Would I take cast over forged? NEVER, however to call the 496 a bad engine because of cast internals is not accurate. In fact the advanced electronics on the 496 allow it to deal with bad fuel better than a 454/502 which cannot retard the timing far enough to compensate. Add a smart craft systems to a 496 (you cant to the older engines) and you are damn near bulletproof.
I know first hand one can be done with a standard forged BBC and some parts or boost, not what I am talking about. The constant bashing of a 496 is what bothers me. To say it is a pile of junk, crap, cast garbage blah blah blah and basing that on only what is READ on a forum is nonsense. There is nothing wrong with that engine, in fact a stock 496HO MAG will out perform the old black engines.