Author Topic: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS  (Read 4381 times)

Rebel-TA

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Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« on: December 22, 2012, 12:08:09 PM »
All, Having trouble locating a turbo for my 301.  Getting ready to rebuild the car (1980 Indy Pace Car).  Would sure like to hear some opinions on attempting to rebuild the car stock vs. pulling the engine/tranny and replacing them with a new LS series engine.  I am aware of the problems the 301 has had - reliability, difficulty in finding parts, etc.  The real question I guess is do you feel the car would be greatly devalued if it was rebuilt with the LS series engine as opposed to the original 301 Turbo it was manufactured with?  Thank you!

DEIVIONCRX

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2012, 12:33:06 PM »
It really depends on where you ask and who you ask.  I say toss the 301 in a corner wrap it up and spin it over once a year just in case, and drop a motor you want in it, Pontiac, or Chebby.  Now if you ask the same question on 301Garage, they will say keep the 301.  Most of the Pontiac/Trans Am community doesn't care for the 301 even the Turbo's, they weren't that great from the factory, they can be made nice and a good bit faster than stock, but its not as easy or cheap as a normal Pontiac V8.  But the people who love the 80-81 cars love the 301's so its a pig and a poke.

If you really wanted to keep the turbo deal alive, id say find a 5.3 LSx alum from the trucks/blazers and boost that.  They can be made to 400-500whp stock, and if you put some forged pistons/rods in them way more than that.
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MrAFX

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2013, 07:19:32 AM »
You have a common car that's missing it's original drivetrain, at least thats what I am thinking you are saying.
Any hope of significant future, true future value is likely gone. Kinda like a shelby mustang from back in the 60's without it's original drivetrain is really just an old mustang at this point. Few people will part with good money for a car missing it's original engine.

It will be cheaper to buy a LS motor, especially if you go with a steel block variant from a truck. you can also build up that LS block more readily with cheaper parts and experienced reliable technical help locally more readily than you could any other engine.

But if you can appreciate the engineering that went in to the 301 Turbo, instead of just bashing it like the prior post because you have no appreciation or are 15, then build up a 301T instead. I think you would agree that a Flat head ford is much cooler in a hotrod than a small block chevy could ever dream of being. If not then we just have differing views, which is ok too.

Period correct performance is almost always appreciated over modern power in a retro cruiser. If your gonna beat the car and race it, then it's probably more responsible to go the modern LS route (financially and maintenance wise).

Think of it as giving your lady a cubic zirconia piece of glass vs a real diamond. The cz quickly looses it's luster.

However, your personal preferance should dictate what you do, not what some blow hard like myself or some other thinks is the case. You really need to evaluate your finances, skill set, outside resource (experts available locally to call on or pay) and ultimate desire of what you want the car to be.

Spend the time to research both, obviously researching a modern LS is much simpler as information is more prevelant. Then be honest with yourself about your finances that are available for an engine build. Maybe you do a more restrained build of one engine now to get the car up and running and have fun with it and drop what you really want in it 5 to 10 years from now. Having the car running and reliable regardless of the engine is way more valuable than sitting and collecting dust somewhere while you save up for the ultimate powerplant!

Besides 5 to 10 years from now, we may all want electric power in our cars (LOL)!

Me personally, I'd put the LS in it and get it moving down the road. You don't even really have to build the LS up to enjoy it now. Which I recommend you not discount the ability to have fun with your car and drive it as soon as possible. a non running car becomes a tedious chore in short order. Probably less than 3k for everything and thats probably high when looking at a steel block 5.3 LS.

PS I have both, a 81 301T and an 02 WS6. Both are a blast to drive for different reasons.
I've also had a 403 auto, a 301 auto and a 400 4spd (all were 79's) they each had their ups and downs but i did enjoy them all.

silver78

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2013, 08:44:27 PM »
First off welcome to TAC.  As for your question tell us how you want to restore the car.  I've seen complete turbo motors for sale on here so finding one might take some time but not impossible.  If you want most money down the road for resale it's hard to beat original drivetrain non-molested examples.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2013, 10:21:18 AM by silver78 »
MY BUILD THREAD:  http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=41850.0

Previous builds:
65 Galaxie sold
67 camaro RS sold
68 camaro RS sold
69 camaro sold
72 Nova SS
81 T/A 4 spd sold
86 IROC sold
88 Formula 350 sold
92 Z-28 sold
93 9C1 Caprice sold
94 Impala SS sold

nwrclint2000

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2013, 09:32:24 PM »
I ran into the same problem with the same car. Nobody hadthe parts or they hadthem and wouldn't sell them. The biggest thing is if something fails how long will the turn around be to fix it? Remember, you can't walk into autozone and buy many parts for the 301T. Now, if you want to stay stock and have time to gather all necessary parts,then rebuild the 301T. Are you looking for performance? Gas mileage? Biggest thing is what you want car wise. If you want a screaming monster that'll burn tires, the 301T is not for you. If you want an all original indy, take time and find a turbo. There is a machine shop in Jackson, Ms called Jackson Cylinder Head who can rebuild a turbo if you find a good core. He's a BIG Grand National guy and will do it right.
My name is Clint and I'm a recovering addict. I used to be addicted to Japanese food. That is all.

77 Firebird Formula 301 T-Top Brown
77 Trans Am Z-Code Black on Black
78 Firebird Formula 301 Hardtop Martinique Blue
1980 Trans Am Indy Pace Car(my new girlfriend)

Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2013, 09:32:24 PM »

mark369

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2013, 03:24:50 PM »
 The 301 and 301Turbo have Different blocks! The Turbo block was beefed up in week spots to handle the extra 50 horse power. Parts may bolt up but may not stay together long.
 If it is #matching and may sell it some day keep engine if swapped out.
 If car is together and runs I would run engine till it quits or other engine is ready to go in.   Engine and Value are or are not an issue until you decide to sell it and what buyer is wanting.

