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Why expensive cam prices?

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by Horsefly, Mar 19, 2004.

  1. Horsefly

    Horsefly F1 Veteran

    May 14, 2002
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    I've seen 308 cams listed on E-bay at $1000, $2000 price ranges? What's the big deal about a 308 cam? A Chevy cam is less than $100. Since a cam is basically just a log of steel that is inserted into a lathe-like machine and ground according to a computer controlled grinder, why is a Ferrari 308 cam so expensive? Couldn't any one of a dozen aftermarket cam manufacturers like Isky Cams grind a 308 cam if you gave them the specs?
     
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  3. Newman

    Newman F1 World Champ
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    308 cams are pipes that oil runs through, have distributor drive slots in the ends and not enough demand for isky to make a bunch to keep prices down. It would be cheaper to weld, straighten and regrind factory cams than to have four new ones made.
     
  4. vref

    vref Karting

    Dec 18, 2003
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    Jim
    The ferrari parts guy once said to me "you want to drive a chevy or a Ferrari" when I asked a similar question.
     
  5. Horsefly

    Horsefly F1 Veteran

    May 14, 2002
    6,929
    It's not a matter of what you want to drive, it's simply a matter of machining logistics. As for a slot to drive a distributor, big deal. Any machine shop could grind that. As for the oil piping effect, just start with a hollow log as your cam blank. So the question still remains: What's the big deal?
     
  6. mk e

    mk e F1 World Champ

    Oct 31, 2003
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    The reason the prices are different is just quantity. For starters, the ferrari needs 4, so you'd be talking $400 even at chevy prices. But because there is almost no demand, nobody stocks them, they set up and grind only when they have an order. There are 2 set-ups. Then there is the cam core, chevy cams are cast, but again, nobody wants to make the tooling to cast ferrari cores, so you either need to weld up the old ones or machine a new set from billet. Welding it by far the cheaper way to go, but takes a couple hours per cam at $80/hr. To make billet cams, just the gun drilling will take an hour per cam..then all the rest of the dimensions that need to be hit, your looking at $2k-$3k.
     
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  8. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
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    Arlie
    Would second what Mark said - I'm having some hotted up intake cams welded up and one price quoted for ALL types of cars, Ferrari or Chevy, was $60/lobe at Web-cam. I got a bit better price (if no problems) than that at Elgin, but it adds up fer shure. It is possible to get used cams that don't need much, but I agree the new ones are quite dear. Then again, the cam is the soul and personality of the engine.
    best
    rt
     
  9. Smiles

    Smiles Moderator
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    Nov 20, 2003
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    I think that you ask a very sensible question.

    I don't think that you've gotten very sensible replies.

    There's nothing magical about a Ferrari camshaft grind. Like anything else, there is excellent work that can be done at reasonable prices, provided you do your homework.
     
  10. Newman

    Newman F1 World Champ
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    I disagree smiles. He got the straight answer just not the one he wanted. Send out a set of ZR1 cams for a regrind or have new ones made from scratch and bend over. You would need the vaseline chevy or ferrari.
     
  11. pma1010

    pma1010 F1 Rookie

    Jul 21, 2002
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    2 lobes needed repairing, heat treating, then straightening
    Nitriding (4)
    Parkerizing (4)
    $1000
    Dema Elgin, 2003. P6

    He does all types (even a 1930s Studebaker [straight eight, about 3 ft long]).

    You'll see reasonably priced cams (I bought my P6s for $2000). You'll gather they cost $1000 to fix. And then, oh my, the cost to install....
     
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  13. Horsefly

    Horsefly F1 Veteran

    May 14, 2002
    6,929
    I'm not afraid of the real truth, it's just that it sounds more like Ferrari's truth, which may not jive with the REAL truth. Keep in mind that it is naturally to Ferrari's benefit to charge big money for something that might not necessarily actually cost big money to produce. Same thing with Chevrolet. Where would you rather buy a replacement cam for a Chevrolet? A dealership, or an aftermarket source?
    As long as we're debating the issue, does anybody have a mechanical drawing of a 308 camshaft that they can post? It sure would be nice to see why it costs TWENTY times what a small block Chevy camshaft costs.
     
