First of all, the Buick big-blocks are completely different from any of the other GM big-blocks, from Chevy, Pontiac, or Oldsmobile. The Buick is a large-bore, short-stroke, very high-torque engine with a great slow-speed powerband. The main problem with the Buick design was the oiling system. The oil pump is located in the front cover of the engine, which is aluminum. With heat, the cover expands and the pressure drops. Also, the main and rod bearing journals are large. With the dropping pressure at high temps, and the large bearing surfaces, they had their fair share of spun rod bearings. The large-bore/short-stroke architecture of the engine promotes higher engine speeds. All you need to do is feed the engine air, and it loves to rev. The stock heads will give you great power into the mid-5,000 rpm range. The stock cast pistons will live well at these engine speeds. If you wish to push your little Buick, you'll need to modify the complete bottom end to accommodate the higher engine speeds. You should also join the Buick GS Club of America (buicksca.com) and go to school on the message board.
As for B-4B versus Performer, I was right in the middle of the controversy at Edelbrock. I had installed a B-4B on my GS, and the cold air scoop air cleaner assembly no longer lined up with the hood. It turns out that on the B-4B, they'd moved the carb forward to center the Q-jet. The stock manifold had the carburetor moved rearward approximately 3/4 inch, and this is what all the cold air system lines up with. Finding this problem, Edelbrock recasted the B-4B with the carburetor's original location to work with the stock air cleaner system. Does the B-4B run better than the Performer? Slightly. If you're not running the cold air system, go with the B-4B.
With your buildup of parts, you should be in the range of 375 hp at 525 lb-ft of torque. The best thing you could do is install a set of full-length headers. This will give your Buick the best bang. The stock exhaust manifolds are really bad, and you would make well over 400 hp with headers added.
One final parting shot, Nick. We better not hear about you screwing around on the street, seeing as how you're so close to Seattle Raceway. Keep your playing to the strip, not the street!
Smog Police Expanded!Q My '96 GMC Yukon has a 350 Vortec engine, an overdrive transmission, and 3.42:1 gears. I have to replace the engine and want to know what I could replace it with for added grunt. It must run on regular gas and be able to pass emissions in Massachusetts. Could you recommend a crate engine or other engines? I'm an old-school hot rodder. When it comes to the new stuff, I'm lost!Tom HayesVia e-mail
A I began to research the emissions regulations in the state of Massachusetts, and I uncovered a few things I wasn't aware of. First of all, in 2002 the California governor signed AB 1493, which directed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to adopt regulations that would achieve the "maximum feasible and cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles." In 2004 CARB adopted the regulations, which will affect new cars sold in California beginning with '09 models. The regulations will result in a 23 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles by 2012 and a 30 percent reduction in global warming emissions from new vehicles by 2016.
If you're thinking those Californians are just jumping off a cliff again, we'd have to somewhat agree with you; however, 16 other states have adopted the California language for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction. In 2006 Massachusetts announced the state's adoption of California's vehicle emissions standards, also starting with '09 vehicles.