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Customs 55 pontiac engine swap questions

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by hotrodj54, Aug 24, 2020.

  1. hotrodj54
    Joined: Jun 1, 2007
    Posts: 623

    hotrodj54
    Member

    hi guys, seems like my ol 287 has finally given out. so i need to change the engine. ive called around and a stock rebuild is out of the budget. i refuse to put a chevy engine in it. and ive been told a million times to run a 389 but they are rather hard to find so ive located a 67 350 and a th400 out of a firebird. ive been doing a lot of reading on here and the web itself. my question is, ive seen alot of guys making their own mounts or using the hurst style cradle. but i saw the firebird has mount plates that bolt to the front crossmember. has anyone used this style set up or know if it even works? thanks john
     
  2. hotrodj54
    Joined: Jun 1, 2007
    Posts: 623

    hotrodj54
    Member

  3. Baumi
    Joined: Jan 28, 2003
    Posts: 2,734

    Baumi
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Beautiful car! The only thing I can contribute is, I have done quite a few engine swaps and none of them was cheaper than rebuilding the factory engine in the end. I´d save some more and have the 287 rebuilt. It´s always the little stuff that kills it when swapping drivetrains. If you are on a budget, I ´d recommend to stay with the stock drivtrain. Just my 2 cents.
     
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  4. hotrodj54
    Joined: Jun 1, 2007
    Posts: 623

    hotrodj54
    Member

    4600 for the stock rebuild. That was from a very well known shop in my area. I’m certain the swap couldn’t cost more then that. Or at least I would hope. John


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  5. flatford39
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 2,746

    flatford39
    Member

    Nice looking poncho...one of my favorites. $4,600.00 is probably the right price from someone that knows what they are doing. How much work are you planning on doing regarding the engine swap?? Anything or are you looking for turnkey?? If you are looking for turnkey from a shop they will go through that $4,600.00 pretty quck. Make sure you get a firm price.
     
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  6. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,959

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    @hotrodj54 .......nice addition of the Olds headlight bezels......they look great on there. That said, I do like the stock Pontiac rings as well. Couldn’t go wrong either way, but the Olds rings are nice subtle touch.

    Ray
     
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  7. hotrodj54
    Joined: Jun 1, 2007
    Posts: 623

    hotrodj54
    Member

    I can do most of the work myself except the driveshaft and exhaust. And any serious welding. My welding isn’t the greatest past welding sheet metal.


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  8. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 1,848

    ekimneirbo
    Member
    from Brooks Ky

    Rebuild the engine yourself. Its a Pontiac, so its not rocket(Olds) science. As long as you take your time and ask questions on the Hamb, you can do it. A skill learned lasts a lifetime. Take the heads to a shop and have them gone thru with either new guides or oversize valve stems, new seals,resurface, and some new valve springs. Then clean the block and get new cam bearings installed. Buy a cylinder hone and clean the bores and put new rings on the pistons. Have the crank turned .010 and install new bearings. Check the cam wear and decide if you need a new (hi po) one. Get "good" lifters for it and you are well on your way. Is it the best way.......No. A lot of engines have been done this way. The good thing is you will learn a lot along the way.
     
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  9. I would be looking for someone pulling out an earlier Pontiac that might be an easier swap. A co-worker of mine recently bought a 57 347 complete with tripower and transmission for $2000 or so if I remember correctly. It had about 20k miles on a rebuild and someone was pulling it for an LS swap... Lots of reasonable deals out there from scenarios like that depending on how big a hurry you are in.

    Oh, and I love your car. I am a big Pontiac fan even though I haven’t owned any in a few years now.
     
  10. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,551

    73RR
    Member

    Nice car. I had a couple of them back in the mid-60's before I was led astray by the EarlyHemi...;)
    One of the cars was an oem manual trans that surprised alot of the bow-tie crowd with 265-283 so even a 287 in a fairly heavy car works out well.
    But, rebuild or swap? I'd spend some time looking for a bigger engine and although the early 389 would be a good find the 370 would also be great. Are they still out there? No doubt there is one to be found, just where and at what cost is part of the chase. Fastenal still ships cheap if you find one East of the Rockies. There are other discount shippers for the West side.
    The cost to rebuild a 389 is the same as the cost to rebuild the 287. And yes, you could probably accomplish most of the assembly if you have a decent place to work and the time to do it.
    There are numerous GM forums in addition to all of the 'social-media' sites so start looking, you might even find a runner.

