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#1058194 - 07/10/18 04:06 PM 400 SBC or 454 BBC?  
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Breathial Offline
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Hello, everyone, just joined. Been building cars... jeez, 30 years? A lot of cars over that time, including a few street rods... I decided I'd had enough of the "heavy" fab work, building frames, custom bodywork, welding and basically cobbling together "repair" panels that never seem to fit. So I picked up a clean '87 MCSS with 85k miles, basically the only one in the region (in my price range) without serious rot underneath.

The bottom line is I wanted to have an old-school ride for the nice weather (in the vein of the old Chevelles) without the stupid cost. And that also means the 305, with its' poor performance and malfunctioning computer, will have to go bye-bye. I like old-school seat of the pants TORQUE, which means an LS engine is out, as well as the 350 SBC.

So my choices are either a 400 SBC or Mark-IV 454 BBC. I've been doing enough reading (and lurking on this site) that I fully understand the additional drivetrain upgrade required for each approach. The goal is ~400HP with 450-500 lbs-ft of torque, pump gas, through the 200R4 (will be upgraded).

Not interested in drag-racing or beating on it, just want a nice, powerful cruiser that I can run for a long time, with AC and great reliability. Final aspect- especially if going the BBC route- will be to make it appear as "clean" and factory-appearing as possible... cast iron exhaust manifolds instead of headers, no bling, using factory AC/alternator brackets (probably from a 90's pickup), etc. The top end will include an HEI and Holley 3310, with either a low or medium-height dual-plane intake manifold. Cam selection would be hydraulic flat-tappet, such as ~270-degree (advertised) Comp Cam... I know the 400 SBC would be a bit less than 400HP with this cam size, but it'd be reliable, and have just a *little* lope to it... oh, well...

Ignoring all other factors (weight, difficulty, cost), which way would you jump?

#1058197 - 07/10/18 06:05 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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XE 262 cam with vortec heads and an air gap intake has been proven to be a great 400 hp build.

Comp recommended the XE274 for the addition of cubes when stepping up to a 400, should put you in your range.

SBC to SBC is going to be your cheapest and easiest route.


86 SS
400SBC, 4l80e, MSD Atomic injection/trans controller, Tilt glass clip, all tubular arms, corvette brakes, 9" rear
In progress
#1058200 - 07/10/18 06:25 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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tomh115 Online content
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454 but I'm just partial to that motor. No real reason other than personal preference.


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1987 Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe
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#1058201 - 07/10/18 06:26 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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Based on your background and the desire for old school, seat of the pants torque, only the 454 will satisfy you. Welcome to the forum and keep us updated on your project.


86 MCSS Notchback coupe, LS3, 4L65E, QP 9", Eaton Truetrac, 4 wheel disc, column shift, Dakota Digital, silver with maroon bench interior

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#1058208 - 07/11/18 12:59 AM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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BadSS Online content
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I agree with MC96 - easy less expensive upgrade and a 406 with Vortec heads, air gap and a cam at .050" duration between 218-225 on the intake and 222-230 on the exhaust and between a 108-110 lobe spread (depending on how you want it to sound at idle and vacuum needs) will put you well into the 400+ horsepower and 480 + torque range.

Here's a 9.5:1 compression Vortec 406 with a 230/230 - 108 cam making 428HP and 525lb/ft

http://www.superchevy.com/how-to/148-0401-chevrolet-406-ci-engine-build/


Original owner of 1985 SS black hardtop w/gray interior. Frame-on restoration - 406 sleeper w/ heavily ported FIRST TPI. However the 1.875" headers, 3.5" duals, TH400, Ford 9", notched frame, and 10-point cage w/swing-out bars might tip you off it's not a lil' ole 305 TPI. Other mods: 2" drop, 18" wheels, f/r disk brakes, and custom stereo system.
#1058211 - 07/11/18 01:57 AM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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86ttop Online grandpa
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I'm gonna be the devil's advocate and say you are wrong about the "malfunctioning computer", seems to me you've listened to folks that don't know beans about it. Good luck with your project.!!


Leo Paugh
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#1058216 - 07/11/18 12:49 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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mmc427ss Online content
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Hi Eric. welcome to the forum. A close friend lives on Merlin, has a red 67 Camaro we build several years ago.

Either a small or big block will slide in, the SBC with less complications. The fact that the big block is taller and can have issues with tall valve covers, A/C suitcase and brake booster clearance, dist higher, carb higher, the usual issues.

