Watch this Pontiac V-8 go from basketcase to brawler on Redline Rebuild


We told Davin we got him a gift, all he had to do was open the boxes. Inside was a gearhead's ultimate greasy-hands LEGO set. A Pontiac 389 V-8 split up about just as far as one can be, with extra parts mixed in for a good measure of confusion. If anyone was going to get this engine back to its Tri-Power glory, our resident wrench would be the one to do it.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/12/12/redline-rebuild-pontiac-389


Been excitedly waiting for this! Just the kick I needed to get going on the cam upgrade on the 400 in my 69 GP.


Your best video yet, loved it!


This was a really cool watch.

If you ever need a car for a time-lapse LS Swap, my little C4 convertible is available. :smiley:


This VIDEO was Brilliant! I loved watching it! If only I were so talented!


Davin should have been wearing safety glasses & a face mask as well as having a fire extinguisher nearby, when he started the engine on the test stand. Otherwise, it is a great video.


Great video! These are really fun and the follow-up videos are crazy-informative and entertaining. So, just for reference, if one were to pay real American dollars and cents to have a job like this done, with this level of quality workmanship and parts, what would it cost? (asking for a friend…)


@MOWOG - It can vary greatly depending on the builders familiarity with the engine, how much needs to be repaired/replaced, what needs to be machined, and if it is just a stock rebuild or something a bit more. A local machine shop can often times give a ballpark number, so if you are curious about having an engine rebuilt, talk to local shops or parts houses and see if there is an outfit nearby they recommend and then get a quote.


Very disappointing. I didn’t even watch it until the end. Who needs to watch an engine rebuilt in warp speed? Not me for sure…and especially with no audio explanation. Waste of time.


Please let me know who did the music for this 389 rebuild? It is great, I want to add it to my playlist.


A 4/7 swap on the firing order??? WTH??
OK, I have never heard of this before. PLEASE tell us more. If swapping these cylinders is somehow better, then why did the factory do it differently?

Also please explain why the iron parts are painted before assembly? It just seems easier to assemble the block, heads, pan, etc and THEN paint everything. That’s how the factory did it. Please elaborate.
Thank you.


Well done! I enjoyed this video. Reminds me of the ol days…


I put together a 427 Big Block Chevrolet several years ago (before I jumped ship for Pontiac Power) and to build a mid level performance big block, I think I ended up close to $5,000 invested and I didn’t have to go deep into the heads. A 427 is not a cheap engine to build though and I did extra things (which I think are good to do on any build) such as balancing, and studded the mains to allow for extra safe RPM. On the other end, I fully built a 327 for $2,000 using some lightly used heads, which was a cost savings.

Poncho engines are not cheap to build. I am currently looking at building a stouter 400 for my 69 GP or stroking my spare 400 block to a 428 and make an SJ spec car. I’m looking at least $4,000 just to do the 400 the way I want, assuming I don’t have to drop some big money on heads.


Your videos are awesome! Like the 389, I am currently building a 66 GTO, putting a W72 400 from a 78 Trans am but a 1966 389 would be so much better. If you can’t find a use for it I can give it a good home!


@rtree - The 4/7 swap didn’t come up in the aftermarket until years after the production of the engine was complete. A multitude of factors could explain why the factory built it the way it did. The 4/7 machined cam could have been more expensive with only minimal gains- not worth it to a manufacturer. Also, the understanding of how engines function has evolved, meaning they might have built it the best they could in the 1960s, but more recent developments lead to the 4/7 swap being recognized as an improvement on the design.

The paint is just two ways to do the same job. Surely both ways would have a similar result, we just have an easier time taking the individual parts to the paint shop rather than the completed assembly.


@rlsutliffe - Stay tuned for our explainer video that slows it down and has our videographer and Davin (the engine builder) talk through a lot of the detail that went into producing this time lapse.

Here is a link to last explainer we did. It’s on the Top Fuel dragster engine that was our last Redline Rebuild, and fair warning it is well over an hour long. Lots of really great insight and info in there.


My understanding is that while the 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2 firing order is good, the 4/7 swap allows for smoother running and a marginal amount more power. From an engineering aspect, I believe it is supposed to put a little less stress on the crank and mains, but I wouldn’t expect true benefits to shine until you get to the upper end of the RPM range. Now I am not an engineer, but that is the theory I have heard.


So is the block being suspended from a serpentine belt as it is moved from one location to another? (at the 2:48 mark)


@cberven - That is a trick our resident wrench picked up (pun intended) from our local machine shop. Our heavy Hemi block was moved around using the trick, and I have heard stories of the machine shop moving much larger parts in the same way.

Honestly, I was surprised at first but after seeing it a few times I will be using it in the future.


Someday I want to rebuild the 289 in my Mustang. That will be a good trick to remember! Thanks for the confirmation.