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What do you guys look for when shopping for a used Holley carb?

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  • What do you guys look for when shopping for a used Holley carb?

    As the title says, what do you look for when shopping through those boxes of used Holley carbs at swap meets and stuff? Besides getting the right cfm and such, how do you KNOW that the carb is good, or at least rebuildable? Besides crunching date codes and stuff, are there any parts that are non-negotiable, have to be there and super nice? Where is the line when you decide to either pay up or walk away? LOTS of used carbs out there, but are they worth it?

    Any help is greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    I don't bother with date codes, if the choke horn has 3310 stamped on it, and it has 2 metering blocks, costs 50 bucks or less I want it! if the throttle shaft linkage is tite and not sloppy like a lot of em, I want it, but you fix that with a tach weld,

    I used to buy a lot of 750 double pumpers and 850 double pumpers, to and there is a bunch of #s on those, mainly look for missing stripped bowl screws on them, cause they are junk once the bowl screw holes are stripped in the body,
    also if extra idle holes have been drilled in the primary throttle plates, its a negotiation point, I solder em up no biggie, but I want a price break cause (dude you drilled holes in the carb) wink wink!


    • #3
      Funny....just the other day over New Year's weekend a buddy came up from New Braunfels. He has an old double pumper and he cracked the baseplate. He was scrounging for one and had found one for $90 just for the plate. I told him we'd dig through the "stash" at my house. Actually took me a little while to find the "carb box"....but there it was. Baseplates, main bodies, bowls, metering blocks etc all gathered over the years. A bunch of rebuild kits...and even some trick kits with pump cams etc.

      Since all the "good" Holley DP's used the same basic sized baseplate with #172 throttle plates.....there's a lot of interchangeability. I reached in and pulled one out and instantly remembered why it was in there.

      Once upon a time at the track I had a N20 solenoid leak and filled the engine with a lot of that stuff. Of course when I went to crank it I gave the 4779 750 a quick pump shot and hit the key with the throttle closed, BOOM!! Sucker blew back so hard it was incredible..and I was nearly deafened.......but it started and was running at WOT!! Killed it and found the throttle plates were folded back up into the throttle bores! I pulled carb and used a punch to flatten the plates out as good as I could to get it to idle and not stick. Incredibly I continued to race that night even if it was a little sticky!

      Later I swapped the baseplate with another one I had saved the funky one for later. Guess what....never throw anything away because a scant 24 years later I needed it!! I told him to swap the plates out from his carb and he'd be in business! Gave him a few other parts and all was good!

      Back to OP question....I used to buy them when I lived in Denver at swap meets. Most were in great shape and were cheap. Folks would say they couldn't be tuned for altitude and would give up. Problem was they messed them up changing things. I would buy them and go to the Holley LIST manual and put them back stock. Throw them on my Camaro and make minor adjustments and sell them for quadruple what I paid for them since I could prove they ran.

      So same as Ronnie,,,look for shafts moving freely and plates not worn out from folks using messed up throttle linkage etc. Look for cracked plates and stripped holes. If it's all apart in a box I look for warped metering blocks and if the threads are raised some in the main body where bowls screw on...I complain about the "ruined" main body (fix with a file). LOL on the drilled we didn't do it!! If the parts are all mismatched the price gets better...but all of them are good overall.

      I had lots of old truck Holley's off 366 engines. They would routinely pop back and burn when drivers would fill a gas truck with diesel. They had governors on them and all sorts of funky stuff...but basically a 4160 Holley. They were a great source of little pieces, screws etc. People will nearly give them they are worth having for little pieces that are hard to find.



      • #4
        GREAT stuff!

        Makes it sound like there's hope for all those hopeless souls left in the bottom of boxes at all of those swap meets! And as always, all info is GREATLY appreciated!


        • #5
          BTW, I have a lot of holleys, asnd so does David, what are you looking for???


          • #6
            Basically, information was what I really needed. I got commissioned to do a story about scouring swap meets for a Holley carb. Figured there was a deep well of knowledge here on the forum and ya'll didn't disappoint.

            Even gave a nod to ya all in the story. Here's a link.
            Scouring swap meets looking for that used Holley carburetor for your application can be a daunting task. With a little information, it can be found.


            • #7
              Great article, thanks for the shout out,!!


              • #8
                You betcha! I appreciate the info.