000 mile engine. Folks that are younger assume that a '60's or '70's car cannot be reliable and it will need an LS swap to be able to go to work and back. For anyone contemplating a build, I recommend some deep reflection on what the car will be used for and what your expectations are. When I built the 389 for my '65 in 1981, with the Sig Erson Hi Flo cam, etc. I had planned on racing the car on the strip. I ended up street racing the car and then using it as a daily driver for years and years. Now, 40+ years later, I wish it had a more mild cam to give it better low-end street manners. Tastes change as one ages. At 20 it was all about big cams, steep gears, and manual everything. Now, I want a mild cam, lazy gears, and power everything.
Rant over, just some of what I've seen and dealt with.
 

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Same, I only had three years of auto shop experience and put my 428 together in dad's basement, biggest problem I ran into was getting a full dressed motor up the basement stairs! Had a machine shop work everything then bought the parts from him, I have no idea what any of the specs were on the motor now or the heads. Never degreed the cam in nothing because I didn't know any better also never blew it up, just bent a valve trying to power shift after a few Old Styles, it ran like a scalded dog...
man I liked the 80's 😉 View attachment 161231 View attachment 161232 View attachment 161233 View attachment 161234
and you gave me a hard time about white headers.
 

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Have fun with your build , try to keep the squish tight and good luck

as a side note I took my 16’s to a good shop in KC for a look over and while talking I asked if anyone ports cast anymore…….he chuckled and said good luck

Looks like the aluminum trend continues
Nitemare does port work on cast heads. I'm running a pair of their 6X stage II heads on mine. I bought them, heads included, but I know they do customer owned parts as well. Another member on here had them do a pair of heads for a 326 build a couple years back so not all their work is to the extreme.
 

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Okay, we've been yapping about this, so here's the beginning. My intention is to end this thread as with my others in the FAQ section, where I will continually come back and re-edit this initial post, so that when it's all done, it'll be a comprehensive, step by step, build.

I know barely anything about this, so it's going to be a work in progress, and a 100% collaboration, relying heavily on the old-skool guys tips/ tricks/ and advice, as well as everyone else scouting for facts, parts, and modern tech.

Moving on!

One of my good buddies, @1969GPSJ has a 68 400, and he's within driving distance, so my goal is to get out to him and pick it up, ASAP.

In the mean time, I traded a seized 327 CHevy, for another 68 400 short block, and @PontiacJim believes it to be an original engine, with no rebuild history, so hopefully it's a good core!

Hunting for machinists, I hit Google and called shop number one, out of the blue. Guy answers, and long story short, him and his mother owned the speed shop that I built my first car, a 67 Nova at! Then when I traded that for my 66 Lemans, they got me all my parts! So!!! I have an experienced, trustworthy machinist, 30 minutes away.

I'll drop the block off to them and they will charge me $150 to remove all of the bearings and plugs, blast/ bake the block, and magnaflux it. While that's being done, I'll head out to MD to get the 2nd 400, and I'll try to do them both at the same time.

We need to now find some heads! I can get 670's, but their from unverified, strangers on the web, and expensive! So... nope.

View attachment 161222
You may have said this at some point in the past, but what's the game plan? Are you building a monster engine or a stock type build? I've tossed around the idea of rebuilding the 400 that came out of mine but I don't really need a second engine with no home. Trying to get rid of projects before I take on another.
 

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Following...

Eventually i'll get those 46's on and 068 melling in my 350. i'm hoping for 330hp and 370tq. i might be selling the 400/TH350 set up here soon to help finance a set of kre heads with 2.02/1.66...
 

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You may have said this at some point in the past, but what's the game plan? Are you building a monster engine or a stock type build? I've tossed around the idea of rebuilding the 400 that came out of mine but I don't really need a second engine with no home. Trying to get rid of projects before I take on another.
build it and put it in the mustang.
 

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Same, I only had three years of auto shop experience and put my 428 together in dad's basement, biggest problem I ran into was getting a full dressed motor up the basement stairs! Had a machine shop work everything then bought the parts from him, I have no idea what any of the specs were on the motor now or the heads. Never degreed the cam in nothing because I didn't know any better also never blew it up, just bent a valve trying to power shift after a few Old Styles, it ran like a scalded dog...
man I liked the 80's 😉 View attachment 161232
Aluminum Koated Black Jack headers? I thought they were white washed in insta-rust!!!
 

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Nitemare does port work on cast heads. I'm running a pair of their 6X stage II heads on mine. I bought them, heads included, but I know they do customer owned parts as well. Another member on here had them do a pair of heads for a 326 build a couple years back so not all their work is to the extreme.
Oh of course shops still do but they are getting fewer and farther

it comes down to how much money you want to throw at them in the end

I ported my own and put hard seats in and silicon bronze guides but would hate to see the price to do that in a shop

That’s why many see the cost of aluminum and do the math ……1500 x2 for a eldy with roller springs

Did someone say 700 to bush a set of rods for floating ? holy cow
 

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Aluminum Koated Black Jack headers? I thought they were white washed in insta-rust!!!
Nope just cheap white paint that looked like crap pretty quick and only three tubes...real performance I tell you. I ended up changing to ram air manifolds because they were such a PITA.
 

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And nobody has mentioned that chevy orange paint !! Okay so why does everyone seem to want the 6x heads?
First off, the 6X heads are much more plentiful compared to other heads. GM sold a lot of cars with these heads in the late 70's. They came from the factory with larger chambers that work well for today's gas, they all have the larger valves & screw in studs. They are just good heads for today and can be modified as much if not more than the other options. I can remember when the 6X heads where real cheap because everybody was looking to up the compression and get that last 10HP out of the motor by swapping out the 6X's and putting in the older higher compression heads. Today, we are wanting the larger chamber heads for the lower octane fuels. Many of us will stroke the engine to gain horsepower back, and then some, instead of running race fuel.

The 6X heads with the "8" stamped in it will be great for the 400 ci block. While the "4" 6X heads that came out on the 350's would have smaller chambers yielding higher compression and the need for more octane or deeper dished pistons.

I have a set of 6X "8" heads on a mildly built 400...there just what 87 octane wants.
 
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