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What engine should i put in my 1980 Chevy? HELP !

I love my Chevy Chevette!
Posts: 3
Joined: 11/12
Posted: 11/24/12 01:28 AM

Well guys, I got myself a 1980 Chevy El Camino and everything is still original on her. I've been waiting for the motor to go out and it finally did. Now, originally she has a small block 305 engine but I think i should just buy a new crate engine straight from the factory?  I love high performance, I'm all about muscle cars and I absolutely have to get a big engine! I'm just not sure on what motor to get or how big to go? I NEED SUGGESTIONS AND OPINIONS !!!!!!                                        

 Thanks. ;-)  

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I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 5119
Joined: 12/09
Posted: 11/24/12 06:19 AM

I can't say who has the best for your purpose, but a 383 small block with single four barrel is perfect for a hot street ElCamino. The options are endless but thats the bang for the buck solution! No need to fuss with a big block in that unless you're racing for prizes.  

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Big Block power for the win
Posts: 868
Joined: 12/11
Posted: 11/24/12 07:45 AM

For sure Matt is right on 383.It will give PLENTY of performance and will still be a useable truck/car  

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I love my Chevy Chevette!
Posts: 3
Joined: 11/12
Posted: 11/24/12 07:57 AM

I see what your saying. Thank you for your insight. I really don't need a big block but I want one. I want to step on the gas and before the car takes off, I want to feel it lift up off the ground! Yeah buddy! Like a dragster. Woooh!  

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I love my Chevy Chevette!
Posts: 3
Joined: 11/12
Posted: 11/24/12 07:58 AM

I guess it would be a little better on mpg too.  

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I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 2253
Joined: 07/08
Posted: 11/24/12 07:24 PM

It all depends on where your pocket book is.
If you have enough cash you can have a street car that runs 7s.
On the more practical side for most you have to compromise between
performance and dollars.
Wheelies are neat to watch but they actually slow you down slightly.
It is a strange feeling to pull air on a launch and then land.
Here are a couple of pictures of cars I have raced.
The Camaro pulls the wheels too high whereas the Beretta lifts them
only a few inches. The Beretta was by far the faster of the 2 with
similar size motors.
Th MVC 024S 3
Th MVC 040S
Th MVC 038S 3  

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I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 1718
Joined: 09/11
Posted: 11/24/12 08:58 PM

  There are a lot of things to consider. You can install a ZZ4 Crate engine. If the rest of your package doesn't match what you have, that ZZ4 won't perform the way you would expect it to.
  The reason I said that, you need to consider what Rear Gear Ratio you have, how tall are your tires and the transmission. My guess 1980 you probably have a TH350-C.
  For EXAMPLE ONLY PLEASE: You drop an engine in your ELCAMINO with 400 HP. The ElCamino has a rear gear ratio of 3:08, or less maybe 2:86. The trans is a TH350 with a stock torque convertor. You get it all together. Start the engine, put it in gear and the engine dies? You finally get it to run.Now the engine doesn't start making HP until 2200 RPM. Give/Take. Now with the TH350 Trans shifts sluggish,and the 3:08 or2:86 rear gear isn't helping, that could be 75 MPH before it really comes on. Now at 100MPH it's very strong, what's wrong with this @#$% engine?

  Take that same 400 HP engine. Put 12* of base timing it, and a total of 32* of timing all in at 2600 RPM. Now your ElCamino has 3:70 or a 3:90 Posi, Rear. The Th350 has a 2500 Stall convertor, and a 26" to 28" tall tire. Now you have a combination. That will work for you.
  You will not only have a sleeper, but you KICK the CHIT out of those rice burners. Now you can spend your spare time. Washing and waxing it! Not chasing an engine you think was sick...
  You could even purchase a Basic 260/350. It has 4 bolt Mains, Hyper.Pistons, PM rods, a steel crank. It is all New Pieces. For about $1,300.
  I did this for my son 12 years ago. He has a 1987 Monte Carlo SS. the 305 was getting tired 140,000, on the orinal timing chain. It already had a 3:73:1 Posi. Rear gear. But the small ring gear???
  Here is all we did. My son purchased a TCI street fighter TH350 trans, with a TCI 2500 RPM Stall convertor. The Chevy Dealer in town gave me a deal on the 260/350. Plus he didn't have to pay shipping. They dropped it at my house.
  I installed a performance Lunati Cam, and matchinng valve springs. Roller Rockers 1.5/1.6, I modified the oil pump, and oil filter bypass, installed a windage tray, (I had to replace some main bolts to except the windage tray), and a 6 quart oil pan extended pickup I Tig Welded on. The headers were only 15/8th. I never removed the heads.  He had a real Dual exhaust made for it 21/4" pipe, and  the Walker mellow mufflers the tone was like the lod Muscles cars. I had an old style Holley Intake. I also had an older spread bore Holley 750CFM carb dual feed. I recurved the Stock Chevy HEI ignition, and installed a hotter MSD Coil. I set the base timimg at 12* and a total of 32* all in at 2500 RPM.Plugs were standard ACR43TS...It normal calls for ACR45TS plugs that was too hot a spark plug gap 032
  When I said it sounded like the older muscle cars it really did. The way I set the valves lash, it ecohed in the exhaust, remember you older guys how it sounded nice and tinny. With the headers and everything in tune, I wondered if it was going to perform...LOL...You bet it did. Grin  Cool  
  I got to break it in for 1.5 weeks before my son came up to take it. I was glad to. It got stronger, and the longer I had it I kept bumping the timing up. I had Sunoco Purple in it. It was strong. I don't like wheel Dyno's. I did my calculation, and it made a modest 345 HP.But very torquey. It was a nice sounding, and nice performing engine, and nice riding car.


PS: I think he spent all of $2300. It was well spent. Oh that's excluding the parts I had, the exhaust. So consider another $500 to $600 dollars, carb, and intake manifold. The exhaust was new,and already done. T (2) short pipes had to be replaced to ecept the headers, and the (2) Walker mufflers. I'm guessing he had $3000 in it total... You can spend that on a rebuilt engine. Still a deal... Cool  

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I love my Chevy Chevette!
Posts: 4
Joined: 12/12
Posted: 12/04/12 06:36 PM

^^^  what he said, you'll need to see what rear gear your car has, some are as low as 2:14  and no thats not a typo..  

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I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 2738
Joined: 08/09
Posted: 12/05/12 04:24 PM

Hi there,
  A big motor on old light weight equipment???
  That will create systematic repairs of everything else.
  At best your std 305 is worth 215BHP and 290 torque.
   My 2 cents worth...
  ZZ4 /355 HP max with strong TH350 G/Box..
  Don't forget a stronger sway bar and maybe brakes upgrade.
   More power needs more money in many areas.  Stay safe and
   having owned the 2 motors I can tell you that the extra HP
   alone will surprise you..I run a 650 carb on my ZZ4 which
   loses 20 HP up high but you won't need them anyway as the
   38% extra torque which is a reality in the true sense of the
   word is Always there.  Good luck with the project...Skyeking.  

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