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Username Post: 327 c.i. vs 5.3 liter        (Topic#197836)
557B210 
Contributor
Posts: 293
557B210
Loc: Jacksonville
Reg: 06-15-08
09-01-08 06:11 PM - Post#1512786    

I'm trying to decide which engine would be better to put into my 55 from a MPG, reliability and cost standpoint.

1. I could rebuild one of the 327's I have and retrofit it with Vortec heads and a roller cam.

2. Or, I could buy a rebuilt or rebuild a 5.3 liter engine which already has the Vortec heads and roller cam.

Any and all recommendations will be greatly appreciated...
david aka POPS
55/57 2DR B210


 
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kettlekeeper 
Newbie
Posts: 2

Loc: Boise
Reg: 09-01-08
09-01-08 08:44 PM - Post#1512909    
    In response to 557B210

Go for the 5.3. I have one in my 2005 GMC 1/2 ton 2wd and it is amazing for power and MPG. I get 18 in town and 22 on the road out of this heavy truck. I'm seriously thinking about putting one in my 40 Ford Pickup. With its light weight, it would burn rubber all day long.

 
hutchensce 
Senior Member
Posts: 1980

Loc: Laramie, WY
Reg: 11-02-04
09-01-08 11:10 PM - Post#1512974    
    In response to kettlekeeper

Be aware...these are totally different motors. Nothing from the Gen 1 327 will fit on the 5.3. They are not the same as the Vortecs that appeared in trucks in 1996. Having said that...go for the 5.3. Cubic inch for cubic inch, it will walk all over that Gen 1 327. It will have 6 bolt mains, a roller valvetrain, and aluminum heads stock. On top of that, you'll have to option of retaining the factory fuel injection or swapping over to a carb set up as well.

From a cost standpoint...it's gonna depend on what you already have. If you've already got an exhaust, intake, carb, accessories, etc...the Gen 1 might cost less. Even ho-hum Vortec heads and a roller valvetrain on a Gen 1 327 will cost you $2K easily. That's without the fuel injection of a 5.3...add another $2K for that on the 327 I think you'll also spend well over $1000 for a good rebuild of an old 327 block too. For that much, you can buy a used 5.3 out of a junkyard complete with all the accessories and exhaust manifolds.

5.3's can be had for well under $1000 in junkyards complete. Check car-part.com...search for the complete motor from a 1999 or up Chevy truck. You might even look for a 6 liter...bigger, but badder too Gas mileage will not be as good obviously. Do a quick cleanup on a used 5.3 and you've got a nice cruiser motor. If you're skeptical of the 5.3, check out the latest issue of Hotrod...the little 5.3 beat the ZZ4 in the 1/4 mile by a few tenths even being down by 23 cubic inches and having a smaller cam.

If I were starting over...I wouldn't even consider putting in a Gen 1 motor ever again. I mentioned this before...keep in mind that if you think EFI is over your head, MSD and Edelbrock make a carb swap kit that costs about $700. If you want to go back to EFI someday...you can always switch it back for cheap.

BTW..., the 5.3 (according to the Hotrod article) is actually heavier than the ZZ4, by a whopping 20 pounds or so. They both have aluminum heads and an iron block btw.

What's your budget and skill level?...that will determine a lot of things.
Photos and such


 
enigma57 
Senior Member
Posts: 9744
enigma57
Age: 66
Loc: Texas
Reg: 10-28-00
09-02-08 12:48 AM - Post#1512985    
    In response to 557B210

David, either one will make an awesome engine for your '55. Either the older 327 Gen. I engine built with a set of L31 350 Vortec heads and compatible Vortec intake and cammed (whether flat tappet or roller) for your application......

Or the newer design 5.3 litre Gen. III truck engine...... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GM_Vortec_engine

I had one in the 2002 Chevy pickup I drove daily for 8 months on the job I just left. As kettlekeeper said, the 5.3 in my 2002 truck at work was surprisingly powerful for its displacement and got great mileage. My mileage was about the same as he reported. If you decide to get one of these engines and transplant it into your '55 passenger car as a daily driver and are looking for similar performance, I would suggest locating a donor truck and taking the engine and tranny as a unit, along with the computerized engine management controls and wiring harness. Cut the OEM exhaust pipe behind the O2 sensor. And take the OEM gas tank and in-tank electric fuel pump if you can get it as well.

