View Full Version : Cost of a 5.7 rebuild.

03-08-08, 08:34 PM
Hello all,

I have a '90 Brougham with a 5.7L 350. The car has 190K on it, and the motor, though it runs fairly well, is showing some age. I am losing oil, a little through the RMS, which is getting fixed soon anyway by way of my transmission being worked on. I noticed while driving behind my car that there was black smoke coming out the tailpipe when my wife accelerated on the highway, which went away as the car warmed. The car also runs poorly if i don't let it sit to warm up. The body is in beautiful shape, and the tranny is new. I am considering saving up to have the motor rebuilt. Does anybody know the price range for a decent rebuild? Would it be cheaper to buy a new or rebuilt motor? Does anybody know a competent mechanic in the Chattanooga, TN area that could reliably handle such a project?:banghead:

03-09-08, 12:23 AM
L05's or most small block 350's are dirt cheap parts wise, but labor is still labor.

I would look here: http://www.gmperformanceparts.com/EngineShowcase/index.jsp?engId=350290&engine=350/290%20HP&sku=12499529 and consider buying one of these and toss the old one... NEW, and not expensive compared to a rebuild. http://www.crateenginedepot.com/store/350-Crate-Engine-290-HP-HO-12499529-P824C2.aspx has them for $1900. http://www.lowcostengines.com/12499529.htm has it for $1725.

Yes, it is a tad more than a low buck rebuild. But might be worth the look/see if you are gonna keep it for a long while.

Ok, I love to give my opinion.... But think of it as counterpoint too...
If you go and rebuild the existing engine, you can do things better too. Stock is still stock. Grab Lingenfelter's book on the small block. Good info in there. Read cover to cover...
Pull engine, tear down yourself.
Send all parts to shop to be mic'd and machined.
Resize rods, get new bolts (installed BEFORE resizing!), good ARP bolts. Good place to spend a little more, CHEAP insurance. Consider rod magnafluxing. Again, cheap insurance. OR look into aftermarket rods, lighter is always good for mpg, acceleration and power.
Once you know what NEEDS machining and what doesn't then you are ready to buy a kit.
With the expectation of grinding the crank "10 10", or 0.010" undersize for rods/mains, bore block 0.030 over, new pistons/rings and high volume oil pump and it comes up with $350.
Grab a new oil pump driveshaft (Always!), and I would personally spring for a set of Vortec 350 heads from the 96-02 Gen I Vortec 350's. http://www.sallee-chevrolet.com/Cylinder_Heads/Vortec.cfm $275 each. http://www.sdparts.com/product/12558060/CastIronL31VortecSBChevroletCylinderHeadsAssembled .aspx
You'll need a special intake for it, http://store.summitracing.com/partdetail.asp?autofilter=1&part=NAL%2D12496821&N=700+115&autoview=sku which sorta messes up costs a little. Gilberts says you can't make a stock intake ever match up right.
Make sure rotating assy is balanced. It IS a Cadillac still, make sure it idles and runs like one too!
Grab a Z28 oil pan if you can, it will help oiling in odd situations like cornering or braking, just good idea. Lingenfelter can explain well in his book. You want oil where it should be. Not climbing up the sides of the pan. Oil starvation only takes a fraction of a second.

So roughly $10-$20 a hole to bore, have the shop hone bore for the new pistons, make sure block honed with torque plate. Make sure they are all at proper temp (I think 70F, not sure 100%). If you have a couple $, consider gapless rings. I feel the jury is still out on them, but at least on non high perf engines, they might be worth it. At least the ring companies data supports them.... hmmm.... Not sure on grinding crank.

Double roller chain helps a little for friction, and get a new cam. I highly recommend looking at something MODERN. Not old like the LT1 or Vortec cams. They are good cams, but techinology is moving on.... Call Harold at Lunati. Explain him the combo, he will have the best cam for you. Stock cams on the L05 suck. Toss it. Heads, toss them too. They suck, bad.

Ok, now, you'll need the ECM tuned to work with the new cam. Contact me at that point, I will be able to help there.

You can easily make 300hp with this combo, very easily more if you want. And for not too awful much cash outlay.

Get some circle track mags, they have some GOOD prices, good parts and good tech.

Talk to your machinist. Be comfortable with him. Ask questions. Make sure he installs the cam. I learned that one, the machinist held my block hostage till I brought the cam. Found a problem too, he kept for another day and fixed. One bearing was out of spec and had to be fixed. It would have caused a problem.

Used blocks are better than new ones. aka "seasoned" blocks. They are thermally relieved. New aren't....

03-09-08, 12:48 AM
As one of the circle track mag tech guys said:

"Go Vortec

If you are allowed to run it, you should definitely try a Vortec cylinder head. They easily make the most power. With the same engine, you will see a 50hp gain versus any other stock GM cylinder head. Plus, new aftermarket Vortec heads are really reasonable. We are using a lot of the Vortec heads from EQ Cylinder Heads. They are a really nice piece and make good power. For the money and the power, they are unbelievable. Normally, with the Vortec heads you have to use a specific intake manifold and exhaust headers, but I know EQ is coming out with a head that1s drilled so it can accept any 23-degree intake manifold.Jeff Hill
Jeff's Performance"


Look up stuff on Claimer engines..... Some is good for the street....

