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Old 02-07-2009, 02:58 PM   #1
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Mid 90's Vortec 454 transplanted into a vintage wagon?

Hi guys,

I'm just tossing around a few ideas for future projects. I love old 60's and 70's station wagons, but I also love the relaibility of my 1997 Chevy Tahoe. Most of the 60's-70's wagons I am finding here in Canada are small blocks but I want big block torque and power (for towing, of course). So I wondering if anyone has ever taken a Chevy EFI Vortec 454 with a 4 spd automatic (4L80E) from a mid 90's truck and swapped it into their vintage wagon? If so, how hard was it? What sensors did you need? I do know I would have to upgrade the brakes and probably the suspension.

Now for an even crazier idea - What about swapping a duramax deisel and allison 6 spd automatic transmission into a vintage station wagon? Has it ever been done. Do you think it would work?

Thanks for listening to my crazy ideas. Take care.

Rod
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:33 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 72Blazerod View Post
Hi guys,

I'm just tossing around a few ideas for future projects. I love old 60's and 70's station wagons, but I also love the relaibility of my 1997 Chevy Tahoe. Most of the 60's-70's wagons I am finding here in Canada are small blocks but I want big block torque and power (for towing, of course). So I wondering if anyone has ever taken a Chevy EFI Vortec 454 with a 4 spd automatic (4L80E) from a mid 90's truck and swapped it into their vintage wagon? If so, how hard was it? What sensors did you need? I do know I would have to upgrade the brakes and probably the suspension.

Now for an even crazier idea - What about swapping a duramax deisel and allison 6 spd automatic transmission into a vintage station wagon? Has it ever been done. Do you think it would work?

Thanks for listening to my crazy ideas. Take care.

Rod
Rod...the Duramax Allison combo is heavy and powerful, I would be very leery of putting one in an old car chassis without some serious beefing up. I have seen one 1972 Suburban 3/4t with the Durmax/Allison combo, but IIRC the original engine was a 454 so it wasn't too hard a conversion. Would it be possible to build a kicker small block? I know there is no substitution for cubic inches, but it might save you some grief in the long run.

Aaron
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:51 PM   #3
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Hi Rod

Find a 96 GM Wagon with the LT1 Corvette motor.
Change the wheels to 16*8" rims. Change the tires to 225/60 x 16".
Add a transmisison cooler, Cargo Coil rear springs, Chevrolet police car rear sway bar, Monroe Sensa Trac shocks. Receiver and wiring and you will have a very hot tow vehicle.

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Old 02-07-2009, 04:22 PM   #4
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Hi Rod, I think mid to late 60s and early 70s Chevy wagons are your best bet. I don't recall any with 454s but, there are a few with 396. That should give you a stronger front end suspension.
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Old 02-07-2009, 04:41 PM   #5
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I agree, if you put a 1995-1996 LT1 in there, you will have far more horsepower and torque than the 454 puts out stock and have better fuel economy (ha, ha) than the 454 may see not towing. It simply needs a slight nudge and your up to 300hp. I have 2 of these cars and I can tell you that there is a reason police and taxis used these. Like your Tahoe, these things just don't stop.

The LT1 was the first GM engine to use reverse cooling where the heads get cooled first. This keeps the engine cooler and allows the 10:1 compression ratios. Put in a beefed up 4L60e with good cooling and you'll have a tough act to follow.

I yanked around 6300lbs with one and if it weren't that for the wheelbase and the not as robust frame as the vehicles you're talking about, I'd prob still be towing with it, even at 104k on the odo!

BTW, many 70s GM cars had 400s and 455s. The Cutlass Cruiser wagon was one of them. Me grandpops had one. It was an outright monster....of course the LT1 still would out perform that Cutlass Cruiser, but hey, those bomb bay type rear tailgate was just way too cool.
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Old 02-07-2009, 05:13 PM   #6
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GM makes a crate motor that would be a better choice. The bore/stroke ratio and rod/stroke ratio on a BBC is not that great, hence economy and power isn't well-balanced.

This 383-Chev offers BB power, relatively, but should be an acceptable cruiser for economy if set up with a QuadraJet or EFI. The ratios are okay, and the motor has an ourstanding TQ curve AND it comes in early and stays late. The CR looks good as well. The cam profile seems ideal as to duration at .050 (flow numbers at .200 lift).

