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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Preparing to have the engine pulled and rebuilt (original Pontiac 400) on a 78 Firebird Formula. I figured I'd start by purchasing some new heads. I don't really know a whole lot about engine components. I have read that a person can run into some problems with headers matching up. I already have the Ram Air Restoration headers on it. I want to make sure I get heads that those line up with. I want to ad some horsepower with the heads, but I don't need to go over the top either. I don't want to add so much HP that the tranny and rear end need changed out. I am pretty sure this a numbers matching car and I don't want to ruin that. So, I am basically asking what y'all think about which heads I should get based on that. I see a few different Edelbrock models on ebay that say they fit, but I'm not sure which model I need for the HP I want and I want to make sure they line up with the Ram Air restoration headers. Any info would be appreciated. Here's what looks like a middle of the road pair on ebay from Summit:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Two-2-Edelbrock-Performer-RPM-Cylinder-Head-60589-/191773925793?fits=Year%3A1978%7CMake%3APontiac%7CModel%3AFirebird%7CEngine+-+Liter_Display%3A6.6L&hash=item2ca69de1a1:g:aHUAAOSwHaBWiTi6&vxp=mtr

What about those?
 

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All the heads are the same for all Pontiac engines as far as exhaust except maybe the ramair round port heads and the 301,And in 7H1 heads from 72 that don't have the end holes
 

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Preparing to have the engine pulled and rebuilt (original Pontiac 400) on a 78 Firebird Formula. I figured I'd start by purchasing some new heads. I don't really know a whole lot about engine components. I have read that a person can run into some problems with headers matching up. I already have the Ram Air Restoration headers on it. I want to make sure I get heads that those line up with. I want to ad some horsepower with the heads, but I don't need to go over the top either. I don't want to add so much HP that the tranny and rear end need changed out. I am pretty sure this a numbers matching car and I don't want to ruin that. So, I am basically asking what y'all think about which heads I should get based on that. I see a few different Edelbrock models on ebay that say they fit, but I'm not sure which model I need for the HP I want and I want to make sure they line up with the Ram Air restoration headers. Any info would be appreciated. Here's what looks like a middle of the road pair on ebay from Summit:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Two-2-Edelbrock-Performer-RPM-Cylinder-Head-60589-/191773925793?fits=Year%3A1978%7CMake%3APontiac%7CModel%3AFirebird%7CEngine+-+Liter_Display%3A6.6L&hash=item2ca69de1a1:g:aHUAAOSwHaBWiTi6&vxp=mtr

What about those?
The link for the E heads that you posted are for round port heads. They will not work if your RAR headers are D port headers, which I have no idea what you have since you didnt say. If you dont have the ram air round port RAR headers, then you have the D port type headers and that is the type of heads you will need to buy, unless of course you want to buy new headers.

You can see the difference from the two pics attached between the two types of RAR headers. The round exaust look round...lol and "D" looks like a "D"...lol simple :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
All the heads are the same for all Pontiac engines as far as exhaust except maybe the ramair round port heads and the 301,And in 7H1 heads from 72 that don't have the end holes
Forgive my lack of knowledge. Just started looking into this. So, it doesn't really matter which ones I get as long as they are made for the 78 pontiac small block? The Ram Air Headers will match up? Any suggestion on a particular brand or model? I have a 7K budget on the motor including paying someone to do the labor, so probably 4500 in parts. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the intake and carb yet. The carb was rebuilt (original Rochester 4bbl) not sure if I want to keep it or upgrade. I do know that I don't want to cut any holes in the hood.
 

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No, it does matter. The only time it doesnt matter is if you dont mind buying new headers. I added pics on my previous post to give you a visual....sorry that came I guess after you posted.

I am betting ponyakr will give you some good tips and am sure he will chime in. He is an excellent source of information on what you should do and where you should get it done for a budget. Ultimately you have to make all the desicions.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The link for the E heads that you posted are for round port heads. They will not work if your RAR headers are D port headers, which I have no idea what you have since you didnt say. If you dont have the ram air round port RAR headers, then you have the D port type and that is the type of heads you will need to buy, unless of course you want to buy new headers.
No.. Definitely don't want to buy new headers. Just bought these last year and got the best ones (ceramic coated) That's a good question and I don't know for sure. I just took a picture and can't figure out how to get it in this text. They would be ones that mount to the original heads. I'm gonna call RAR and see what they can tell me.
 