Finding a good 400 SBC to build from is more difficult today without buying an aftermarket block. Being the adage is still true, "there no substitute for cubic inch except cubic money" when it comes to down low torque, the larger the SBC the better.
Being you already have all the accessories on the front of the engine that will just bolt right up and simplify a bigger SBC install and reduce costs without any mods I say SBC.
As with any build what you want the final result to be and the size of your pocketbook should dictate the build.

I'll email you a pic of my 427 SBC "vanilla" install.
Bob

#1058217 - 07/11/18 01:50 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: mmc427ss]  
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Originally Posted by mmc427ss
"there no substitute for cubic inch except cubic money"


I had not heard that before Bob but it certainly rings true. Today you can build a strong SBC, even 383, with about 500HP and 500FtLb (I have 535/487 at the Flywheel). Or turbo for the next level? And it's SO MUCH FUN designing all that in. Large block would have been cheaper of course for the same power, but then you start thinking what you can do to up the ante further, and the ceiling goes up... Addictive, huh?

Let us know what you decide. Enjoy the journey....

Gordon

#1058218 - 07/11/18 02:08 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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mmc427ss Online content
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When stretching a SBC out to larger CI a few problem arise. Crank throw clearance in the block is the first, the block needs to be clearanced, sometimes that gets the grinding close to the pan bolt holes.
When the stroke get longer and you want to use a longer rod the piston pin moves up and into the oil ring groove. Pistons/rings available to remedy that issue but the you end up with more piston rocking in the bore. The reason the stock 400 used such a short rod.
When you get to the 4" stroke cranks in an SBC you now have rod to cam clearance problems. Expensive rods are available to add clearance.
Been down all these avenues.
Bob

#1058219 - 07/11/18 04:39 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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Welcome to the forum! Good luck with your build. I went a similar route with a 350 SBC and love it.

#1058238 - 07/12/18 04:22 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: kevins88ss]  
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Breathial Offline
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Thanks, everyone, for the replies. I've been concentrating on big-blocks for the last 10 years or so, hadn't really considered the 400 SBC with Vortec heads. The info I've been digging up, with your input, looks VERY promising. And, looking at the prices of 400 blocks in the area, this appears to be a very attractive option!

Time to start working up a 400 SBC recipe, that'll match my goals. Should be fun! smile

#1058242 - 07/12/18 07:45 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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it's got me interested too. I think boring it out a little gets you to the 406ci and that is 6.66 liters. Yeah that's the engine i want!!!!

I saw the numbers with the vortec heads. Holy crap the torque and horsepower begin where my 350 swirlport ends, the torque is actually double+

Last edited by Witness86SS; 07/12/18 07:48 PM.

Justin
1986 Black SS
350 L05 - Hooker Longtubes - FlowMaster True Dual 2.5" - Electric Cutouts - Electric Fans - Transcooler
#1058243 - 07/12/18 11:41 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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Yep, the Vortec 406 builds with a decent intake, headers and cam really do make a lot of power for the money. 428HP and 525TQ from the comb puts out very similar power to the 454HO crate engine that makes 432HP and 500TQ. The smaller volume high efficient ports of the Vortecs on the 406 with a larger cam than the 454HO actually make MORE torque (link is to the article on the 454HO)

http://www.superchevy.com/how-to/89618-project-454-ho-engine/


Original owner of 1985 SS black hardtop w/gray interior. Frame-on restoration - 406 sleeper w/ heavily ported FIRST TPI. However the 1.875" headers, 3.5" duals, TH400, Ford 9", notched frame, and 10-point cage w/swing-out bars might tip you off it's not a lil' ole 305 TPI. Other mods: 2" drop, 18" wheels, f/r disk brakes, and custom stereo system.
#1058251 - 07/13/18 05:38 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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It's not one of the options you mentioned but looking at your goals you might want to consider a 6.0L Vortec motor, or even stroking it to 408. Using a factory computer it will be as reliable any modern GM vehicle.


86 SS 6.0L LQ4, TBSS GEN IV intake, 92mm TB, 30lb injectors, Summit Stage 3 NA Cam, Stainless long tube headers, Stainless 3in exhaust, Microsquirt ECU, Built 200-4R, B&M Megashifter, Torsen LSD, QA1 Lvl 3 Suspension Kit, UMI Front & Rear Braces. Check out my build thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/threads/126188-SSLOW6-0-Build
#1058253 - 07/13/18 09:58 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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Always one with the "LS Swap it" laugh

Eric's desires sound very similar to mine when I started with my car 10 years ago or so... Some on here steered me toward the HT383 crate engine at the time and it fit the bill perfectly. I recently refreshed it with Fastburn heads and a custom cam and it now makes 525 ft lbs / 467 hp and is a kick in the pants to drive yet very streetable. Highly recommend the Fastburn heads if you can find a used set.


