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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,
Im recently new to this site so Im hoping Im posting this in the right place, please let me know if Im not.

I have a 70 Ram Air 3 motor that currently runs and is bone stock. I would like to increase the horsepower to around 5-600 HP, however, Im on a budget and dont have $5-6000.00 to dump into it. According to my research this motor put out 366 factory HP, Im wondering if any of you experts would be willing to give me some ideas of the best way to build this motor to reach my target HP? I do not want to use Nitrous or turbo's, I would prefer not to bore the cylinders unless neccessary, I would also like to use the original #12 heads if possible. One thing Im considering is possibly going with a Stroker kit, and I would like to get some input on that idea, but any input would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance for your time and assistance with this endevour.
 

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drive it as is and enjoy it

put some 390 gears in it and use it and save your money for somethin else
like tires and a nice carb and distrib recurve
 

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Hate to say it, but get 500-600HP out of your thoughts with a $5-6,000 budget. The iron heads will be a limiting factor and a more realistic number would be 400-425HP using a stroker kit and shooting for a 9.0 compression, fully rebuilt/prepped heads, possibly a stock cast iron manifold & rebuilt Q-jet, good distributor dialed in with an advance curve to match your engine, RA exhaust manifolds. That may be what you get for $5-6000.00 500-600HP will be more like $8-15,000.00 depending on whom does the rebuild.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hate to say it, but get 500-600HP out of your thoughts with a $5-6,000 budget. The iron heads will be a limiting factor and a more realistic number would be 400-425HP using a stroker kit and shooting for a 9.0 compression, fully rebuilt/prepped heads, possibly a stock cast iron manifold & rebuilt Q-jet, good distributor dialed in with an advance curve to match your engine, RA exhaust manifolds. That may be what you get for $5-6000.00 500-600HP will be more like $8-15,000.00 depending on whom does the rebuild.
Wow, are you serious, I did forget to add that I have access to a machine shop that a friend owns, and he has all the equipuipment, including a torque plate, so I can subtract the cost of machine work from my build. Heck we have built Chevy and Ford engines in that HP range for a lot less, but this is my first Pontiac motor so there is a new learning curve, I didnt think it would be that pricey though. I have done a lot of research and have been impressed with many of the older Pontiac engines attributes. I know they recommend bracing the lifter galley when using extreme duration cams and valve springs to keep the lifter bores from cracking or even breaking, is it things of this nature that get the cost up higher? One idea I was considering was to port the heads to flow between 250 and 280 cfm (which according to my research is very do-able with the stock heads I have), install bronze valve guides, hardened seats, and then go with one of the Eagle stroker kits. But then again thats why I posted this was to get some input from guys who have built Pontiac motors and hopefully get some tips, tricks, and guidance, so again I am thankful for any constructive input I can get.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
better have a good supply of m-20's around too cuz that one wont last long
Im actually rethinking what route Im going to take, I had thought about taking it to the strip on occassion, however, after some deliberation Im not going to do that so Im going to do a milder build and just enjoy driving it on the street,....and getting on it occassionally on some of the backroads around me, there are plenty of them as I live way out in the boonies.
 

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Well, I had to bring you back to reality. A Pontiac is not an inexpensive small block Chevy or Ford rebuild. Build for torque, not HP.

Good luck getting an iron head to flow 280 CFM's. Here is what SD Performance offers and they have a 5-axis CNC machine and flow bench and they don't even offer 280 CFM's for an iron head - SD Performance- Pontiac Performance Specialists Doing the basic port matching/clean-up, 3-angle valve job, you might get a realistic 235CFM's without heavy bowl/port work. Factory is about 205 CFM's.

The head flow will reduce your operating RPM with a stroker crank as the heads won't flow enough to maximize the stroker - so you build for torque at lower RPM's.

The valley brace is used for roller cam applications. Some will say you don't need the brace for a mild roller. I say you need the brace for any roller unless you can have the guy who says you don't need one give you a lifetime guarantee on all parts, labor, and replacement block if the lifter bore breaks and you lose an engine. But, like Chevy/Ford, a roller set-up for a Pontiac may set you back $1,000 right off the bat, so expect to increase that budget accordingly.

