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Old 08-18-2014, 03:16 AM   #1
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Default Lotta questions about what I want to do to my '77 Delta 88

So, what I currently have, is a 1977 Delta 88 four door, vinyl, soon to be hard top. It has a GM Goodwrench crate that is about 20 years old, replaced when the car only had about 88k miles on it. The engine currently has about 150k miles on it. The transmission is an old, and somewhat cranky TH350 with unknown mileage. The differential is just the bone stock bland GM 8.5". Keep in mind, I don't plan to spend more than 4k on both the engine and transmission, and I'm not spending a whole lot on the differential. I understand better parts cost more, but this isn't going to be a track car, so I think I can manage that budget easily.

My plans for this car are to make it a daily driver / cruiser, I want a little better gas mileage than with the wheezy low compression drop in crate 350 it has now. I know the three speed isn't helping that, although I love the way it shifts, it just isn't cutting it at highway speeds. I don't really care about straight line speed, I live in a hilly, mountainous region. I want to build something that handles good, rides good, and sounds good. I plan to black the car out, so, stance and an aggressive tone pretty much go hand in hand with that. If it matters, I still have the Q-jet, I think it'* the factory unit, but it will go into a pile of forgotten things when the engine is gone through. The car is already light for what it is, no power options, not even a heated rear window, solid bench seat, which I'll likely swap for something else like factory buckets out of another GM at some point. The only options this car had was AC and a 350 with a 4bbl Q-jet, doesn't even have intermittent wipers. I'd like to keep the AC.

So my questions are as follows:

First, how do I get the most out of the wheezy, but strong running 350 I have? I was thinking of replacing the cam, doing a little head work, changing the timing, trying to get the compression up a little to squeeze out a little more power. I've never really done any work to the internals of an engine, so apart from what I've read, this is new territory to me. The engine is rated for 190 horses stock, I'd be surprised if it was making 170. I'd like to get it in the 250-300 range, I don't think that will murder my fuel economy, will it?

Second, the TH350, keep or replace? I really feel I can't get the most out of the car with just three gears, but I did not like the 700R4 that was in my custom cruiser. What are the options here?

Third, the differential, as I said, it'* an 8.5", unknown gearing, keep and rebuild, or ditch for a better unit? Remember the budget here, I ain't dumping a fortune into this.

Fourth, brakes, I have replaced the rotors, drums, calipers, shoes, pads, wheel cylinders, and master cylinder, nothing fancy, just OE stuff, it'* a mixed bag so I really don't remember what I put on there. They'll do for now, but when I replace them again, what'* the best affordable performance brake system? I don't ride the brakes, I coast, I know how to keep the brakes from overheating, you kind of have to learn that if you want to drive quick and not replace your brakes frequently.

Lastly, sway bars, anyone got a set that'll bolt on? Other than Bilstein shocks, some stock springs, and a couple other minor things I'm not doing much to the suspension or linkage. I don't have a rear sway bar and my front one is pretty small.
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Old 08-18-2014, 06:00 AM   #2
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Engine needs to breathe.
Heads
Headers
CAM

Last I knew, ALL L31 Chevrolet 5.7 Liter Vortec heads will fit pre-96 350'*. I've seen in many circles where people are ditching the older style heads for the better Vortec heads. But the problem is, you have to get the matching carb manifold for them. The Vortec heads will not mate with the stock carb manifold. 6 bolt vs 8 bolt I believe.

I'd go with the 700r4. It'* a 4 speed.

If your not trying to launch this 5000lb boat, I say, keep the diff and rebuild it.

Brakes? Go with slotted/drilled rotors and ceramic pads. Rears don't matter, they only do like 20%. Wait, do you have disc up front?
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:15 AM   #3
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i would get a truck 4.8 and 4l60, you can get them cheap have the computer tuned for stand alone use for a couple hundred and you will still be under what they want for decent heads and a cam for the 350. and you should get 300hp and low 20s for mpg. i would just do some research as to what axles might fit your car alot of times you can get one one complete pretty cheap and swap the whole thing. i would go 3.42 or 3.73 that combined with the lower 1st of the 700 or 60e will be fine and get pretty decent mileage.
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Old 08-18-2014, 12:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike1995 View Post
Engine needs to breathe.
Heads
Headers
CAM

Last I knew, ALL L31 Chevrolet 5.7 Liter Vortec heads will fit pre-96 350'*. I've seen in many circles where people are ditching the older style heads for the better Vortec heads. But the problem is, you have to get the matching carb manifold for them. The Vortec heads will not mate with the stock carb manifold. 6 bolt vs 8 bolt I believe.

I'd go with the 700r4. It'* a 4 speed.

If your not trying to launch this 5000lb boat, I say, keep the diff and rebuild it.

Brakes? Go with slotted/drilled rotors and ceramic pads. Rears don't matter, they only do like 20%. Wait, do you have disc up front?
I was hoping to at least upgrade the rear drums to the factory 11", it only has 9.5" in the back, and yeah I have 11 3/4" rotors in the front, brand new Centric rotors, they aren't the best, but they work.

I've thought about swapping over to Vortec stuff, but it'* so expensive it would eat into the budget of the rest of the build.

As for headers, I was thinking shorties so I can have ground clearance. The difference might be up too 10HP, but that'* worth it to not cringe on every speed bump or steep driveway.

I never really liked the 700R4 in my wagon, but maybe it just wasn't ever setup right. I'm gonna be putting in a custom driveshaft anyway, so the length of the transmission isn't much of an issue.

