Replacing '79 Camaro Engine (HELP)

Discussion in 'High Performance Modifications' started by 79_maro, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. 79_maro

    79_maro Speed Society

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    Ok, to start, I have a 1979 camaro. I'm not really sure the specific kind it is, except it's definitely not a z28. It's a 305 5.0L V8, with a 4 barrel carburetor. It's also an automatic. It has some aftermarket upgrades but majority of the car is stock, except for some visual and other things we have done to the car. I want to replace the 305 with maybe a 355 or something bigger. Basically I want to make the car fast. Now I've always loved cars and I'm still learning a lot about cars today, so if I sound lacking in that field, I apologize. I'm trying to get 500+ maybe more HP out of what I put into it. But I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to have to change/move around, because I am aware that I can't just drop an engine of that size into my car. I'm going to probably have to buy a whole new trans and a multitude of other things. Obviously the majority of the car is steel, so I was hoping to maybe reduce the weight? I just really want to get a lot of power out of whatever engine I buy, and I was just looking for some help and tips along the way, as you guys could help guide me through the right things to buy and get so my car doesn't take a sh** from doing something wrong to the engine. I've gotten a lot of help with this already, but I could still use more of your thoughts on what I should do. ALSO, if anyone could give me a solid price on what I'm looking at getting, I'd really appreciate it. Please try to get this message out there if you could too. Thanks everyone for the help!

    -Matt
     
  2. 8pack

    8pack Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Matt, first thing is to search on here, google, and read, read, read. What are you going to do with all that HP? Drag race? Autocross? Track? Understanding what you want to use your car for then determines what the rest of your set up will be. You need to figure out what rear end you want and the gearing. A stock 10 bolt upgraded with axles and rebuilt properly is pretty robust. If you are drag racing you are going to want a shorter gear. Autocrossing or track racing maybe a taller gear. Your car might have a posi or not and could have 3.73 gears or something taller. Do you want a manual or automatic. You need to mate your transmission with your rear gears for what you plan to use your car for.

    You can build an engine, have someone build it for you or buy a crate engine. You can spend $3-4k for a solid basic build or $10k plus. You can put a modern engine in there, lots of guys do LS swaps or drop a big block in. The more horsepower the more $$$. A 383 or other stroked motor gets you more torque and more seat of the pants fun in a small block but somewhat at the cost of top end.

    Your suspension choice is going to have way more impact on how the car drives than HP. Once you get over 350HP on the street you are not really ever going to be able to use it all. A drag suspension is going to be a much different set up than autocross suspension. You can go with the stock set up or coil overs, you can change out the whole front end and sub frame for something high end. Depending on what you are trying to build for determines whether you need to lose some weight or not.

    Bottom line, you can spend an awful lot of money if you have the means, but you can also do some great things reasonably, but you need a purpose and plan to not throw money away. When you have done more research you will be able to ask more specific questions and continue to develop your plan. Best advice, don't start throwing money and parts at your car before you know where you are going.
     
  3. 79_maro

    79_maro Speed Society

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    Ok, maybe 500+ HP was a bit much. My 79 is my every day vehicle because I'm not going to let a beautiful car sit in a garage all the time like some people like to do. If it helps, I just want my car to be faster than most "street cars" because a lot of the kids/people in my area and just in general like to red light drag or just show off their stock hondas that are garbage. My 79 has a 305 in it, so its really not all that fast, and tbh, I'm not 100% sure how much HP it has at the moment. So maybe 400-450HP is fine. I'm looking to put something in it thats functions as a vehicle I can drive everyday, but also street race it every once in a while. I'm also considering maybe even bringing it to the drag strip one day just for fun, I don't care if I win anything. And keep in mind, I'm a senior in highschool, so I'm trying to save up some money for my car because it could use a new paintjob too. I'm even thinking about going to UTI to become a mechanic of some sort. Besides that, I appreciate the help too by the way. If it helps, I have a posi and I kind of want to keep the automatic. I was looking at LSX engines too. Like I said, I'm going for something more everyday use, but fast too. And do you think I'd have to do much to the weight of the car? Cause since its all steel and really heavy, I feel like that would screw up the HP and decrease the overall speed of the car.
     
  4. vegas1974z28

    vegas1974z28 Moderator Staff Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    fast-cheap-reliable

    Pick 2
    :)
     
  5. Lowend

    Lowend Administrator. .a car, a man, a maraca. Staff Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    So good news... Small Blocks, minus some minor differences are pretty much interchangeable.
    Almost anything from a 283-406 will swap externally

    What's your budget on this?
     
  6. 8pack

    8pack Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Don't worry about weight right now since it is primarily a street car. you can always lighten things up later. Figure out your plan to get it set up for the street with a good reliable power plant, some decent HP to make you happy, and a solid suspension set up. Given you are in high school the best advice I can give is for every dollar you spend on the car, put a dollar in the bank. It may take longer to finish, but when you are done you will have a car and some meaningful savings rather than a car that you won't get your money back on if you need or want to sell it.

    Good luck!
     
    RS1979 likes this.
  7. Zspoiler

    Zspoiler Veteran Member

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    I use a 290 HP 350 with a Turbo 350 trans.With 3:42 gears in back .I use it in my 1981 El Camino SS.Its gets decent gas mileage.Around 20-25 MPG. and good power.
     
  8. EmbraceTheEdge

    EmbraceTheEdge New Member

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    Great advice.

    In my limited experience these cars take two things. Time and money. Generally, the more time you have to learn and do it yourself, the less out of pocket there will be and vise versa. Pick one project at a time and complete it before you move on to the next. That doesn't mean to ignore everything else. You should always "keep your eye on the prize" but starting too many things can be overwhelming. Since power is what you want, start working on that.
     
  9. Twisted_Metal

    Twisted_Metal Administrator Staff Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Before you build HP... Upgrade your brakes.
    Make sure there are no leaks and all 4 corners work well with decent stock parts. (Stock = cheap and reliable)
    Then... upgrade the front pads, at least.
    Hawk makes some great pads that fit the stock calipers. (Hawk HPS)

    They were designed for mid 90's Impalas, taxis and police cruisers.... Heavy cars.
    They just happen to fit the calipers of our 2nd gens and have way more surface area than factory pads.
     
  10. EmbraceTheEdge

    EmbraceTheEdge New Member

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    Good point.

    Twisted's comment reminded me of something. I don't know how your seat belts are but mine were terrible in both cars and needed to be replaced. Safety items should be your first priority, especially of you're going to have passengers.
     

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