Keep it stock and freshen the engine if it needs it. Install it in stock form. You can ditch the catalytic converter, as you won't require it in your '55 and you may be able to fab a nicer looking, less restrictive aircleaner/plenum box setup as well, but keep the rest stock. Also...... measure the height of the pickup tire and make note of the donor truck's rear gearing. Then measure the height of your '55s rear tire and calculate the gear ratio required to achieve the same RPMs at the same road speed as the donor truck......

http://www.richmondgear.com/101032.html

You may find that your present 3.73 rear gearing will do the job, or you may need to install 3.54, 3.33, 3.23 or 3.08 gearing to complement the automatic overdrive tranny with locking converter. With gearing approximating the same RPMs at the same road speed as the donor vehicle, your 5.3 engine and transmission combo should develop power right where you need it for daily driving. Plus...... You will have a power and mileage advantage over the OEM truck installation due to your '55s lighter weight and the fact that you can deep-six the restrictive catalytic converter and install a free flowing exhaust system.

Which engine to go with? Let your pocket book be your guide. Price both and then decide. As Chad noted...... With any engine swap that is not a bolt-in, the 5.3 will require revised engine and transmission mounting and a custom driveshaft along with wiring in the OEM electronic engine management controls and plumbing and installing the in-tank fuel pump in your '55s gas tank and revising your exhaust system.

For your stated purpose, that's how I'd suggest to go about it if you swap in a 5.3 engine. Bone stock Gen. III 5.3 with OEM EFI. If you convert the 5.3 Gen. III engine to carburettion and do away with the electronic engine management controls and/or the OEM automatic overdrive tranny with lockup converter, you might just as well build up one of your Gen. I 327s with appropriate camming and L31 Vortec heads and retain a manual transmission in your '55 for enhanced mileage and performance. Because the mileage and performance will be nearly identical to a carburetted 5.3 Gen. III engine and you won't have the hassle and added expense of a full blown engine swap scenario to deal with. The choice is yours. Wish you the best of luck which ever way you decide to go.

Happy Motoring,

Harry

 
MilesB 
Member
Posts: 1288
MilesB
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Reg: 04-17-06
09-02-08 02:12 AM - Post#1512990    
    In response to enigma57

Does the 5.3 take the same intake manifold as the 350 Vortec?
Photobucket


 
mikeski 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1017
mikeski
Loc: Massachusetts
Reg: 03-26-05
09-02-08 03:25 AM - Post#1513001    
    In response to 557B210

Don't know how many 327's you have, but you could alwasy sell 1 or 2 to help with the cost of the 5.3, if that's the way you decide to go.

MikeSki
http://community.webshots.com/user/sroski


 
64duece 
Senior Member
Posts: 1037
64duece
Loc: New Jersey
Reg: 10-31-01
09-02-08 05:38 AM - Post#1513042    
    In response to mikeski

There's no doubt the 5.3 is the way to go. I'm sure it's getting easier to drop any of the LS platform engines in a tri-5 as more conversion parts become available.

As stated, I would consider a wrecked engine/trans combination with the stock electronics. I'f say having the e-shifted trans is as much a pleasure to have as the injection on the engine. The early setups used traditional throttle vs. the later drive-by-wire. Also note some 4L60's have a 1 wire or 4 wire solenoid for park-nuetral or tow-haul as in the trucks.

Cost should be covered pretty well if you source the engine/trans/ecu/harness from the boneyard. Doesn't get much more reliable than today technology and parts availability. Should win MPG and power hands down vs. the other options you listed.

Dennis
55 Chevy 210
e85 Injected
572 Twin Turbo
4L80E



 
DZAUTO 
Senior Member
Posts: 7538

Loc: Mustang, OK, USA
Reg: 12-25-99
09-02-08 06:55 AM - Post#1513095    
    In response to 64duece

There is one thing, one thing only and only one thing I DO NOT like about the newer engines------------------ ----THE ENDS OF THE HEADS.
Beginning in 1969, ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL SB heads have flat machined surfaces and threaded holes on the ends of the heads! OK, so what's wrong with that?????????????? On an older car (55 Chevy, 60 Vette, 66 Nova, etc, etc) I like to retain the "plain" look of the early heads, and that can't be done with the later heads.
Money can be spent on 68-earlier heads to achieve good flow and install larter valves, but in the end, it costs extra $$$$$ and you still have 40+yr old heads which may be prone to cracking. Also, locating GOOD early cores to build a nice set of 2.02 heads from are also becoming scarce. My personal preference is NOT a set of original 2.02 heads, but a set of 1.94 heads and opening them up for 2.02/1.6 stainless valves.
Tom Parsons


 
557B210 
Contributor
Posts: 293
557B210
Loc: Jacksonville
Reg: 06-15-08
09-02-08 06:57 AM - Post#1513098    
    In response to 64duece