  14. pma1010

    pma1010 F1 Rookie

    Jul 21, 2002
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    Horsefly, I believe the point being made was one of economies of scale from larger production runs. My intended point (from the Elgin data) was that custom work ($$) is independent of cam manufacturer.
     
  15. Mike Florio

    Mike Florio Formula Junior

    Jun 19, 2003
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    Horsefly: It sounds like a business opportunity to me. Why don't you go out and buy yourself an NC cam grinding machine for a about $100K. Then find a source for your billets, probably about $20 each. Then get all the equipment you will need for heat treating, nitriding, and parkerizing, probably another $100K.

    Then go out and find someone who knows how to run that NC grinder and won't ruin more $20 blanks than he produces. Probably cost you $60 an hour unburdened (before you pay for his medical insurance, disability and retirement), get a good-looking secretary, too - she won't cost more than $20 an hour unburdened (unless you plan on "expanding her job description," wink, wink). While you're at it get one of them big, fancy desks and an executive leather desk chair- you are now a captian of industry.

    So a phone order comes in - a set of 308 cams. Your machinist spends an hour programming the profiles and another hour grinding the cams... four times (eight hours). That Chevy has one cam profile because it only has one cam.

    So you've got $100 in materials (he ruined one), about $800 in direct labor, a bunch more in indirect labor and overhead (that secretary gets paid whether she grinds your camshaft or not) plus you've got to pay for that building and the loan you used to buy the NC cam grinder, the phones, etc.

    So, at the end of the day you have these four little precious sticks of metal that cost you $2500 to produce (direct and indirect costs), you're not sure when another order is coming in , so you're not sure about your overhead.

    Even if you charges $10 K for those four camshafts you are still a long way from buying that Enzo.

    Oh, and your secretary just told you she's pregnant.
     
  16. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
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    Sep 30, 2003
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    MIKE--- LMAO, Horsefly, great thread, i was wondering the same thing, but the small number of fcars to chevies ect leads me to believe they are right. i was SERIOUSLY considering getting a Lambo Jalpa, i found several that were " beater / projects", ran , drove but needed work. i sat at the pc and on the phone and was dumbfounded at how hard various parts were to even FIND much less be able to purchase and ship here to the USA, i agree the fcar stuff should not cost what it should. but as pointed out above, there is little $$$ to be made for most aftermarket ferrari applications.
    BUT , i digress the 308 series would be THE IDEAL line to make " stuff" for , since there seems to be the potential to make things interchange between several models.
     
  17. Wayne 962

    Wayne 962 Formula Junior

    Nov 27, 2003
    434
    While there is some truth to the notion that "Ferrari owners will pay what it takes, so I can tack on some extra" - the bigger problem is production quantities. Whether you're building an F40 engine or a 1939 Cadillac - to have custom parts made from scratch will cost you about the same.

    -Wayne
     
  18. mk e

    mk e F1 World Champ

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    Actually, one of the things I love most about owning and working on a ferrari are the parts costs. I just love to modify stuff, and I always want to order the best...say a set of JE pistons, but they cost about $1000 for 8 (any 8 chevy, ferrari, honda). For a chevy it's pretty hard to justify, summit has good pistons for $250-$300 a set. But on the ferrari, heck I'm saving money with the top shelf racing parts, no justification required :)
     
  19. Horsefly

    Horsefly F1 Veteran

    May 14, 2002
    6,929
    Actually, I know of several people who ALREADY have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of CNC milling machines, lathes, multi ton stamping presses, chemical milling equipment, plasma sputtering machines, etc. I have family and friends who routinely worked in the aircraft parts manufacturing business where 1/10/000th of an inch tolerances were routine standards. So the "start up money" never even becomes part of the picture; the equipment is already in place. One of the people that I know of who was the owner of a multi-million dollar parts manufacturing company is also heavily involved in antique car restoration. Many of the times, these aftermarket parts production operations are NOT done in the interest of making a profit. The existing business as a whole is already up and running and is already profitable. The after hours work to manufacturer some secondary parts is not even part of the profit picture. It's just some after hours hobby type projects. If you know the right people in the right places, the cost goes down as the enthusiam to participate in a unique car project goes up.

