Non Turbo Build


New Member
Jun 12, 2017
I apologize for this being a non turbo build question but I have been to several forums and no one has a clue about the 231. I rescued a 231 from a '85 Delta and I plan on using it in a Datsun 4x4 and I have a few questions.

I debated on doing this build because I keep hearing that the 231 is not a reliable engine. Everyone that I have asked has told me to go with a 4.3 Vortec. I plan on using the truck as an expedition type truck so I need something that I can depend on. I was told that this engine has a knock and that it is a total loss but I haven't check anything yet. Would it be safe to turn down the crank or should I replace it?

I'm starting to gather parts for the build and I already have some .030 over pistons and a Performer intake. I've been trying to find specs for the stock cam so I know what to look for. I really need some info on how to do the build for torque, fuel mileage and reliability. I don't need a fast truck; I need one that will get me to the trails and back.

I appreciate any and all help with this. Thanks.
Try the Before Black section, a few guys there have built NA 231 motors. The 231 is a reliable motor.
Yes, I would chime in that the 231 is a reliable motor. My shortblock in my GN is about 150,000 miles and still running very strong. Perhaps the NA 231s got a bad wrap due to their electronic carbs in 1981 and later models through 87. Of course in a chevy world, you'd hear that 4.3s are a better engine just like a 700R4 is a better trans because they just don't know any better. Both units used in Chevys, but neither is better than the Buick engine or the Turbo buick's TH2004R. I've always heard it is the 4.3s that are weak. Proof is, you won't see anybody at the drag strip running a 4.3 but you'll see plenty of trubo buicks running 3.8s.
Apparent an anonymous Chevy lover dislikes my comments but apparently can't type so can't articulate exactly what he's talking about. I don't blame you. I wouldn't argue with me either. UD' LOOZ!

If you know so much, where's your response to the OP? I'm sure he'd appreciate it. :eek:

So, 4.3s are a much sought after motor everyone wants to transplant -- into their VW bus? Many people build 4.3s for use in hi-performance vehicles for use at the drag strip? What is it you're talking about? DUH!

700 or 200?

Honestly its not even a fair fight. The 2004R will handle power that far exceeds that of any 700R4 or 4L60 that can be built at any price. 2004R has a better gear ratio spread, better overdrive ratio, will fit many more applications, lighter, stronger ... I can go on and on. The 700R4 is best left to applications where its the only option such as 4WD or All WD, tow vehicles, Lower HP applications or for folks that are more concerned with budget versis strength and reliability. -- Lonnie Diers
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I love Buicks, and like most anything GM. I wouldn't do a 4.3 because I think their output and fuel economy are abysmal - it does have advantages such as being 3/4 a 350; but it idles rough, and they seem to be more susceptible to spun bearings then other motors. Quite frankly, the 231 is a great motor and with Jeep stuff can easily be put in a 4x4 truck. That said, decide what your ultimate goals are and run with them - personally, I'd look at the later 3.8 or even a 3.6 (new Camaros, Cadillac CTS, etc) - 150diytunes has done a plug and play harness for me for the 3.6... 300 hp, great mileage, EFI and no one wants them... and they fit in small spaces.... which is something you're going to have to deal with because Datsun trucks are not known for spacious engine bays.