Thanks for all the inputs....I should have mentioned that had 3:36 rear gears installed and plannned to go with a 200-R4 transmission...Also, was considering the possibility of putting in a carburated (Quadrajet) 5.3 litre to avoid all the computer and fuel pump issues...However, it would probably be defeating my goal as far as MPG goes..
david aka POPS
55/57 2DR B210


 
79elkyss 
Member
Posts: 164
79elkyss
Loc: Bellevue, NE
Reg: 06-14-03
09-02-08 07:23 AM - Post#1513119    
    In response to 557B210

There is a thread in the El Camino forum about swapping a 5.3 into a G-body El Camino. You may pick up some information about some pitfalls you can expect to run into even if it is a totally different body from yours. You'll want as much advance information as you can get to help you make the right choice for you.
79 El Camino SS, 02 Silverado 4X4


 
557B210 
Contributor
Posts: 293
557B210
Loc: Jacksonville
Reg: 06-15-08
09-02-08 08:00 AM - Post#1513148    
    In response to 79elkyss

Thanks elky....I'll check it out
david aka POPS
55/57 2DR B210


 
MikeB 
Senior Member
Posts: 9479
MikeB
Loc: Plano, TX
Reg: 08-28-03
09-02-08 08:14 AM - Post#1513152    
    In response to 557B210

Sounds like the 5.3 project would be both fun and challenging.

I agree that you could build two existing 327s for the cost of a COMPLETE 5.3 installation.

I built a pretty decent 327 for my 55 for less than $3000 -- intake manifold to $1000 Brodix heads to roller rockers to oil pan. All new name-brand parts except for block and reground GM crank. That even included balancing. No roller cam though.
Real Hot Rods have a Clutch!

1955 210 2dr: 327, Brodix IK180 heads, Jones cam, M20, Wilwood front brakes

1982 C-10 SWB pickup, 250 six, 3-speed

My car pictures



Edited by MikeB on 09-02-08 08:15 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Pauls56BelAir 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1106
Pauls56BelAir
Loc: Valley of the Sun
Reg: 05-30-04
09-02-08 11:07 AM - Post#1513258    
    In response to MikeB

I think the LS truck engines are great engines. I had an '01 HD with the 6.0(see link in my signature line), and while the gas mileage wasn't good (12.5 combined), we're also talking about a 4x4 truck that weighed over 5000 lbs. It pulled like a freight train and sounds like a Vette when you hold it to the floor (didn't do that very much! ). That engine in a 3500 lb Tri-5, wow! 300hp and 369 ft/lbs in stock form. It would get much better gas mileage in your car than in the truck, same as the 5.3 which gets around 17mpg in a 4500 lb half ton. I say if it's financially feasible and you've got the fabrication skills, go with the LS....
Paul Wallace
56 Bel Air 2dr Sedan 350/TKO 600
'54 3100 "Phred"

9/11/2001 Never Forget.
Anything is possible when you don't know what you're talking about.


 
Thadd 
"12th Year" Gold Supporting Member
Posts: 11139
Thadd
Age: 75
Loc: Rolling Hills, Ca,
Reg: 12-30-01
09-02-08 12:26 PM - Post#1513328    
    In response to Pauls56BelAir

My vote would be for the 5.3. I personally would use the factory fuel injection. I think that a modified computer harness probably wouldn't cost much more than an LS type intake /carb /distributor set up, and it should get great mileage compared to the carb set up.
Proud member of the BABY BLUE T-SHIRT BROTHERHOOD


 
Bowtie Jim 
"4th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 486
Bowtie Jim
Loc: OK
Reg: 05-07-03
09-02-08 12:58 PM - Post#1513346    
    In response to Thadd

No doubt the 5.3 is one heck of an engine. I am building a 55 210 with a 327 and 5 speed . The reason is I like the look of the early small blocks If I want I can make the 327 look like the stock 265 pretty easy. Plus the 1st gen small block is a bolt in JMHO
Get in sit down shut up hold on



Edited by Bowtie Jim on 09-02-08 12:59 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
jeffs55 
Ultra Senior Member
Posts: 11783
jeffs55
Age: 55
Loc: Shelby Forest, Tennessee
Reg: 01-05-06
09-02-08 01:16 PM - Post#1513353    
    In response to DZAUTO

  • DZAUTO Said:
There is one thing, one thing only and only one thing I DO NOT like about the newer engines------------------ ----THE ENDS OF THE HEADS.



Hey Tom, you know...once they put the A/C compressor, P/S pump and the snakey belts, pulleys etc on, you can't see the end of the heads...

