Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions - Chevelle Tech
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 10th, 19, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
 
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Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

I'm currently working on a 71 Chevelle I've had for years. About 20 years ago, I built a 396 (402) with 4-bolt mains, hydraulic tappet cam, forged pistons, iron heads (094's, I think), Comp roller rockers, Holley strip dominator intake with a 750 on top; around 425 horses.
Transmission was a turbo 400, manually shifted, reverse pattern; rear was a 12-bolt 4.56 posi.

I'm going from the ground up again, and am considering this a mild pro-touring effort. I want to keep the "GM-ness" about the car. Keeping the factory frame, and it's currently getting all factory welds ground and re-welded (never seen such bad welds on a frame!), and will add the Hellwig kit to box in the center rails. Using the ABC pieces to box in the rear frame. Planning on Global west suspension front a back with coil-overs. I do NOT want to lower the car much below stock height, if at all.

Transmission will be a 4L80E, and rear will be a Moser 12-bolt, probably with 3.55 gears.

I need opinions on engine selection. This build demands a BBC in my eyes. I originally was going to re-gasket the 396, as it has less than 500 miles on it. I had also put a Holley dual sync distributor and Terminator throttle body on it just prior to project start. However, I've been pondering going the route of Chevrolet Performance parts engines, and have been looking at the 427/480 L88 or the ZZ502/502.

I would really like to do the 427 based on my experience with them in the past. I like the internal balancing. I would use the dual sync distributor and Terminator on top instead of the supplied HEI and carb. However, it's $11.5K - that's a HUGE cost! The 502 is about $8600, no intake, carb, or distributor. Still a lot of money, but seems more sensible.

I'm open to reworking the 396 as well, perhaps some aluminum heads and a hydraulic roller cam for sure. I'm interested in hearing opinions.

For reference
427: https://www.chevrolet.com/performanc...g-block-zz-427
502: https://www.chevrolet.com/performanc...ck-zz-502-base
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 11th, 19, 8:14 AM
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Claude
 
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

LS !

Claude.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 11th, 19, 8:23 AM
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Gene
 
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

yeah, everyone wants an LS for now. If you choose to stick to a original rat, Mike Lewis, Mark Jones build them better, and maybe cheaper, than GMPP. Mark's 467s produce more snot than a GMPP 502. Even though I've run a solid flat tappet, I would strongly consider a hyd roller. 427 will give you slightly better mpg, the 454/502 will make more power at the same rpms.

Or an LS3.


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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 11th, 19, 1:03 PM
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Lightbulb Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronze68 View Post
I'm currently working on a 71 Chevelle I've had for years. About 20 years ago, I built a 396 (402) with 4-bolt mains, hydraulic tappet cam, forged pistons, iron heads (094's, I think), Comp roller rockers, Holley strip dominator intake with a 750 on top; around 425 horses.
Transmission was a turbo 400, manually shifted, reverse pattern; rear was a 12-bolt 4.56 posi.

I'm going from the ground up again, and am considering this a mild pro-touring effort. I want to keep the "GM-ness" about the car. Keeping the factory frame, and it's currently getting all factory welds ground and re-welded (never seen such bad welds on a frame!), and will add the Hellwig kit to box in the center rails. Using the ABC pieces to box in the rear frame. Planning on Global west suspension front a back with coil-overs. I do NOT want to lower the car much below stock height, if at all.

Transmission will be a 4L80E, and rear will be a Moser 12-bolt, probably with 3.55 gears.

I need opinions on engine selection. This build demands a BBC in my eyes. I originally was going to re-gasket the 396, as it has less than 500 miles on it. I had also put a Holley dual sync distributor and Terminator throttle body on it just prior to project start. However, I've been pondering going the route of Chevrolet Performance parts engines, and have been looking at the 427/480 L88 or the ZZ502/502.

I would really like to do the 427 based on my experience with them in the past. I like the internal balancing. I would use the dual sync distributor and Terminator on top instead of the supplied HEI and carb. However, it's $11.5K - that's a HUGE cost! The 502 is about $8600, no intake, carb, or distributor. Still a lot of money, but seems more sensible.