What do you want to do with the car? Drive, race, show, sell?  It is your car what makes you happy?  :cool: 

 
 

davewelch

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2013, 11:47:03 PM »
The 301 and 301Turbo have Different blocks! The Turbo block was beefed up in week spots to handle the extra 50 horse power. Parts may bolt up but may not stay together long.
 If it is #matching and may sell it some day keep engine if swapped out.
 If car is together and runs I would run engine till it quits or other engine is ready to go in.   Engine and Value are or are not an issue until you decide to sell it and what buyer is wanting.

What do you want to do with the car? Drive, race, show, sell?  It is your car what makes you happy?  :cool: 

 
 

Starting in 1980 all 301 blocks were 301T blocks to save production costs on two variations of the same block. Any 80-81 301 has the same block as the 301T. 79 and prior 301 blocks are weaker and not recommended for use with the turbo.
80 formula ws6
78 camaro LT
56 Mercury Monterey

mark369

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2013, 06:54:40 AM »
 That is good to know. it was not stated in the book I was reading.  thank you for the info.

Felix C

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2013, 06:39:45 PM »
The real question I guess is do you feel the car would be greatly devalued if it was rebuilt with the LS series engine as opposed to the original 301 Turbo it was manufactured with?
That would depend on the overall condition and mileage of the car. Original engine always preferred to a collector.

Now if it has seen use and is a well maintained but high mileage used car with the type of wear and tear expected from decades of use or lack of use then the LSx swap is worth more. But note one rarely ever receives a net return on a modifed car. Because you invest $3000 of LSx and drivetrain beefing does not mean the value increases by $3000.

On a practical level of enjoying a performance car as an owner: 301 is incredibly limited due to the siamesed intake port. A junkyard 4.8 or 5.3 will make much much more power without any issue. These are inexpensive compared to finding a 5.7. Even an iron 6.0 is a wonderful adder.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 06:42:17 PM by Felix C »

78MartiniqueWS6

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2013, 08:46:21 PM »
I'm all for a mild turbo 5.3 ls. I think it would be cool as hell to open your turbo badged car and still have a turbo.

Not to mention I think a stock 5.3 with a small turbo would still be super quick and fun to drive. I also think it would get 20+ miles per gallon.


Scot

81 Formula

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2013, 07:27:45 AM »
I looked into swapping a LS into mine,  ended up going with a 400 instead but kept the 301 and trans in storage so all the number matching stuff stayed with the car.

Big issue with an LS swap is the mods required to make the trans and everything fit in,  probably means the 301 will never go back in the car without an equal number of "un"mods.

301 to 400 or 455 is pretty easy,  301 to LS means new trans, and rear end since the 8.5 10 bolt never had to deal with the kind of power a performance tuned LS can punch out and the transmissions are incompatable between old and new tech.

Guess price is the big factor,  cheaper to drop in a 400 than an LS,  and redoing the 301 turbo will cost more than dropping in a 400 and will never make the power of a 400 with equal money spent on the two.  The 301 can be made a good bit faster but it is harder to make the 301 faster than it is to make the 400 faster.  NOBODY makes performance parts for the 301.  You cannot even get an intake for the 301 other than factory or custom machine one.

Now having said all that......my car was a non turbo model,  so no real downside to dropping in the 400,  there was nothing special about my car 1 of 5927.  Yours is about the same in that regard, 1 of 5700 but with one big difference...the turbo hood and the first ever mass produced turbo v-8.   So from a collector standpoint you have a first year milestone and a pace car pedigree that I did not have to consider.

As was said above  all 80 and 81 301 blocks are "T's" no matter if they came turbo or not.
400 4-speed, 3.42 posi, performer rpm, hedman headers, comp cam, 6x heads.
Owned it since 1985, 2nd owner,, bought it with 23,000 miles on it.  Original engine and trans in storage.

Rebel-TA

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2013, 07:37:17 PM »
Thanks to all who helped me get my head around this.  Here's the plan...

The car is in for a total stock rebuild of the interior and exterior.  Original 301T and transmission will be pulled and replaced with an LS3 and matching tranny.  Probably need to beef up the rear end as well.  All original parts will be kept.  I have two nephews who just opened a motor shop.  I plan to give the original 301T to them for a rebuild.  They will have the time and ability to find the missing parts (turbo) and put this back together for me.  In the mean time, I'm out driving  and enjoying a great looking car with a little more power.  If I ever decide to sell, the original package is all here.

Thanks again everyone.

Rebel

jjr

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Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2013, 11:43:20 PM »

 With all due respect to those that have added to the thread, much of the info isn't
accurate.

 It is true that with minor effort some parts for the 301T will not be obvious or quickly
found. But that is not to say they cannot be found.

 The 301T is not for everyone, particularly not the impatient.

 The correct answer for each individual is exactly what will in the end make them happy.

 It is a fact that the 301T has in fact more torque than the venerable 400.

 The 301T was very different technology from what had come before, and to this day
it is still not well understood by most.

 Keeping the original aspects was a very welcome comment to read and I salute you for
it.

 The turbo is a Garrett T3 and pretty common actually. If you called Autozone and got nowhere
I would not be surprised, but thank goodness that is NOT the standard for classic car repair
and restoration.

 Joe
1979 10th Aniv 400/4spd
1980 Black SE 301NA
1980 Indy Turbo Pace 301T
1981 Turbo 301T
1981 Black SE 301T
1981 Daytona Pace 301T
www.301garage.com/forum/

Re: Seeking Advice - Turbo vs. LS
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2013, 11:43:20 PM »
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