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pros and cons of an olds 455?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 48reo, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. 48reo
    Joined: Feb 21, 2008
    Posts: 298


    I was offered an olds 455 when I happened to mention to a friend that I was looking for an olds rocket for the REO but I have heard they have a tendancy to chew up cam bearings, is this true? or is there a better or more economical olds motor for parts and availability?
  2. I've never had one go through a cam bearing. I had one crack a head ('78 Ninety-Eight land yacht), and one snap a timing chain (74 engine in a rusty '50 Rocket 88). The head cracker only had 70k miles on it, the timing chain one had 190k.
    As for a better Olds motor, kinda depends on what you're doing. I like the 350 Rockets, I think they have a good amount of power right off the get-go, they're fairly easy to find, and they take to mild mods very well. Just make sure you get one '76 and earlier, anything later has thinner castings and shitty heads that are prone to cracking, such as my aforementioned '78.
    The 455 can be a good motor, too, they're just heavy, but holy shit, they could have gobs of torque.
  3. 48reo
    Joined: Feb 21, 2008
    Posts: 298


    well thanks, that helps..... I assume I can either bolt up an S-10 5-spd or buy an adapter to make it work.
  4. ol gasser
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 336

    ol gasser
    from here

    I had a 455 think it was in a starliner. I know it would spin studded snow tires on dry pavement.
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  5. phat rat
    Joined: Mar 18, 2001
    Posts: 4,037

    phat rat

    I'd put something stouter than an S-10 box behind it. Unless your going to drive it like an old lady
  6. Anything i have ridden in thats got a 455 has been scary fast, my only experience.
  7. Cam Bearings...???? Never had that problem...

    My Roadster with a internally Stock 455 ran a 12.02 @ 110 MPH (traction issues)

    With Aluminum Heads and a cam... 11.71 @ 119.96 all below 4,500 rpm (traction issues)

    Weighs less than most Small Block Chevy with a mountain of torque!

    And done right you can have a "BUILT" 455 inexpensively!

    Cons are Header availability... and drilling crank end for manual tranny.

    4 speeds and the manual setups can get "Pricey"... run the 350 only if it's in a light car. Or go right to a 200r or 700r4 and you can run a steep 373 rear gear for massive launches and the ability to Idle down the freeway.

    And if you're going manual tranny instead of drilling the crank and spending a few hundred reconditioning an "OLD" crank... I'd just buy a "New Eagle Crank" from Rocket Racing for $575 that's ready to run either a manual or automatic!

    For REAL WILD Performance... Rocket has the "NEW Forged knife-edged Crank" for $2,100!!!!

    I had a set of "C" heads on another 455 and didn't have a noticeable performance difference when I went to Aluminum heads except for the lower temperature!

    You can find "C" heads everywhere and totally done up with the Large valves, hardened seats and a Good set of Roller Rockers... you'll get a ton of performance for a fraction of the cost of the Aluminum heads alone!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2009
  8. 48reo
    Joined: Feb 21, 2008
    Posts: 298


    I will look into that. happy new year!
  9. Q
    Joined: Aug 13, 2005
    Posts: 601


    I had a 455 in a heavy all steel 98 based ambulance. Even that monster would scoot! It was dead reliable for the 40,000 or so miles I put on it when the car was already twenty years old. I would consider using one again for a project.
  10. 48reo
    Joined: Feb 21, 2008
    Posts: 298


    so what manual tranny is suitable for that motor?
  11. Muncie
    Borg Warner T10
    New Venture
  12. Cant say much about the old Olds except to remember that a 394 powered Starfire were a force to be reconded with back in the day. Never saw a broken one. Not once ever.
    The 455 now I have done a lot of these. Very good motor. Huge torque and power wth very little tweaking. A mild cam a decent carb and a set of headers will give more street power than most can use. It will run forever too. Cost is very low. I always looked for the C heads and never had too much trouble finding them. I suppose for a few bucks more a set of Eddys would be the ultimate. Places we have put one?
    68 Olds Cutlasss hardtop, 74 Chev 4 wheel drive3/4 ton, 56 GMC , 85 Cadilac 2 dr hrdtop, 57 Caddy 2 dr. just to name a few. I did the motors ,my buddys buit the cars. I am not sure where the 455 74 truck went but the rest are all still running. Last one i did would probably be 1990 about. Very very good street perfomance engine. It has it all.
  13. stepchild
    Joined: Mar 25, 2005
    Posts: 630

    from Ohio

    olds 455 is a great motor, but like mentioned before a s10 5 speed isnt gonna cut'll have to spend a couple bucks and get better 5speed to hold up or get a 4spd muncie, top loader ford....

    as far as the crank not being drilled, there are aftermarket pilot bearings that allow you use a manual trans with the undrilled crank......
  14. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,412

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    Great motor, plan on putting one in my old 55 98.
    Watch for aluminum intake cracks if you buy one used...other than that, they are a strong runner, with little problems...perhaps keeping them cool is #1.
  15. hotrodladycrusr
    Joined: Sep 20, 2002
    Posts: 20,736


    I've got a '70 Olds 455 in my 1947 Olds convertible and I LOVE it. Over 88,000 miles in 7 summers. It came outta a streetrod with I don't know how many miles on it in that configuration not to mention the original car it came out of, and it's still running strong.....and trust me I don't baby it. :D

    I did have a large AL radiator made right from the start because of it running warm. Made a world of difference. Also, looking at the alternator bracket reminds me that the first summer I had the car the original bracket kept busting on me, about 6 times in a couple of months. Finally had a buddy make me a really stout one out of solid AL and haven't had a lick of trouble since.

