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Nothing's as cheap as SBC... (archive)

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Posted by mikeS on June 26, 2001 at 16:44:58:

In Reply to: Trick would be to get price down to Chevy part $$ posted by davidcosine on June 26, 2001 at 16:21:56:

Small block Chevy motors are popular because the parts are cheap...and the parts are cheap because they are so popular.

Hey, you can get an all-aluminum small block Chevy from PAW for less than $10k...brand new, all parts, built for racing, stroked out over 400cid, I believe. You should be able to get 500-700hp out of them easily. Not sure about the weight, but an iron Chevy weighs in mid-500's. The aluminum jobs are probably less than 400lbs. Of course, then there's the transmission...

There's also the Ford SOHC and DOHC V8's from recent Mustangs, etc. The 4.6 liter puts out a lot of power for the size.

All in all, the 2002 motor is quite reasonable in terms of cost. What the heck, you can get one from BMW for less than $3k, last I checked--and that's with a new head casting! A friend recently had the head replaced on a mid-90's Mitsubishi Eclipse. Cost him over $4000, he had to re-fi the car.

I think a V8 would completely mess up that nice, roomy, simple 2002 engine compartment. If you look at any one piece, there's nothing super-special about the 2002. The body's just a box, and the CG is a bit high for a "sports car". The suspension is great by '60s standards, but there are better setups. The stock wheels are tiny, and the body won't let you fatten up the tires much without sheetmetal work. The motor's got it's limitations, so most horsepower freaks replace them with something more modern. Trannys are only 4-speeds, and the original syncros and bearings are weak--out they go. Original limited slip diffys are rare, so we put in later ones...and even then it's hard to find one over 25%. The brakes, well...

So why do we like these cars? For me, I think they are very well balanced. In near-stock form they are quite satisfying to drive. You can drive them near their limit (well, near _my_ limit, at least on the occasional corner) on a public road, without really breaking the law or endangering the public. Try _that_ in a new M3! A little hopping-up is good; build the motor, beef up the brakes, stiffen the suspension. But if it comes down to completely replacing the motor, IMHO you may as well build a car from scratch.

In fact, one of the things I'd like to do someday is to build a traditional sports roadster from scratch. I think I will use all 2002 mechanicals. I've got most everything stashed away--motor, tranny, trailing arms, diff. I'd like to build a tube frame and aluminum body around it, get the weight down to about 1300lbs.

Just fantasizing...don't tell my wife.


The price of a rebuilt 3.9 is quoted at 1150.00 somewhere on the internet. I agree when you say that the wagons are $50 G's that 5K rebuilt is reasonable. But when I think about the fact that this is just a 60's buick engine, I think to myself that I should pay Chevy Windsor prices. Hello supply and demand! Gotta be a little old lady with a wrecked Rover right under this garage here.... "What, $300 takes the whole thing? And it comes with a spare Mini in the boot?"


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