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454 Big-Block Budget Engine Build - Making Cents

We Build A 700HP 454 For $2,403.

By Richard Holdener, Photography by Richard Holdener

Cost list for BBC article Heads $875 (ebay On-Line Store)

Intake $95 (EBay On-Line Store)

Rockers $85 (EBay On-Line Store)

Gaskets $37 (EBay On-Line Store)

Head gaskets $43 (Auto Zone)

Pushrods $53 (Elgin)

Head bolts $37 (Pro Comp)

Cam & Lifters $89 (Summit Racing)

Carb $129 (EBay-Private Seller)

454 Short-Block $85 (Pick a Part)

Rings $75 (Hastings)

Head Work $325 (Surface, Valve Job & Port-Dr. Js)

HEI Distributor & Wires $19 (Pick a Part)

Stock Valve Covers $5 (Pick a Part)

Misc $24 (Carb bolts & gasket, paint, degreaser, Brake Clean) (Auto Zone)

NOS Sniper $387 (Summit Racing)

Bottle Fill $40

Total $2,403

Airflow Data Pro Comp As-Cast BBC Heads-Effect of Dr. Js Valve Job
In/Ex In/Ex Flow Gains-cfm
Lift Pro Dr. Js In/Ex
.100 67/61 75/68 +13/+7
.200 137/105 151/115 +14/+10
.300 208/142 223/148 +15/+6
.400 263/176 281/179 +18/+3
.500 300/205 325/209 +25/+4
.600 324/225 346/239 +22/+14
.700 343/241 357/260 +14/+19
.800 351/255 366/275 +15/+20

The budget 454 not only managed to exceed 500 hp, but did so in spectacular fashion with peak numbers of 565 hp at 5,900 rpm and 532 lb-ft of torque at 5,400 rpm. Credit the flow rate of the excellent Pro Comp aluminum cylinder heads and extra work performed by Dr. Js for some of the power. The Pro Comp single-plane intake worked well to optimize peak power and our used Holley carb and HEI distributor both performed flawlessly. We took extra precautions to properly break in the hydraulic flat-tappet cam from Summit Racing, but this was even more power than we expected from something just snatched from the local wrecking yard. I guess the new rings and head milling were money well spent. Adding the 150hp shot of nitrous from the NOS Sniper kit actually improved the power output by as much as 170 hp (not uncommon when properly tuned). We made sure to optimize the bottle pressure by heating it prior to hitting the button in anger. After adding race fuel and dropping the ignition timing back 6 degrees, we were rewarded with a whopping 736 hp and 691 lb-ft of torque.

The valve job performed to our as-cast Pro Comp BBC heads by Dr. Js yielded big dividends. More importantly, the flow gains came in the lift ranges (sub .600 lift) employed by our hydraulic flat-tappet cam from Summit Racing. No doubt these played an important role in the final power output of our low-buck 454.

Dr. J's Performance
436 S Montgomery Street
CA  92868
Summit Racing
L&R Automotive
13731 Bora Drive
Sante Fe Springs
CA  90670
Demon Engines
Sante Fe Springs
1801 Russellville Road
Bowling Green
KY  42101
Pro Comp Electronics
605 S Milliken Avenue
Unit A
CA  91761
Comp Cams
3406 Democrat Road
TN  38118
By Richard Holdener
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