Thanks Big Dave. I'm in Maryland, but being historic, and also the Eastern Shore, we don't have emissions. I actually run 91 octane ethanol free in all my carb'd applications (mowers, 70 c20, 67 bel air) because I can let it sit for a few months and not worry about it turning to crap.
I have gone back and forth in my head on what to do with this Bel Air. I got a good deal on the 454 and TH400, so I figured I'd run that, but then I was leaning toward 5.3 or 6.0 LS, then I was back on the 454, then a BluePrint 383 for ease of installation......so I am very much still at the planning phase. It really will come down to cost and time.
The 454 is the first engine tear down I have done, so I figured it would be a good thing to build and learn with. I wasn't going to tear into the bottom end, but given that crap compression, I may have to at least change out pistons. I was going to buy one of the top end kits for the 454. I wasn't shooting for crazy numbers, something like 450hp 500lb/ft would be more than enough for me, as that will easily destroy the rear end as it sits right now.