With a stroker kit, I would suggest installing ARP main studs to add a little more strength and safety. I like and am using the Butler Pro 60PSI oil pump which is blueprinted for additonal flow, not pressure. You want to replace the factory oil pump shaft with a good aftermarket hardened shaft. Tap the front oil galley holes and use pipe plugs in place of the press fit plugs - but don't insert to deep and cut off oil supply. Get a new harmonic balancer - the original types deteriorate due to age and the outer ring can slip giving you incorrect timing readings. Use a late model oil pan with the factory baffle unless you go aftermarket.

Added expenses will include the flywheel, clutch set-up, bell housing, linkages, trans, shifter, clutch pedals, trans mount. You may want to price these items as well. You want to have an honest plan. I would plan to have saved up about $10,000 to do a complete engine/trans/rear end rebuild/swap. You will want to install the rear upper/lower control arms braces so as not to crack the frame with the additional torque/HP and 4-speed swap. If you don't already have disc brakes (as this was still an option), you will want to add these for needed stopping power because your car is going to hit some high speeds.

So at this point, I would sit down and write a list of parts/prices for each phase of the rebuild - engine/trans/rear axle. You can have a base engine rebuild and then juggle parts based on your budget.
 

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Wow, are you serious, I did forget to add that I have access to a machine shop that a friend owns, and he has all the equipuipment, including a torque plate, so I can subtract the cost of machine work from my build. Heck we have built Chevy and Ford engines in that HP range for a lot less, but this is my first Pontiac motor so there is a new learning curve, I didnt think it would be that pricey though. I have done a lot of research and have been impressed with many of the older Pontiac engines attributes. I know they recommend bracing the lifter galley when using extreme duration cams and valve springs to keep the lifter bores from cracking or even breaking, is it things of this nature that get the cost up higher? One idea I was considering was to port the heads to flow between 250 and 280 cfm (which according to my research is very do-able with the stock heads I have), install bronze valve guides, hardened seats, and then go with one of the Eagle stroker kits. But then again thats why I posted this was to get some input from guys who have built Pontiac motors and hopefully get some tips, tricks, and guidance, so again I am thankful for any constructive input I can get.
Welcome to the world of Pontiac! It is more costly, but I believe it is worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well, I had to bring you back to reality. A Pontiac is not an inexpensive small block Chevy or Ford rebuild. Build for torque, not HP.

Good luck getting an iron head to flow 280 CFM's. Here is what SD Performance offers and they have a 5-axis CNC machine and flow bench and they don't even offer 280 CFM's for an iron head - SD Performance- Pontiac Performance Specialists Doing the basic port matching/clean-up, 3-angle valve job, you might get a realistic 235CFM's without heavy bowl/port work. Factory is about 205 CFM's.

The head flow will reduce your operating RPM with a stroker crank as the heads won't flow enough to maximize the stroker - so you build for torque at lower RPM's.

The valley brace is used for roller cam applications. Some will say you don't need the brace for a mild roller. I say you need the brace for any roller unless you can have the guy who says you don't need one give you a lifetime guarantee on all parts, labor, and replacement block if the lifter bore breaks and you lose an engine. But, like Chevy/Ford, a roller set-up for a Pontiac may set you back $1,000 right off the bat, so expect to increase that budget accordingly.

With a stroker kit, I would suggest installing ARP main studs to add a little more strength and safety. I like and am using the Butler Pro 60PSI oil pump which is blueprinted for additonal flow, not pressure. You want to replace the factory oil pump shaft with a good aftermarket hardened shaft. Tap the front oil galley holes and use pipe plugs in place of the press fit plugs - but don't insert to deep and cut off oil supply. Get a new harmonic balancer - the original types deteriorate due to age and the outer ring can slip giving you incorrect timing readings. Use a late model oil pan with the factory baffle unless you go aftermarket.

Added expenses will include the flywheel, clutch set-up, bell housing, linkages, trans, shifter, clutch pedals, trans mount. You may want to price these items as well. You want to have an honest plan. I would plan to have saved up about $10,000 to do a complete engine/trans/rear end rebuild/swap. You will want to install the rear upper/lower control arms braces so as not to crack the frame with the additional torque/HP and 4-speed swap. If you don't already have disc brakes (as this was still an option), you will want to add these for needed stopping power because your car is going to hit some high speeds.

