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Technical 401 nailhead into 58 chevy wagon?

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Wrongway 58, Jun 28, 2019.

  1. Wrongway 58
    Joined: Mar 14, 2019
    Posts: 13

    Wrongway 58

    Has anyone out there put a Nailhead inti a 58-64 before if so how did it go.......
  2. JJK
    Joined: Feb 9, 2005
    Posts: 832


    Just go with a SBC and keep your sanity.
  3. A nail head should be relatively easy. They are narrower and smaller that a 348. I would pull the front cap to make fabbing the engine mounts easier. Many decades ago I installed a 421 Pontiac into a 58 impala. Used the stock three speed and stock rear trans mounting. just had to fab some side mounts for the engine. and reconfigure the clutch linkage.
  4. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,975

    Rusty O'Toole

    It's possible, anything is possible. But I don't know why you would want to do it. For a start, you will need the transmission that matches the engine then you will have to swap in the whole assembly adapting driveshaft, radiator, wiring, throttle, etc etc.

    You could get as much out of a good Chev 400 small block or maybe even a late model 350 and it would be a lot easier and cheaper. I don't know anyone who has done this swap because it is a lot of work and expense with no benefit.
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  5. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,975

    Rusty O'Toole

    Now if you wanted to put in a later model 425 or 455 Buick engine and matching Turbo 400 trans it would make a bit more sense. I have heard of such swaps being done to get big block torque for trailer hauling, because a junkyard Buick or Olds was easier to get, and cheaper than a 454 or 427 Chev.

    The 65 up Buick, Olds and Cadillac V8s with TurboHydramatic 400 are close to a bolt in. Just buy the biggest radiator you can get, and heavy duty front springs.
  6. Hot rodding ... because why. That's why.

    Side note : ... wasn't the '58 Impala a B body ??

    Meaning, a nailhead era Wildcat is also a B body. Depending on year interchange of B body specifics ... 58-64 Impalas may share engine locations of sayyyy' ... my uncle's former 1963 Wildcat convertible. Which ... had a nailhead. :)

    Cool car. Which says alot ... my uncle was a Ford man.

    Someone more knowledgeable will be along shortly. Good luck. Sounds fun.
  7. Do you already have the nailhead engine? Ive got a 322 in my hoard it has a offenhauser adapter to mate it to a flathead trans. However I have the mini bell from a 46 ford truck. and those can be used to mount a wide variety of stick transmissions.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  8. Like Old Wolf stated, it might be a little spendy, but not that difficult to convert the Nailhead to a standard transmission. This could be done as Old Wolf stated above, or by converting to an Olds or Pontiac open driveshaft transmission. They bolt right up.
    Try looking at the Wilcap website.
  9. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 14,961

    Staff Member

    78F9FE95-A53D-4D0F-836E-6261D85D8DC6.jpeg I didn’t do it but my 55 Chevy has a 364 nailhead in it. Adapted to the Chevy 3 sod overdrive trans
  10. I have a big block in my Cameo, but would love to have a 401 in the truck. Back in the day, I had a 322 in one of my cars, and wanted a 401 so bad. Torque monsters.
  11. I found another site for nailhead adapters

    Some of the combos they mention they supply the parts for, are
    the 4L60-E,
    322 to Chevy manual,
    and the later 364 to the TH350,-400 pattern.

  12. In my hoard I also have a 401 with weiand goodies and try Y hedders ect. It has a adapter beel to a lasalle trans. I pulled the 352 FE from my 56 ford truck intending to install the nailhead. The OP's sta wagon with a nailhead would be a great tow vehicle. ngines 005.JPG ngines 003.JPG 56 ford truck 002.JPG
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  13. A few years ago I had a 425 nailhead with the (I think) sp400 trans i sooo badly want to put it in a 57 Chevy. I have no info to offer but I’m in support of your idea!
  14. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 5,682


    ^^^^That would be interesting; right out of the 50's^^^^. squirrel's the resident SP/TH-400 expert, he has a couple of them. When you say "57 Chevy", are you referring to your 57 Corvette? I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
  15. They are entirely different chassis.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  16. Is the '58 a strictly one off year, then ? B body being '59 thru '64 ??? With '55 thru '57 three year only ? Please continue ...