Lance
1985 Monte Carlo SS Street Car
#1058254 - 07/14/18 02:44 AM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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I guess I don't have a preferred route as I have a few newer engines and had too many others to count, I would do what you prefer, most guys like to push what they have.

1) 396 SBC gen 2 reverse cooled (350 block 3.875 stroke), 11.5:1 compression with competition 195 AFR heads street cam made 590 HP.
2) 461 Pontiac 11.5:1 compression Kauffman heads. Ported by Dave Bischoff with the old faithful 2.0 cam that's only offered with his head package. This SD performance top end made 620 HP 600 plus torque out of this street engine.
3) LS7 with 35K on it for my Monte. Will start the build this fall. I'm looking for 700 HP on engine with street manors.

No # 4, I'm done after these are completed! LOL

Last edited by 1 Slow SS; 07/14/18 02:45 AM.

Be a car builder, not a googler!
#1058257 - 07/14/18 07:58 AM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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axld Offline
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lakeland,fl
welcome to the forum. 1slowss, #4 always goes to #5 ! haha. Since I have owned my 86 ( 7 years?) I have swapped in a 400 sbc, then a 383 , then a 5.3, now just finishing up a built 6.0 with a TKO 600 5sp. Breathial, I agree on the 400 ( or even a 383 with vortec heads ).


86 SS . Custom Paint. Built 6.0 with LS3 Top End .TSP Custom grind cam.TKO 600 5 spd. Quick 9'' / 3.70 Gearing. ZQ8 Spindles. KORE3 12.8'' frt Brake Kit. UMI Rear Adjustable UCA. Rear LCA. UMI Front Chassis Bar. BMR Coil Springs. BMR Rear Sway Bar. N90 17'' Wheels . 255/45-17 Nitto 555 G2's. SO FAR..............lol.
#1058303 - 07/19/18 10:22 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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BadSS Online content
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I agree with slow, go with what you prefer. If there's one thing I know is if you don't go with what you really want in the first place, you'll never be truly happy and typically spend more money in the long run. While a 406 with Vortec heads will meet your indicated power requirements it's still doesn't look like a big block when you pop the hood.


Original owner of 1985 SS black hardtop w/gray interior. Frame-on restoration - 406 sleeper w/ heavily ported FIRST TPI. However the 1.875" headers, 3.5" duals, TH400, Ford 9", notched frame, and 10-point cage w/swing-out bars might tip you off it's not a lil' ole 305 TPI. Other mods: 2" drop, 18" wheels, f/r disk brakes, and custom stereo system.
#1058340 - 07/23/18 12:15 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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Breathial Offline
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So I'm snooping around for acceptable parts, everything I've looked at for 400 SBC was either *highly* suspect or overpriced. Two weeks of looking, and I'm NOT pleased...

Then I end up running across a complete LQ4 from an early-2005 GMC van.... heads already redone, mileage unknown, for $800. So I decided to go check it out. Short block is still assembled, so I don't know what I'll get... but the pistons and cylinders show no signs of damage, and the crank rotates freely... Basically, it's complete except harness and gas pedal.

Now it's sitting in my garage on a stand. Will take apart the bottom end, see what it looks like.

This isn't what I was really intending to do, but the price was right... so we'll see what happens next.

Best laid plans, and all that. It'll be embarrassing if this turns into another LS swap thread... LOL

Last edited by Breathial; 07/23/18 12:22 PM.
#1058341 - 07/23/18 12:55 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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Originally Posted by Breathial
So I'm snooping around for acceptable parts, everything I've looked at for 400 SBC was either *highly* suspect or overpriced. Two weeks of looking, and I'm NOT pleased...

Then I end up running across a complete LQ4 from an early-2005 GMC van.... heads already redone, mileage unknown, for $800. So I decided to go check it out. Short block is still assembled, so I don't know what I'll get... but the pistons and cylinders show no signs of damage, and the crank rotates freely... Basically, it's complete except harness and gas pedal.

Now it's sitting in my garage on a stand. Will take apart the bottom end, see what it looks like.

