This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
If I had a penny every time someone started the good ol’ Holley vs Edelbrock carbs debate, I’d have a lot of pennies. It’s an age-old question that has been asked since carburetors were invented. So which is better?
The truth is, it depends on what you’re looking for. Holley and Edelbrock are durable carburetors with outstanding performance and reliability, but each has unique advantages.
Did Holley Buy Edelbrock?
Recent reports have been circulating on forums suggesting a potential merger between Holley and Edelbrock.
Edelbrock carbs have been around since 1938 and are known for their performance and ease of installation. They offer various carburetors for different applications, from street to race. Edelbrock carbs are also relatively easy to tune and maintain; recently, they merged with Industrial Opportunity Partners.
Holley is an individual business that has recently bought Detroit Speed and has many recognized labels. Holley carburetors have been around since 1903 and are renowned for their dependability and effectiveness. Holley carbs can be relatively straightforward to adjust and take care of.
In this article, I’ll be focusing on both brands’ 600 CFM carburetors made of aluminum:
- Edelbrock’s 1406 Performer (check latest prices)
- Holley’s 4160-style carburetor (check latest prices)
The 600 CFM (cubic feet per minute) setup is optimal for the best power, efficiency, and driveability. Don’t overcarb, or you’ll lose out on low-range throttle response.
Both are four-barrel carbs. Also, these two represent the main differences in how the two brands approach carbs, so it’s easy to extrapolate to other carbs – like their 750 CFM series.
You can cross-check the usually lower Amazon prices with SummitRacing prices too.
In addition, both brands offer a wide carburetor range for different applications. Understanding the performance carburetors and their differences is essential for choosing the right one.
Key Features of Edelbrock Carbs: 1406 Performer (600 CFM)
Without any hesitation, this is the best choice for tuning beginners. If you’re not that familiar with the tinkering – and you don’t care either, grab an Edelbrock.
Edelbrock’s four-barrel carburetors work exceptionally well out of that cool box they come in, especially if we’re talking about a street cruiser and performance-oriented vehicles.
The 1406 Performer is great for street performance and mild racing applications. It’s designed to provide the best performance and fuel economy while still being easy to install and tune.
It is The carburetor for cars and features an electric choke, which makes it easier to start in cold weather. The Performer Series 600-cfm carb also has a manual choke, which is great for tuning.
Unlike Holley parts, Edelbrock carbs come with mechanical secondaries. This means several things:
- They work better with lighter vehicles
- They click well with manual transmission
- Lower gears help you get the best of the carb
A significant benefit of Edelbrock’s 1406 carb is that it’s better at cold starting. I’m not sure where you live, but this is a very important consideration if you have freezing winters.
Check out this video on it before I continue on with my review 🙂
As far as acceleration goes, the mechanical secondaries here will give you a crisp throttle response, unlike the smoother transition with Holley carbs.
The installation is another important factor I recommend for casual drivers. First, the manual is extensive, and you can DIY through the process easily – something that many people mentioned in their reviews. The classic carburetor tuning is something every driver should experience just for the sake of it.
Second, all the adjustment fixtures in the Edelbrock Performer 1406 carburetor body are easy to reach and adjust.
The Weak Point?
Well, it’s not that great if you plan on doing towing and hauling. In this case, it’ll hit some seriously high gas mileage levels, unlike Holley’s carbs. As you can guess, that also means you’re better off with a Holley if you plan on doing some extreme offroading. It is a better carburetor for performance applications.
Also, if you are a fan of tinkering around, Edelbrocks’ type of carburetor can get touchy about the tuning, which can be a frustrating experience.
Holley’s Carburetors and Their Features: The 4160 (600 CFM)
Important note: This is Holley’s 4160 series carb. It can replace Edelbrock, Autolite, etc style carbs with a 5 3/16” x 5 5/8” bolt pattern. You will need an adapter to install it if you have a spreadbore style intake manifold.