Just a general question here. Is the 5.3 a GM designed and built engine?
I haven't been keeping up with all these new engines.
Jeff
55 Handyman
66 F100 project
32 3 Window Coupe project
1996 Silverado short bed extended cab
1948 Studebaker Champion
1977 Toyota Celica Coupe
My Pics


 
CharlieC 
Senior Member
Posts: 1790
CharlieC
Loc: Flower Mound, TX,
Reg: 03-27-02
09-02-08 03:15 PM - Post#1513431    
    In response to DZAUTO

  • Quote:
On an older car (55 Chevy, 60 Vette, 66 Nova, etc, etc) I like to retain the "plain" look of the early heads, and that can't be done with the later heads.




Oh contrair mon frere'... well sort of..

If you REALLY don't like the way the ends of the Gen III heads look, you can put one of these end plates on the heads. I don't thick they have "Plain and Boring" as an option but I'm sure they could find something to fit the bill for you.



Charlie
"Yeah, I'm just going to clean it up and make it a driver." May 2002

'57 BelAir Conv. GMPP LSX/L92-440 T-56 (almost...)
'74 K5 Blazer 4x4
'09 Avalanche LTZ


 
64duece 
Senior Member
Posts: 1037
64duece
Loc: New Jersey
Reg: 10-31-01
09-02-08 03:21 PM - Post#1513437    
    In response to jeffs55

  • Quote:
Just a general question here. Is the 5.3 a GM designed and built engine?
I haven't been keeping up with all these new engines.



Yes. The 4.8, 5.3 and 6.0 found in GM trucks and SUV's are all based from the LS1. The performance capability is excellent as many of the good factory aluminum heads will flow with or outflow many aftermarket 1st gen heads! They make more power, better fuel economy and there are options to install a traditional carb/intake on one for simpler installs.
Dennis
55 Chevy 210
e85 Injected
572 Twin Turbo
4L80E



 
Hugo 
Senior Member
Posts: 704

Loc: Los Angeles, Ca
Reg: 09-03-00
09-02-08 03:57 PM - Post#1513465    
    In response to 557B210

I'm curious. What do you estimate the total cost of the ls1(truck motor) swap will be once it's running? 4k?
I considered doing one myself since a complete truck rollover motor was available but after adding up the misc parts and labor it got very pricey.

thanks
hugo


 
hutchensce 
Senior Member
Posts: 1980

Loc: Laramie, WY
Reg: 11-02-04
09-02-08 07:59 PM - Post#1513707    
    In response to MilesB

Miles...no, the 5.3 (and all the LS engines) are completely different from the 350 Vortecs. The confusion is that they still call 'em Vortecs

Basically, the 350's were replaced with the 5.3's in the trucks (as well as the 4.8's). They also offered a 6.0 liter in the trucks. The Camaro's and 'vettes got the LS1 which is a 346 cubic inch motor. The newer LS based motors share very little with the older Gen 1 and Gen II small blocks and nothing transfers between the two engine designs.

One of the easiest ways to tell is that the LS based motors don't have siamesed exhaust ports like a standard Gen 1 or Gen II small block. The new motors do not have distributors either...they use a cam sensor and reluctor wheel and have a coil pack for each cylinder.

If you want a really cool 5.3...look for one out of the SSR pick-up...coded L33. It's an all aluminum block with aluminum heads. Be prepared to pony up the dough for one though. There's a complete one with all accessories, computer, wiring harness, and transmission for about $2500 right now.

Car-part.com is an excellent place to start...and that auction site. On the auction side of things...LKQ sells complete motors take-out and will ship 'em to your door. Look for a 5.3 in a GM or Chevy truck from 1999 and up. If you go the 6 liter route, you'll have to source one from 2001 or up if you want aluminum heads (the trucks had iron heads before that and even into 2001). It's not like iron and aluminum are hard to distinguish.

Another resource is ls1tech.com I see 5.3 stuff go for cheap all the time over there in the classifieds. 6 liter stuff is a little more pricey but has the potential of your typical mild 383 out of the box with a good exhaust and no changes.