So at this point, I would sit down and write a list of parts/prices for each phase of the rebuild - engine/trans/rear axle. You can have a base engine rebuild and then juggle parts based on your budget.
[/QU
This is exactly why I posted this, Im not too proud to admit I dont know everything, and I learned long ago that only a fool claims to! I also know that all engines are not created equal. I have built Chevy's and Ford's but somehow never got around to a Pontiac....until know, I was always told "try to learn from the best, and experienced" so thats why Im here, and I appreciate any constructive input I can get from any of you who have the experience and knowledge.
So I say "thank you kindly"!
 

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Welcome to the world of Pontiac! It is more costly, but I believe it is worth it.
These guys are spot on! The old 455 in my 65 gto that was in when I bought it developed a rod knock so had to replace it sooner than I wanted and boy did prices go up in thirty years, I thought I was going to have to choose between a rod knock and a divorce! I called Butler and some company in Florida that does Pontiacs because you need a shop that knows those motors and yikes 500hp = 15,000 so I took to EBay...I know I can hear the fear already but just be patient and do some vetting, get a video of oil through the rockers or whatever else you can think of and you have eBay backing you up, most people aren't criminals. I kept looking and one day a guy outside of Louisville is selling a Firebird engine only is how he had to list it and what do you know it's a Butler 461...dyoned at 475hp 525tq with all the build sheets and verified over the phone by Jim Butler himself ! I ended up paying 7500.00 quadrajet to oil pan, MSD ignition to hi perf water pump, ported heads, roller valve train. I know I fell into the deal of a lifetime but they're out there so keep your eyes open and as long as you get a good core you can always add goodies around it later and the best part is it will be all Pontiac not a dealship looking LS motor that anyone and there brother can figure out. And sorry to be long winded but the guys again are right on with the chassis mods, you put that much hp and hook up bad things will happen if not prepared, mine is pretty scary sometimes...I have a built 12bolt 3:42 ,kyb gas adjust shocks, 1" sway bar and this winter put triangulation bars on along with SSM lift bars and 275/60 MT ss street et rubber so we'll see how that works once the weather breaks...oh and also three point shoulder belts, I guess after seeing Jay Leno doing a hamil camel in the Hemi Under Glass got me a little nervous. Good luck and Indian strong !
 

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Discussion Starter #12
These guys are spot on! The old 455 in my 65 gto that was in when I bought it developed a rod knock so had to replace it sooner than I wanted and boy did prices go up in thirty years, I thought I was going to have to choose between a rod knock and a divorce! I called Butler and some company in Florida that does Pontiacs because you need a shop that knows those motors and yikes 500hp = 15,000 so I took to EBay...I know I can hear the fear already but just be patient and do some vetting, get a video of oil through the rockers or whatever else you can think of and you have eBay backing you up, most people aren't criminals. I kept looking and one day a guy outside of Louisville is selling a Firebird engine only is how he had to list it and what do you know it's a Butler 461...dyoned at 475hp 525tq with all the build sheets and verified over the phone by Jim Butler himself ! I ended up paying 7500.00 quadrajet to oil pan, MSD ignition to hi perf water pump, ported heads, roller valve train. I know I fell into the deal of a lifetime but they're out there so keep your eyes open and as long as you get a good core you can always add goodies around it later and the best part is it will be all Pontiac not a dealship looking LS motor that anyone and there brother can figure out. And sorry to be long winded but the guys again are right on with the chassis mods, you put that much hp and hook up bad things will happen if not prepared, mine is pretty scary sometimes...I have a built 12bolt 3:42 ,kyb gas adjust shocks, 1" sway bar and this winter put triangulation bars on along with SSM lift bars and 275/60 MT ss street et rubber so we'll see how that works once the weather breaks...oh and also three point shoulder belts, I guess after seeing Jay Leno doing a hamil camel in the Hemi Under Glass got me a little nervous. Good luck and Indian strong !
Thank you for all the great info! Its funny you mentioned Ebay, as I looked there for motors before I came across the 70 Ram Air 3 I have now. Ive decided, for a couple reasons, to nix the high HP for now, Im just going to see what I can pull out of the engine I have and call it good. If I ever need more HP I will probably do as you did and see what I can find on Ebay, unless I win the lottery in which case I will buy one of Butlers, funny I had also checked out their motors as well, and found the same prices but I didnt know how much of the price went just for the name, I know they have been around a while and seem to put out a good product and all but thats when I ask " how much am I really paying just for the name"? Anyway, thanks again, I cant wait to see your car.
Best wishes.
 