Holley Performance Products have been around since 1903 and are well-known for their carburetors. A remanufactured Holley can be an excellent choice for those who want to get the most out of their engine and have the versatility this popular carburetor can offer.
Remanufactured carburetors may seem as an excellent advantage for turning your street carburetor into a performance carburetor. However, it is important to note that these are not the same as a new carburetor.
Alright, so What About Holley Then?
The basic Holley carburetor four-barrel family is the 4160. It’s a 600 CFM carburetor great for street performance, mild off-roading, and towing.
First things first, the vacuum secondary. As I mentioned before, these will greatly help with your gasoline expenses for offroad situations and things like towing. Significantly lower gas mileage compared to any of the Edelbrock carbs.
The 4160 is a vacuum secondary carburetor, meaning that the secondaries open up based on the engine vacuum. This makes them ideal for vehicles with automatic transmissions since they can handle the torque converter better than the mechanical second. When the throttle is released, it recycles most unused fuel back into the carburetor, saving you big on your gas bill.
As a whole, here are a few benefits Holley can boast about:
- Smoother acceleration than Edelbrock
- Fares better with more in-depth tuning
- Works well with automatic transmission
- Simple to rebuild if you want to
What Is the Difference Between an Adjustable and Manifold Vacuum?
Vacuum pumps are used to draw air into the carburetor. The adjustable vacuum is a device that can be adjusted to control the amount of air being drawn in. This allows you to fine-tune the carburetor for different engine conditions.
On the other hand, the manifold vacuum is created by the engine itself and is not adjustable. It determines how much air is being drawn in through the intake manifold.
The 4160-style carburetor has a vacuum secondary, which is adjustable. This means you can adjust the air being drawn in to get the best performance out of your engine.
As previously mentioned, an Edelbrock is typically the better choice right out of the box. However, Holley is a great option if you enjoy customizing and tuning your setup. Holley provides endless possibilities for DIY enthusiasts with more responsiveness and less fuss than even Edelbrock carbs and most other brands on the market.
You can make larger, more significant adjustments than other average power carbs that require you to go one small step at a time. By increasing the average power output, you can get more out of your engine and enjoy the performance benefits.
One of my favorite videos on the 4160 four-barrel carb is this one; check it out:
Well, the idle is less reliable than what Edelbrock can offer you. And once again, Holley isn’t that great for beginners.
First, if you stick to daily driving, you’ll need to make some tuning and adjustments. Also, the manuals are not as comprehensive as all the instructions with Edelbrock carburetors.
There are always YouTube and discussion forums, though.
Moral of the Story: Be Careful With Carburetor Sizes
I mentioned it before, but I want to ensure I got the message across.
Go big or go home doesn’t make much sense in the world of carbs. One giant hero carburetor will not do its job unless you have the right engine and exhaust setup.
So, if you’re looking for a Holley or Edelbrock carburetor, get the right size for your engine. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting money and time.
Remember, the basic formula for calculating the CFM your car engine needs is:
CFM = Cubic Inches x RPM x Volumetric Efficiency / 3456
How much RPM (revolutions per minute) do you expect of your ride?
Even at 6000 RPM, you’d only need a 500 to 550 CFM. Thus, these 600 CFM carbs from Edelbrock and Holley will serve you well.
Also, another rule of thumb is to understand the general Volumetric Efficiency ratios different vehicles have. As far as I know, stock engines have a VE of 80%. Race engines can go up to 110%, and if you have a street cruiser that has been rebuilt (assuming regular bolt-ons) will push it to 85%, max 90%.
Obviously, I don’t know your build, so your case might differ. Don’t stick a 700 CFM carburetor for its ‘power’ when it leads to poor driveability.
While this isn’t the most comprehensive overview on which carb is better – Holley or Edelbrock- I believe I’ve compiled a good amount of information for you.
Ultimately, both brands won’t disappoint you in raw power and manufacture (aluminum is lighter and deals with heat better than the older generation zinc carbs).
Keep in mind what type of driving you plan to do with these carburetors.
And as always, let me know in the comments below if you’ve had any experiences with either brand.