  16. Unsafe6
    Joined: Dec 7, 2007
    Posts: 129


    I had a 77 chev 3/4 ton 4x4 years ago. The 350 SBC went for crap so I got a 68 Olds 98 455 Rocket 4bbl. Gave it a rering touched up the heads painted it real pretty and stuck it in with some homade mounts and a Transdapt adapter plate. I must have gained 100HP and my milage went from 12mpg to 18mpg. what an upgrade, I wouldent even hesitate to use a Olds in stock form.The swap totaly transformed that truck.
  17. 48reo
    Joined: Feb 21, 2008
    Posts: 298


    wow! well I hope my friend doesnt read this before I get a price out of him.
    thanks for the input!
  18. LUX BLUE
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,408

    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    bitchinest motor EVER.
    it's a sledgehammer approach to a thumbtack world.

    My favorite part about them is when You step on the gas pedal-at any speed- and a great big hand comes outta your dashboard and shoves you into the seat. 90 m.p.h., stomp it, instant torque.
  19. Big torque here. 1 of the few engines that will run 140MPH at 3000 RPMs >>>>.
  20. At about 620lbs they are lighter than a Big block Chevy, but they are big in size.
    Tons of torque - that's why they were the engine of choice for so many jet ski boats.
    Tend to run hot and they don't tolerate it very well. I had one in a 27 Roadster and had a hard time keeping it cool, not enough radiator area with a chopped 32 grille.
  21. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 5,958


    In addition to the Olds, the 455 Buick is also a mountain of torque and comparable in weight to a sbc. No, they don't like alot of rpm's but you don't need to spin them fast..the torque is all at the bottom. These engines are seriously under appreciated. Oh, you really don't need a 4-speed with or maybe two gears is adequate.:D:eek: If you are not familiar with engines having 500+ lb-ft of torque you are in for a treat.

  22. billbrown
    Joined: Dec 24, 2007
    Posts: 595


    Pros: Its big inches and big low end power.

    Cons: The Cadillac 500 will make you wish you built a Cadillac 500.

    Shit. put it in. They're cool old motors and you aint trying to run it a 8,000 rpm.
  23. 48reo
    Joined: Feb 21, 2008
    Posts: 298


    well Im sold. I will tell you how it goes, it will probobly be after tax returns though.
  24. pete324rocket
    Joined: Nov 7, 2007
    Posts: 99


    yes you can get the real lowdown on the 455 on jet boat forums - sadly I tried to provide a link but seems like the winter has killed my favorite forum. The 455 has incredible shove you in your seat bottom end torque!
  25. 48reo
    Joined: Feb 21, 2008
    Posts: 298


    Well my friend didnt give his up but I bought one running in the car and I talked the guy down from $800 to $500 its in a 76 delta 88 , now All I have to do is extract it and scrap the rest, its almost a shame becouse the only thing wrong with the car is no reverse. not even a tear in the headliner or a ripped seat and its a hardtop, all power just not my preference in cars. I might put it on craigs for a week then rip the rear end out and scrap the rest.
  26. I put a mildly warmed up 455 out of a 75 Olds 98 Regency in my 55 Cadillac and love it. I removed 3 leaves out of the rear springs and installed a 3 " block to settle it down for air bags. Now going down the road at 60 I can stab the gas and get enough torque steer out of the rear end to almost put me in another lane. Thats a good problem as I know i have mountains or grunt on tap. Just gotta fab up a tringled 4 link to solve that " FUN ".
  27. mickeyc
    Joined: Jul 8, 2008
    Posts: 719


    Hello Reo, Before diesels became more affordable to smaller commercial fishing operators, the motors of choice in the south Louisiana bayou country were mostly big block Chevies and Olds. There were also quite a few Chrysler hemis in the fifties and early sixties befor the supply was mostly exhausted. The crafts these fisherman use are usualy between 20ft. up to 30ft. and larger. Today diesels are mainly used, but when gas engines ruled the bayous the Chevies and Olds were the workhorses that got the job done! I operated a 28 ft. x14. shrimper with a 455 Olds for power for many seasons with no problems that I did not cause myself by
    pushing the motor more than 4500 rpms. These motors were started at 3 or 4 the morning and often not even shut down until very late in the evening. After a run out of any where from a couple of miles to as much as 20 or more, the motors then pulled a 50ft. shrimp trawl for 2 hour tows
    as many as four times a day. Then they powered a heavily loaded boat [ hopefully] back to the dock at the end of the day. The Olds was operated with the throttle way into the four barrel for hours at a time when pulling a shrimp net. Even with the throttle pushed this far open the motor was only turning 1700 rpms while under load. This is a large strain on the motor as you may imagine.The Olds nevered faltered unless I pushed it above 4500,
    then it would break rocker stands. This was not a big deal I carried a few
    on board and would just stop and pull the valve cover and change the broken one. Sometimes a pushrod would be bent all to hell when the rocker broke, this was fixed by grabbing the offending pushrod with vise grips and knocking it up out of the lifter valley with a ballpeen hammer .
    Crude but it sure beat pulling an intake while at sea! the lifters never suffer any damage during this "roadside" repair. Oldsmobiles 455s are tuff!
    Anyway I do tend to ramble, sorry. MickeyC from the Bayou

  28. The no-reverse bit could be as simple as the trans low on oil.

    Been there....
  29. Mizlplix
    Joined: Jan 8, 2007
    Posts: 170

    from S/W USA

  30. BillBallingerSr
    Joined: Dec 20, 2007
    Posts: 651

    from In Hell

    I would put a Turbo 400 behind it if I had room. A 455 doesn't really need a stick, you break things too easy. You can just put it in drive and let the motor do all the work. If you keep it at 4500 rpm or less, it will live a long and happy life. Tires, well I can't say that will be true, see Denise's burnout picture.

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