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The choice of peanut-port cylinder heads from a mid-to-late-'80s TBI big-block may concern a few enthusiasts, but the power numbers certainly demonstrated their potential. Additional components supplied on the 454 assembly included a flexplate, an HEI distributor with plugs, plug wires from ProComp, and a new damper.
Displacing a true 461 ci thanks to a 0.030 overbore, the Demon 400hp 454 delivered more than advertised by producing 446 hp at 4,900 rpm and an impressive 542 lb-ft at just 3,600 rpm. Each Demon 454 features a four-bolt block, though the company insists the two-bolt blocks are more than sufficient for this power and rpm level. The factory-cast, low-compression pistons are ditched in favor of a set of forged units from Probe Racing. Cam choice is actually up to the customer, but the most common cam is the Xtreme Energy XE268H (or equivalent) flat-tappet from Comp Cams.
Some may question the use of the much-maligned peanut-port heads on a performance motor, but there is no denying the results.
For those unfamiliar with the peanut-port heads, this shot illustrates the port size difference between the factory peanut-port and a typical rectangular-port head. The iron-headed 454 was run with a set of E3 spark plugs featuring Diamond Fire technology. Given the use of the flat-tappet cam, Demon Engines highly recommends a quality motor oil (like Lucas or Royal Purple) and use of its high-zinc break-in additive.
Supplied as part of the package, our low-buck 454 was equipped with a high-power HEI distributor and silicone plug wires from ProComp Electronics. Part of the success of the combination is a result of using a dual-plane intake manifold from ProComp.
We ran the 454 on the engine dyno using a set of 2.25-inch Hooker dyno headers, though the combination would likely respond to smaller primary diameters.
Run on the engine dyno, the 400hp, low-buck 454 from Demon Engines produced not 400 hp, but 446 hp at 4,900 rpm and a tire-melting 542 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm. Longtime readers have been treated to high-winding small-blocks with stock rod bolts and sketchy, solid-cammed, big-bore stump pullers that we're not afraid to rev way past the recommended redline.
Demon Engines in Sante Fe Springs, California, sells low-buck 454s as service replacements, advertising an honest 400 hp and more than 500 lb-ft for just $2,650 outright. Truth be told, the motor actually displaces 461 ci thanks to a 0.030 overbore, but even 400 hp requires something more than a stock cam profile. In fact, Demon was quick to point out that with a minimal amount of work, the peanut-port heads will support more than 500 hp, so they are more than adequate for 400 hp. The oiling system included a new standard (or high-volume) oil pump with a brazed pickup and a heavy-duty drive, a new oil filter, and a truck pan. The cranks are mag-checked for straightness and then ground (if necessary) and polished prior to assembly. According to Demon Engines, the company has run the factory connecting rods successfully at more than 700 hp and 7,000 rpm.


Milder cams can be used on towing applications, and wilder cams will offer more peak power at the expense of low-speed torque. Stage 1 porting is an option, as are larger valves, but judging by the power numbers, the reworked stock heads performed admirably. The combination of the ProComp HEI distributor and E3 plugs eliminated any trace of misfire during our testing.
We followed the break-in procedure recommended by Demon for this test motor, which included use of the high-zinc additive from Lucas Oil and prelubing the motor prior to start (to ensure oil was supplied to every rocker arm). The Air-Gap-style intake offered exceptional torque production through the entire rev range. Our secrets are to scrounge a short-block from a wrecking yard, fix only what is necessary, assemble the engine ourselves, and wear the proper protective head and eye gear when standing near the running engine. What intrigued us about the Demon engine was that it came nearly complete, from intake to oil pan, minus only the carburetor. Keeping costs down meant skipping the more expensive roller cam and sticking with a hydraulic, flat-tappet version. The 454s are available in Mark IV and Gen V configurations with no difference in power production.
What the small ports bring to the table is improved part-throttle response and torque production.
The Demon 454 belted out 490 lb-ft way down at 2,500 rpm and never produced less than 400 lb-ft. Before assembly, the cam lobes and each lifter were liberally coated with moly-based assembly lube. It should be pointed out that the intake was designed for the larger oval-port heads and as such offered a port mismatch with the smaller peanut-port heads.
The best thing about this combination is it is available for the paltry sum of $2,650, less carburetor and water pump.
It features a four-bolt block and is available in either Mark IV or Gen V guise with no changes in power output.
The mandatory loss of zinc content in current motor oils had many enthusiasts abandoning flat-tappet cams, but according to Demon Engines, there is no need for concern with proper preparation. Sure, huge rectangular ports will make more power, but they will not match the driveability of the small peanut ports. For our dyno session, we installed a Holley 750 HP-series four-barrel, but similar power numbers can be made with a less expensive version.
A forged-steel crank is an option, but the added expense is deemed unnecessary at this power and rpm level. The duration specs offered good idle quality, and throttle response would be excellent on the street.
Using this procedure, Demon has never experienced a cam or lifter failure with a flat-tappet cam.


According to Demon Engines, the low-buck 454 produced the best horsepower and torque curves with the ProComp intake despite the mismatch. In fact, Demon was quick to point out that it has never lost a flat-tappet cam or lifter on any of its engines. For every job there is a tool, and the peanut-port heads work very well on this application.
As indicated, we prelubed the motor using 10W-30 Lucas conventional oil, the high-zinc break-in lube, and an electric drill. This motor would be equally at home in an RV, truck, or performance street machine and (if 450 hp and 542 lb-ft aren't enough) would make an excellent starting point for a more serious buildup.
What we did find was a motor perfectly suited to the combination of power level and engine speed. The company's procedure for a long life includes moly-based assembly lube on the cam and lifters prior to installation, prelubing the motor prior to start-up, and use of a high-quality Lucas oil and high-zinc break-in lubricant. As supplied for the 400hp 454, the heads maintain the factory valve sizing but receive a fresh surfacing, a competition valve job, and a new spring package to work with the Xtreme Energy cam profile. The valves were adjusted and the motor was run through a computer-controlled break-in procedure (for the new cam and rings to seat properly).
Perhaps a touch of overkill, the procedure has proven successful, so we followed it to the letter prior to starting our 454. According to Demon Engines, the short-block can stomach power levels above 700 hp and 7,000 rpm and heavy doses of nitrous.
With the tuning completed, we were rewarded not with 400 hp as advertised, but with peak numbers of 446 hp at 4,900 rpm and an impressive 542 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm.
We may well take up Demon on its offer to abuse this engine in the future, but for now, we were interested in seeing what this baby had to offer in as-delivered trim. Small by big-block standards, the grind offered an impressive combination of idle quality and torque production.
The Air-Gap-style intake offers impressive performance throughout the rev range, despite that it was originally intend-ed for the larger oval-port heads.
Torque production from the low-bucker exceeded 500 lb-ft from 2,800 rpm to 4,600 rpm-that should annihilate some asphalt.
According to Demon, the port mismatch is inconsequential at this power level, and testing with dedicated peanut-port intakes demonstrated a drop in power compared with the ProComp unit. Even with the expense of a carburetor, figure on less than $3,000 for a 400hp big-block Chevy package that delivers more than advertised, making this 454 good for some late-night Camaro fun.



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Author: admin | 09.11.2013 | Category: Small Sheds For Sale


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