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Thread: Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

  1. #1
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    Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

    My wife has one of those S-10s with the big offroad ZR2 package. It is a '98 and we rarely drive it (50k miles). Was thinking about spicing the performance up a bit for fun but I am a noob when it comes to performance.

    It is a 1998 4.3 L Vortec and I think there were 2 different engine types but I'm not sure how to tell what we have.

    Is there a supercharger or other route available for that series that could add 50+ horses for less than $2k or so?

    I'd rather not play with nitrous and tear the engine up if possible.

    Thanks for any ideas!

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    Re: Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

    Thats low miles!

    Either a VIN X or W. The 8th digit in the VIN tells u. The W has 10 more HP and 5 more ft.lb Tq at 190/245 vs 180/240.
    Just a cam priofile difference.

    SC is Wynjammer. Is easy to install, about 60HP, u have a few upgrades (look into the power pkg with the igher flowing poppet injectors) A good time to upgrade and update the notorious to fail poppets anyways and gives the motor the extra fuel it needs. Theres no other fuel upgrade option other than a Marine Intake swap (still needs bigger injectors) but alot of wiring and a few mods to get it to work. Or the Edelbrock 2114 manifold that will need to have a bunch of mods done to make it accept fuel injectors and a TB adapter. By far the Jammer and fuel umgrade they sell is the easiest bang for the buck. Around your budget too, reliable and hands down Al at Wynjammer has the best dervice. Also comes with a new tuned PCM to make it even easier.

    U wont need an air intake kit, PCM Tune or underdrive pulleys with the Jammer kit. So no need to spend money there if ur going to do the Jammer.
    If not doing the Jammer or SC, then u can do those and get some inprovements. If you go that route, then do as many mods as you want and then get the PCM custom tuned after to take advantage of those mods. Remember, the Jammer will come with a new custom tuned PCM.

    If doing the Jammer or Not, you can delete the clutch fan and add an electric fan. Look up the search since there is neumerous fans out there to use. Frees up power doesnt add any.
    Look up the TB Mod as well. Removal of the lip inside the throttle blade will give you a more responsive throttle or u can buy a new non-lipped throttle blade from CFM-tech.com to make it easier.
    Ign is prerry good stock but always get a brass contact cap and rotor. The stock plastic base distributor can be swapped out fairly cheaply for an aluminum base stock replacement one. Just more reliable and not a HP increse. Dont waste ur $$ on the Accell Billet Dizzy. MSD makes an upgrade coil but again its not a big implrovement over stock. An CDI box can be added but again not a huge improvement.
    The y-pipe on late model 4.3 is kinda small and upgrading to one with 2" primaty y-tubes will help in mid to upper RPMs. I think Magnaflow sells a stock replacement y-pipe that is larger but will retain the cats. Its stainleess and mandrel bent pipes, so its nice but pricey. For about the same price you can get a local shop (usually) to make u a custom y-pipe. $200-$250 is going rate without pre-cat. Removing the precat if they will will help in neumerous ways.
    Stock cat flows well, so if u r in a emission testing state, keep it as long as its good. If u want more louder exh and frrer flowing exh and ur in a non-emissions test stte, they can delete it (if they will) when u do the custom y-pipe.
    Mufflers u have many options and will provide some help.
    Headers. edelbrock made a nice set of mid-length tube headers which comes with their own new y-pipe but Edel is getting out of the header business so they are hard to find. Note that the custom y-pipe wont work with Edels and they should come with a new y-pipe. Gibson, OBX, Pacesetter and JBA make shorty headers that will work with the stock y-pipe or your custom y-pipe as long as you had the custom y-pipe made for the stock manifolds.
    On the OBX and JBAs, they have one tube that wraps around the steering shaft. Buy the JBA made specific plug wires for wither JBA or OBX brands to clear the new tube routing well. Some ppl dont like the way they are made and some do. The Gibsons I had were nice and plain stainless (no ceramic coating). Tho u can get the Gibsons either way. I never had any issues other than the drivers rear tube was soo close to the 90* plug wire boot and over time caused it to dry crack. Do yourself a favor with the Gibsons and leave time to install, check and uninstall, and hammer ding where needed, and reinstall. Use heat sleeves with then also.
    The Gibsons, JBS and OBX all have thick flanges at the head which is KEY to them not heat cycleing, loosens the bolts and then the gaskets leak. If u find some cheapo headers, they prob have thin flabges and WILL leak over time.
    BUT, they y-pipe netted me more gains over the header swap as I did the Ginsons and the custom y-pipe on mine at different times. Do the y-pipe over the headers