    I was asking initially, in the first post. Asking again, now. Expand our knowledge, please.
  17. KustomKreeps
    Joined: Jan 7, 2016
    Posts: 318


    One of the Nailheads first design features was it had to fit where a inline fitted. so was narrow.
    to me a 401 is a small big block. my missus summed it up best when she looked at our current Nailhead and said "I thought it would be bigger" after looking at the old 351. Even after pointing out its the holes inside that matters she was little impressed at the time.
    So in other words it will fit in pretty much anything. Different sump options are available.
    Bentsens adapters ( ) do nailhead adapters for many trannys. I used the 401-700R4. well made kit but I wasnt impressed by the sales guy.
    Engine mounts .. buy a nailhead engine mount kit. put the engine where you want it with the carbs fat etc then cut, add and fab away to make your mounts.
    if you are keeping the standard trans and it can handle the torque (??) then you may be able to keep much of the drive train.
    keeping it cool shouldn't be to hard. try your current rad. maybe re-core it or upgrade.
    note the distributor is on the back of a nailhead. may get in the way of the firewall or something.
    kidcampbell71 and Hombre like this.
  18. DRCA
    Joined: Jun 7, 2014
    Posts: 7


  19. Hombre
    Joined: Aug 22, 2008
    Posts: 815


    Guys seeking this type of information here on the HAMB from time to time. Always surprises me, and it always seem to come up, that someone will say "Oh you would be better with a small block Chevy" It's easier and why go to the bother of doing something "THAT" different.

    We do these type of things One: because we are Hot Rodders, and two because we can. That is the reason to Hot Rod anything make it different and hopefully a little better, but better than just better is COOL. A nailhead into a early 58-64 Chevy is a great idea, and I for one hope you do this.

    If you do a little searching on the net there are a couple of web-sites dedicated to nail heads and speed equipment for them. At one time there was quite a lot of after market support for these great old engines. It still is out there you just need to do a little looking. Good Luck and keep us all in the loop...
  20. Hombre
    Joined: Aug 22, 2008
    Posts: 815


  21. That was before the vette, but that would be pretty cool too.
    kidcampbell71 and Moriarity like this.
  22. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 10,578

    from Quincy, IL

    Let me start by saying....I am a Buick fan and have been for decades, going back to my childhood.(in my case, that's a looong time). And, I like Nailheads. But I would be remiss if I didn’t pass along some possibly pertinent info. If you already know this stuff, well “never mind”.

    First...a question. Have you chosen a nailhead first and foremost because of it’s ‘look’ ? If so, you need not read any further..

    Still here? The Nailhead is a fairly heavy engine, about 675 lbs. The block configuration seriously limits transmission options unless an adapter is employed.

    In ‘67 models, Buick introduced the first of the new generation of larger displacement engines, a 400 and 430 inch models soon followed by a 455 version. They are all physically the same relatively compact size and are quite lightweight.....75 to 100 lbs less than a 401 nailhead. Very little more than an SBC.
    Distributor is in the front, they produce high torque, relatively inexpensive to buy when you find one and have the so-called BOP block bolt pattern. Stick bell housings from almost any BOP 90*V6 or V8 from 1964 up bolt on and so do most rear drive GM automatics. The exceptions being Powerglide and 700R4. However, the 2004R does fit and has a better ratio spread. Just something to be aware of.

    In any case, the ‘58 wagon is a cool piece.

    Vic Walter likes this.
  23. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 2,841


    Why not? Go for it . I have been doing odd ball swaps for years. Put a 401 nailhead with a dynaflo in a 37 Dodge p.u. made for a great burn out machine.
    500 Caddy works good in a 58-64 Chevy. Just need an Eldorado oil pan and some side mounts.
  24. pkhammer
    Joined: Jan 28, 2012
    Posts: 369


  25. Yes and no.

    The Chevys and Buicks (and Olds, Pontiacs, Caddies) of the era have entirely different chassis, regardless of year. They aren't like the later year B-Bodies where the Chevy and BOP cars shared the same chassis, and just changed the drivetrain and sheet metal.

    Beyond that, the '58 Chevy's X-frame isn't interchangeable with the '59-64 Chevy's X-frame. It is a shorter wheelbase and the rear suspension is slightly different. The '58 is still considered a B-body.

    Unless you start dealing with Canadian Pontiacs of this era. Those use Chevrolet chassis and drivetrain.
  26. Wrongway 58
    Joined: Mar 14, 2019
    Posts: 13

    Wrongway 58

    Thanks for your input my Nail is a 66 401 with th400 my main issue was motor mount location and your info helped give me an idea what to do.... Thanks Again !!!!!
  27. Wrongway 58
    Joined: Mar 14, 2019
    Posts: 13

    Wrongway 58

    Hello my Nail is a 66 401 with a th400 also my wagon was a straight 6 so everything is being reworked thanks for your input............
  28. Wrongway 58
    Joined: Mar 14, 2019
    Posts: 13

    Wrongway 58

    WoW THAT LOOKS SWEET !!!!!!!
    Moriarity likes this.
  29. Wrongway 58
    Joined: Mar 14, 2019
    Posts: 13

    Wrongway 58

    Oh yeah Centerville he is Mr Nailhead bought and sold things from him world of knowledge my 401 is a 66 with a th400 thanks for your input !!!!!!!!!
    j-jock likes this.
  30. Wrongway 58
    Joined: Mar 14, 2019
    Posts: 13

    Wrongway 58

    Great info my 401 is a 66 with a th400 have great finned 4 core for it live in AZ overall i guess find the sweet spot 58's have a shallow hood so need to get my clearance right go from there thanks for your input !!!!!!!

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