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1995 Response cracked head

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Hi all, hoping for some guidance here...

We have a 1995 Malibu Response with the 5.7ltr 350 265hp carby engine, now with the added feature of a cracked head.

We were quoted $2200 AUD for a replacement head kit, plus over $600 in gaskets, and $1660 for fitting which made my eyes water. On ringing around, I think we are getting ripped a new one, so picked the boat back up and are looking at doing it all ourselves over winter.
I'm trying to find some technical information though:
Will a Vortec head be a drop on replacement? (We would do both if using a different head). They offer a 40hp increase from what Google is saying, but unsure of compatibility with cams, exhaust manifold etc.
Apart from stainless gaskets and checking the exhaust manifolds aren't corroded, what else needs to be done to ensure it's marinised? I've been told the valve seats are thicker/different material, stronger valves, thicker gaskets etc. I'm not convinced though...

Any advise/help would be appreciated. We have all winter so doing my research to make sure we do it right.
Cheers, Pete

P. S. It's for freshwater use only. 

Edited by Poita
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The short answer is yes, but I think you need to change your intake manifold too ($175 USD with shipping).  @Woodski is the guy I would be asking too.  You will definitely be able to use your same carburetor.  Is it electric choke or does yours have the lever going down into the manifold for choke?

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I'll have to check that, not sure. 

Went to a local speed shop, compete head with stainless gaskets, $880. MUCH better! 

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@Poita:  Vortec heads are a '96 upgrade and are the 265 to 310 hp jump.  They have the same head to block bolt pattern but different intake manifold bolt pattern depending on whether you go GM or aftermarket (options exist for old bolt pattern).  My eyes would water too at those price quotes.  A US based parts performance parts warehouse is Summit Racing or Jegs, you can peruse the website to learn about what GM and aftermarket parts are available, a budget parts warehouse is Rock Auto and they have a website.  GM Performance parts will carry all the replacement original GM parts.  Use the key word 'marine' in your search to get the marine parts.

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