How Much Horsepower Does A 454 Engine Have?

By Slyng Team

Updated Feb 18, 2024

In Learn Feb, 2024

Horsepower (hp) is the rate of power a car engine produces in terms of engine performance. It is a unit of power measurement that denotes the output of vehicle engines or motors. When we talk about powerful engines or those with high horsepower, 454 big-block comes to mind, especially its V8 series, which took the muscle car industry to another level.

Table of Contents

    Before the advent of the 454-cubic-inch V-8 engine in 1970, as the last crown of the muscle legacy, the world had never experienced an evolution of the iconic muscle car lineup that has expanded into bigger yet more powerful engines. But, how much horsepower does a 454 engine have?

    In performance cars like Camaro and passenger cars like El Camino, even at that time, the 454 used to offer 450 hp in its prime. However, the same horsepower ratings were reduced by 95.1 in light of a power cut.

    Don't confuse horsepower with torque. The latter measures the force applied, while the earlier is the rate at which the work is done. For example, to see how much horsepower your car gets from the engine, you calculate the rate at which it moves, and for torque, you need to find the figure that gets your car moving.

    If your car's engine offers high horsepower with low torque, then the car experience less power from a stop than in an otherwise combination. The simple rule here is – the higher the horsepower of an engine, the faster it accelerates once at speed.

    In this walkthrough, we will explore the role of horsepower in a car's performance and how you get the most out of your 454 big block Chevy V8 engine.

    What Is A 454 Big Block Engine?

    A 454 engine is a big block of power, and it has seven ("hepto") cylinders and four ("quad") pistons. These specifications are commonly found in heavy trucks, but any car aficionado will tell you that this setup was originally created for muscle cars, such as Corvettes. Thanks to its durable design and high horsepower, the 454 V8 engine is truly a workhorse.

    Historically speaking, back in 1970, when leveraging the popularity of its 427-cubic-inch engine, General Motors introduced a 454 engine under its Mark IV series. This bore and stroke (4+1⁄4 in × 4 inches) engine was initially available in three variations: the LS5, LS6, and LS7.

    Unfortunately, the LS7, intended for high-performance cars and heavy-duty trucks, including the Chevelle and Corvette, was never available to the general public. There were rumors that the engines' horsepower output was intentionally kept low due to ongoing muscle car wars.

    All the 1970s versions of the 454 engine were the most powerful of time, with the LS5 giving 360 horsepower and the LS6 delivering 450 horses. Due to prevalent threats and market conditions, LS6 was phased out after a year, while LS5 was reduced to 245 horsepower.

    When delivered from the factory, LS6 was equipped with a single 4-barrel 800 cu ft./min and produced over 500 hp. This version also came with an upgraded Holley carburetor, but 454 LS6 was considered substantially underrated among American carmakers.

    Never available to the public, some LS-7 intake manifolds were sold by select Chevrolet dealers as optional performance parts. Due to some reason, the engine was ignored as a crate engine with a power of 500 hp.

    How Much Horsepower Does a 454 Engine Have
    Photo Credit: Motor Trend

    What Is Horsepower?

    When comparing different cars, one of the metrics is horsepower. Horsepower is defined as how much power an engine can create. If an engine revs faster, it makes more power; you don't always be using the given horsepower – it's only for when you need it, especially during racing.

    It's just like the maximum number of weight you can bench-press, you start with lifting smaller, but you can do max when necessary.

    Typically, the average car horsepower falls between 180 and 200 horsepower. Larger and luxurious vehicles, like performance sedans or SUVs, often have a base-level engine that can go up to 300 horsepower.


    How Much Horsepower Does A 454 Have?

    Surprisingly, the 454 big-block V8 engine laid down 330 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. Its truck-based 454 engine was tuned for torque with a surprise of reaching nearly 500 lb. feet without being loud. The engine block can produce a large power output. It is a good engine for performance vehicles and a great option during a gas crisis. Furthermore, the stock engine that you get in the 454 iron block is better than most other stock engines, which aftermarket components can improve.

    Talking about the horsepower of the 454 V8 engine, the factory-rated specs of all three variants were:

    • LS5 – 390 horsepower and (395 PS; 291 kW) 500 lb-ft of torque
    • LS6 – 450 hp (456 PS; 336 kW) and 500 lb-ft torque
    • LS7 – 465 hp (347 kW) and 610 lb-ft torque

    How To Get More Horsepower Out Of A 454 V8 Engine?

    The 454 is a classical, big block engine of the muscle car era; therefore, these engines are used in street racing cars and to power hot rods. Because of this, many 454 enthusiasts are always finding ways to pump more horsepower out of these powerful engines.

    However, these engines are pure beasts that deliver superior performance. If you want more, it's possible to upgrade them to get more power out of them.

    • Step #1: Discard the stock exhaust system and buy a high-flow system; once you replace the stock headers and mufflers with high-flow parts, you can double the speed of the air flowing out of your engine and, subsequently, the horsepower your 454 creates
    • Step #2: Replace the air intake and fuel system. Here, the bet is to increase the power by replacing air filters and stock carburetors with high-performance alternatives – the more fuel and air your big-block engine receives, the more powerful it will become
    • Step #3: Improve the stock timing parts, especially those tuned for drag racing. So, if you change the distributor cap, stock spark plug wires, and camshaft with some high-performing race-performing parts, you will give your engine aggressive timing, which lets it produce more power than before
    • Step #4: Use a supercharger. A supercharger uses your engine's power and compresses the air, restricting it from reaching the combustion chamber. The more the compression, the more air enters the chamber, causing bigger explosions at combustion, which translates to some fantastic horsepower
    How Much Horsepower Does a 454 Engine Have
    Photo Credit: Pixels

    How To Improve A 454 V8 Engine?

    If your 454 big-block engine was working well a month ago and is showing some signs of slow, weak performance, follow these simple workarounds. Your engine will immediately get back to its toes.

    If the compression ratios are going down, build your engine with some cylinder pressure; an inexpensive and direct way is to install a hydraulic flat-tappet cam that’s usually used in RVs.

    So-called RV cams are available to everyone; they maximize low-end performance with short durations and wide lobe separation angles. Like, a Summit Racing's RV cam with a lifter kit offers a 1, 0004, 500-rpm. And yes, be sure to run a break-in oil with added zinc additive.

    How Much Horsepower In A 454 Engine?

    Now that you know how powerful the 454 engine is, what are you waiting for? If you're a car enthusiast or a born-racer and want to amp up the performance of your racing car, get the 454 V8 engine now; an original engine will cost you $2,000+, depending upon the market availability of the warranty.

    If you go for a rebuilt 454, you will have to pay lesser than the original – around $500 to $2500+, but yes, there's no guarantee and surety to have genuine parts. It has been observed that refurbished / crate engine/aftermarket parts are superior in terms of reliability, dependability, and warranty coverage to the factory-installed ones.

    Therefore, if you like to get the most horsepower of your exiting car, like that of Chevrolet iconic vehicles like Caprice, Sprint, El Camino, etc., then grab a 454 V8 engine now. It will give you that powerful engine you deserve.