"High tech" Honda engine VS. "Low Tech" V8

A lot of Honda enthusiasts say it is easy to build a 500 HP Honda engine. Sure it is if you have enough money! Buth then with enough money, you could make a lawn tractor outrun a top fueler.

The April 1998 issue of Hot Rod magazine featured 2 engine buildup stories: one a "high tech" turbo Honda engine built by JG Engine Dynamics, and an "old tech" Buick 455 V8.  Hot Rod, unlike most "sport compact car" magazines, gets into the details of the engines in featured cars and the costs to build. Both made 500 horsepower, but the Honda cost almost 3 times what the Buick cost . Basically, they threw away the bottom end of the Honda, since in stock form the Honda cannot withstand the pressures of  making 500 HP. They basically rebuilt the block with ductile iron cylinder sleeves  and closed the open block deck by welding in a deck plate.The pistons and rods were replaced with expensive aftermarket pieces.

The "low tech" Buick used nearly all stock parts with the exception of ported stock heads, an aftermarket cam, aluminum intake manifold and headers. The Buick's short block uses a stock rods,crank, and block. It will  make 500 HP using  ordinary premium pump gas, while the Honda needs expensive racing gas to make the full 500 hp.

The Buick engine was installed in a large 3950 lb. Buick GS and ran the quarter mile in 11.59 secs. It would be much quicker if the engine was put in a lighter car, like a Nova, Skylark, or Ventura. According to JG Engine Dynamics, their Honda engines usually run low 11sec. - quarter-miles  in a 2500 lb.Civic.

 Keep in mind that the Buick 455  is not even a popular engine to modify; parts for Buick engines are more expensive than more common Chevys. But for the same price as ONE high-strung, grenade-waiting- to-detonate Honda engine, TWO mild, more durable "old tech" Buick V8s could be built with money left over. In fact, you could build the Buick engine and  pick up a  fairly nice car to put the Buick engine in for less than the cost of the Honda engine alone!

So unless you have a  rich mommy and daddy, or don't mind maxing out your credit cards or taking out a 2nd mortgage, Hondas engines are not great  to modify for drag racing if you want to go fast for a reasonable amount of money
Make Buick 455 
home built
Honda 1.8 VTEC 
JG Engine Dynamics 
custom built
Output 500 HP 500 HP (33 lbs boost)
COST $3,926(US) $10,500(US)
Fuel Required 92 octane pump gas 118 octane racing gas
Block Stock Buick, 
.038 overbore 
cleaned;new core plugs
Highly modified Honda: welded in  aluminum top block deck 
to prevent stock floating cylinder sleeves from breaking; 
ductile iron cylinder sleeves replace stock aluminum 
Pistons Cast Aluminum JE .38 over Forged Arias
Connecting Rods stock Buick HD Crower aftermarket
Rings Chrysler 440 N/S
Head(s) Greg Gesler Level 2 ported Buick Honda w/1.35" intake valves  
replacing stock 1.29
Crankshaft Stock Buick, .010 under N/S
Camshaft(s) Lunati 241-241 "Hemi Killer" Radical JG Engine Dynamics Custom Grind
Induction Normally Aspirated:  
Edelbrock Performer Aluminium manifold; 
Stock GM Quadrajet 4bbl
Forced Induction:  
XS Engineering turbocharger; 
air to air intercooler; 92 lb/hr injectors; Aftermarket ACCEL DFI system with General Motors MAP sensor
Ignition Stock Buick HEI ignition controlled by Aftermarket ACCEL DFI system
Exhaust 1 7/8" TA Performance Headers N/S
N/S= not specified