    If u dont wanna do a cam swap (Comp Cams makes a few grinds and theres some info u want to research FIRST before buying one), then you can gain more lift on the sock cam by doing a higher ratio rocker swap. Like the small block chevy, the stock ratio is 1.5 and upgrade is 1.52 or 1.6 Unless ur doing a mid to large cam later/or now, you can do the 1.6 rockers. If u plan on a large cam and want a tad more, do 1.52s so ur still good on clearances.
    U need a specific rocker and stud to do the swap. Basics are they are a LT1 or LT4 style rocker. Being they are Narrow Body (used on centerbolt heads) and Self-Aligning (since we have no guide plates). Look at the Rocker Swapping 101 thread in the 4.3 section I made to help you figure that out by year.

    Heads are great stock and u can get a larger valve and some porting to improve them. Unless u wanna pay alot of money, Brodix is the only other head readily avail for the 4.3L. And Brodix arent cheap

    Thats all I can tink of rt now but its a good start


    Stay away from TB spacers, Manifold spacers and gimmick mods. See the Worthless Mods thread I made for more detail on stuff to NOT buy


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    Re: Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

    Wow! Ton of info to digest. Thanks a bunch Mikz!

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    Re: Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

    Just checked the VIN and have a W .. Yay!

    I just took it for a spin and it feels a little mushy and unresponsive for 190 HP. It also seems like it takes forever for it to idle down enough for me to comfortably move to a higher gear.

    Whats the best bang I can get out of a few hundred dollars while I save for a SC, just to help the old girl out?

    I have a buddy that just got new exhaust for his V8 challenger and said he actually noticed the difference, but it was probably just a placebo since it sounds so much better!

    Edit: Didn't want to ask you another question right after such a great response, but was just curious how you would start if you had one right out of the box and a few hundred bucks
    Last edited by whambulance; 05-13-12 at 07:32 PM.

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    Re: Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

    lol,,,,^^^^^ you asked for it, you got it! Great job Mike!
    "Only 2 defining forces have ever died for you,,,,,,, Jesus Christ and the American soldier!
    One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom"-LT. COL. Grant L. Rosensteel Jr

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    Re: Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

    Hey Whambulance,, welcome to the planet there bro! Did you land any pictures on here for us to see your Z? I have one too,and love it!
    "Only 2 defining forces have ever died for you,,,,,,, Jesus Christ and the American soldier!
    One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom"-LT. COL. Grant L. Rosensteel Jr

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    Re: Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

    Hey and welcome, might want to look into the laggy unresponsive issue. I changed a fuel pump out in my 2000parts at 98k miles helped for a while but its still not up to par.
    2001 Xtreme 4.3L currently sitting in the yard killing grass. Motor replacement in due time.

    2000 Chevy S10 Blazer ZR2, my new DD, CAI and clear corner bumper lights. Some dents removed working on the rest.

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    Re: Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

    Welcome to the Planet, Enjoy!


    Oh yeah what he said in post 2. LOL!
    BTW, I Do custom tunes, Ask around you will get a few responses.... All i need is YOUR PCM a few dollars $$$ and a couple of days for turn around.... Unless your johngo and make me scratch my head at his truck.... LOL


    We also like pics here so..................... Post um!
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    Re: Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

    lol
    Quote Originally Posted by neo71665 View Post
    Google searches can prove bigfoot is real and aliens from outer space are breeding with humans too.

  10. #10
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    Re: Affordable HP from a 4.3 L Vortec?

    Thanks guys!

    I'd be afraid to post any pics at this stage because it's completely stock and went 10 years without a garage. I like to get ideas on how to fix it up because it at least motivates me to save a few extra bucks and get started.

    Of course it may be a while

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