I'm open to reworking the 396 as well, perhaps some aluminum heads and a hydraulic roller cam for sure. I'm interested in hearing opinions.

For reference
427: https://www.chevrolet.com/performanc...g-block-zz-427
502: https://www.chevrolet.com/performanc...ck-zz-502-base
None of those Chevy engines will match the level of expertise and preparation that Mark Jones of Vortecpro engines heaps upon his engines.Read some of this thread and watch his U tube vids
https://www.chevelles.com/forums/13-...its-built.html
and when you see pricewise how his custom builds compares to the factory motors you'll be shocked.And doing it this way leaves you more left over for the front and rear suspension & brakes.
Check that link and video's you'll see what we mean HTH

John
71 El Camino SS
406 SBC M21 3.31 12 bolt
"Quality is always remembered,long after the price is forgotten"
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 11th, 19, 1:54 PM
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

This!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronze68 View Post
With this;
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/w...make/chevrolet
And this;
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/fif-30004/overview/
I'm assuming you have unlimited funds.


later, dozer


P.S. BOO!
Quote:
Originally Posted by toofastforyou View Post
LS ! .

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 19, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

Quote:
This!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronze68 View Post
502: https://www.chevrolet.com/performanc...ck-zz-502-base
With this;
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/w...make/chevrolet
And this;
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/fif-30004/overview/
I'm assuming you have unlimited funds.
Don't I wish!

The videos from Mark are impressive, to say the least. I watched them all and admit that I'll investigate this route. I was never a 454 fan because of the external balancing, but, seeing what he does makes me sleep a little (a lot) easier.

I appreciate all the feedback and comments thus far. Again, I'm set on a BBC for this particular car (sorry LS fans). Will gladly take more viewpoints or votes from my original 3 options.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 19, 12:35 AM
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Chris
 
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

I wouldn't even consider a GM crate engine. They seem to be a bit underperforming IMO.

Gene made great suggestions. I also would only go 454+ with a BBC. Contrary to popular belief, a 427 BBC is not really a torque monster. Big torque across a wide RPM range does wonders in a heavy car with mild to moderate gearing.

I would also go aluminum heads to shed some weight, and I think a roller cam is also a good investment. Think long term reliability.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 19, 3:56 AM
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Beth
 
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

If you have the ability to assemble an engine, you can build an internally balanced 502 or 540 for cheaper than the ZZ502.

Get the 4.5" bore GM block. About $2100
Buy the rotating assembly from Mike Lewis. He will personally internally balance it. About $2500

And brodix race rite 270 heads - about $2000.

I would build the 540 and stick with a cam around .550 lift. The ZZ502 cam would be good. That would make a 550 hp torque monster that idled good.

You could put 396 - 325 hp stickers on the air cleaner and no one would doubt you.

LOL

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 19, 8:38 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

You know, I was trying to keep this simple. Somehow I knew that wouldn't happen...

Sounds like I need to reach out and get to know Mark and Mike, based on all the opinions. Everyone has valid points and great suggestions, thanks to all thus far.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 19, 9:09 AM
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

I love my low compression 1978 454, Turbo 400 with TransGo shift kit and 2:87 rear end. My 69 el Camino is so much fun to drive. Its simple and never gives me a lick of trouble.
I see people get sucked into buying these shiny parts that do nothing but cause headaches, why go crazy when you can have brutal torque in a simple package..
These cars need attention in the suspension dept. not drivetrain. I used the SC&C Stage III, Lee 14:1 30 lb valve, Spohn Del sphere rear control arms and Bilstine shocks..

I'd keep your Chevelle as close to stock as possible but make the suspension modern but use 15" Rally wheels. I did it with my 69 el Camino.. All the stock disc/ drum brake system needed was Porterfield pads and shoes..

I would check out Detroit Speed..
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 19, 9:55 AM
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

Completely ignore anything from GM and go with something from Mike Lewis or Mark Jones.

You may also want to get over your externally balanced bias.....which, respectfully, lacks merit. Even before today's LS motors from GM could rack up 300K plus miles, how many 454s lived on seemingly forever in motor homes, trucks, etc?

