81 malibu build

Dec 21, 2021
2
1
I am new to the site and I have a 81 malibu classic 3.8 229 v6, transmission unknown. I want to make a car that will stand out I dont Necessarily want it to be fast but I want good acceleration times, and a mean sounding car, but the 350 I was going to put in the car will cost me a fortune to fix as it was sat on the ground for 8 years and has rusted pits in the cylinder walls, so I was wanting to know if there is a way to upgrade the v6 that is in it I don’t want to spend much money on it because I already have a racing truck but I was wondering if I were to find a cam, long tube headers and a full exhaust, cold air intake, good spark plugs and wires, will this v6 be good enough like I said I don’t want a super fast car 100-110 is good for me I just want it to sound good and accelerate fast if anyone knows what parts to get or has any advice please tell me. Thanks.

(Update: I think I have decided to do a stroker 229 build could someone provide me with list of parts I need for build as I have never done one before? Thanks.)
 
Last edited:

scoti

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Sep 5, 2019
1,487
113
Texas
1st.... Welcome to the site.

2nd... You stated you already have a "racing truck" so leave the 229 as is & enjoy it for what an '81 v6 was.... Nothing special. Putting a bigger cam, long-tube headers, & full exhaust all sounds good but the limited displacement & poor flowing heads will limit any benefits the cam & exhaust would provide. Enjoy it as is.
Get your 'go-fast' fix in that truck & save up for a decent small-block or LS swap candidate
 

81_malibuclassic

n00b
Thread starter
Dec 21, 2021
2
1
1st.... Welcome to the site.

2nd... You stated you already have a "racing truck" so leave the 229 as is & enjoy it for what an '81 v6 was.... Nothing special. Putting a bigger cam, long-tube headers, & full exhaust all sounds good but the limited displacement & poor flowing heads will limit any benefits the cam & exhaust would provide. Enjoy it as is, get you 'go-fast' fix in that truck & save up for a decent small-block or LS swap candidate
the only problem is I need to rebuild the engine in the malibu and I love gbody cars
(I have 3) one is a original 3.3 v6 2 door 1978 malibu and that is the one I am keeping all original l, but the 81 I bought to make fast and to use as kind of a Guinea pig for performance parts I paid $200 for a running and driving car with a. Blown freeze plug. But what you said about the heads, what mods could I do with those heads to get better acceleration? Thanks
 

scoti

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Sep 5, 2019
1,487
113
Texas
the only problem is I need to rebuild the engine in the malibu and I love gbody cars
(I have 3) one is a original 3.3 v6 2 door 1978 malibu and that is the one I am keeping all original l, but the 81 I bought to make fast and to use as kind of a Guinea pig for performance parts I paid $200 for a running and driving car with a. Blown freeze plug. But what you said about the heads, what mods could I do with those heads to get better acceleration? Thanks
Most heads will do better w/porting & milling (porting for flow; milling to help gain compression). I'm not certain but I bet the aftermarket has aluminum intakes as well. You probably won't find any smoking deals on a new intake & even less likely to find a good deal on something used.

If it had a rotted freeze-plug, I'm betting the motor is not in tip-top shape. The basics suggest you complete a compression test first. If the cylinders aren't healthy, doing anything else to the motor is like taking your $$$ & throwing it in a fire-pit.

But.... Again, I feel you're just throwing money away. For what you'd spend on machine shop labor, a better carb, gears & uncommon performance parts (alum intake/headers) for that v6 you could probably find a late 90's Vortec headed L31 small block in a Suburban that would yield greater return on the same investment.
 

Kamloops cutlass

Master Mechanic
Jan 27, 2021
266
63
Kamloops bc
I wouldn’t spend more than 100 on a v6 before I just tore it out and put in at least a junkyard small block
V6 and acceleration are not used in the same sentence.
Not for cheap
And it would still sound like a v6
 
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