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Old 03-17-2017, 09:58 AM   #1
Purple04Goat
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$2000-2500 budget, valve train upgrades, help!

If I have 2000-2500$ to spend on my 04 GTO, and it's already got long tube headers, an X-pipe, magna flow dual exahust, a 1000hp 1pc aluminum driveshaft, high flow catalytic converter, and I'm aiming for 400-500hp (naturally aspirated) what ought I do?

I'm a college student, my 04 A4 GTO (128,000 miles) is my daily driver. I'm working at a paid internship this summer and expect to earn between $2,000-2500. Since housing and food are provided, I don't have to budget for those things, leaving me with money to spend on the car.

It's a 13 year old car, so I've experienced things having to be replaced due to age. For example, I am about to buy another passenger side door actuator because mine has been out for a few weeks. I replaced the tie rod ends and the sway bar bushings. I purchased new ball joints and an energy suspension master bushing kit but I've yet to install those parts. The drivers side window motor is probably on its way out, it's super slow when it goes back up. Stuff like that is related to age. She could use a paint job, one day.

That stuff aside, I want to add power to the GTO, but don't have the money for a forced induction setup. I would like to maybe get a set of 243 heads and port them, or even just port the stock heads, and get a mild camshaft upgrade (this is going to sound stupid but I don't want my MPG to go down the drain, I'm a student and I already put 93 octane gasoline in my car so it's expensive as is.

A friend of mine who has 2000 Z28 said that I ought to look into a cam package with upgraded valve springs, maybe upgraded rocker arms, also a stall for the transmission, and a tune. Thoughts on that?

On the other hand, if I do the mods to the valvetrain, I want to be certain that the car will be able to handle the added power. Any precautions I should be taking? I appreciate any feedback.
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Old 03-17-2017, 10:20 AM   #2
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A cam, valve springs, valve seals, trunnion upgrade and a tune will eat up that 2000 bucks. ---If you do the work. If you pull the heads, prepare to spend a lot more. And, If you get that done and go beat the crap out of it, there is no telling what will break next. It's not just a GTO that stuff will break on, it's all cars. Get a cam and a tune and take it easy until your bank account grows enough or find a sugar momma.

Sounds just like your parents?
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Old 03-17-2017, 10:46 AM   #3
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Nick at Non-Sponsor quoted me $2250 for Cam swap which included Dual springs, better push rods, retainers, gaskets , Melling oil pump and Tune. Add $ 200 for Trunnion upgrade (recommended my most here). So yeah you are gonna eat up $2500 before head work.
Have you done any suspension work ? I would put any money there first. OEM is crap and if you add power it will only be more noticeable. 2cents.
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Old 03-17-2017, 03:09 PM   #4
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KW coilovers.
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Old 03-17-2017, 03:19 PM   #5
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Yeah $2500 isn't going to get you anywhere close to 500hp NA, and probably won't get you to 400 either. I was at 400 rwhp, with a big ass cam. With install, tune, valve springs, pushrods, oil pump and timing chain I was at about $2000~. Since you have an auto, you'll need to throw in a stall converter as well, so with the stall (not installed) you're already at $2500. Keep in mind my cam was (by quite a few) considered to be extremely large, probably more than most would want. With a smaller cam you'll get less power.

If you're already concerned about the 25 cent difference per gallon to put premium in, this is definitely not a car you want to be modifying. It's a 3800lb barge with a 5.7L V8 that wasn't known to get good mpgs with stock power levels. Modding it even further with a cam is going to take it down quite a few pegs. Save your money.
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Old 03-17-2017, 04:45 PM   #6
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2500 vaporized on shaft mounted T&D's, taller valve covers, dual springs, titanium retainers and a Cam motion camshaft.

Don't blow the entire 2500 on parts, there's always little (or sometimes not so little) things you find once you start digging.
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Old 03-17-2017, 05:42 PM   #7
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I would suggest that you keep the money and save it. You'll never know what kind of expenses will creep up on you while in school. Being a college student myself, I've been there, and done that. I know you're not going to want to hear that, but with that being said, that budget will not get you to your goals. If you want to do it properly, anyways (and you do want to do it properly, since it is your daily driver).
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Old 03-20-2017, 03:25 AM   #8
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Suspension upgrades first like someone else already said. And Save you're $$$$ it's a daily driver, you're young.....having a cool hot rod comes years later after your priorities are taken care of
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:16 AM   #9
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You want to hit 500hp but don't want to lose gas mileage, and it's a daily driver. That's an easy answer to me. Just spray it...

Do a nice higher end nitrous kit and hit it with a 150 wet shot, it'll last forever and put you at or above your power goal as long as you have a GOOD TUNE!!! Can't emphasize that part enough.

