1967 Fury III 318 -> 440 questions

Hey, thanks for the super discussion!

I went a little crazy, so now I have the following hanging around to have fun with over the next decade...

1978 400, unsure of heads, super clean, 20k miles... coult really just use this...
1978 440 - truck, 452 heads
1967 383 (2bbl, seized, in my '67 charger parts car), 516 heads
1967 383, 906 heads
1972 318 (seized from being left out by the previous owner)

Sooo, I've been reading and digesting the great info here. I'll be doing the assembly work and I've got a good machine shop down the road. The goal here is purely a fun cruiser, with solid power, nice sound, and driveability. No track, racing, etc.

I'm thinking about taking apart the '72 318 and bringing the block over to have it checked out. If it's good, I'm thinking I'll stroke it out to 390+ with 360 heads (looking for which ones to use for low compression, larger valves... I think it's 587 casting from 73-74) dish pistons to keep compression down, and a whiplash cam. If there's enough meat, I'm game for doing the 4" cylinder bores with a 4" stroke to make finding the pistons easier (360 pistons). Not sure about what intake yet. I'm sure there's something I'm missing, and I know 4" bores might not happen... but reach for the stars. I read that it is definitely possible.

That'll give me a 390+ with good power with the stock drivetrain down to the motor mounts, for cruising around, and a super sweet idle... and it'll drop right in without any changes... It'll be unhappy with the exhaust manifolds, but I can get to that after it's run in a bit, if I want to.

I think the engine will be the fun part, rather than fussing with transplanting a big block. I'll work the big block for my '67 charger (which currently has a 2bbl 383 in it) as a future project.

What do you think?
Still kinda hard (for me) to give my best suggestion as we don't know your budget?

Are these engines complete with manifolds and belt-drive parts? If not, there's some expense.

Ideally, you would have a run-stand to check the runnable engines out, get compression test #s, maybe a leakdown, etc. You could probably do some of that with them propped up in a cradle made from 2x6 or 2x8 wood.

If doing a rebuild, there aren't any 'good' off-shelf pistons for 383 that will give decent CR. (someone correct me if wrong)

The 78 400 with 20k would be a solid choice (due to its cleanliness), with a Lunati 60302 cam to wake it up. If original, it should have open-chamber 452 heads on it. Bypass the rebuild and put some of that $$ on the drivetrain swap? (would be cheaper)

If for budget - I'm still gonna recommend find a running 5.2 Magnum and put a carb on it. (a 5.9 would be stronger if you don't mind a few more installation parts that it needs)

Even if doing a small-block rebuild into a 390 - I'd recommend a Magnum. The heads are significantly better than LA (for a cruiser) and the roller cam is a nice upgrade. EngineQuest made nice replacement heads for the Magnums, and would be less expensive than buying large-valve LA heads and then getting them re-worked. The 92-93 Magnum exh manifolds reportedly flow about as good as the best 340 manifolds.
Budget... $4k'ish, if I'm stroking it. I'm not a speed freak. I'm into building it, the sound, along with enough power to have a good drive. I think 400 cubic inches (318 stroked) would be just fine, and (brace yourselves) I probably would run the original exhaust manifolds... and if I can find a 4 bbl iron small block manifold, I'd probably run that too, at first...

The big blocks have the manifolds, most of the belt driven parts, but I'd probably go new anyways, or re-use what is on the current 318. The 318 I'm planning to use has manifolds. I'd work my way through the manifold issue (intake, exhaust, headers) over time.

I did read about using Magnum heads on the LA block... but, man... so much to change/think about... sounds like a cluster about to happen.

She's a convertible big girl and just wants some attention and a little more pep. There's something about dropping the "same" engine in there...


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Off the wall suggestion, but what about a junkyard gen 3 Hemi? From what I understand you could reuse your smallblock trans and they fit pretty well in older Mopars. I’d definitely do that over a smallblock stroker.
Thanks for the suggestion! I read a little, and the new Hemi's sound cool!

I do think I'm stuck in the late 60's and 70's though. The HP improvement seems minimal for the fairly major departure from the old LA/R/RB engines... it feels like I'd be ripping her heart out.

And then there's the whole computer controlled EFI, VVT, etc... They probably sound different... smell different too... ;) 800 LB engine with 300 lbs of electronics to make it all work.

