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1964 Oldsmobile F-85 Build - The $3,500 Challenge

How To Build A Cool, 13-Second 455 Olds F-85 For Very Little Cash.

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Let's face it, building a semirespectable street beater that has the right look, runs decently, and doesn't leave you stranded every other time you drive it is a big challenge. The easy way is to throw money at it and see what happens. But that's not the Car Craft way. Especially when Glad draws a $3,500 line in the sand and says, "I dare you to build that car!"

The Back Story
This Olds saga didn't start with me. It began with my buddy Tim Moore. Moore is the consummate bargain hound-a true car crafter. He discovered the '64 Olds F-85 in a neighborhood near his shop looking like it hadn't moved in 20 years. He offered to perform a driveway dust-off for $450, and the owners jumped at the chance. The drivetrain was forgettable with an obscure 255ci V-6, a two-speed Olds Jetaway trans, and an 8.2-inch 10-bolt with 3.31 gears. But it was a start. On the plus side, this was a two-door sedan with bucket seats and an acceptable amount of trunk-floor rust.

Moore then went on the hunt for a donor Olds, eventually finding a '72 Olds Delta 88 equipped with a 455 and a TH400 trans. He dragged this barge home, yanked the motor and trans, and sold the bench seat, tires, and eventually the rest of the car to the junkyard, recouping almost half his original investment. It's the American way of turning one man's junk into another man's treasure.

Big Motor Mastery
Moore is the master of the budget rebuild, and when the original cylinder walls were deemed good enough to handle new rings without adding new pistons, Moore scored all the major parts from PAW, including rings, bearings, and a new SSI cam and lifters for around $350. Using a simple bottle-brush cylinder hone and a little spray lube, Moore deglazed the cylinder walls, cleaned everything, and screwed the short-block back together with a new oil pump and gaskets. We've included the cam specs in a separate chart, but Moore stayed conservative with the duration, retaining the stock valvetrain.

The Olds heads are not bad, but with a 30-degree valve seat and valve sizes not much larger than a 2-bbl 350 Chevy, there was room for improvement. Moore resurfaced the valves and seats himself with a previously owned valve-grinding machine he bought at an auction for just such an opportunity. With 1.99/1.62-inch valves, the Olds is not renowned for big airflow numbers, with peak intake flow barely reaching the 200-cfm level.

To button it all up, Moore found an Edelbrock Performer dual-plane intake manifold at a swap meet to be used with the original Q-jet carburetor. The final piece was a set of Hedman long-tube headers for an A-body that required some minor hammering on a couple of tubes on the driver side to make them fit.

The maximum output available in an Olds 455 in 1972 was 300 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque with an 8.5:1 compression, so this big-block is probably making a little more than that with the headers and cam. That's not stunning power, but on a dollar-squeezing budget, it's not bad.

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