SovereignDragon wrote: How much horsepower can a 1981 non turbo 231 hold?
Depends on what internal parts you use. In 81, a non turbo 3.8 wasn't built to take alot of power but I couldn't tell you exactly where the cutoff line is. My guess on how much power it could handle with stock internals would be 'not enough if you were trying to make enough power out of it to be fast'.
I know some of you may ask why would you even bother but I'm debating on being a little different.
Nothing wrong with different but keep in mind you can be 'different smart' and 'different stupid'!
All the people I work with are saying just drop in a 350.
Ah, the classic 'the Chevy 350 is the only choice' people. Tell em to go pound sand. Tell em unlike them you don't have to be like everybody else and run a Chubby 350 and that makes you and your car cooler!
I know, easier and cheaper horsepower.
Who cares. If you want to do something different then I say do it. When you're done your car will simply be cooler than there 'just like everybody else' car with their cheap-ass Chubby 350's. Now with that said, I personally ain't too keen on your current plan to turbo a 3.8 just to be different. Turbo setups can be expensive and cause alot of tuning headaches plus of course you'd have to beef up the internals to take the boost safely. If you're cool with all that and know your shit, then go for it. If you're a novice, then perhaps you should come up with a 'safer' plan.
Since nowadays 'being different' simply means not having a damn Chevy engine under the hood, then building an Olds, Buick ( V8 ), Pontiac, or Cadillac IS being different! If your car is setup for a Buick engine, build a Buick 455 for it. That'll be different AND it's proven to work ( and work VERY well ). Then when you're blowing your friends cars out of the water while maintaining perfect street driving manners, you can turn to them and say 'it appears my car seems a bit more torquier than yours no? I'm sure glad I didn't build that weenie 350 like you advised.'