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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

Let me preface... I am a new to car repairs and upgrades.

As noted in the title I have been gifted a 07 Trailblazer SS RWD. I previously owned it but sold to a family member due to my previous company requiring we drive a fleet car. They took very good care of it driving daily for the last 4 years. Currently, it has 170k miles with expected wear on the exterior and interior. The engine was diagnosed with a thrown rod or main bearing and it will not turn at this point.

I have zero experience working on cars, have expendable cash to invest in the build, and not entirely sure what to do next. I do not need it for a daily driver but it would be nice to get rid of a car payment and drive the TBSS daily. Drag racing and or street racing is very appealing. My ideal scenario would be a TBSS with a sub 4 second 60 and 10s in the quarter mile with the driving feel of a BMW X5 M. This would a life long vehicle with plenty of time to build.

I have added some questions below. Thank you for any insights.

Questions...

DIY or Local Shop - I have no real tools for car repairs and no experience. Time and money are not a concern but how wise is buying the tools and equipment needed for a 2007 project car? Is the joy of building the car yourself overrated and or out of reach for a layman?​
Is it possible to build a 700hp engine that is quiet enough to drop off the kids at school without making a scene? Dream scenario is a simple button changing the exhaust note.​
How difficult is it to add a manual transmission? Is it worth it?​
Is it better to buy a new engine or repair the current one?​
If you were in this scenario what would you do with a $7,000 intitial investment and another $10,000 or more over the next two or three years?​
 

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If the car was free, and you have the money to build it correctly, go for it.

Being that you don't really have the skill set, or tools, to do the work yourself, this sounds like something that should be left up to the pros. While learning is fun, projects like what you are ultimately after end up rarely getting completed..

I was a Tech with Honda/Acura for over 12 years. I recently damaged the engine in my SS, probably just bent a valve as #5 has no compression. Even though I have the skills, and tools, I still chose to have someone with more LS experience than I to turn it into a 408ci monster. I'm not even pulling the engine. I shipped it from Phoenix to Vegas on a transport truck, and will fly up there when It's finished to drive it home. Same goes for the trans. Someone else is going to build it. I have enough half finished projects....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If the car was free, and you have the money to build it correctly, go for it.

Being that you don't really have the skill set, or tools, to do the work yourself, this sounds like something that should be left up to the pros. While learning is fun, projects like what you are ultimately after end up rarely getting completed..

I was a Tech with Honda/Acura for over 12 years. I recently damaged the engine in my SS, probably just bent a valve as #5 has no compression. Even though I have the skills, and tools, I still chose to have someone with more LS experience than I to turn it into a 408ci monster. I'm not even pulling the engine. I shipped it from Phoenix to Vegas on a transport truck, and will fly up there when It's finished to drive it home. Same goes for the trans. Someone else is going to build it. I have enough half finished projects....

Thank you for the reply.

I am strongly leaning towards having pros do the work. Thought to inquire how feasible it is for an amateur. Any thoughts on repairing the current engine or replacing with a new or different engine. If a different engine what would you recommend?
 

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2008 Black TBSS
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You need to be clear on your goals. You have a stock engine with 170K miles. LS engines are stout and can last 200K miles or more, but if you are going for a high HP build it's likely that not much will be reusable. Also, even if you decide to rebuild your current engine as you or your mechanic starts the job there may be more damage than expected. If you buy you need to pick a short block or long block -
What’s the Difference Between Long and Short blocks?
Long blocks add $$$, but by the time you add a cam, heads, intake, etc you spend a lot anyway. I'm not saying to use Texas Speed, but here are some prices;
2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer Assembled Engines
Personally, I would start with a short block 408 or 418 but I only have 106K on my engine and it runs fine so I have parts to use.
TSP 418 or 421 C.I.D. LQ9 Short-Block
On the other hand, if you are going for a stock or mildly built engine you might want to tear yours down and take a look to see what the damage is.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You need to be clear on your goals. You have a stock engine with 170K miles. LS engines are stout and can last 200K miles or more, but if you are going for a high HP build it's likely that not much will be reusable. Also, even if you decide to rebuild your current engine as you or your mechanic starts the job there may be more damage than expected. If you buy you need to pick a short block or long block -
What’s the Difference Between Long and Short blocks?
Long blocks add $$$, but by the time you add a cam, heads, intake, etc you spend a lot anyway. I'm not saying to use Texas Speed, but here are some prices;
2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer Assembled Engines
Personally, I would start with a short block 408 or 418 but I only have 106K on my engine and it runs fine so I have parts to use.
TSP 418 or 421 C.I.D. LQ9 Short-Block
On the other hand, if you are going for a stock or mildly built engine you might want to tear yours down and take a look to see what the damage is.

Thank you very much. This is where I am struggling. I have always picked up custom hot rod magazine and admired cars in shows and at the drag strip but I am definitely a noob to the realities of a build and or drag racing.

What is an estimated cost for a 600hp to 700hp motor to purchase? There are a number of options in the links you provided.
 

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Funny, I too spent many years 20+ as a Honda car tech. Was a master tech and shop foreman before leaving the dealership scene forever ! But, I also had experience in the first generation of the chevy small block and had always drove Chevrolet. My father was a district sales rep for them.
Anyway when I spun a rod bearing in my 08 tbss at 175,000mi I pulled it myself, took it apart and then promptly took all the pieces to a machine shop and paid for all the machine work and reassembly. Yes it was expensive but that way I made myself familiar with the changes between the old and new and didn't have to worry about making any mistakes during reassembly. Since then I have had it apart 2 more times because I was never happy with what I let the machinist talk me out of. My advice, start buying tools, reading everything you can get your hands on and watching the wealth of information available on u tube videos while you fork over the money for a nice engine package and trans. And pay someone GOOD to put it together for you this time. Take your time selecting who you will trust to do this for you it's the most important factor in the whole build. Ask questions and don't be afraid of being ignorant. That you can fix, you can't fix stupid !
And you can ask all the questions you want to right here. Some of the guys have moved on since our cars are getting older now but there is still a wealth of info to be had right here that I myself still use daily. And good luck with your build, enjoy it.

