Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

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Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:59 am

If you had a $25K budget and wanted to start building your 73 Chevelle, what would you spend it on?


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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:05 am

MyBu's been sitting in that exact spot for over 10 years and has not moved. I had it painted in 2005 before I went to Korea, I had the interior redone, I sanded and painted all the interior plastic, the old 305 in it ran like a top without a single tick, the Turbo 400 was freshly rebuilt and begging for more power. I can't wait to do it justice.








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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Joe73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 5:26 am

For me, that would depend if I were doing the work or not. Paying for the work, Paint with some body work, nothing crazy, would be around 8k. Then at least 3 to 5k on an engine.
But if you have the ability, and could do at least some of the big stuff yourself, that 25k would go a long way.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by chevellelaguna on Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:08 am

$24,980 spent on a motor/trans...$20 for gas.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Limey SE on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:49 pm

Body /Paint stripes,Tires, then motor And have 5k left over for Gas / Insurance for said driving of new bad A$$ car

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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Hs1973 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:20 pm

I have build alot of cars over the years. And it always tend to be alot more money than you Think.

So i always lay out a budget, like i can spend this much on engine and trans and this on body and so on. Priority on the mechanics first, paint and so on later. Since it is no fun having a super Nice car that drives like crap. Make it run and drive super first, then concentrate on making it Nice after that. That Way you can still drive it If you have to save a little for a paintjob. Although critical bodywork, like floors or frame or other safety issues needs to be considered.

Anyways make some sort of plan, as to what car you want it to be when done, and look at what the different things cost, then you have a rough ideer how much you need to spend, on each thing to reach your goal.

There is also alot of ways to save, by either doing as much your self as possible, and also by buying used stuff.

Regards Henrik.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:17 pm

I started researching frame off resto and realized that was well beyond my current budget or at least it was from the shop I talked to, but I have seen many people in this forum DIY the frame and suspension.  I'm not a mechanic, but I know my way around a car pretty well and I'm not afraid to try anything.  Like many though, my time is limited and that will not change.  

Here's what the internet told me I can do, but I want to hear it from the horse's mouth.    

Turnkey 454 = $6,200 roughly http://phoenixengine.com/CratesMain.html#chevy454turnkey
Rebuild Turbo 400 = $1000 based on old info
Motor and Trans install = $2,000 rough guess
Total = $9,200

Paint & Body = $5,000 for starters, but body rust will have the final say
Incidentals = $1,000
Total = $6,000

Detroit Speed Front = $2,200 https://www.npdlink.com/store/catalog/Detroit_Speed_Inc-7599-1.html
Detroit Speed Rear = $1,700
Wheels & Tires = $2,500 Foose Nitrous 20 x 8.5 front & 20 x 10 rear (ebay)
Incidentals = $500
Self Install = $300 for tools & beer
Total = $7,200

Overall = $23,500

What did I miss or underestimate?  

This car has been in my family for over 30 years and my Uncle said to me when I was in high school circa 1997-98 "if you can fix it, you can have it!" So I did and drove until for a few years until I left for the military.  I did start working on it again in 2004-05, but left for Korea and it has been sitting since and all the money I spent went down the drain.  This time I'm better prepared and sure that this is what I want to do.  I'm sure it runs and drives fine after all these years, and I will test that theory when I go home in February.  I'll post some new pics and give you guys the updates.    

Just bought my wife her second brand new car so I don't have to worry about her getting in the way, and I'm on my second Paid in Full car in preparation to spend money fast on this build.


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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:22 pm

chevellelaguna wrote:$24,980 spent on a motor/trans...$20 for gas.

That's a whole lot of engine, that would definitely get me that LS7 that I have dreams about, but I don't think the car could handle that just yet.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:23 pm

Joe73 wrote:For me, that would depend if I were doing the work or not.   Paying for the work, Paint with some body work, nothing crazy, would be around 8k.  Then at least 3 to 5k on an engine.
But if you have the ability, and could do at least some of the big stuff yourself, that 25k would go a long way.

