Holley vs Edelbrock Carbs: Which is Better?

by | Auto Tools, Comparisons (Cars)

If I had a penny every time someone started the good ol’ Holley vs Edelbrock carbs debate…

But it does make sense to compare them. However, the main difference doesn’t come in terms of power. In fact, studies show that there’s less than 2% HP difference between their comparable carburetors using the Average Tuned Power method.

No, the main difference lies elsewhere:

One, the ease of tuning their carbs. And two, the type of secondaries they have.

By the way, I’ll be focusing on both brands’ 600 CFM carburetors made of aluminum:

Why? Because 600 CFM is the best setup for most situations. Don’t overcarb things as it’ll affect driveability and it will bomb your lower range throttle response.

Both are four barrel carbs, by the way. Also, these two are representative of the main differences in how the two brands approach carbs so it’s easy to extrapolate to other carbs – like their 750 CFM series.

EDELBROCK CARB
  • Edelbrock 1406 Performer
  • Best for:
    Beginner-friendly right out of the box. Best for street cruisers and lighter vehicles. Better at cold starting, easy to install.
  • Tuning:
    Not much needed, great for rookies. Too touchy for tuning pros.
  • Secondaries:
    Mechanical - better suited to manual transmissions and low gears. Crisp acceleration.
  • Gas mileage:
    Best suited for street driving. Towing/offroad will be worse.
  • Ease of Installation:
    ★★★★★
Holley Carb
  • Holley 4160
  • Best for:
    People who love tuning their rides. Better for automatic transmission and simple to rebuild. Less gas usage when towing/offroading.
  • Tuning:
    Easier to do in-depth tuning on and tinkering with. Accurate and responsive.
  • Secondaries:
    Vacuum - better for auto transmission. Significantly smoother acceleration.
  • Gas mileage:
    Balanced on the street, shines in offroad/towing situations.
  • Ease of Installation:
    ★★★★

Edelbrock vs Holley

Key features of Edelbrock carbs:
1406 Performer (600 CFM)

Without any hesitation, I can say this is the best choice for tuning beginners. If you’re not that familiar with the tinkering – and you don’t really care either, grab an Edelbrock.

Their carbs work extremely well right out of that cool box they come in. Especially if we’re talking about a street cruiser.

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 very important benefit of Edelbrock’s 1406 carb is that it’s better at cold starting. I’m not sure where you live, but if you have freezing winters, this is a very important consideration.

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 crisper feeling unlike the smoother transition with Holley carbs.

The installation is another important factor I recommend this for casual drivers. First, the manual is extensive and you can DIY through the process easily – something that a lot of people mentioned in their reviews.

Second, all the adjustment fixtures in the Edelbrock Performer 1406 carburetor are both 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.

Also, if you are a fan of tinkering around, Edelbrocks can get touchy about the tuning which can prove to be a frustrating experience.

Edelbrock 1406

The carb for beginners, street cruisers and any manual transmission vehicle. Period.

Holley’s carburators 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 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.

Alright, so what about Holley then?

First things first, the vacuum secondaries. As I mentioned before, for offroad situations and things like towing, these will help a lot with your gasoline expenses. Significantly lower gas mileage compared to any of the Edelbrock carbs.

As a whole, here are a few benefits Holley can boast about:

  • Smoother acceleration than Edelbrock

  • Fares better with more in-depth tuning

  • Works really well with automatic transmission

  • Simple to rebuild if you want to

As I mentioned before, right out of the box an Edelbrock will be better. However, if you’re a DIY guy who likes modding things around – Holley will be your best pal. The tuning is more responsive and less touchy than not only Edelbrock, but most other manufacturer’s carbs.

What I mean is that you can do larger, more significant adjustment than other carbs that require you to go one small step at a time.

One of my favorite videos on the 4160 four barrel carb is this one, check it out:

The downsides?

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 do a bit of tuning and adjustments around. Also, the manuals are not as comprehensive as all the instructions you get with Edelbrock carburetors.

There’s always YouTube and discussion forums, though.

Holley 4160

The carb for tuning fanatics, offroad riders and people who love smooth acceleration.

Repeating myself:
Be careful with carburetor sizes

I know I mentioned it before, but I want to make sure I got the message across.

Go big or go home doesn’t make much sense in the world of carbs.

Remember, the basic formula of 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, both of these 600 CFM carbs from Edelbrock and Holley will serve you well.

Edelbrock vs Holley carbs: Which one is better (and is there such a thing)?

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 be different. Just don’t stick a 700 CFM carburetor for its ‘power’ when it will lead to poor driveability.

Closing words

While this isn’t the most comprehensive overview on which carb is better – Holley or Edelbrock, I do believe I’ve compiled a good amount of info for you.

In the end, both brands won’t disappoint you in terms of raw power and manufacture (aluminum is lighter and deals with heat better than the older generation zinc carbs).

Just keep in mind what type of driving do you plan on doing with these carburetors.

And as always, let me know in the comments below if you’ve had any experiences with either brand.

Founder of ToolingFun. Couldn't even change a lightbulb in my teenage years. Discovered the joy of DIY projects during my 2nd year in college. All about tinkering around, trying fun tools and projects, and giving my opinion on industry brands!