This isn't what I was really intending to do, but the price was right... so we'll see what happens next.

Best laid plans, and all that. It'll be embarrassing if this turns into another LS swap thread... LOL



You're going to love it. Everyone likes to say that LS motors don't make torque, but even with the tiny 204/211 .550 lift LS3 cam it made over 350 ft/lbs at the rear wheels from 3000rpm to 5200rpm (through a terrible exhaust)

I'd try to find some 243 or 799 heads (LS2) for your short block. it will bump the compression up over 10-1 and you can still use the truck intake (i recommend a Trailblazer SS or "Breadbox" intake)

Run something like this for a cam https://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-8714, 226/230 low lift and will run with cheap LS2/3 valve springs.

For a nice plug and play solution you could run a holley EFI setup, or call up one of the many shops that does swap harness conversions. I'd ditch the DBW TB too.


86 SS 6.0L LQ4, TBSS GEN IV intake, 92mm TB, 30lb injectors, Summit Stage 3 NA Cam, Stainless long tube headers, Stainless 3in exhaust, Microsquirt ECU, Built 200-4R, B&M Megashifter, Torsen LSD, QA1 Lvl 3 Suspension Kit, UMI Front & Rear Braces. Check out my build thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/threads/126188-SSLOW6-0-Build
#1058356 - 07/24/18 02:25 AM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: thepezking639]  
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Originally Posted by thepezking639


For a nice plug and play solution you could run a holley EFI setup, or call up one of the many shops that does swap harness conversions. I'd ditch the DBW TB too.





Yeah, I also ditched the DBW on my LS2. If you're staying with an auto tranny, don't go with full length headers...too much of a pain.


-'87 Monte SS LS 2/4L65e Quick Perf. 9" w/disk brakes
-'89 Iroc Z28 Stock 5.7 Edelb. TES headers, Borla Exhaust90K
-'77 Trans Am 468(Stroked) Doug's Headers Flowmaster catback
B & M shift Kit 400 Turbo trans. Edel brock Performer
RPM Intake Sean Murphy built Rochester Carb. Restored
in '08. 3K
#1058361 - 07/24/18 02:40 PM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: jmireles]  
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Originally Posted by jmireles
Originally Posted by thepezking639


For a nice plug and play solution you could run a holley EFI setup, or call up one of the many shops that does swap harness conversions. I'd ditch the DBW TB too.





Yeah, I also ditched the DBW on my LS2. If you're staying with an auto tranny, don't go with full length headers...too much of a pain.


I've got full length headers on mine with a 200-4r, it works great.


86 SS 6.0L LQ4, TBSS GEN IV intake, 92mm TB, 30lb injectors, Summit Stage 3 NA Cam, Stainless long tube headers, Stainless 3in exhaust, Microsquirt ECU, Built 200-4R, B&M Megashifter, Torsen LSD, QA1 Lvl 3 Suspension Kit, UMI Front & Rear Braces. Check out my build thread: http://www.pro-touring.com/threads/126188-SSLOW6-0-Build
#1058365 - 07/25/18 12:08 AM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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axld Offline
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well, if you do go with the 6.0 , I use speed engineering SS long tubes that fit with a little persuading with a torch and hammer, holley swap everthing and now a FITECH ultimate LS . just saying!


86 SS . Custom Paint. Built 6.0 with LS3 Top End .TSP Custom grind cam.TKO 600 5 spd. Quick 9'' / 3.70 Gearing. ZQ8 Spindles. KORE3 12.8'' frt Brake Kit. UMI Rear Adjustable UCA. Rear LCA. UMI Front Chassis Bar. BMR Coil Springs. BMR Rear Sway Bar. N90 17'' Wheels . 255/45-17 Nitto 555 G2's. SO FAR..............lol.
#1058379 - 07/26/18 11:56 AM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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Although it's a different website Speedtalk engine tech forum presently has a thread on "what's better, 400 cid bb or sbc".

From my standpoint $ is spend either way, going bb means coming up with accessories, dealing with limited space which may mean buying a cowl hood for clearance, getting, correct valve covers etc. Building big sbc means scratch building a short block unless you get lucky and score a good, meaning not cracked 400 sbc.

#1058395 - 07/28/18 01:24 AM Re: 400 SBC or 454 BBC? [Re: Breathial]  
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basemonte Offline
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Sorry, should of read the entire thread, as it's now LS power and classic iron is not in the picture.

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