Trying to piece together an engine can be a sobering experience, especially when you're on a shoestring budget. We wanted to build a new powerplant for our project Elco (which we still don't have a name for), and since we're trying to keep this hay hauler on a cheeseburger allowance, that meant we needed to stay focused and to spend our green only where it made sense for us.

Our initial thoughts went straight toward a small-block; however, after a little investigating we learned we could get into a 454 big-block for a few extra bucks. The bulk of the budget was split nearly in half between the bottom end and the cylinder heads. We started off with a Larry's Track Pro two-bolt main short-block that included stock GM shot-peened rods, Seal-Pro Speed-Pro domed pistons, and a stock cast crank. Up top is where we spent a little more for a quality set of RHS 320cc cylinder heads, and between the cubic inches and free-flowing top end, there was no doubt this baby was going to make some serious power. And given that this is our Nitrous issue, there was no way we wouldn't give this rat a hit of the gas.

When it came down to D-day, we used 91-octane for all the pulls-even our nitrous hit. So what kind of numbers does a stock-style, flat-tappet big-block produce? This budgeted bad boy churned out 553 hp and 518 lb-ft with 38 degrees of total timing. And on the nitrous...well, you better keep reading, 'cause it turned out to be a nice surprise.

BREAKING IN A FLAT-TAPPET
To break in our comp flat-tappet cam, we first removed the inner springs from our RHS heads. Because of the triple spring design, the valvespring pressure would have been too much for the new cam to handle and could cause it to go flat. We ran the motor for 20-25 minutes with minimal loads and never revved the engine past 4,000 rpm. Once the break-in was complete, we removed the Scorpion rockers again, swapped in the inner springs, and relashed the valves.

DYNO NUMBERS
Headers2 1/4-inch w/18-inch extension
CarbDemon 850-cfm
Jets77
 Baseline150-shot180-shot
Advance383030
Max hp @ rpm553 @ 6,200660 @ 5,900701 @ 5,800
Max torque @ rpm518 @ 5,200670 @ 5,000702 @ 5,100
Avg hp433480492
Avg torque493535546
WHAT IT COST
The foundation
Larry's PerformanceTwo-bolt main 454 short-block includes stock GM rods w/ARP rod bolts, H58KP Seal-Pro domed pistons, Gen-4 two-bolt main 454, silicon rod and main bearings, Speed-Pro moly rings1,500
The shopping cart
ARPAccessory bolt kit
Balancer bolt
535-9801
1352503
78
28
Comp CamsIntake pushrods (8.680-inch)
Exhaust pushrods (9.740-inch)
Camshaft
Lifters (set)
Valve covers
7651-8
7182-8
11-677
2900-16
CCA-230
70
70
150
114
134
EdelbrockVictor Jr. 454-R manifold2902225
Fel-ProBBC Gasket Kit2805124
Pace PerformanceOil pan
Timing cover
TD9921
141216
137
30
Performance DistributorsDistributor
Live Wires
Billet wire looms
Battery & tach connectors
12720
C9055
9100
111111
279
105
59
3
Professional Products8-inch balancer8000570
RHSCylinder heads (complete)11011-22,032
ScorpionIntake/exhaust BBC Rockers 1.7SPC1014219
TCITiming pointerTCI-8700642
Giggle Gas
Holley/NOSThe Cheater Kit (4150) 02002NOS includes 150, 180, 210, 250 nitrous jets, 10-pound bottle, brackets, mircoswitch02002NOS520
 Total$6,059
SOURCE
ARP
531 Spectrum Circle
Oxnard
CA  93030
805-278-7223
Pace Performance
888-748-4655
www.paceperformance.com
COMP Cams Performance Distributors
Memphis
TN
9-01/-396-5783
performancedistributors.com
Edelbrock
Dept. 5.0
2700 California St.
Torrance
CA  90503
310-781-2222
www.edelbrock.com
Professional Products
Hawthorne
CA
3-23/-779-2020
professional-products.com
Fel-Pro
26555 Northwestern Hwy.
Southfield
MI  48033
RHS
N/A
racingheadservice.com
Holley Scorpion Performance
www.scorpionperformance.com
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