Who knows....but the answer is: a lot. If the design was as bad as you are implying, hundreds of thousands (or more) of these motors would not have survived as long as they did. And when they did die, it rarely was due to the rotating assembly.

Totally out of left field, but if you want the car to handle better, why not go with a SBC/383 like mine? My motor in your car with your suspension and EFI would be an absolute blast. If you go big block and want to handle, be prepared to go with as much aluminum as possible to shed weight.

Personally, I'd go with a well sorted out, very aluminum 383 or 406 SBC for a build like yours. You can hit 470-500 real HP and a torque curve that seems to go on forever...without the added weight of a BBC.

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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 19, 10:05 AM
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

Well I have a ZZ502 in my 70 and couldn't be happier with it. Runs very strong, idles good, sounds good, torque right from idle . I changed the timing and carb which helped a bunch in power and smoothness. My engine was put on the dyno before it went into the car and made 509 hp and 574 tq which is enough for me in this car. Very drivable and fun cruiser. I have mine badged as a 454 just because I got tired of explaining to the average joe what a 502 is... I hear the 502 get knocked around online a lot but I have a good one .
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 19, 11:40 AM
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

Hey Bronze68, what cam do you have in the 396? K_I_S_S cam swap ( depending on your answer) and ditch that crappy intake and you may wake the 396 up a bit while u decide. Get the rest of the car to "touring standards".

PS, contrary to some opinion here, and while I have the ability to assemble an engine, and did the 427 in my garage, I wouldnt recommend it unless you just want to. Having said that, some "professional machine work" I've seen, you'd be better paying me in my garage with my files and Plastiguage. My point is, go for a known reputable builder, and a known combination.

TO that end the GMPP pieces sure arent bad, we were simply giving you a potentially BETTER alt but as a crate, drop in and go.

BTW, 480 HP from an 427 L88 is a joke. Dont call it an L88 with a whimpy ass cam like that. My detuned L88 ( GOOD FOR 7800+ RPMS, HOW ABOUT THEIRS? ) pushed the barge to 118.75MPH in the 1/4 = approx 520 HP ( not with the tripower on, for those who know my car, trips loses .5 sec) Garage built the 3rd time. Also, an this is ONLY an opinion, why build a 540 unless you're shooting for 8's. ?? 600 ft lbs from one of the well built 454s is all the oem chassis can handle anyhow, esp IF YOU'RE BUILDING IT TO STEER . So put a 10 sec engine in for cruising about not an 8 second engine.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 19, 12:17 PM
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

I would just upgrade the 396 and go.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old Jun 12th, 19, 1:35 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Engine choice for 71 Chevelle - need opinions

Quote:
You may also want to get over your externally balanced bias.....which, respectfully, lacks merit. Even before today's LS motors from GM could rack up 300K plus miles, how many 454s lived on seemingly forever in motor homes, trucks, etc?

Who knows....but the answer is: a lot. If the design was as bad as you are implying, hundreds of thousands (or more) of these motors would not have survived as long as they did. And when they did die, it rarely was due to the rotating assembly.
No, I didn't say that. I've never said externally balance engines are an inferior design. I have other reasons for not preferring externally balanced engines, but that's another story for another time. Make no mistake, after watching the rotating assembly procedure Mark Jones applied to his 467, I was thoroughly satisfied and impressed. I would not have a remote issue going with his work.

Quote:
PS, contrary to some opinion here, and while I have the ability to assemble an engine, and did the 427 in my garage, I wouldn't recommend it unless you just want to. Having said that, some "professional machine work" I've seen, you'd be better paying me in my garage with my files and Plastiguage. My point is, go for a known reputable builder, and a known combination.

TO that end the GMPP pieces sure aren't bad, we were simply giving you a potentially BETTER alt but as a crate, drop in and go.
Absolutely appreciate these and all other's comments and feedback. I'm listening to all, so as to make an educated decision that makes sense for me.

Just to reiterate, since others have mentioned it, I am NOT going the small block or LS route for this particular car. Nothing against them whatsoever, they are equally good options (if not superior) in many ways. However, I've settled on a rat for this project.
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