To get anywhere near 500hp NA in an LS1 is going to end up costing a LOT more than you think. High dollar heads, big intake, big cam that'll screw with drivability/mileage, etc. Whereas if you spray it with a good setup and a good tune it'll drive like a stock car when you want it to, and run like a 500hp monster when you want it to.
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:17 AM   #10
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Your other option if you want to pursue it is the CX Racing TT kit, it's around $2500 if I remember right. Been a while since I've looked at it, but it's a good affordable option as well.
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakegoat...View Post
A cam, valve springs, valve seals, trunnion upgrade and a tune will eat up that 2000 bucks. ---If you do the work. If you pull the heads, prepare to spend a lot more. And, If you get that done and go beat the crap out of it, there is no telling what will break next. It's not just a GTO that stuff will break on, it's all cars. Get a cam and a tune and take it easy until your bank account grows enough or find a sugar momma.

Sounds just like your parents?

Nah bro, that stuff don't happen to imports and mustangs.
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:20 AM   #12
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Get a cheapo cx racing turbo kit.
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:27 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nothubertjfarnsworth...View Post
Nah bro, that stuff don't happen to imports and mustangs.

I forgot
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Old 03-20-2017, 04:22 PM   #14
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Lots of good advise above.
I'm an old timer so what do I know but I think you should take care of the cars issues first.
Its your main source of transportation so how fast you get there is not as important as if you get there.
My first car was a 72 Nova back in 74, It was slow but reliable. when I got my first $500 to spend on it I added performance goodies. A lot of money back then.
It did wake the car up but I ended up hitch hiking a lot more often.
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:58 PM   #15
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I'd put the cash into a Roth IRA man, seriously your tax rate will never be lower. You pay the tax now....let er sit in there for 35 years...pull out the cash with no tax burden later.

I wish someone had told me that 15 years ago LOL
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Old 03-21-2017, 01:11 PM   #16
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500 rwhp N/A for under $2,500 isn't happening.

If you do a cam package + stall you are at $2,500-$3,000. (And will get you close to 400 rwhp).

Also if you do a stall know that your mpg will drop significantly. The LS1 cable driven GTOs can have a "lean cruise" made so that when the stall locks up and you are cruising you can get better gas mileage. But that still means driving around town etc you will get barely 11 to 13 mpg. (I have a 3800 stall).

If you decide to not do everything at once (not a lot of us have $4k to dump on a single build) you will spend more in the long run redoing stuff. Example, you do a cam package now, save up then decide to do heads. You will need new valve springs and retainers for the new heads, new pushrods as well, and a new tune (duh), etc. Also if you do the CAM package, you probably won't be doing lifters (to do lifters you need to remove the heads) and the labor cost on that is decent more or less the cost of lifters which range in the $400 to $800.

**But you want 500rwhp!**

*Doing a set of heads yourself*
799s or 243s will cost $300 to $450
if you mill them, +$100
if you port & polish +$1,100
oh and new strong *usually dual* valve springs +$150-$300
which will require new pushrods +$100
*since you have the heads off this is the perfect time \ only time to do lifters* +$400-$800
vs
*Buying a set of built heads such as Trick Flow 215 = $2,400.*

DIY Heads vs Pre-Built will save you about $500 unless you decide to cut corners and not spend money on a port & polish.

Don't be like me! I did a CAM package (aggressive cam) and didn't do heads (thinking I'll do heads later). My stock lifters only held up for 20,000-25,000 miles before failing and trashing my cam. Leading to me replacing more parts that I had already replaced, (oil pump, cam, etc). I can't thank Complete Street Performance enough for the work they put into my Rat Rod to keep it going, but learn from me. Do it right, do it once.

Also this is just in basic stuff to make you faster lets not factor in other issues, for example my GTO use to be my Daily as well when I started modding just like you.

I've been through 6 transmissions
3 Torque converters
2 differentials
Replaced 1 halfshaft
Replaced my broken driveshaft with a DSS single aluminum
Replaced broken suspension ($6,000 dollar lesson)
Replaced Radiator with a ridiculously expensive one that didn't even fit properly.
On my third alternator.
Many sets of tires, I believe I've been through 30+ (burnouts, daily driving, drag racing, etc).
I had a pair of 243s I paid for ready to be port & polished and they were stolen by a former member / sponsor of this website.

I STILL have yet to get above 401 rwhp and the last pass I made at the track was 2 years ago when I ran 11.93.

I recommend keeping $2,000 in preparation for a part failure, because as you said, you are daily driving and this is a 13 year old car.

Keep $2k ready for the unexpected and save another $4k to knock out your goal. (FYI, N/A LS1 usually end up around 450rwhp It's nice to aim for 500, but few if any have achieved it with a LS1. And it's harder to reach 500rwhp in an auto since they dyno lower due to the stall. Dick measuring contests are usually more accurate when comparing ET and Trap Speeds than Dyno numbers.)
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Last edited by DangerNoodle; 03-22-2017 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 03-22-2017, 02:15 AM   #17
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Screw all that.

Run the cheapo fleabay turbo kit until it blows. Then sell it to some unsuspecting 16 year old.

That tapping noise? Eh, all LS motors do that...
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