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Technical PONTIAC V8 TECH - 389 vs 421 Blocks

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by draggin'GTO, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. draggin'GTO
    Joined: Jul 7, 2003
    Posts: 1,754

    draggin'GTO
    Member

    Having recently played around with both of these engines I thought I'd post some pictures to illustrate the differences between the 389 blocks (produced from '59 -'66) and 421 blocks (produced from '61 -'66). Both blocks shown are of 1964 vintage.

    389 block.

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    421 block, note the flat machined face on the passenger side just below where the head bolts on.

    [​IMG]

    389 block, no transfer lug.

    [​IMG]

    421 block has the transfer lug. This lug signaled the line workers to transfer the 421 blocks to a different machining center, the 326 blocks had one as well. The far more common 389 blocks didn't have the the transfer lug cast into the block.

    [​IMG]

    389 block with 2-bolt 3.00" diameter mains to accept the factory 3.750" stroke crankshaft. All were equipped with 2-bolt mains with the exception of the rare '59 -'62 420A, 425A and Super Duty 389s. All of the famous '64 -'66 GTO 389 engines were 2-bolt main engines. The somewhat peculiar-looking oil baffle/windage tray and dipstick tube arrangement that attaches to the #4 & #5 main caps is a feature specific to '64 and earlier blocks.

    [​IMG]

    421 block with 4-bolt 3.25" diameter mains to accept the factory 4.00" stroke crankshaft. All 421 blocks without exception were factory equipped with 4-bolt main caps.

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    389 block casting (4.0625" standard bore size), note the scalloped side of the block at the deck where it mates with the head.

    [​IMG]

    421 block casting (4.09375" standard bore size) is nearly straight across at the deck. There's a lot more metal in the casting where the side of the block at the deck meets up with the head. More iron is cast at the top of the deck near the valley area as well.

    [​IMG]

    389 block, lifter bore area.

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    421 block lifter bore area. The three stiffening ribs connecting the lifter bores across the center are thicker.

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    389 lifter bores.

    [​IMG]

    421 lifter bores, considerably thicker and more robust. Pretty surprising how much more metal was used in these 421 blocks compared to the common 389 blocks.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Don's Hot Rods
    Joined: Oct 7, 2005
    Posts: 8,319

    Don's Hot Rods
    Member
    from florida

    Excellent information, thanks. I always assumed the 421 was just a bored or stroked 389. I know some of the innards interchange, I had a 389 that I put a 421 cam in, and I used a tripower setup from a 64 GTO.

    Great motors.

    Don
     
  3. young'n'poor
    Joined: Jan 26, 2006
    Posts: 1,276

    young'n'poor
    Member

    Thanks for the great info!
     
  4. mr.chevrolet
    Joined: Jul 19, 2006
    Posts: 6,365

    mr.chevrolet
    Member

    thank you, now tell us (me) where to find a couple 421s. I'd like one for my 65 GTO.
     
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  5. hellerods
    Joined: Jul 25, 2008
    Posts: 165

    hellerods
    Member

    Thanks for the info Dragingto, just how many 421's are you holding? lol
     
  6. draggin'GTO
    Joined: Jul 7, 2003
    Posts: 1,754

    draggin'GTO
    Member

    On my budget?

    Just the one you see. ;)

    They're not that easy to find these days, and when one pops up be prepared to pay the going rate.

    The bare 421 block with caps, heads, crankshaft and timing cover along with a few miscellaneous bits of hardware included for this one cost me close to $1,500 just to give you a ballpark on what they go for. That was 4 years ago and of course they haven't gone down in price since then.
     

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