460 Build Up
by Jon Mikelonis

Cold beer tastes better after a week of hard labor and success is sweeter when doors have been shut in your face. If you follow this logic then you will understand why sitting behind your home built 385-series big block is more satisfying knowing neither fire, cam failure, nor cooling problems can keep you down. The long-awaited conclusion of our Streetwise 460 buildup was postponed after a number of serious setbacks tested our conviction. Eventually, perseverance and passion helped us overcome the nearly project-ending obstacles we encountered during the final stages of our Streetwise 460 buildup.

If you have been following along, you will know that we concluded Part Two of this buildup by dropping our long block into the engine bay of a 1973 Gran Torino. A few critical performance part selections were yet to be made prior to completion.

BIGS Carburetor
BIGS Carburetor
BIGS Carburetor

If you're active in the FordMuscle forums then you will applaud our decision to go with BIGS Performance when we needed a carb built for our application. Not many manufacturers are willing to spend the time to help fellow enthusiasts while remaining objective in the FordMuscle tech forums like Jesse Bignell at BIGS. Taking into account our mill, cam, heads, intake, tranny, converter, rear gear, vehicle weight, and desired usage, Jesse prepped us their 950 Stage 7 HP. It is immediately clear by looking at the billet base and meticulously contoured and enlarged venturis that these are serious carburetors. BIGS dialed in our carb as they do for every order, paying specific attention to our motor specs to ensure crisp throttle response and an optimum air-fuel curve. The carb is then run on an engine stand on a similar displacement motor for calibration.

While performance 385-series motors have long fared well with the standard Holley 850 double pumper, the proliferation of aluminum cylinder heads, modern cams and better intakes have brought about considerable variation in how much power the average enthusiast can crank out of the big block Ford.
This ensures that out of the box Holley's will require considerable tuning to make peak power. How much tuning depends on the aggressiveness of your combination. Even though many of us are confident in our own carb tuning ability, many also prefer to leave the labor involved in achieving razor sharp throttle response and spot-on fuel curves to the experts. Consider it akin to buying a suit. You can pick up one that is made to fit you plus or minus a few other guys. Or you can get one stitched to your exact dimensions and walk away knowing it doesn't get any better. Shops like BIGS who offer a "Built For Your Application" service are rising to the top as the demand for custom tailored parts increases.

IgnitionDuraspark and GM
To break-in our 460 we simply rigged up a Ford Duraspark distributor to a GM four-pin ignition module. This setup was not our ignition of choice nor did we plan to use it very long. However, it was quick and we had the parts to set it up in house. If you are running points and would like to take advantage of a cheap and dirty breakerless ignition take a look at what we did here. You'll need to pick up a standard GM ignition module for about $25.00 from your local chain store. Reference a 1987 Monte Carlo with a 350 in case the parts boy doesn't know what you are talking about when you ask for a GM ignition module. Enlarge the adjacent image to see the exact wiring and run your hot wire to the positive side of the coil. There is no need for a spark box of any sort. We wouldn't recommend this for serious performance use. Once the motor was successfully broken in we anticipated using a custom curved D.U.I unit from Performance Distributors (look for an article soon).

Hooker HeadersHooker headers for a 1973 Gran Torino with a 460 are not cheap. Around $400. However, from past experience we learned that if properly installed these Super Comps are true and leak free. These snakes didn't slip right in like they do on HorsePower TV. We had to work at it. Providing step by step instructions on how we got them in would be like writing a procedures manual on "How To Get a Date". Just be creative. The Crites motor mounts set our 460 a little lower in the chassis than stock which made fitment even more difficult.



In This Article:
Our StreetWise 460 build comes to a timely conclusion as a number of our readers are coping with non-op Big Block motors. FM will disclose the setbacks we encountered after initially firing our 385-series motor and prove that occasionally every hobbyist's dedication to the "game" can be shaken.

Also see:
StreetWise 460 Part 1: Bottom End
StreetWise 460 Part 2: Top End

  Blown Radiator
The first of three major issues we overcame during and after start-up. Here a possible airlock condition cuts our cam break-in procedure short. See video on page two of this article.
  Wipe Camshaft
It can happen to he best of us. Possibly a result of a hot condition during break-in or an over-adjusted valvetrain. We wiped a lobe.
  Torino Dyno
We rallied to overcome our cooling problems and wasted cam. When the 460 was finally ready for dyno testing we had a transmission fluid fire the day before our appointment that nearly brought our 460 to its' knees. As you can see here we successfully battled our big block's demons for a day at the dyno.


Not quite the ultimate test of accomplishment, but satisfying nonetheless. A week after the dyno test our 460 powered Torino made it to the Fairlane Club of America's mini-meet in Gilroy, CA on September 18th. A minor transmission bug still remains and we will be headed to the track to validate our buildup.

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