    But apparently everybody here seems more than happy to spend $2000 or more for one camshaft.
     
  20. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
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    What am I? Chopped liver? (just paid $1000 for TWO)
    :)
     
  21. Newman

    Newman F1 World Champ
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    Arlie, I dont know why you are getting so up tight about ferrari parts prices. Im sure you are paying more than a part is worth when you plunk down cash for some C3 part. I dont like the prices either but I accept it and I have to pay if I want to play. If I get sick of it, Ill sell everything and go back to a muscle car. So far I cant see that happening in the near future because the cars are just thought out so much more than any old cuda or chevelle around. I see the light now that my car is apart compared to other domestic crap Ive restored. Ill shutup and pay because you cant put a price on the grin on my face when Im blasting down a twisty country road up here in the sticks.
     
  22. mk e

    mk e F1 World Champ

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    I don't think anybody is happy to pay....but there is a reason they call them exotics. Another way to look at it is that ferraris already come with what would be called a street/strip cam, and the market for full race cams is very limited. The overwhelming majority of ferrari owns do not modify their cars in anyway mostly because they are already in a VERY high state of tune and most modifications will make the car worse. That is not true with most other cars. The market of aftermarket parts is very very small and everyone who does want to modify wants something different from everyone else. My 308 is very highly modified and makes about 600 hp and still runs the STOCK cams because they are very good. I just don't know how else to explain it.
     
  23. Horsefly

    Horsefly F1 Veteran

    May 14, 2002
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    When did I say anything at all about modified camshafts? I started this thread after seeing some very expensive STOCK camshafts on E-Bay.
     
  24. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Jul 20, 2003
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    Arlie, do you feel that, in the case of Ferrari, the term "Supply and Demand" means Supply Ferrari Camshafts (or other spec part) and Demand More Money, actual Market Forces of Supply and Demand notwithstanding?
     
  25. mk e

    mk e F1 World Champ

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    In that case the demand is even lower. Every Ferrair owner already has a set of stock cams, they don't need 2. Ferraris have a very high volume oil system which helps keep cam wear to a minimum, so even during a full rebuild, the cams are usually not replaced. If there is any problem, a regrind (no welding) will almost always take care of it. Also most cars are not driven all that much, engines get "rebuild" often just to replace all the old leak seals, and they just change rings and bearing while it's apart. I'd think you're probobly looking a a total US sales number of 5-10 cam sets per year with all the models combined....not much of a bussiness. There are a few specific years in the early polution days that came with poor performing cams, but they also came with a CIS fuel injection system which needs to go before the better pre-EPA cams can be installed making it an expensive change, so again very little demand.
     
  26. pma1010

    pma1010 F1 Rookie

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    Not always clear cut. For example, I have a set of very good condition (we dial gauged them, no measurable lobe wear) cams from my Jun 77 GTB. From memory 260/252 duration. I've been offered a $1000 for them. My issue is I wouldn't sell them except for silly money as I want the ability to return the car to stock (if needed) on any resale.

    Gentry Lane has been trying to sell NOS cams (and I don't know the MY they relate to) for $2500/each...

    Just a data point and perspective
     
  27. 348paul

    348paul Formula 3

    Dec 27, 2002
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    http://www.cranecams.com/?show=virtual

    This above link shows the basics of camshaft manufacture form billet to finished item. From my point of view as a machine shop owner, it is a fairly easy process to produce a camshaft but the initial cost of setup is the deciding factor. For a dozen cams the set up cost would totally outweigh the operation time, a quantity of 250 and we are into production numbers where the setup cost is not so painful!

    Paul
     

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