I've got a Hellcat to burn off the new tech desire... and I keep slipping back to the late 60's. I'd probably trade the Hellcat for the right 67-72 car, heh. The old ones talk to you, tell you what they want and need... almost never leave you on the side of the road without a quiet whispered warning that you feel. It's a subliminal connection. The new ones, well, they're sweet in their own way... but cold... Too smooth, too much between you and the combusting fuel... too much reliance on digital read-outs, sensors, injectors, processors...

Gimme a steel cable hooking my foot to the fuel valve, my coolant temp, my oil light... my butt sensor... my ears... and I'm good.

Although, I have to say, plastering my wife to her seat in a super smooth first gear (and second, and third...) so she can't even reach the radio to change the station while the supercharger whines up loudly over the angry roar of the bypasses full open is pretty f'n sweet!!!
It could be a carbureted G3 Hemi, you’d just need an ignition controller for it. That’s going to way outperform a Magnum smallblock and still have old school character and smells!

Even a base 5.7 is going to be 100+ hp above a 318 or 360, and on par with a 400 or stock 440. The heads are that much better.

I understand if that route doesn’t give the soul you want for it though.
The Magnum idea is interesting...
Probably some of what I'm typing here is a repeat, so be it. (I wrote that sentence last, and now I'm hitting 'post')

If I had a nice convertible to add some pep into, I would want a 5.2 Magnum over a 400 smog engine.
Better mileage, better handling/braking (magnum weighs ~100lbs less than a bigblock) and better on gas.
Also has more 'interesting' future potential - putting port-EFI on it with a Hughes Air-Gap EFI intake, changeability of roller cam with no risky break-in, higher-ratio rocker arms, better aftermarket heads (EngineQuest or MP Magnum R/T heads if you can find them).

With $4000 to work with, some of that will surely be eaten up with motor mounts, radiator hoses, belts, carb, fuel pump/filter, etc.
Even if using the 20k 400 you have - you need to get a bigblock trans + converter and that's going to to cost a chunk.

Because you need to rebuild the 318 you have -- that's why I recommended finding a used Magnum.
I would never build an LA and put Magnum heads on it - just build a Magnum instead. The heads are a huge improvement - but the bottom end also has some advantages over the LA.
And being EFI'd - Magnums have a rep for good cylinder condition even at ~200k miles.
The exh manifolds have ball-flange outlets - so no gasket leaks. And the shorty headers for Dodge truck reportedly work in C-bodies.

Painted appropriately, with carb'd manifold and factory 4-barrel air cleaner - it would look like it belonged there. Only a savvy person would notice the Magnum valve covers. (see aircleaner pics below)
You do need to ensure to get teh right intake manifold to mount to teh heads, or the heads need extra set of holes to mount an LA manifold.
Also, you need an LA360 car-type oilpan for either the 5.2 or the 5.9.

Stock 5.2 Magnums are 220-230 hp (net) and 5.9s are basically ~10-15hp higher. The early Magnums have larger outlets on teh manifolds, 2-1/8" vs 2" of later ones IIRC.
The 300hp 5.9 Magnum crate engine of the late 1990s was a production-based engine with only a cam swap.
Net hp of LA318s are generally 150hp, so take a 5.2 with only a cam swap and you'll have a nice little performer - it can have the sound and should move a C-body fairly well.
5.9 with cam swap should be on par with a 340, albeit with more torque and less RPM (good for a heavier car).

Magnums also offer you a serpentine belt configuration, if that interests you. Although that might require some research, as you'd be deleting AC, and IIRC there's a Magnum PS pump that fits better in an old car (maybe from a van?) At any rate, there is surely a non-AC/non-airpump front bracket that would work with a serpentine. (be aware, the waterpump and fan are specific to the Magnum's reversed belt rotation)

A Magnum can definitely nickel-dime you if you need to find a lot of the little pieces - finding a complete engine would be best - esp if you can hear it run first.
And they aren't the cool-kid anymore (the new Hemi is) so some of the MAgnum parts might be harder to find now vs 15-20 years ago.
But if you found the right used/running engine, it woudl be a worthwhile pursuit.

You could doll it up with one of these, 4-barrel versions are HTF but the lid is common on some Slant 6 engines. Get the appropriate 10" chrome air cleaner for $25 and use its base.

You could make one of these also, get a cheap single-snorkel, cut the snorkel and some of the baseplate, and put the snorkel-hole to the rear of the engine where it's not seen.
Debur sharp edges, of course.

Or these are still available, as wrinkle or reproductions.

Or get a 70s single-snorkel aircleaner and make one of these.