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Post by Bruisr on Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:12 pm

I'm sorry to admit it, but how do I identify a vortec engine?
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Post by Bruisr on Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:28 pm

The engine came from a 1989 3/4 gmc truck, it has the TBI setup. I'd like to know if a similar engine with a 4 barrel intake could be used in my elco?
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Post by bigredlaguna on Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:37 pm

Vortecs started in 1996, and have 8 vertical bolts that fasten the manifold to the heads. No exhaust crossover.

It is unlikely that the one from 89 is a Vortec. You can put a 4 barrel intake on that 89 engine and run it with no problem if you wanted to.
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Post by Bruisr on Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:52 pm

Dont want to seem like I'm arguing with you, I don't know anything about this motor. Will a standard 4 barrel intake fit or do I need a specific type of manifold?
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Post by 77mali on Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:35 pm

You need a non vortec intake like my old one set up for a 4 bbl- here are some pics. My block is an 88 & I think 89's are slightly different but not 100% sure. Should be similar for non Vortec type though. There are usually plenty on ebay.

http://s1049.beta.photobucket.com/user/77mali/library/Stuff%20for%20Sale
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Post by Bruisr on Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:52 pm

77 mali. The idea was basically cause I could get this motor for 500 bucks with a 2 yr parts and labor warranty, to install into my elco. I've been reading on the net and alot of people claim thios engine is a real dog. 190 horses! Trying to get a reliable engine for cheap! Should I look into a different engine all together or pray my 454 which was just dropped to the machine shop will cost similar to the hassle of swapping to a different year motor. I gave myself a budget of 1,000 dollars to refresh the 454, should I just go with that???
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Post by alleyball4 on Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:36 am

I got my vortec heads from a 98 Yukon ....

Summit sells an intake especially for vortec heads, that allows you to still run a carburetor. You will also have to change out your valve covers over to the "center-bolt" valve covers.

These heads are the "cats-meow" when it comes to flow, etc ... google it, and compare them to stock heads ... a night and day difference.

it's a much cheaper route than going out, and paying $2000 for a set of DART heads.

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Post by 77mali on Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:43 am

190 Horse is a dog by today's V8 standards. But if you don't mind it $500 is cheap & you can get it on the road quick. problem then becomes- how long is the motor going to last? Most reputable builders have a 3yr/36k warranty. What broke in your motor? Was it just a connecting rod? (can't recall, sorry) It seems for $1,000 a refresh of the 454 might be your best bet. If the machine shop can get the block done & there's nothing wrong with that- I'd also strongly consider that route.

I would also check out what they would charge you to give your engine back with the bottom end installed & balanced. (Pistons, rods, crank shaft). You may go a little bit over your budget but if you're not comfortable doing it yourself, it's worth the extra money for piece of mind. There are clearance tolerances you need to get right when installing the crank & setting the main caps & bearings. I'd hate to see you spend a grand and then have something go wrong & end up at square one again.


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Post by BlackChevelleSS on Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:04 am

yes the 89 motor will take a standard intake. Problem is its got the 194 swirl ports on that motor which are low flow torque heads for trucks and low compression pistons. The TBI cam is a Freakin joke. 89 most likely will NOT be a roller cam but should be a roller block. and also will NOT have a fuel pump lobe on the cam and a block off plate installed. But A cam change you can run a mech pump.


A 96+ vortec engine will have the 8 vertical bolts on the intake like previously mentioned. ALSO will have a plastic timing cover and NO provision for fuel pump, you CAN NOT run a mechanical pump on a vortec block.
ALL vortec engines are roller cam also.

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Post by pila on Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:54 pm

I don't know about the '89, but the '88 3/4 ton conversion van I had would light up the rear tires fairly easy, with it's 350. It had plenty of power for a heavy barge.

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Post by WyldeBill66 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:02 am

My 75 Chevelle has an 87 style crate 350. It's got a lot of torque and will smoke the 295's on the back end, but it is a dog on acceleration. It does still have the stock roller cam though. I've read that the swirl port heads are good for bottom end torque, but useless for horsepower. I plan on eventually changing heads and cam to wake the motor up. Needs more compression and cam. If you can rebuild your 454 for $1000, do that instead. It will be cheaper than all the work you will have to do to this gen small block. Just the cam is about $300, and heads are about $2000.
good luck.

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Post by Bruisr on Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:46 am

I'll try to respond to all previous posts. Alleyball- the heads are centerbolt style heads. The used engine has the provisions for a mechanical fuel pump but not drilled for the push rod or mounting bolts. The 454 was a freebee, and as far as I could see there was nothing wrong with it. The plans are to inspect and rebuild the bottom end by the machine shop, I'll hear from them tomorrow about costs and parts needed if any. I was only asking because of the engine I bought for my daughter's 3/4 ton GMC. I thought I might be able to score another for the elco. After much thought, I'm just gonna do the 454 for the elco, It's really what I want anyway. I have another 454 to be rebuilt for my 74 chevelle, but I have bigger plans for that one. Thanks to all, for answers and suggestions!
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Post by McCauley5983 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:54 am

Don't get rid of the 454 that tbi motor sucks and if you already have the big block rebuild it and roll with it because I guarantee that the small block isn't going to make you smile the same way the big block will
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Post by 77mali on Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:10 am

Wyldebill- was your engine always that way on HP? Was it bought new? It seems to be a pretty common complaint on other forums too.