I'm hoping that I can get the major stuff done, and do all the minor stuff myself. I've scoped out a few products that I want check my list posted earlier.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:25 pm

Hs1973 wrote:I have build alot of cars over the years. And it always tend to be alot more money than you Think.

So i always lay out a budget, like i can spend this much on engine and trans and this on body and so on. Priority on the mechanics first, paint and so on later. Since it is no fun having a super Nice car that drives like crap. Make it run and drive super first, then concentrate on making it Nice after that. That Way you can still drive it If you have to save a little for a paintjob. Although critical bodywork, like floors or frame or other safety issues needs to be considered.

Anyways make some sort of plan, as to what car you want it to be when done, and look at what the different things cost, then you have a rough ideer how much you need to spend, on each thing to reach your goal.

There is also alot of ways to save, by either doing as much your self as possible, and also by buying used stuff.

Regards Henrik.

Thanks Henrik. I know and I'm really going into this blindly because I have really done anything with the car in over 10 years, and what I did to make it safe and drivable at the point was what I could afford. I really wish I had taken better care of it now, but I was too busy chasing girls and getting drunk.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:36 pm

I want a cross between these two cars (Tony Loyd's and Sean Rich's) with my own flare.  I want the original GM Dark Red metallic paint, I have to check the Vin, but My car had a 454 at one point so it's set up like an SS, but had no SS badges.  When I first met MyBu as a child my uncle would do burnouts in reverse and take us on donut rides with the windows down, I loved it.  I thought it was the most bad A$$ car on the planet.  I plan for my son to feel the same way.  

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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by chevellelaguna on Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:02 pm

$6000 on a paint job isn't totally unreasonable, if, you do alit of the disassembly work yourself. (That isn't including any panel replacement) It'll look average, you get what you pay for as you've already attested to. Try and find a 454 that's already been built, you'll save yourself some money there. By the time you found a good build able core had the machining done, bought all the parts for it, had it assembled/installed,you'd easily be at $10,000. You said your th400 is already rebuilt, so you ought to be good there, just need a higher stall converter.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:42 pm

chevellelaguna wrote:$6000 on a paint job isn't totally unreasonable, if, you do alit of the disassembly work yourself. (That isn't including any panel replacement) It'll look average, you get what you pay for as you've already attested to.  Try and find a 454 that's already been built, you'll save yourself some money there. By the time you found a good build able core had the machining done, bought all the parts for it, had it assembled/installed,you'd easily be at $10,000. You said your th400 is already rebuilt, so you ought to be good there, just need a higher stall converter.

ChevelleLaguna the phoenix engine option is turnkey and pre ran if you pay an extra $400 or so. You don't think that a good motor?




Chevy 454 ci, 425 HP: from $5195 — 465 to 490 ft lbs torque Question
This engine comes with the MSD HEI distributor.
Add the MSD 2 pack distributor or the MSD 3 pack distributor for an extra charge, depending upon the options you want.

Fast Track Super Tuning

The run-in stand we use for Fast Track Super Tuning simulates the conditions of an engine installed in a vehicle. The Fast Track computer helps super-tune the engine on the Fast Track run-in stand. The engine is tuned as if it were actually sitting in a vehicle.
1.First we pre-set all the settings after the engine is installed on the Fast Track run-in stand. Then the engine is started, to break in the performance cam and seat the rings for proper break-in procedures. After 30 minutes of running, the engine is turned off and allowed to sit and cool down for one hour.
2.Next we start the engine a second time. Now all the settings are checked, including jetting of the carburetor and checking the timing. The oxygen sensors are checked for proper operation using the Fast Track computer readout. This is a real time reading of your engine results. (You can see this being done on our video clip.) The computer gives exhaust readings from both sides, to show how rich or lean the engine is running. Once we are satisfied with our jetting of the carburetor, settings and timing, then we re-start the engine to confirm all readings. This may be done several times to ensure everything is correct.
3.The engine is started again for a red line break-in. This time we run the engine while we check all adjustments to confirm proper tolerances. We run the engine up to its red line break-in, for example: 4,000 rpm. This way we get a full parameter reading on the engine. Then we will adjust valves, re-torque the heads, re-torque the intake, and check all cylinders, restarting the engine as needed to confirm the results.
4.We send you a computer reading from our Fast Track computer. The DVD video you receive is a real time video, taken when your engine was actually on the Fast Track run-in stand, when the mufflers were bolted on and the oxygen sensors hooked up. You will also receive still photos on the same disk. This DVD can be viewed on your computer.
5.As a last step, we take a video with the mufflers unbolted from the headers ("open headers"). We create a real time video for you to see and hear your engine with open headers. (This always sounds awesome!) This is included on the DVD video disk mentioned above. Included in the items we send you is a packet of information and specifics regarding your engine.
6.Pricing for Fast Track Super Tuning includes:
Labor on the run-in stand $695.00.
Two oil changes performed during the Super Tuning: $149.50 - This includes the oil, zinc additive, and fuel.
(Ask about our promotional Fast Track discount pricing!)
Big Block run in $795.00.

