One of Butler Performance’s recent builds is this, a fuel injected, 8-71 BDS blown 535 cubic inch Pontiac. It’s destined for the engine bay of a street-driven ’65 GTO, so the team ensured it would play nice with pump gas and support creature comforts like air conditioning while delivering massive horsepower.
Family owned and operated since the company’s initial inception in the 1960s, Butler Performance evolved into a business enterprise through endless hours spent at the drag strip and car shows, where founder Jim Butler would notice that Pontiac fans were underserved. Seeing a need for a performance shop that had proficiency in Poncho power, Jim’s expertise would eventually spawn Jim Butler Performance, which specialized in parts and restoration services.
His obsession with all things Pontiac would lead Jim to own literally hundreds of the brand’s vehicles over the years and ensured that his two sons, David and Rodney, would catch the performance bug when he started putting them behind the wheel of Pontiac race cars at the family-owned US 43 Raceway in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, even before they were teenagers.
That seat time would prove to be pivotal for the Butler brothers – and Pontiac performance fans, for that matter – as the two would learn the vehicles inside and out, and the company’s engine building services would slowly gain notoriety throughout the 1980s alongside their restoration efforts. By the time the pair established Butler Performance in 1999, they’d already cultivated a reputation as the go-to shop for serious Pontiac power.
Tom wanted a street engine with an 8-71 BDS blower for his 1965 GTO. He wanted the look and sound of a roots blower with low maintenance and the streetability to cruise around town on pump gas with the A/C on. –David Butler, Butler Performance
Each brother applied his talents to specific aspects of running the company, with David overseeing general operations and customer service while Rodney directs the engine building process for their various projects. Jim is still involved with the company as well, offering his decades of experience with technical issues and handling internet commerce duties as well.
From their recent expansion into a new, larger location with more room to grow, to the addition of an in-house Superflow dyno and full machine shop, Butler Performance is positioned to keep its long-standing heritage with classic Pontiac cars while also expanding to the world of high tech engines and performance parts for later model muscle cars as well. “When you choose Butler Performance you don’t just get out of the box parts,” says David Butler. “We don’t take anyone’s word for specs, tolerances, clearances, or quality. Each part goes through the ‘Butler Process’ to ensure the quality of the part will hold up in race cars, everyday drivers, and classic musclecars.”
To bolster the big Pontiac’s streetability, Butler Performance added a host of MSD ignition components, including the MSD Red 6AL ignition box (P/N MSD-6425), MSD Blaster SS 40,000V Coil (P/N MSD-8207) as well as MSD-Red 8.5mm Super Conductor spark plug wires that were cut to fit HEI / points style boots. A FAST Pontiac dual-sync billet distributor doles out the spark to the NGK spark plugs.
One of the company’s most recent projects is a brutal Pontiac that merges old-school cool with modern improvements to power delivery and reliability in the form of Tom Aevermann’s supercharged, fuel-injected 535-cube street mill. “Tom wanted a street engine with an 8-71 BDS blower for his 1965 GTO,” David explained. “He wanted the look and sound of a roots blower with low maintenance and the streetability to cruise around town on pump gas with the A/C on.”
With the meaty mid-range power it delivers, this supercharged Pontiac big-block and its sweet bird catcher-style air intake will undoubtedly be crowd pleasers on cruise nights. The combination’s street-friendly manners and fuel injected temperament should make the mill easy to handle around town, ensuring that this powerplant and the Goat it’s to be installed in will see plenty of time out on the street.
Tom originally asked the Butler team to shoot for a target of 750 horsepower – no small feat considering the requirements of friendly street manners and pump gas. “This beast ended up making 820 horsepower and 860 ft/lb of torque,” David told us.
The build started with an AllPontiac IAII block and a Butler Performance rotating assembly with a custom set of slugs (4.350 bore x 1.175 CH/ -54.14cc dish), Eagle CRS 6.800-in. H-beam 4340 forged rods, and an Eagle 4340 forged crankshaft (4.500-in. stroke, 3-in. main), along with a custom grind Butler Performance/Comp Cams hydraulic roller camshaft (250/260 @.050-inch).
A set of Butler’s CNC-ported 72cc Edelbrock round port cylinder heads with Ferrea valves, Comp Cams dual valvesprings and titanium retainers were installed on the top end, which are fed through a FAST XFI EFI system. Forced induction comes to this beastly 535ci Pontiac mill by way of the aforementioned BDS blower with a March serpentine system that’s been tweaked to get the supercharger, accessories, and air conditioning all working in tandem.
Butler Performance uses its own in-house components for a number of the motor's internals, including an 80psi oil pump, two-piece .083 x 5/16 oil-restricted chromemoly pushrods, steel embossed head gaskets and other pieces, while the laser etched black anodized valve covers give the motor a distinctive visual appeal under the hood. A touchscreen-controlled FAST XFI eDash handheld will provide an interface with the fuel injection system as well as real-time system information from inside the car.
“While we build a lot of these large cubic inch engines, we also specialize in smaller cubic inch, high horsepower street engines – big power but pump gas and streetable,” says David. “We put together complete drivetrain packages now with manual and automatic O/D transmission kits as well as fuel systems, tanks, and cooling system such as radiators. We also offer every engine as a ready to build package, meaning you can get a short-block kit, long-block kit, or full engine with all machining done. Ready for your builder of choice, and we ship them all over the world.”
Looking to add some serious muscle to your Pontiac project? Butler Performance are the folks to talk to for all things Poncho. Give ‘em a buzz and see what they can do for your build.