{{Rat's, bad connection today -- 30-40 mph wind -- look it up under as a GM CRATE MOTOR/383-cid/high torque. Scoggin-Dickey should carry it. Should be easy to spec a torque converter on an OD trans to work with a 3.31 to 3.73 or so rear-end, and a vehicle that doesn't exceed 5,000-lbs, much, when maxed out}}

I like old cars, have had them as daily drivers until a few years ago. I'd not have one on the road without shoulder belts, dual diagonal braking system with discs and collapsing steering column.

The worst part, of course, is re-wiring them. Once that is out of the way, the rest feels easy.
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:02 PM   #7
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Cool idea! I'd love to do something simular.... shopping for $30,000 + SUV's for the family makes my head spin. I tried to sell the wife on an older wagon (seats 9!!) with modern updates.. I'm sure it would be an easy $20,000... but how cool would that be?

How's the repairs going? I'm hoping you're the one who bought the rear clip that was for sale around here to repair yours.
Take care!
Marc
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Old 02-08-2009, 07:02 AM   #8
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Hi Marc

If you want to have a vehicle that will hold the family but be inexpensive to own and operate pick up a good used Ford Freestar. They are giving them away practically right now. You can get a late model with 40,000 miles for about $10,000.

They are an ideal tow vehicle and will easily tow your trailers. Because of the wider rear suspension stance, short overhang, low center of gravity and better tire and wheel size they handle much better than an SUV or an older wagon. Though it is just a 4.2 litre V/6 it has surprising performance mainly because it does not use all it's power pushing itself along. There are some hills you might climb at 50 MPH in second gear that the 454 would climb at 65 but you will make up the time driving past gas stations.

Since 1998 we have set up over 600 Windstars and Freestars for towing I have towed thousands of miles with them myself, they are one of my favorite tow vehicles. Durability is not an issue, we have several customers approaching 200,000 miles on them with extensive towing.

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Old 02-08-2009, 09:25 AM   #9
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If you are looking to cut back on costs as mentioned above, doing a radical engine swap isn't cheap. It will cost you more than finding a perod piece and rebuilding existing big block if needed.

The engineering or fab work needed to drop a power train combo from a 1996+ donor car into a pre-1980 unit is costly in time and money.

There are plenty of 60's to 70's wagons in the states with big blocks in them. In fact in the 1960's the wagons were the SUV's of their times. In the Ford line up there is the Country Squire which is the loaded wagon. Here is one not too far away.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Ford-...fCarsQ5fTrucks

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Old 02-08-2009, 09:34 AM   #10
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Here is something along the lines I was talking about:

Windy City Auto Gallery Inc. - New Lenox, Illinois - Inventory - 1976 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser $8,900

This one in particular is in pretty good shape. Is it $8900 worth, most likely not, but it is a 6800lb solid vintage tow vehicle!

Bet that economy indicator in one of the pics rarely gets into the green!
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:45 AM   #11
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Here are a couple of more examples:

eBay Motors: Pontiac : Catalina (item 220357115601 end time Feb-15-09 19:36:08 PST)

eBay Motors: Pontiac : Catalina (item 190282109979 end time Feb-13-09 07:40:01 PST)

eBay Motors: Pontiac : Bonneville (item 270339261933 end time Feb-09-09 20:59:19 PST)


Also, the third gen Custom Crusier was the same car the LT1 was installed in Buick and Chevy form. It would be a fairly easy swap of the 180hp 5.7L or the weaker 5.0L that it came with.

The older 70s wagons though, they are just plain awesome.
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:52 AM   #12
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I would go with the 454 out of a 88-94 TBI it will pair with several tranny's tb350 tb400 700r4 4l60e 4l80e the 4l60 & 4l80 will ork out of any late 94's and all 95's I have a 82 Cprice that I have done the swap on not hard at all! will need the wiring harness and under glove box computer but not much else and yes you will need egr idle air and temp and oil and tbi off the 88-94 I got my donor from a chevy 2500! I would also say go with 3.73 gears or 4.11 gears
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Old 02-08-2009, 05:25 PM   #13
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Any of those plus the shipping or transportation costs will be moeny and time ahead of making your own TV wagon.

If you want to build something do it because you like the building process and you have some $ to burn. It won't be a TV for some time to come. Cause you need the resources of Boyd Coddington to do it in a fast way.

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Old 02-08-2009, 06:11 PM   #14
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Twink, those stationwagons are just too cool! My wife, however, does not share the same enthusiasm.... sigh....
Marc
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