There are a lot of extras included in the Fast Track Super Tuning package. It's a worry free option, because all you have to do is drop the engine in, plug and play! You receive a real "READY-TO-RUN ENGINE."
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Joe73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:20 pm

I just took a look at that engine on their site. The two things that stood out to me were.
1. It mentions hydraulic lifters. Are they roller or are they flat tappet. And if they are flat tappet what oil are they using in the motor and for their changes. And what zinc additive are they using with that oil and HOW MUCH ADDITIVE?. Not all oils are compatible with all zinc additives. So there could be more harm than good. I'd also ask what oil if being used with a roller cam.
2. They say they send you a DVD of the motor running WITHOUT mufflers. Idling would be fine but if there holding a good rev, they could be causing a lean condition which would not be good for the motor. It is carbed not fuel injected.

By any means, I'm with chevellelaguna. Money better spent picking up an already built motor that you can hear run and possibly test drive.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by chevellelaguna on Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:57 pm

Joe has some good points about the oil and the lifters. It doesn't sound like a bad deal, just could be less expensive with someone else's proven power plant, like he said about test driving the car. The specs on the motor you give would make for a reliable fun street able motor, and the th400 should hold up to that combo without issue. Will have to think about an upgraded fuel system, lines, return/returnless to feed the powerplant. Definitely have a great foundation of a car to work with and a good plan about a budget.
I would have done a lot of things differently but I worked within my means and used what was available at the time. I sunk too much money in my small block, but that's what I did at the time, it really wasn't a streetable engine, but I didn't care, I still drove the crap outta it, and it held together, for the most part, broke u joints, driveshafts, rocker studs, bent pushrods, I learned the expensive and hard way. Didn't have the luxury of a site like this to refer to, with other peoples experiences and input. Certainly would have helped.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:49 pm

Copy on the running engine and saving a few bucks. Thanks for the tid bits guys, and I definitely look forward to learning more from you guys and your experience. I did some perusing on the net today and ran across quite a few 454s in SC/NC/GA area. Some needed work and others were road ready. While looking a came across Big Cox Motorsports (I can't make this stuff up), and I sent him an email. He seems pretty legit over email, I've asked him some build questions so I'll see what type of response I get. If he does everything I ask, he might be my guy.

My message to him after a few back and forth emails. Most mechanics won't answer that question so I'd be surprised if he did. We'll see what happens though.

454 w/ 454 hp give or take Wink $?
TH400 rebuild $955
Posi track rear end rebuild $?
Suspension upgrade/overhaul to handle the power w/ a pro stance $?

What price and time frame are we talking? I know it varies, but an idea or range would be good to make sure I'm not in over my head.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:47 pm

What do you guys think about this?  

"Working with a $10,000.00 budget I could build a 525HP Stage III BBC , Build a high performance Stage III 700R4 transmission , Install pisi unit and 4:10 ring and pinion."
I would need to collect $7,500.00 to help cover my cost on the parts to begin the build then the remaining balance upon completion. Build time is 3 weeks.