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No.. Definitely don't want to buy new headers. Just bought these last year and got the best ones (ceramic coated) That's a good question and I don't know for sure. I just took a picture and can't figure out how to get it in this text. They would be ones that mount to the original heads. I'm gonna call RAR and see what they can tell me.
lol, yea I didnt think you would want to spend out more money where it isnt needed. Do you still have your reciept for them? It should proabbly tell you on that reciept or even give you a part number and you can look at it on their site also. For adding pictures, look at the bottom of the box that you are typing in and there should be a button that says " USE FULL EDITOR" once you click on that there an an option to add Attach files and you click on the button to "Choose Files"
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I just called them and talked to Paul. He looked up my order and I got the D-port headers. Here's the pic, best shot I could get without jacking it up.. Anyway. This is definitely helping me figure things out. Far as I can tell there's only one Edelbrock model that will work.

The link for the E heads that you posted are for round port heads. They will not work if your RAR headers are D port headers, which I have no idea what you have since you didnt say. If you dont have the ram air round port RAR headers, then you have the D port type headers and that is the type of heads you will need to buy, unless of course you want to buy new headers.

You can see the difference from the two pics attached between the two types of RAR headers. The round exaust look round...lol and "D" looks like a "D"...lol simple :)
Thanks a bunch! Think I've got it figured out now. See my previous post. looks like I need model 60579: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Edelbrock-60579-Performer-RPM-Pontiac-Cylinder-Head-/131705682593?fits=Year%3A1978%7CMake%3APontiac%7CModel%3AFirebird%7CEngine+-+Liter_Display%3A6.6L&hash=item1eaa453aa1:g:ilIAAOSwCypWnqQk&vxp=mtr

Dand it! i was hoping to get a complete pair for under 2K.. Paul at RAR told me to call Butler Heads. I'll call and see what their price is
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hind sights 20/20.. We should have done the motor first. After a new body restoration, it just doesn't look good enough under the hood. I thought I would leave it alone for a few years since it's low miles and running good. Then I thought we'd just pull it and paint it.. Then I figured since the motor's out, we might as well rebuild it. Just hope we don't scratch the paint, lol
 

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I just called them and talked to Paul. He looked up my order and I got the D-port headers. Here's the pic, best shot I could get without jacking it up.. Anyway. This is definitely helping me figure things out. Far as I can tell there's only one Edelbrock model that will work.

Thanks a bunch! Think I've got it figured out now. See my previous post. looks like I need model 60579: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Edelbrock-60579-Performer-RPM-Pontiac-Cylinder-Head-/131705682593?fits=Year%3A1978%7CMake%3APontiac%7CModel%3AFirebird%7CEngine+-+Liter_Display%3A6.6L&hash=item1eaa453aa1:g:ilIAAOSwCypWnqQk&vxp=mtr

Dand it! i was hoping to get a complete pair for under 2K.. Paul at RAR told me to call Butler Heads. I'll call and see what their price is
Yea, no way for me to tell what those are by the pic. Glad I could help you out. I have no idea why the "D" port E heads cost more then the round port heads. Maybe because of more demand? You can also go to butlers website http://www.jbp-pontiac.com/products/cylinder_heads/edelbrock_aluminumD_Port.htm and take a gander at their prices, but I am sure your not going to like them either...lol You can always look at getting your iron heads done by Butler http://www.jbp-pontiac.com/products/cylinder_heads/cylinder_head_labor.html or someone else, that would probably save you some cash.... Good luck man!
 
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The cheapest alum D-ports are usually the KRE brand. (But it looks like they just had another price increase :() But, if your engine block has a casting number which ends in 557, I wouldn't put any alum heads on it. Those blocks have thinner weak main webs and many have failed and broke a chunk out of the

web.

Here is a link to the KRE alum heads. The 74 cc version is best for a 400, and the 85cc version is best for a 455 or bigger.

http://www.krepower.com/Pontiac%20Aluminum%20D-port%20Cylinder%20Heads.htm

If you have 6x heads on your engine, they can be used, and still increase performance quite a bit.

But, since you have a $7k budget, you may wanna consider a crate motor.

For a little over $4000, you can buy a 400 with 6x heads, 9.25 compression, forged pistons & rods, rated at aprox 385hp. This guy is a well respected Pontiac engine builder. Some on this site have used him. He doesn't list all the options, on his web site, but can build just about anything you want.

http://lenwilliamsautomachine.com/400_Long_Block.html

He also shows a 425hp pump gas 455, with 6x heads, forged pistons and rods, for just under $5000. BUT, that engine will require a beefed up tranny. It will munch a stock TH350 or 400.

