A 455 Olds story.

kw502bbc

New member
Jan 15, 2020
9
2
3
East Tennessee
Hello to all the members on here. Although I have never owned an Olds, I have had a couple of hot rods with Olds power. My first car, at age 14, was a '47 Ford with a '57 J2. It left a lasting impression, to say the least. I am currently restoring a '79 Trans Am, originally a 403, now with a '74 455. I am updating it with a set of '71 G heads, a '72 non EGR intake, and a mild cam, with Thornton block hugger headers. My affection for Olds goes way back, and I was heartbroken GM killed them off. A story I wanted to share is about the 455's reputation. I went to work at GM when I was 18, and already a gearhead. I worked at what was then Hydra-Matic. If you ever owned Turbo 400, it came from where I worked. Our assembly line test machines used the 455 Olds engines, and they took a beating. I talked to the mechanics who were replacing one of them one day, and asked why they used the Olds instead of one of the other big blocks from GM. The answer was that all other engines had been used, but the Olds stood the punishment for the longest duration. Pretty impressive, as they were ran through the gears at WOT a couple of times before the trans was shipped to the assembly plants.
 
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Kennybill

Active member
Oct 3, 2018
156
96
28
Braceville Ohio
Trubohydromatic 400 are great transmissions. I loved the 1965/1970 switch pitch transmission. Buick guys like to put the super turbine 300 torque converter in the 400 S/P for a higher stall for drag racing. I've never worked for GM but I watched the GM Lordstown plant get built in 1964/65 and they just closed it last year. I never thought that would happen. 20190309_154637.jpg
 

kw502bbc

New member
Jan 15, 2020
9
2
3
East Tennessee
Trubohydromatic 400 are great transmissions. I loved the 1965/1970 switch pitch transmission. Buick guys like to put the super turbine 300 torque converter in the 400 S/P for a higher stall for drag racing. I've never worked for GM but I watched the GM Lordstown plant get built in 1964/65 and they just closed it last year. I never thought that would happen. View attachment 844
 

kw502bbc

New member
Jan 15, 2020
9
2
3
East Tennessee
I followed the Lordstown closing. It was sad, to say the least. I hoped they would get a new product out of the last contract, but didn't. My plant closed about 3 years after I retired. It was the GM Powertrain Willow Run plant. We had a high of 14,000 workers in '78 down to 3,500 in '76 when I retired.
 

Olds 307 and 403

Active member
Oct 4, 2018
463
165
43
Melville, Saskatchewan
The Olds 455 always had a big torque reputation. I heard stories of cars just burning tires till the belts were showing. Unfortunately in stock form it ended with until they started knocking in most cases. People also probably revved them to the moon. I know one shop paid $50 for cores, hit them with nitrous till they blew. Looking at used Old's engines most 455 cores are J head motors in good shape or knocking earlier motors. Like I said bought my last 350 for $120 in great running shape, like a lot of them still despite being over 40 years old. He also had a knocking 455 which he thought was very valuable, even as a core here they are, especially with early heads. I prefer the 350 because everyone dismisses them because of the 455's legendary torque, which means cheaper. Unfortunately they are now also $500 and up here. I think the 68 to 76 Olds 350 was one GM's most durable engine from that era and is my favorite because of it.
 

Kennybill

Active member
Oct 3, 2018
156
96
28
Braceville Ohio
I remember when the Lordstown plant was a cornfield. I lived on a then main road 2.5 miles to the east. The plants first car was the 1966 Chevrolet B-body. I was still in H.S., graduated in 1968. The 4pm to 12:40 am, 2nd shift was always forced to work over and hour or more. Mostly young car guys on the PM shift. It was a mad scramble leaving the parking lot, everyone trying to get to the bars for a few drinks before last call @ 2:30 am. The main road has a Stop, turn left 100' then back right. One straight mile then a sweeping S curve. I lived a hair over a half mile before the S curve. I swear every night those guys would turn onto the top of the street, heading to the S-curve. I'd keep my upstairs window open. I'd hear wide open 4 gears power shifting, car after car. Some stayed in it a bit long and had trouble braking. Yes, a couple wrecked but not to bad. No one would believe how many, car after car. Lordstown didn't have a Police dept, neither did the Township I lived in. It was a great time to be a car guy.
I now live 3 miles to the NW of the plant. Police everywhere with speeding cameras. Funs all gone.
 
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kw502bbc

New member
Jan 15, 2020
9
2
3
East Tennessee
I remember when the Lordstown plant was a cornfield. I lived on a then main road 2.5 miles to the east. The plants first car was the 1966 Chevrolet B-body. I was still in H.S., graduated in 1968. The 4pm to 12:40 am, 2nd shift was always forced to work over and hour or more. Mostly young car guys on the PM shift. It was a mad scramble leaving the parking lot, everyone trying to get to the bars for a few drinks before last call @ 2:30 am. The main road has a Stop, turn left 100' then back right. One straight mile then a sweeping S curve. I lived a hair over a half mile before the S curve. I swear every night those guys would turn onto the top of the street, heading to the S-curve. I'd keep my upstairs window open. I'd hear wide open 4 gears power shifting, car after car. Some stayed in it a bit long and had trouble braking. Yes, a couple wrecked but not to bad. No one would believe how many, car after car. Lordstown didn't have a Police dept, neither did the Township I lived in. It was a great time to be a car guy.
I now live 3 miles to the NW of the plant. Police everywhere with speeding cameras. Funs all gone.
Sad, but good memories! We had a airport service drive behind the plant! ;)
 

kw502bbc

New member
Jan 15, 2020
9
2
3
East Tennessee
The Olds 455 always had a big torque reputation. I heard stories of cars just burning tires till the belts were showing. Unfortunately in stock form it ended with until they started knocking in most cases. People also probably revved them to the moon. I know one shop paid $50 for cores, hit them with nitrous till they blew. Looking at used Old's engines most 455 cores are J head motors in good shape or knocking earlier motors. Like I said bought my last 350 for $120 in great running shape, like a lot of them still despite being over 40 years old. He also had a knocking 455 which he thought was very valuable, even as a core here they are, especially with early heads. I prefer the 350 because everyone dismisses them because of the 455's legendary torque, which means cheaper. Unfortunately they are now also $500 and up here. I think the 68 to 76 Olds 350 was one GM's most durable engine from that era and is my favorite because of it.
Guess the big blocks were more for moving barges, than "speed contests". Lol! My Grandfather was an Olds man. He always drove a 98, which was pretty impressive, even for it's size. My Grandmother had a Delmont 88, and later a Delta 88. Both 455s. They were REALLY impressive to a teenager who got to drive them to our house and back on the weekends when I would earn a little money washing and waxing them! :giggle:
 

Olds 307 and 403

Active member
Oct 4, 2018
463
165
43
Melville, Saskatchewan
Guess the big blocks were more for moving barges, than "speed contests". Lol! My Grandfather was an Olds man. He always drove a 98, which was pretty impressive, even for it's size. My Grandmother had a Delmont 88, and later a Delta 88. Both 455s. They were REALLY impressive to a teenager who got to drive them to our house and back on the weekends when I would earn a little money washing and waxing them! :giggle:
I understand your attachment. I like the SBO because of our 75 Cutlass 4 door with a 350 and a 81 Delta 88 with a 307. Both very reliable cars. Biggest issue was the TH350 dying in the 75. I also picked up a 76, parked for the same reason, makes me not a fan of TH350. Although the TH250C lasted 450,000 km in the 81 Delta 88 and the 78 1/2 ton I transplanted the drive train into. It lasted one day behind the 403 I had in my 88 though.