Stage III Chevy Big Block 492ci Stroker 525hp
Chevrolet 454  block
4 bolt mains
Roller rockers
4340 Forged steel crankshaft
4340 Forged steel connecting rods
Forged aluminum pistons
Clevite H series bearings
Double roller timing set
Aluminum cylinder heads
Port matched aluminum intake manifold
Chevrolet Performance head bolt set
High volume oil pump
Chevrolet Performance 12371042 hydraulic roller lifter set
Full mechanical advance distributor
850cfm carburetor

This is what I asked for.  

"How long would it take to get this all done? Also what's the payment plan? I'm open to rebuilt engines if you have any and warranty them, but I still want the turnkey package. Like I said, I will never race, I'll mostly cruise, and likely show.

New 454/450hp
Rebuild TH400
Rebuild rear end
Add pro stance suspension"
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Joe73 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:03 pm

Overdrive is the way to go. But Id research 200r4 vs. 700r4. I believe the 200r4 may be a better choice. But search it.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:18 pm

Overdrive as in newer tranny 700r4 vs the TH400?
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Joe73 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:23 pm

Yes, I understand. There were (2) models of GM overdrive trannys before the 4l60 and 4L80 came out. There was the 200R4 which came out first and then the 700R4.
From all I've seen, the 200R4 is more desirable, handles more power and performance parts are more readily available for it.
I know alot of the pre 73 guys prefer the 200 R4.
Just a thought since your looking for an overdrive.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:39 pm

So my car won't be a daily driver and not a race car. I'll do some hotrodding when I have the itch, but not looking to do any long distance drives (buying a trailer for that). Saving gas in a 500hp engine Very Happy is probably an oxymoron, so that is not a reason to switch either. I can probably save a few bucks buying by just having him build my current TH400 to handle the 550hp he's offering.

I'm also still looking into running engines as an option.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Joe73 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:11 pm

Absolutely, I agree. In your case just build the 400.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Showtime73 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:58 pm

Here's his response and I can't disagree with anything that he said.

"It cost exactly the same to build a 700R4 as it costs to build a TH400 With a TH400 you have a final drive gear ration of 1:1 so you can gear your car to perform well off the line or you can gear it so that it can be driven at highway speeds. You cant have both. The 700R4 has a much lower 1st gear as well as a .70 4th gear overdrive. It will perform much better off the line vs a TH400 and even with a 4:10 ring and pinion you can cruise 70mph @ 2500rpm. The 700R4 also uses a lockup torque converter which is also a huge advantage vs a TH400

Running a TH400 and a 4:10 rear axle you would have to cruise @ 3600rpm to maintain a 70mph highway speed. You would hate it would be unbearable to drive for any distance. You would feel like you're driving stuck in 2nd gear. There's no logical reason to build a TH400 for any high performance application unless you're building an all original matching #s project."
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by chevellelaguna on Thu Jan 07, 2016 6:22 pm

If I were doing a lot of highway driving I'd go with the overdrive. However for strictly a street and sometimes strip car...an overdrive would be useless. Said you're not going on any long distance trips....I'd go with the th400, and run a lower gear than 4:10. I'm not altogether in the head, I'd have 4:56 gears, and break my neck stoplight to stoplight. It'd be a fun daily driver!


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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

Post by Joe73 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:19 pm

What he says about the two trannys is 100% correct. Overdrive will give you the best of both worlds, launch and highway. I agree with him.

But you did say your intend to trailer the car, so highway is out of the equation. I run a 4.10 gear with a muncie (1:1 final) and it isnt fun on the highway. Heck, I didnt think my stock 3.42 was much fun on the highway.

I again agree with chevellelaguna, go with the 400. You have it already, build it up nice and put it back in. Any no extra wiring harness to make the overdrive work. Not that its a big deal to hook up. And I'd also go with at least a 4.10 gear but it sounds like a 4.56 would be better suited for what you want to do.
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Re: Nick's 1973 454 Malibu "Buff"

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