Register now to get rid of these ads!

Projects Value of a 1955 331 HEMI

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by woodsnwater, Feb 28, 2017.

  1. woodsnwater
    Joined: Apr 4, 2016
    Posts: 360

    woodsnwater
    Member
    from North Al.

    I have a chance to buy one that is still in the car and complete but it is rough. The car has been outside in a junk yard for 40 plus years with the hood closed and the air filter on but lets assume it is locked up and has freeze damage. (worst case scenario) What's it worth? Just the motor.
     
  2. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 24,594

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    just going resell motor - or, rebuild?
     
  3. I'm willing to bet mice live in that hemi. HRP
     
  4. woodsnwater
    Joined: Apr 4, 2016
    Posts: 360

    woodsnwater
    Member
    from North Al.

    I want to build one a little at a time. No hurry. Can't freeze cracks be fixed reliably enough for street use?
     
    Register now to get rid of these ads!

  5. Arominus
    Joined: Feb 2, 2011
    Posts: 379

    Arominus
    Member

    Its probably not cracked, I pulled a 58 plymouth out of a yard in the same condition, it had been sitting since 66 with the air cleaner on it. Its 318 spins freely and there are no cracks i've found. Odds are in your favor, squirt some oil down the spark plugs and see if you can rotate it, don't do much, you just want enough to see if its locked up or not.

    55 has the good hemi heads, rebuild it with 10:1 compression, a mild cam, the hot heads 4 barrel intake and enjoy. Just for reference, i'm rebuilding my 392 the same way and i'm looking at a little over 4k for the rebuild.
     
  6. you have to look at it as a core, it could be good or total junk. I wouldnt throw more than 500 bucks at it, and id try for more like 300. if its been outside for 40 years its probably more like froze and filled with rodents like HRP said. be ready for an expensive rebuild. I wont do another one without being able to inspect everything first before i buy it.
     
  7. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,184

    George
    Member

    W/o freeze cracks, probably 1,200. it's probably stuck.
     
  8. texasred
    Joined: Dec 3, 2008
    Posts: 1,056

    texasred
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Houston

    Whatever scrap metal goes for in your area.. if it turns over maybe a little more,, it cost no less to rebuild a 331 than a 392
     
  9. 2935ford
    Joined: Jan 6, 2006
    Posts: 3,287

    2935ford
    Member

    a dollar 2.95!:)
     
  10. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 4,857

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    It may be different these days, but when I did my avatar about 20 years ago, 331 pistons were very hard to find and twice as expensive as 392's. The same year I did the hemi, I also did a 350 SBC for my boat; the complete rebuild on the Chevy was $1100, the pistons alone on the 331 were $1200!:eek:

    The last hemi I bought was a 331 truck engine that I heard run and had good oil pressure, compression, and didn't run hot. I gave $1500 and was happy. This was about 8 years ago.
     
    barett likes this.
  11. Comes down to condition and what your end goals are. If it is free and not cracked - probably $500 to $700. If it is frozen - about $300. But - also keep in mind that it is expensive to build an early Hemi - so think about what you want in the end?

    The heads are probably what we call the 'triple nickle - 555' ones - so they're good flowing heads for a performance build (with some work put into them) - they'll work on a 354 or a 392 with intake manifold spacers. If you just want a hemi and don't care about cubic inches, then this initial core will cost you a lot less than a 392 core - like 1,500 to 2,000+ less. If you want a big cube engine - then you can step up to a 392. If you're thinking that buying it and reselling it are your goals - then don't buy a 331, much harder to sell, than even a 354 and worth a fraction of a 392.
     
  12. woodsnwater
    Joined: Apr 4, 2016
    Posts: 360

    woodsnwater
    Member
    from North Al.

    I feel lucky to have found the 331in my area. I don't believe I've ever seen a 392 for sale that's not already built. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places.
    Anybody in the north Alabama area that has a complete buildable 392 for less than a grand feel free to send me a message.
     