But, if you gotta have alum heads, there are 2 options. If you'll be driving in cold weather, you may need the Edelbrock D-ports. They have the exhaust heat to intake crossover holes. The KRE heads do not. The E-heads will cost a lot more. This is because the valves and other hardware on box stock versions are said by many to be inferior grade parts. So, the best way to buy 'em is to have somebody like Butler build 'em, from bare casting, to your specs. They'll use good quality parts. like Ferrea valves, etc. SD Performance is another good head builder. But he is usually backed up.

http://www.jbp-pontiac.com/products/cylinder_heads/edelbrock_aluminumD_Port.htm

http://www.sdperformance.com/viewProduct.php?productID=1823

My opinion is that $3000 is too much to pay for heads, with a budget of $7k, including labor. I'd go with 6x heads and around 9:1 compression--not over 9.5. For less than $1000, you can have a qualified Pontiac engine builder build you a set of 6x heads with one piece stainless valves and all the other correct parts. Don't need the high dollar porting work most will try to sell you. 350-375hp is easily within reach, with unported 6x heads. IMO :smile22:

"...I am pretty sure this a numbers matching car and I don't want to ruin that..."

If this is the case, I would build or buy another engine/tranny, and keep your originals in safe storage. That way, the car will be worth more if you decide to sell. And you won't have to worry about messing up the originals. :yes
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The cheapest alum D-ports are usually the KRE brand. (But it looks like they just had another price increase :() But, if your engine block has a casting number which ends in 557, I wouldn't put any alum heads on it. Those blocks have thinner weak main webs and many have failed and broke a chunk out of the

web.

Here is a link to the KRE alum heads. The 74 cc version is best for a 400, and the 85cc version is best for a 455 or bigger.

http://www.krepower.com/Pontiac%20Aluminum%20D-port%20Cylinder%20Heads.htm

If you have 6x heads on your engine, they can be used, and still increase performance quite a bit.

But, since you have a $7k budget, you may wanna consider a crate motor.

For a little over $4000, you can buy a 400 with 6x heads, 9.25 compression, forged pistons & rods, rated at aprox 385hp. This guy is a well respected Pontiac engine builder. Some on this site have used him. He doesn't list all the options, on his web site, but can build just about anything you want.

http://lenwilliamsautomachine.com/400_Long_Block.html

He also shows a 425hp pump gas 455, with 6x heads, forged pistons and rods, for just under $5000. BUT, that engine will require a beefed up tranny. It will munch a stock TH350 or 400.

But, if you gotta have alum heads, there are 2 options. If you'll be driving in cold weather, you may need the Edelbrock D-ports. They have the exhaust heat to intake crossover holes. The KRE heads do not. The E-heads will cost a lot more. This is because the valves and other hardware on box stock versions are said by many to be inferior grade parts. So, the best way to buy 'em is to have somebody like Butler build 'em, from bare casting, to your specs. They'll use good quality parts. like Ferrea valves, etc. SD Performance is another good head builder. But he is usually backed up.

http://www.jbp-pontiac.com/products/cylinder_heads/edelbrock_aluminumD_Port.htm

http://www.sdperformance.com/viewProduct.php?productID=1823

My opinion is that $3000 is too much to pay for heads, with a budget of $7k, including labor. I'd go with 6x heads and around 9:1 compression--not over 9.5. For less than $1000, you can have a qualified Pontiac engine builder build you a set of 6x heads with one piece stainless valves and all the other correct parts. Don't need the high dollar porting work most will try to sell you. 350-375hp is easily within reach, with unported 6x heads. IMO :smile22:

"...I am pretty sure this a numbers matching car and I don't want to ruin that..."

If this is the case, I would build or buy another engine/tranny, and keep your originals in safe storage. That way, the car will be worth more if you decide to sell. And you won't have to worry about messing up the originals. :yes
Wow.. That's a lot of info. i really appreciate it. I will look into some of that when I'm finished working today. The car got a high rating from the appraiser the way it sits (30K) and when I verify that the numbers are matching, it's going to go up even more. I don't think I will be swapping out the motor for that reason alone. if I find out they don't match, then I can do whatever. For now, I'm pretty sure they match, so I'm planning on the rebuild. That does remind me though that I need to get that info as quick as possible. i was about ready to look into buying the edelbrock, I think they are 83cc.. Definitely more food for thought
 

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"...the edelbrock, I think they are 83cc..."