Read this about the 6 liter...take the numbers with a grain of salt, but it shows the potential these motors have with not many changes:

http://www.carcraft.com/projectbuild/116_0704 _lq4_...
Photos and such


Edited by hutchensce on 09-02-08 08:19 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
557B210 
Contributor
Posts: 293
557B210
Loc: Jacksonville
Reg: 06-15-08
09-02-08 08:43 PM - Post#1513739    
    In response to hutchensce

Hutch....When you said "If you want a really cool 5.3...look for one out of the SSR pick-up...coded L33. It's an all aluminum block with aluminum heads. Be prepared to pony up the dough for one though. There's a complete one with all accessories, computer, wiring harness, and transmission for about $2500 right now" Where were you talking about?
david aka POPS
55/57 2DR B210


 
Hugo 
Senior Member
Posts: 704

Loc: Los Angeles, Ca
Reg: 09-03-00
09-02-08 10:53 PM - Post#1513813    
    In response to 557B210

car-parts.com theres a couple SSR motors for sale

 
MilesB 
Member
Posts: 1288
MilesB
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Reg: 04-17-06
09-03-08 02:15 AM - Post#1513833    
    In response to Hugo

Ahh the 5.3 is an LS. Yeah it is confusing with the Vortec name. Isn't a second hand LS1 only about the same price as a 5.3?
Photobucket


 
hutchensce 
Senior Member
Posts: 1980

Loc: Laramie, WY
Reg: 11-02-04
09-03-08 04:50 PM - Post#1514377    
    In response to 557B210

On that auction site there's an L33 for sale. If you want, I'll PM you a link. I still think not allowing ebay links is a stupid rule but whatever.
Photos and such


 
hutchensce 
Senior Member
Posts: 1980

Loc: Laramie, WY
Reg: 11-02-04
09-03-08 05:02 PM - Post#1514384    
    In response to hutchensce

Nevermind...it sold already. There are a few other L33's on there though for pretty reasonable prices. Other 5.3's are a lot, lot cheaper though. I see 'em going for as low as $300!!! Of course, they're used, but an overhaul kit with some new pistons and all new rings, gaskets, bearings etc is only about $700 from Flatlanderracing.com
Photos and such


 
jeffs55 
Ultra Senior Member
Posts: 11783
jeffs55
Age: 55
Loc: Shelby Forest, Tennessee
Reg: 01-05-06
09-03-08 05:10 PM - Post#1514393    
    In response to hutchensce

On that auction site. In Ohio.
6L all aluminum
Isn't that.....uhhh....pretty???

I can understand why some guys put a hood under the hood...
Jeff
55 Handyman
66 F100 project
32 3 Window Coupe project
1996 Silverado short bed extended cab
1948 Studebaker Champion
1977 Toyota Celica Coupe
My Pics


 
557B210 
Contributor
Posts: 293
557B210
Loc: Jacksonville
Reg: 06-15-08
09-04-08 05:37 AM - Post#1514663    
    In response to jeffs55

'Ya know....I don't think that's pretty at all...Makes me want to forget all this high tech stuff and go back to a plain ole carburated 327 with a hot bumpstick and a set of double hump heads...Now that's pretty especially if you dress it up with an old set of Corvette valve covers and chrome air cleaner..
david aka POPS
55/57 2DR B210


 
Rick_L 
Honored Member
Posts: 25770

Loc: Katy, Tx, USA
Reg: 07-06-00
09-04-08 06:43 AM - Post#1514706    
    In response to 557B210

An intake swap and some valve covers and/or coil relocation or coil covers would do wonders for the looks of that engine - just like similar dress up items will do for a 327.

The intake from an LS1 car will fit perfectly and while you might lose 10 ft-lb of torque in the lower rpms, you will get more than that up high. That would make the engine look like an LS1. LS1 (non-Z06) manifolds go pretty cheap on Ebay.

 
GaryC 
Very Senior Member
Posts: 2677
GaryC
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA. U.S.A
Reg: 02-28-03
09-05-08 04:44 PM - Post#1515894    
    In response to 557B210

  • Quote:
'Ya know....I don't think that's pretty at all



Couldn't agree with you more....


1957 Chevrolet Bel Air coupe, 300hp 327, M20 4 speed


 
enigma57 
Senior Member
Posts: 9744
enigma57
Age: 66
Loc: Texas
Reg: 10-28-00
09-06-08 09:02 PM - Post#1516736    
    In response to MilesB

  • hutchensce Said:
  • MilesB Said:
Does the 5.3 take the same intake manifold as the 350 Vortec?



Miles...no, the 5.3 (and all the LS engines) are completely different from the 350 Vortecs. The confusion is that they still call 'em Vortecs

Basically, the 350's were replaced with the 5.3's in the trucks (as well as the 4.8's). They also offered a 6.0 liter in the trucks. The Camaro's and 'vettes got the LS1 which is a 346 cubic inch motor. The newer LS based motors share very little with the older Gen 1 and Gen II small blocks and nothing transfers between the two engine designs.



Miles, sorry to be so long in responding. I have been away from the forum for a few days.

As Chad said, the newer 5.3 litre truck engines are an LS design and share no parts interchangeability with the earlier Gen. I small block engines.

Best regards,

Harry

 
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