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I would have to agree with the guys here. I dropped $4k into my stock WT 400 for 68 GTO w/ M20 MT. Complete rebuild but built it for street drivability and torque. Made bottom end strong, RA exhaust manifolds (NOT headers) nice MSD ignition and a rebuilt Q-Jet. Still getting 10:1 compression which equates to mixing a little local 100LL AV gas and non ethanol Super 92 from the marina. Dyno came out at 380 HP @ 5000rpm and 460lb torque @ 3600Rpm. I attached my build sheet so you can see there's nothing too crazy here - BUT Pontiacs cost $$. It makes more power than factory but it really equates to what was called "Royal Bobcat" back about when I was born. lol

I think Blk69Judge said it best. Go with the 3.90 gears and have fun. (that's what I dropped in as well)
 

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I would have to agree with the guys here. I dropped $4k into my stock WT 400 for 68 GTO w/ M20 MT. Complete rebuild but built it for street drivability and torque. Made bottom end strong, RA exhaust manifolds (NOT headers) nice MSD ignition and a rebuilt Q-Jet. Still getting 10:1 compression which equates to mixing a little local 100LL AV gas and non ethanol Super 92 from the marina. Dyno came out at 380 HP @ 5000rpm and 460lb torque @ 3600Rpm. I attached my build sheet so you can see there's nothing too crazy here - BUT Pontiacs cost $$. It makes more power than factory but it really equates to what was called "Royal Bobcat" back about when I was born. lol

I think Blk69Judge said it best. Go with the 3.90 gears and have fun. (that's what I dropped in as well)
Thanks Joe, I really appreciate all the great info, and the build sheet. I must admit to being a bit surprized that Pontiacs seem to be in a league of their own, at least as far as motors, I never would have thought they could be that much different. I would really like to put my YZ 400 RA 3 motor in so Im just going to see how much we can pull out of it without getting too crazy and leave it at that. Im also going to build just for the street. Ive decided if I want more HP later on I will either go thru Ebay, or Butler and just buy a finished motor, but thats only if I feel the need down the road.

I bought a few Pontiac performance books Im reading, and seeing what tips and tricks they might have. One thing I havent decided is wether I will use my #12 heads or buy some Edelbrock or other aftermarket ones. Thanks again, so much great info and so many cool people on this site!
 

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Here's a few pix.
Thanks Joe, I really appreciate all the great info, and the build sheet. I must admit to being a bit surprized that Pontiacs seem to be in a league of their own, at least as far as motors, I never would have thought they could be that much different. I would really like to put my YZ 400 RA 3 motor in so Im just going to see how much we can pull out of it without getting too crazy and leave it at that. Im also going to build just for the street. Ive decided if I want more HP later on I will either go thru Ebay, or Butler and just buy a finished motor, but thats only if I feel the need down the road.

I bought a few Pontiac performance books Im reading, and seeing what tips and tricks they might have. One thing I havent decided is wether I will use my #12 heads or buy some Edelbrock or other aftermarket ones. Thanks again, so much great info and so many cool people on this site!
 

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Sorry bad internet at home, thought these went out.
 

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When you do decide to go big on your HP and torque, most of the guys I know have given up trying to make stock heads work, even ported ( see post #7 here). Aluminum heads are the way to go.
Here are the three going now. KRE and Edelbrock (through Butler) and Speedmaster. (Speedmaster is imported but for now has real good reviews.) Here are links to the three:




For now your plans sound good.
 

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Once again, bugging you with suggestions. If your R-III engine is original and numbers matching to your '70, I, and many others, would suggest you properly store it away as is because it will add much value to your car at re-sale rather than a modified engine. A budget quality 455 would be a great foundation on which to build your eventual big power build. One re-builder who has a real good rep in the Pontiac world is Len Williams in OK. Here's his site for some ideas:

 
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