They come in 72c and 87ccc versions. You need the 72's for a 400. With alum heads you need one whole number more compression. So, around 10.5:1 is OK, with pump gas.

http://www.jbp-pontiac.com/products/cylinder_heads/edelbrock_aluminumD_Port.htm

If you decide to rebuild your engine, as a 400, you need at least Sealed Power L2262F forged pistons, and RPM 5140 forged rods. But for about $250 more, you can upgrade to lighter pistons and H-beam rods. :yes

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Speed-Pro-TRW-Pontiac-400-Forged-Coated-Skirt-Flat-Top-4VR-Piston-Set-8-030-/190855076806?hash=item2c6fd95bc6:g:GesAAOxyB0VRuHEA&vxp=mtr

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Speed-Pro-TRW-Pontiac-400-Forged-Coated-Skirt-Flat-Top-Piston-MOLY-Rings-Kit-30-/190855081106?hash=item2c6fd96c92:g:H-0AAMXQDK1RuHYs&vxp=mtr

http://www.racingpartsmaximum.com/sae5140stockrod-2.html

http://shanonsengineering.com/collections/ebay-motors-parts-accessories-car-truck-parts-engines-components-pistons-rings-rods-parts/products/auto-tec-small-block-pontiac-400-428-455-flat-top-pistons

http://www.cnc-motorsports.com/icon-ic890-030-forged-flat-top-pistons-4-150-bore.html

https://rpmmachine.com/kbpistons-premiunforged-pontiac.shtml

http://www.spottsperformance.com/Pistons

http://www.racingpartsmaximum.com/sae4340steelhbeam-2.html

I'm just curious tho. If the engine is numbers matching, why do you want alum heads ? Those did not come on a Bird. :no 6x heads came on most late '70's birds, along with a factory iron intake and a Q-jet carb. :yes

The original block will have an ID number, stamped down on the pass side, by the timing cover, The last 6 digits will match the last 6 of the VIN of the car. The intake does not have serial number. But it does have a casting number and date code. The carb does have an ID number stamped vertically on the driver side.
 

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"...the edelbrock, I think they are 83cc..."

They come in 72c and 87ccc versions. You need the 72's for a 400. With alum heads you need one whole number more compression. So, around 10.5:1 is OK, with pump gas.

http://www.jbp-pontiac.com/products/cylinder_heads/edelbrock_aluminumD_Port.htm

If you decide to rebuild your engine, as a 400, you need at least Sealed Power L2262F forged pistons, and RPM 5140 forged rods. But for about $250 more, you can upgrade to lighter pistons and H-beam rods. :yes

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Speed-Pro-TRW-Pontiac-400-Forged-Coated-Skirt-Flat-Top-4VR-Piston-Set-8-030-/190855076806?hash=item2c6fd95bc6:g:GesAAOxyB0VRuHEA&vxp=mtr

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Speed-Pro-TRW-Pontiac-400-Forged-Coated-Skirt-Flat-Top-Piston-MOLY-Rings-Kit-30-/190855081106?hash=item2c6fd96c92:g:H-0AAMXQDK1RuHYs&vxp=mtr

http://www.racingpartsmaximum.com/sae5140stockrod-2.html

http://shanonsengineering.com/collections/ebay-motors-parts-accessories-car-truck-parts-engines-components-pistons-rings-rods-parts/products/auto-tec-small-block-pontiac-400-428-455-flat-top-pistons

http://www.cnc-motorsports.com/icon-ic890-030-forged-flat-top-pistons-4-150-bore.html

https://rpmmachine.com/kbpistons-premiunforged-pontiac.shtml

http://www.spottsperformance.com/Pistons

http://www.racingpartsmaximum.com/sae4340steelhbeam-2.html

I'm just curious tho. If the engine is numbers matching, why do you want alum heads ? Those did not come on a Bird. :no 6x heads came on most late '70's birds, along with a factory iron intake and a Q-jet carb. :yes
I just want to dress it up a little for the car shows and add some horsepower. Replacing them sounded like a good idea. I have not talked to the engine guy yet. Using a guy that my body guy suggested, lol.. I trust his judgement 100%, so I know he's not going to steering me wrong on the guy that's going to do it, i just haven't met him yet, lol.. Like I said, I don't know a whole lot about engine components. If I talk to him and he say's we should rebuild the heads that are on there and I can get the horsepower boost I am looking for, I might do that. I do know they would definitely need machined. Found a couple stripped bolt holes when we put the headers on..
 

