Specifications for the 1988 454 RV Engine

by Jeff Slater
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Manufactured by Chevrolet, the 454-cubic-inch big-block V-8 is a workhorse used in a multitude of applications. The reliability and high torque made it an ideal choice for everything from light duty trucks, to SUVs and motorhomes. In its current displacement capacity, the engine debuted in 1970. It has since received several refreshes and updates through the years, allowing it to stay competitive and meet the expectations of demanding buyers. It is also customizable, making it highly tunable for different configurations and vehicles.


This 7.4-liter V-8 is configured with a 4.251-inch (108 mm) bore and 4-inch (102 mm) stroke. Horsepower output varied slightly and was application specific, but typically count on 350 hp to 400 hp, with torque slightly higher, coming in at 450 lb.-ft. The large bore and stroke made the vast majority of power available just off idle, enabling it to be a very capable towing and RV platforms. The motor is normally aspirated, meaning it does not rely on turbos or supercharging, contributing to the excellent low-rpm torque characteristics. It is fuel injected and runs on regular unleaded gas.


A popular choice for recreation vehicles, the Chevy 454 found its home in motor-homes, although it was never originally designed for that purpose. The volume of engines produced, vast parts availability and relatively cheap cost made the transplant extremely attractive. In 1988 the engine was typically found in a long list of Chevrolet pickup trucks, Vans and SUVs, including the popular C3500 truck series, as well as the GMC Suburban line of full-size sport utility vehicles.

Finding Your Engine

Many reputable engine builders offer turnkey solutions based on the Chevy 454 for a number of vehicles. Given the volume of engines produced based on this platform, builders offer a comprehensive warranty program. Expect at least a five-year or 100,000-mile warranty. Cost will vary according to final specification and output, but count on paying anywhere from $1800 to $3000 (as of 2011) for a typical motor, not including installation.

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