I was/am in this current position. University student building for boost.
I'm 2 years into my project now. My roadmap was this :
-Read/search/peruse these forums with a tenacity for acquiring knowledge. There is so much information picked up by reading build threads small to large. I have a bookmark folder where I bookmark posts with little tidbits or "I should do it this way" inspiration.
-Install + learn to tune with Megasquirt. Don't cheap on this. Even with Naturally Aspirated you want MS3. Trackspeed sells the MS-Labs MS3 basic, Brain will build you a MS3x, if you're handy you can knock one out yourself with a very short parts-list.
-Build motor on the side. I socked money away and ended up building my motor right from the start. I did the billet pump, forged rods + pistons, bearings, studs, coatings, port work, valves, springs, etc. Being patient was key here. Took me 6+ months to acquire parts for motor, and 2 moths for machine work and for me to build it. Good winter project. Caveat emptor :
If you ever
anticipate going turbo down the road on this built engine... go with low compression pistons. This was my major mistake. I built 10.5:1 and am now in a pickle due to my boost goals.
-In the following spring I swapped it in, along with a 6-speed and a bunch of supporting mods such as clutch, injectors, bushings... all the "while I'm in there" bits.
-Fast forward 8 months and I am now 99% complete with parts hoarding for turbo (which is a metric ****-tonne of small bits, fittings, planning and cost). This is my winter project to pull the motor, install everything, and hopefully
win. I've driven over 8k+miles on my built motor this summer. It's been freaking awesome. Don't rush things. If I have to wait another 6 months to install my turbo, oh well. Premature ejaculation of whipping a cheap turbo setup together leads to sadness.
Do it once, do it right. Amortize the cost out. Live within your means first
, and by doing so: respect the reasonable WHP 'recipes'. Savington is very much right. Between 250 and 300 is a no-man's-land of power goals. You stay within stock-block capabilities, or go for allofit with a built motor. Re-evaluate your goals, and if you continue to keep coming back to the same goal then go for it! Just remember, it will cost more than you think, it will take longer than you think, but in the end it will be what you want!