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OK, I just don't see the reasoning in having an original matching numbers engine, then bolting aftermarket stuff on top of it.

But, as I've read MANY times on this and other Pontiac forums, it's your money and your car. So, build it like you want to, and enjoy it. :smile22:

PS: I sure hope your engine guy knows Pontiac engines. Me and a LOT of others have really had some Pontiac engines messed up, by guys who were Chevy experts and knew very little about Pontiacs. But, most of 'em will tell you that all engines are about the same, and they can build a Pontiac or any other brand. I'd ask around and talk to some guys who have Pontiac engines built by this guy. Hey, he may be great. Good luck with it, whatever you decide to do. :smile22:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Looks like that number would be right behind the lower radiator hose as it comes out of the water pump. I can't possibly see it without removing the hose. Maybe if I put it on a lift. You have definitely given me some thing to think about and ask about. Most definitely put a pause on me buying the heads, lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I can see a lot of costs piling up with doing a crate engine and I am not so sure that it would be a less expensive route anyway. The car does have working factory A/C which alone adds 10% to the cars value.. I really do need to get the numbers verified to make absolute sure I am going the right route before I do anything else. I used the only certified appraiser in my area and he doesn't even do it. I can have it put on a lift and find the numbers. I'll have to do a little more research and take it from there. Anybody know a good way to go about it? Maybe even having it certified?
 

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You may be able to see the partial VIN numbers from underneath. But, you may need to scrape the paint off 1st, as sometimes the numbers are stamped very lightly, and are hard to read,

Another ID number that will help is the 2 digit code, located just under the front of the passenger side head. Then you'll need the block casting number, which is cast with the block, and is located on a pad, below the rear of the passenger side head. The other ID code is the date code, which is located slightly behind and towards the driver side of the dist hole. This date code shows when the block was cast.

But, even if the 2-digit code, the casting number, and the date code are correct for the year of your car, only the partial VIN will tell if it actually came from the factory, in your car.

You can go to the Wallace engine ID site and find all the engine codes for 1978. Just enter 1978, and 400, in the first 2 blocks, and click "submit". It'll show all the 2-digit codes, block casting numbers, and carb numbers.

http://www.wallaceracing.com/enginesearch4.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
You may be able to see the partial VIN numbers from underneath. But, you may need to scrape the paint off 1st, as sometimes the numbers are stamped very lightly, and are hard to read,

Another ID number that will help is the 2 digit code, located just under the front of the passenger side head. Then you'll need the block casting number, which is cast with the block, and is located on a pad, below the rear of the passenger side head. The other ID code is the date code, which is located slightly behind and towards the driver side of the dist hole. This date code shows when the block was cast.

But, even if the 2-digit code, the casting number, and the date code are correct for the year of your car, only the partial VIN will tell if it actually came from the factory, in your car.

You can go to the Wallace engine ID site and find all the engine codes for 1978. Just enter 1978, and 400, in the first 2 blocks, and click "submit". It'll show all the 2-digit codes, block casting numbers, and carb numbers.

http://www.wallaceracing.com/enginesearch4.htm
You're awesome and very helpful.. I did finally talk to the guy that's going to be doing the engine this morning. Had to tame this fire in my head. With what I've learned here and what he said, we're probably just going to use what we have, rebuild it and modify it. My main intent in to add a little horsepower and make it look purdy, lol.. We will recover those numbers in the process. Say's he can have it in within a couple weeks and we'll get started! https://www.facebook.com/cecmotorsports29/?fref=ts
 

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Went to that Facebook page. About all I see is Fords. Have you talked to guys who he has built a Pontiac engine for ?

Looks like you are only about 300 miles and a 4 1/2 hour drive from Len Williams. He's a well respected, long time Pontiac engine builder. Just food for thought. :smile22:

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=bristo%20ok%20to%20blue%20springs%20mo

http://lenwilliamsautomachine.com/Home.html

You're even closer to another well know Pontiac guy, in Derby, Kansas.

http://www.kansas.com/cars/article1124690.html

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=derby%20kansas%20to%20blue%20springs%20mo

Here's a quote from an article, a few years back. "...Sharon Wilhite in her '58 Star Chief clipped hubby Tom's '59 Catalina for family bragging rights with a 10.69 at 128.83..."

http://www.frontenginedragsters.org/forum/index.php?topic=1462.0

https://flic.kr/p/4006244015
 
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