Furthermore, my car doesn't weigh anything close to 5,000lbs, the actual weight according to the title is 3,768lbs. My wagon only weighed 4,009lbs, and that 9lbs made me have to pay a heavy vehicle tax. Damn you Virginia, damn yoooou!

Anyway, a third gen Camaro weighs about 3,300lbs with a V6 and automatic, I don't know why the weight differences are so minimal, but I think the B body chassis is often underestimated for its potential. You gotta realize, the B body is nothing but the bloated mid 70'* A body retooled for a full sized sedan (Which is pretty much the size of a '76 cutlass two door). The G body replaced the A body as a lighter, more nimble chassis.



Quote:
Originally Posted by jwfirebird View Post
i would get a truck 4.8 and 4l60, you can get them cheap have the computer tuned for stand alone use for a couple hundred and you will still be under what they want for decent heads and a cam for the 350. and you should get 300hp and low 20s for mpg. i would just do some research as to what axles might fit your car alot of times you can get one one complete pretty cheap and swap the whole thing. i would go 3.42 or 3.73 that combined with the lower 1st of the 700 or 60e will be fine and get pretty decent mileage.

I like the 4.8, I drive a van for PGW (Pittsburg glass works, formerly PPG Autoglass), it'* a 2011 Chevy Express with almost 260k miles on it, and the 4.8, it hauls that long wheel base beast up the road like nothing else. I've considered a modern engine swap, but that would take a lot of work. I'd need to set the fuel system up for a return, and fuel injection. I'd need to run new wiring, it'* a lot of work. I'm also not a huge fan of the drive by wire system, though I'm not saying this or a 5.3 swap isn't a possibility. It would confuse the hell out of the guys at O'Reilly'* to ask for a belt for a 2008 Chevy Silverado, 4.8 V8, then go out and put it under the hood of my '77 Delta 88. I do like the appeal of a modern engine, and the confusion when people try to figure out what is rumbling under the hood. I know I'd get countless confused expressions when I reply to the question "What you got under there?" with "A four point eight small block."

350, 5.3, 4.8, either which way, they're all good options, but I'd like some more insight on swapping in a new computer controlled unit, if possible I'd want all the brains to be mounted under the hood, they make nice weatherproof ECM'* now. And that 4.8 would about get lost under my hood.

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Old 08-19-2014, 09:04 AM   #5
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if you got a wrecked truck or van you could take everything, the tank, pump ecm/fuse box(all in the engine bay on top of one another). they didnt start DBW until 04 but if its after that you can grab the petal too. they make conversion motor mounts for ls swaps for things that had a sbc. and the 4l60 would come with the truck if it was 2wd. like i said just have to get rid of the security and emissions crap in the computer. probably have to send it off too be done or get hpt or efi live, but if if you want to buy those it adds quite a bit of money.
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Old 08-19-2014, 08:31 PM   #6
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So, get a 1996-2002 Vortec 350, get a 2002 0411 silver box PCM and harness. That PCM will control many different engines and transmissions.
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Old 08-20-2014, 09:21 AM   #7
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dont like the post 96 350'* you have to put alot of money into it to make it run right and if you mod it even with the 3-400 dollar mpfi conversion you run out of fuel very quick. and you still have to get all the fuel system, sensors, everything and up with less power and much less mileage.
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Old 08-22-2014, 03:13 PM   #8
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No need to make it a debate, just trying to find the best option. In the next 6 months or so I'm gonna save up and find me something reliable to drive, then save up and start working over the Oldsmobile, pretty much everything I have done so far will be undone, and stuff the PO'* did too. The radiator, brakes, shocks, and some other newer stuff on the car won't matter soon, I plan to swap all of that for better stuff.

So I'm just trying to find the best engine / transmission combo I can for the budget. I may have a line on a 5.3, not sure.
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Old 08-22-2014, 03:43 PM   #9
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Hate to double post, but in short, I've decided, after a lot of thought, and I do mean a lot, to find me a pre-DBW (Drive by wire) 4.8 or 5.3, and swap it in, both are great engines.

I'm gonna try to get my hands on one in the near future, but I also need to get my hands on a reliable second car, would like to get an F-body Camaro, my father has one with a V6 and I love that thing, but I'd take about anything as long as it can get me around while my Delta is engine-less.

When I have the engine, I'm hoping I can find someone, maybe even on the forums help me install it. Hopefully they have a shop, 'cause I don't.

But for now, what does it take to put a 1999-ish through 2004-ish engine into a 1977 Oldsmobile? I know motor mounts are available, but what about transmission mounts? How much wiring do I have to add in, I'm OCD about wiring, so it MUST look factory, well as factory as a fuel injected coil on plug, Vortec V8 can look under the hood (Flight deck) of a 1977 Oldsmobile.

I'll be honest, I would not have seriously considered a 4.8 or 5.3 if not for the van I drive 5 days a week, thing weighs just shy of 9,000lbs without the windshield racks or windshields, or my 220lb self, with all that it probably weighs nearly 5 tons, and that engine does not care, it simply does not care. It has a little struggle keeping it at highway speeds going up hill unless you get on it, but hell, I'm betting the only cure for that would be a 6.0 or 6.2. I have a lot of respect for that tough little engine, and it'* 5.3 counterpart. So hopefully y'all can walk me through the LS swap process.
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Old 08-22-2014, 08:38 PM   #10
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I've often wondered how the LS guys put those computer based engines in old boats like yours. Problem is, your cluster is mechanical/electrical. Your speedometer is mechanical vs a VSS on a 4L60E. Surely it will drop right in with the correct mounts. But "seeing" the speed, RPM, oil pressure, voltage etc is going to be way different.
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