04-02-08, 09:03 PM
Hello Again,

I think I found a pretty good engine rebuilder. I talked to him today, and he seems to know what he is doing. He said that putting in Vortec heads and better cam would give me more power, but I might compromise gas mileage. What are your thoughts? As of now, this is my only car, and I don't mind more power, but I also need something reliable and not too expensive to run. Thanks again!

04-03-08, 02:06 AM
Vortec heads will help mpg, trust me there. Cam too, IF you stick with a Vortec or LT1 cam, will help. They are matched pair really.

GM would NOT have gone to the Vortec heads if it didn't help power and emissions and mpg. Look at mpg numbers in the trucks from 95 to 96, and Caprice 5.7L/Roadaster/Fleetwood from 1993 to 1994-1996.

04-06-08, 08:47 PM
hey NODIH, this is the same car I'm talking about in the Brougham forum "90 Brougham beautiful body but high miles" just to give you another point of reference. Thanks for the advice.

04-06-08, 09:32 PM
You can for sure if you are wanting to keep it cost down, the B/D Body cams or Vortec cams can be reused (might not be a bad idea to get new lifters, as high miles they could fail, but I haven't heard of actual cases). So if you have to, use your stock lifters. That is easy 250-260 hp. Now, a tad more power, a stock Z28/Vette cam will bump the ante up to 300 hp (assuming good exhaust and intake), more if headers are used. I have found a guy with a LT4 cam. I am thinking of it. That is a solid 345 hp, again assuming good exhaust and intake. Would be fun!

04-16-08, 01:28 AM
so would you be able to put any other 350 engine and just run the stock intake and it should work?

04-16-08, 07:54 AM
Should have no problems doing that.

Or get a 383 and drop it in, it would really wake up that heavy car, likely with no penalty in mpg.... ESPECIALLY with Vortec heads. I am serious on those heads, they are the next best thing for a small block that ever came down the pipe.... And the cost is soooooo cheap. Toss on a L05 and that alone would really wake it up with no other mods.... Once you have seen the flow numbers, you will be amazed....

04-16-08, 04:25 PM
Switching out the heads and maybe throwing in a better cam doesn't require any extensive machining, does it? I can't have my only car down for a long time, that's why I ask.

04-16-08, 04:44 PM
Yup, you have a 350, just make it breathe better and you make more power.... And better economy if it is an efficient design....

A larger cam will need some PCM tuning, but that is easy (from my POV it is, I do PCM tuning)...

04-16-08, 08:55 PM
what do i have to do to be able to run a carb, but still have all my elcetronics function. or what do you recomend (N0DIH) i should do ,get a 383 like you said in the other post?

04-18-08, 09:58 AM
Carbonator is easy, just get a carb intake. But you will need to install a fuel pressure regulator that can reg down to 5-6 psi (max). The ECM will be forever ticked off, and quite crabby about it too. So you might not get TCC lockup at all with the TBI unit missing.

Honestly it might end up being more headache unless you disable the whole ECM. And emissions would be harder to pass. Carbs aren't so forgiving over wide temp ranges, cold, hot, etc. They work, but need more attention. You still can make more peak hp with a carb (and TBI) but EFI always will make more average power. You can just tune with soooo much more detail.

I can tune the 91-93 L03/L05's, but I would need your existing PROM to read it so I have the correct base calibration to start with. So the car would be off the road till I get it, read it, and burn a new one and send both back to you.

Figure out your budget for it, how much you wanna spend, and what you really wanna do. Deviating from the stock settings would need ECM tuning, which isn't a biggie, but that would allow for better improvements in power/economy too. More displacement, more power, but you make more power you need more fuel, aka, can be hurting mpg. So you need to be careful if that is a consideration. With $3.78 a gallon near work that is something to be aware of. More torque of the 383 (I found one in a magazine ad, $1600 no core charge), added with Vortec heads (new from GM, $500), TBI intake from Edelbrock (probably $200), LT1 or Vortec cam (free if you look around and ask for one) for a solid 300 hp engine, or a LT1 F/Y body cam and bump it up to 320-330 hp, or the stock HT383 cam for 340 hp/434 lb/ft torque, which is another solid choice making (essentially you would build this engine: http://www.crateenginedepot.com/HT383-Performance-Crate-Engine-12499101-P7C2.aspx), ECM tune to make it all work good together ($100) and of course time to put it all in.

04-25-08, 09:02 PM
Wait...in an earlier post you said "throw an L05 in and it would pep it up"...but the 350 in the 90 FWB is an L05....which has terrible heads and cam, correct?

04-25-08, 10:05 PM

The short block is fine (a 350 is a 350...), toss in Vortec heads, LT1 cam (B/D for 255 hp in with the Vortec heads and very good low end torque) or the F/Y cam for more hp and fair less low end, but really good upper end....