How This Mechanic Makes Big Horsepower On A $2,000 Budget

DD Speed ​​Shop explains why the big block Chevy engine is one of the best motors to drop in your car especially when you’re on a budget.

Whether you’re a professional tech or a backyard mechanic, chances are you’ve come across that age-old question: how do I get more power without blowing the budget? Because if it’s one thing we as gearheads love, it’s cheap and reliable power on command.

For decades, people have turned to the legendary LS small block engine as the source of their power. However, with the recent explosion in LS-based social media content compounded by a limited supply chain, LS engines have begun creeping up in price and are no longer at a sub-$1000 pricepoint for solid examples.

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So, what is the solution to our cheap power problem? Well, as Dan of DD Speed ​​Shop puts it, the only answer is a Chevy big block engine.

Great Engine For Under $1,000

While Dan remains aware that “cheap” is a relative term, he explains that when he reached an impasse while working on his ’66 Biscayne that he had two options. The first was to rebuild the Biscanye’s straight-six engine or source a late ’70s era Chevy 454 that will bolt right in. For the sake of brevity, he went with the latter option.

While his viewers elected to see the straight-six get an overhaul, Dan reminds everyone that rebuilding the 250ci engine would cost tenfold compared to the orange-block era 454. With that in mind, he managed to acquire it for $775 and also it included a turbo 400 transmission.

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Hotrodding The Chevy Big Block

While Dan’s fully aware that compared to modern-day LS engines, the 454 is low on power. However, the engine is huge on torque, has a much lower price point, and makes a classic sound that is worth its weight in gold. Because while he managed to save a few shekels on the power mill, Dan was able to spurge on some performance parts that will increase power while adding a lovely period-correct feel.

Those parts include adding a performance cam, spring valves, an Edelbrock carb he had lying around, and a set of $100 headers. Even with those additions, Dan managed to build a reliable and powerful engine for less than $2,000. All that’s needed now is a good tear down, rinse, and rebuild for the Biscayne to be up and running with a 454 engine.