    31Vicky with a hemi likes this.
  13. You'd be very lucky to find just a 392 block for that . . . :)
     
  14. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,284

    73RR
    Member

    The 55 331 is an excellent engine and they can run with the big dogs if you have the right pile-o-parts.
    If you are on a budget then a lot of the eye-candy can be eliminated. The oem 4-bbl intake is an excellent design and can be modified for better flow with a big(er) carb. Forged pistons currently run in the $800 range (as least from us) and camshafts can be reground. Some of the 'extra' expense can come from properly rebuilt rocker arm assemblies, but the results are worth the cost, imho.
    Save even more money and use the stock water pump assembly.
    I would not worry as to whether or not it turns over. If it does, great.

    So, what's it worth? Only you can decide but if it was in my shop there would be an $800 tag on it assuming a crack free block. And yes, cracks can be repaired but the cost of repairs must be deducted from the core value.

    .
     
  15. woodsnwater
    Joined: Apr 4, 2016
    Posts: 360

    woodsnwater
    Member
    from North Al.

    That was the point I was trying to make.

    Thank you
     
  16. Send me a message too please
     
  17. Hell . . . send me ALL the messages! LOL
     
  18. 331 short bell housing with good oval heads is a great find. All you have to do is bore 1/8" over and you instantly have a 354. Pistons can be had. If it has the extremely rare 331 4-bbl intake, that is worth +$300 all by itself. I would snap it up in an instant for $500, still give it a really hard look at $1000.
     
  19. The '55 will have the dry everyday 4 bbl manifold. The '54 is the one year only 4bbl manifold with thermostat
     
  20. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,284

    73RR
    Member

    ...and boring a 331 out just to use 354 slugs is wasting a good block. I'll make all the oversize 331 pistons you want and you'll never need to worry about thin walls.
    ....yeah I know a guy that knows a guy that bored out a 331 and used 426 Hemi pistons...yada yada yada......internet crap.

    .
     
    lucky13 and barett like this.
  21. barett
    Joined: Jul 1, 2012
    Posts: 461

    barett
    Member
    from Taylor TX

  22. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,184

    George
    Member

    Only need spacers using 331 heads on the 392
     
  23. Arominus
    Joined: Feb 2, 2011
    Posts: 379

    Arominus
    Member

    Don't chase cubes, do the smallest overbore you can, punching the block out to its max means it can't be rebuilt again, which IMO is a short sighted decision for a few cubic inches. I went .030 over on my untouched but worn 392 so if I need to do a total rebuild again in the future, I can go further (after checking the walls).
     
    dan31 and George like this.
  24. I had Ernie Hashim (legendary 60s hemi guy, first guy to break the 180mph barrier in top fuel as I recall) bore my '52 331 1/8" over 20 years ago. It had a bad scratch in one cylinder from a broken snap ring so I had no choice, no way to clean it up well enough to use oversized 331 pistons. Ernie said it was a conversion he did all the time, never had a problem with it. He found me two sets of good used 354 pistons from which he made one good set, fit them to the engine, balanced it and I have been running it ever since. Has over 60,000 miles, never any problems. I doubt 426 pistons would be a good swap!!!!!! I do admit to posting a lot of internet crap though.

    P5290002.JPG
     
  25. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,284

    73RR
    Member

    ...very nice Willys....

    I do think that you, and your block, are the extreme exception and not the rule.
    I always check, and always recommend that everyone else check, the wall thickness before ever cutting any cylinder. We have seen way too many core shift problems to ever blindly bore an EarlyHemi block.

    .
     
  26. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 16,919

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Amen to that. Always check.
     
  27. I'm sure Ernie checked before going to the mill but he said the old hemi blocks took this mod in stride most of the time. Just a note to people who might junk a block that could be easily salvaged and made good again.
     

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!

Archive

Copyright © 1995-2020 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.