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Thank you very much. This is where I am struggling. I have always picked up custom hot rod magazine and admired cars in shows and at the drag strip but I am definitely a noob to the realities of a build and or drag racing.

What is an estimated cost for a 600hp to 700hp motor to purchase? There are a number of options in the links you provided.
A couple of things. Around here we use RWHP (rear wheel) and not flywheel/engine. 700 RWHP is probably 780-825 at the engine. It will not be NA (natural air) and will have a blower or turbo on i which is on top of the engine cost. Could possibly make it on nitrous but I don't recommend that big a shot. You probably don't want to start at 700 hp and I wonder where you got that number. My other vehicle is just over 700 rwhp on E85 and it can be tricky to drive. Drag radials are a must to get traction and they are not fun to drive in the rain. Also, any little change to air or fuel requires a tweak to the tune at that level. Calculated from ET my TBSS is probably between 425 and 450 at the rear wheels and is very fun to drive and it still has cats to pass a visual pollution inspection. It has not required any tune tweaks in over 5 years as it's a safe build. If you want to get 600 NA flywheel HP you can do it with a LSX 427. I know someone with one in a TBSS and even with a great mechanic (my tuner) there are a lot of little issues to overcome.

Most of the very high hp builds also swap to a 4L80 transmission. The stock trans will not handle that power without being built for another $4-$5K and the 4L80 is inherently stronger. You'll also need a torque converter that will handle that power. The 4L80 swap isn't cheap either. If you want it to drive like a BMW you are also looking at upgrading the suspension.

All that said I would start with a stroked LS2 or LS3 because all your current accessories will fit and the computer can easily handle it. Switch out the oil pan to reduce the oil starvation issue. For more power add a cam and upgraded heads. Drive it for a while and then decide if you want to go to the next level.
 

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I really couldn't even begin to add up all the money I have put into my tbss and right now its apart again. I went with some heads from Chevrolet high performance but had to change the valve springs for my cam. It is a custom grind from howards of wich I can't give the specs out but its BIG. I have a 3 disc lockup convertor that is tunable from TCI. I made a 6l80e trans work in my truck ( that wasn't easy).
I have bigger injectors, forged pistons and H beam rods and its gonna get a 200 shot of nitrous.
After I get it running and tuned the next project will be a Ford nine inch rear axle and tubs for more tire. I really don't know how much h p its gonna make but we shall see. Oh also went to a high rise intake and a 105 mm throttle body.
I have owned it since brand new and its my baby. Wouldn't sell it ever. And its kind of the build I always wanted when I was younger but life always got in the way. I say all of this because I'm a mechanic by career and I have done it the hard way.
My suggestion would be for you to save up and buy a complete package and bolt it in and go.
I enjoy taking it apart and making it better as much as driving it but you don't have that option yet. But in time if you find you enjoy it enough you will learn and start to wrench on your own ride. I have alot of pride and satisfaction in being able to say I did that myself.
I go to car shows all the time and see fantastic builds that win trophys but the owner only shelled out a hundred thousand or more to have somebody build it for them. I guess thats ok but its not for me.
Good luck and ask anything anytime.

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Oh and I would also suggest subscribing to hot rudders, and read read read. Information is golden. And its all there for free, or next to it.

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How much are you willing to spend on it? Are you OK with spending what the x5m would cost you to get it done? Because by the time you pay a Pro to do it all, you will have been able to buy an x5m way newer and way less mileage than your car.

Do you have space? Do you have space to add tools and equipment? Do you have a timeline? You have to answer this before you can figure out what to do.
 

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600-700 hp is going to set you back 20k just by it’s self if you do all the work your self. You will most likely have go boosted and that gets real exspensive, quick. At 170k you are going to need new frount and rear suspension work figure 5 k on that. You should do the breaks as well. These things don’t stop all that good with the stock setup. I spent close to 30k on my 2008 for a 550hp, engine, suspension, transmission, brakes, and it had a good unhurt engine. I didn’t add new heads, just had my stock ones CNC ported. I now have a cool, fun 15,000.00 daily driver come rain, snow or shine. 550 hp is more than enough, and with Biden’s 6.00/gal gas and green new deal it most likely want get over used. But I have an SS, and it is good old USA iron. LOL
CH
 
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Whatever you think it’s going to cost, multiply that by 5....that should get you halfway there.

“Cheap....fast....reliable. You may only choose 2.”

Not trying to scare you off from doing it, but just want you to realize the rabbit hole gets deep quick. But you gotta pay to play.
 

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I had similar aspirations with my SS. Those quickly turned into “I just want to get it back on the road”.
I yanked the motor and transmission myself and had a reputable engine builder do the motor and reputable transmission shop rebuild a 4L80. You save a ton of money and learn a lot doing the tear down. It’s also a ton of fun. But putting it back together can be tricky if you didn’t take pictures and document every single connector and bolt that came out.
You’re definitely going to be at least $20k deep to get that kind of power. I’m about $12k with the motor and transmission along with supporting mods (motor mounts, injectors, flex plate, TC, transmission retrofit kit, starter, intake, oil relocate, tune, etc.) and I haven’t done suspension or FI yet.


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