The reason I ask is that when I first was looking for a G3 in 2008, I test drove a 76 Malibu that had one supposedly from the mid 90's. It felt like it was still up to the task even though it was older & had about 40,000 miles. During the test drive it had good acceleration & torque. They're not a race motor or big block for sure but it felt very good & solidly built. While doing research (for my own recent engine issues) I saw a few long blocks for under $2000 on more than a few websites. There is a 190 HP version for truck applications & also 260 & 290 HP for cars in non vortec configuration in that price range. These look to be good options for a G3 car if you don't want to spend a ton of money & want to reuse items like manifold, fuel pump, etc....Some examples below...

If anyone has had a bad experience with these- please post a reply. I decided not to get one since I already had the Vortec heads & manifold but probably would have otherwise since the cars purpose will be mainly for family fun.

http://www.jegs.com/i/GM+Performance/809/10067353/10002/-1?CAWELAID=1710611204&catargetid=1784156070&&cagpspn=pla&gclid=CJPJjISY6LUCFYqf4AodrXIAiQ

http://www.jegs.com/i/GM+Performance/809/12520270/10002/-1?CAWELAID=1710817552&catargetid=1808722425&&cagpspn=pla&gclid=CPXXr4aY6LUCFUVN4Aod7XQACA

http://www.jegs.com/i/Chevrolet+Performance/809/12499529/10002/-1



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Post by pila on Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:28 am

I keep reading pros & cons about the Vortec heads. I don't have a clue after reading all that stuff, as to wether they are a good way to go or not (???) Very Happy

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Post by 77mali on Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:14 pm

I'll let you know in about a week hopefully. One of the big benefits is air flow which in theory allows better mixing in the cylinder chamber & better combustion. A Vortec upgrade is a bit of work to liven up an old style block.

I'm starting to become a fan of the LS motors after seeing G3Nut's car in person and the builds on here that others are posting. Big bang for the buck. Vortec conversion (with quality new parts) is expensive. My manifold & RHS heads (that I got a good deal on ) were $1,000. If you go with aluminum Vortec heads- they're sometimes more that double the price if they have the large ports & valves, etc. or if you go with say a set of Dart's...sky's the limit Laughing
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Post by alleyball4 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:48 pm

I have drag race building shops all around my house ... I met with them on my small block, and asked for their recommendations on a limited budget.

Here's what I did ... went to the junkyard, found a 98 Yukon with some good heads, and bought them for $100 ... took them to the machine shop, and had them gone through ... another $275 ... and so, for less than $400, I have a set of Vortec heads, that perform circles around any other heads I've ever had, and for a fraction of the price.

Good advice from my drag racin' buddies !
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Post by WyldeBill66 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:29 pm

Mine isn't the vortec. Those came along in 96. It is the center bolt valve cover one though. From what I've read, the heads were designed for good torque, and that's it. The motor came in the car when I got it, so it's always been like this. It may be just that it's a low compression motor, so it can't move my heavy car very well. These motors are about 8.5:1 stock, and it has the stock cam as well. It will burn off the tire no problem, still a pegleg rear, but it doesn't accelerate from a stop very quickly at all. I've read the heads are the weakness for making horsepower. A set of vortec heads are about $800 new. I don't know what they are from a salvage yard, but then I'd have to also change the manifold.

I'd stick with the 454 if I were you.

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Post by jerry46765 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:41 pm

If you shop around, you can get these heads for $300 each assembled.

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/nal-12558060/overview/

All you would need for a street motor conversion on a pre-80s engine.

Thanks -
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Post by WyldeBill66 on Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:04 pm

I'd have to go to the vortec intake manifold with those heads, so another few hundred.

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Post by 77mali on Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:54 pm

The Edelbrock Performer is about $200 in an "as cast finish", not too bad. Mine is the 2116 Vortec Performer dual plane (non EGR). If I had to do it again I would have gotten the powder coat finish off the shelf but that's a bit more. Like mentioned- frugal shopping is a good idea. There are deals to be had. The RHS heads are a bit different than GM but they discontinued cast iron production as demand was not there- probably because GM can produce theirs much cheaper. They do offer many more configurations in the aluminum now however. Mine came pre-assembled. I forgot to mention I had the guide plates, new rockers, balls, nuts & pushrods included in that price.
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Post by dragons_lair59 on Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:19 am

actualy there are "bolt correcter kits" one set is for putting vortec intake on old style intakes and the others are for old style intakes to vortec heads. in fact Landous has them and using on a project truck. and they are no more then $15

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Post by WyldeBill66 on Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:16 am

I can't find Landous or the bolt corrector kits you referred to.

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Post by 77mali on Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:51 am

I think Sam was referring to a member here- Landonus.
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Post by alleyball4 on Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:06 pm

my intake to run my vortec heads with my carburetor, is from Summit. I sold my Edelbrock one on Craigslist, and took those funds to buy the Summit one. So I wasn't out much money at all.

My bottom end is still my 1973 ... and I built it up with a beefier cam (Comp Cam) ...with just under .500 lift, 40 over Eagle pistons, and a new eagle crank.

As posted earlier, I have less than $400 in my heads ($200 per head) ... about $50 for the price difference, in my vortec intake, and $670 for my Eagle lower rotating assembly (pistons, rods, crank, etc) ... $179 for the camshaft, and less than $500 in all the machining work.

So, for around $1500, I have a motor that is in the 400hp range, which is plenty for what I need.

The increased weight of the big block, the increased price of parts, plus changing out the front suspension, and modifying your cooling system (radiator, fan, etc) ... kept me from going that route. You got beat the rumble of a big block, but you better make sure you have the funds to do the switch.

And there's always going the 383 stroker route ... alot of horsepower and torque, that way, as well
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