1980 Firebird

Hi all,
I have alot to learn about this car I just bought. It's a 1980 Firebird, supposed to have a 400 Big Block, does have an Edlebroch 4barrel carb.
No headers but nice exhaust system, I think, sounds nice anyways. The car has a Hurst shifter.
I picked it up last fall and towed it home as I didn't even know whether it even ran or not. Got it cheap enough and plan to restore and do some customizing over time. At least that what the plan is. Body is pretty decent, not all rusted out, not even rusted inside the trunk and wheelwells and is good and straight. Except for the doors, they need to be re-adjusted.
About a month ago I thought, I wonder if it runs, so gave it a try and after a few pumps on the pedal it fired right up. Damn, I thought, this is not too bad, no smoke, runs reasonably well. Warmed it up, tried to move it and after figuring out how the shifter worked, got it into reverse. Tried to move it forward, worked just fine. Shut it down, restarted it and shut it down again. Checked the belts, replaced the steering belt, changed the air cleaner filter, changed the oil/filter, checked the trans and then added the plates. I wanted to run this around locally here to see what it all needed.
Needs shocks, needs brakes, needs a wheel alignment. But holy cow, this thing moves! Have to dig deep in the pockets though, for fuel money!
The thing that puzzles me though is this. How do I know for sure it's a 400 Big Block and not a 350? One thing that I did notice was the distributor shaft, it sits at a bit of an angle and not straight up and down like a 350 would.
Thanks
Allan
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There's no Chev "400 big block". It could conceivably be a Pontiac 400. Any 400-sized engine would not be original. The Chev 305 was the largest engine found in a 1980 Firebird; a turbo 301 was the most powerful.

How did you get the right filter when you don't know the engine? A Pontiac 400 uses an AC Delco PF24 if I recall....

1) What does the emissions sticker say the original engine was? What is the engine VIN code (there's lots of second-gen Firebird info on the Web, I'm sure there's a VIN decoder for these cars somewhere).
2) Do the exhaust manifold bolt flush to the heads (Chev), or do the heads have stub exhausts curving downwards to which the exhaust manifolds are attached (Pontiac)? If the oil filler is a tall tube at the front of the engine, maybe it's an Olds 403! (But I doubt it.)
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

The engine is certainly not the original IMHO, I've had quite a few people locally here look at it and most say that it looks to be an Olds engine. Even the valve covers are not stock. But not one of these folks were 100% certain. It's Canadian if that matters. One chap said it looked like a 350 but was puzzled why the distributor was at a slight angle. Not a loose cap either nor a bent shaft, it wouldn't run at all. Engine runs excellent.

Had to compare to what was on there to what would fit. It's not the original aircleaner either but rather a racing style of chrome thing.

I'm going to get that number off the car. May be in luck at this website:
http://www.autofacts.ca/classics/VIN/Pontiac.htm#PontiacFirebird72-80

This I have to check, will post once I've had a chance to go under the hood again.
Thanks
Allan

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The car has these things under the hood:
Edelbroch Torker Pontiac Intake Heads have stub exhaust, not mounted directly to the heads Oil filler is in the valve covers, these are M/T covers, no sign of any oil filler tube at the front of the engine.
According to the VIN:
1980 Pontiac Base Firebird Sport Coupe, date of manufacture 11/79 and according to the VIN 5th digit engine code "A" in my case, it came out with a 231 2bbl V6. Assembly plant was Norwood, OH.
This is like no V6 I've ever seen! So, this car has been apparently modified. And it Rocks and Rolls!
Allan
Allan wrote:

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Well, that's a Pontiac engine for sure. However, it could be a 350, 400, or 455. (Engine mount issues rule out old 326, 389, 421, 428; and the 265/301 don't take aftermarket intakes.)
There should be a two-digit code stamped on the front of the block (for example YC or X7), somewhere down by the lower pulley. There should also be a cast code on the paired centre exhaust ports, for example 6X. Your carb is likely not original (do Quadrajets even fit on a Torker?), but your distributor may have a code on it somewhere-- it's HEI, right?
These codes, taken together, may give a reasonable idea of what the engine is. There are various other tricks used, but I'm only familiar with them at third-hand: my Trans Am has a Pontiac 400, and has always had a Pontiac 400 (although I suspect the current engine is a service replacement).

It probably does not have Saf-T-Trak (Pontiac's trade name for a limited-slip rear end), and it would not have the nice factory gauge package that Formulas or Trans Ams have. Neither will it have the heavy-duty suspension with sway bars front and back. Ten years ago you could get a load of parts from the junkyards for these cars, but these days it's rare to see any second-gen F-body in the yard, and any in there are picked down to the rusted-out carcass--at least here in Ontario.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

There is a code stamped in, it is right above and to the left of the water pump if looking at the engine from the front of the car. This says XA. There looks to be another one lower and to the right but is in behind the water pump, just out of sight enough not to be able to make out what it is, no way to get to this unless the water pump is removed. This second one looks to be casted on the block rather than stamped though due to being raised lettering.
On the left center exhaust port it says 6X.
Haven't gotten to the ditributor yet or to get numbers off the carb.
Can I e-mail you some photos? You can e-mail me directly.
For parts I can check with SGI in Saskatoon, they may have something, maybe not.
Thanks
Allan

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There are a few Pontiac engines with XA codes. The most likely is the 1977 180 HP 400. You can see a good list of engine codes at http://www.pontiacpower.org/engine.htm

This is consistent with a '77 engine; Pontiac 350s and 400s came with 6X heads from about '76 to the end of production in '78/'79.

I can't seem to find my Pontiac Firebird Red Book, which may have distributor numbers. If the carb is a Rochester Quadrajet (big secondaries closed off at the top with flaps) the part number would be interesting to follow up.
The 180 HP 400 had low 7.6:1 compression and a pretty small camshaft. Of course the intake on your car has been changed, so who knows if the compression had been increased or the camshaft changed. There is nothing wrong in principle with the 6X heads--they are getting more and more credibility as some of the better-flowing stock heads Pontiac made.
You may want to replace the Torker intake with an Edelbrock Performer or Performer RPM. The Torker is a way old-school intake; good for really high RPMs, but the Performer RPM would make a much better intake if you're keeping it below 6000 RPM. And that's a good idea with a Pontiac with unknown internal components and unknown build quality--you don't want to get rod knock.
Hopefully your trans came with the engine, or the original V6 trans was strengthened. No problems with the rear end, although it's a mystery what gear ratio you would have.

You can send them to snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com; I check that every few days anyway.

Well, less rust in Saskatchewan than in Toronto!
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This is a little off topic, but I need to replace a '99 Firebird v6 engine and I have no experience with automobile repair at all. I have three things I would really like to get some information on: 1. I was wondering how hard it would be to replace it myself with very limited knowledge. 2. I could use an opinion on what DIY Engine Replacement Manuel would be best for a beginner. 3. The transmission is also going out, would it be easier to replace the transmission at the same time as the engine or would it be out of my ability to do myself? I appreciate any help you all can give.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

If you've never done this before on any car, I don't recommend trying on this year.

If you do go ahead with this, replacing the tranny at the same time would be best...
                    NOI
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