    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
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  11. As a reference point, I have this same struggle on my own 56 Ford... But, I have chosen the likely more expensive but what I consider better solution of rebuilding a motor that will bolt right in. A buddy gave me a 56 312 and I will rebuild it and put it in at some point...unless I happen to come across a good deal on a good runner that someone else is swapping for a 302 or something. I know Ford's and Pontiac's aren't the same deal, but the rebuild cost of many of these "obsolete" but cool engines is about the same.
     
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  12. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 1,848

    ekimneirbo
    Member
    from Brooks Ky

    Bigger is always better, especially if the engine of choice will still bolt in just like the original. Pontiac pretty well does just that. But then the next problem rears its head. The original transmission will no longer stand up to the power of the larger engine. Then the driveshaft and rear end won't take the power and you also need to add a positraction. Then you need some type of traction bar and a better shifter for the transmission. And I forgot the cost of the engine itself.
    It basically doesn't cost any more to build the larger engine, its just that the cost doesn't stop there.....it starts there.

    On the other hand you can do the basic machine work and parts for $1500/$2000 building it yourself, throw a new front seal in the trans while the engine is out, and then just enjoy crusing in it for several years.

    There is an old axiom...."Speed costs money, how fast do you want to spend".

    You just have to decide what you want the car to do and be willing to spend the money it takes to do it.
     
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  13. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 8,747

    jimmy six
    Member

    I would highly consider the 326 and th400. I would trade off the 400 for a 200r or 350 but keep the 326. They are a very good engine. Strong and pretty easy to rebuild or just freshen up. Possibly just cleaning the pan and oil screen and regasketing. A lot of parts interchange with it’s bigger brothers and to me you will loose at least a few hundred pounds. It’s still a Pontiac and 326’s look like 389/421’s
     
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  14. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 5,185

    sunbeam
    Member

    Any more Face Book seams to be the place to look for stuff. I searched in you area and there were several 389s and one 58 370 tri-power motor with carbs.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
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  15. 55chieftain
    Joined: May 29, 2007
    Posts: 2,186

    55chieftain
    Member

    With a newer side mount engine with aluminum cover , you could also use the 2nd style hurst mount , would still need to make a mount for the rubber biscuit. These are the ones i run, good enough for a 10 second car. They are available.

    20200721_182408.jpg 20200721_182510.jpg
     
  16. 55chieftain
    Joined: May 29, 2007
    Posts: 2,186

    55chieftain
    Member

    The problem with making something for a stock firebird frame mount is the steering gearbox is right in the way.
     
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  17. hotrodj54
    Joined: Jun 1, 2007
    Posts: 623

    hotrodj54
    Member

    That’s what I was wondering. It looks like it might work but I haven’t tried it yet. I saw the later hurst mounts but it looks like there isn’t enough room for the biscuit mounts in my crossmember. I’ve seen a lot of home made side mounts but was trying to avoid that route.


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  18. hotrodj54
    Joined: Jun 1, 2007
    Posts: 623

    hotrodj54
    Member

    I saw some of those. But none of them seem to be runners. I really would like to find something that’s a good running set up. I’d really like to not deal with rebuilding. But I will keep searching.


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  19. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 1,848

    ekimneirbo
    Member
    from Brooks Ky

    You will be a lot better off with mounts on the sides of the engine rather than a front cradle. It causes problems with accessory mounting and puts a lot of strain on the engine/bellhousing area.
    Making mounts is dirty work, but it ain't mentally straining.
     
  20. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,695

    56sedandelivery
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    A friends son had a 55-56 Pontiac 2 door hardtop for a while, that had a 301 2 barrel and TH350 in it. He drove it everywhere, but like he does, did't keep it for long and sold it. Never got the chance to look under the hood to see how the swap was done. But a Pont. 301????? I am Butch/56sedandelivery
     
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  21. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 5,185

    sunbeam
    Member

    How about 66 389 runs Hawley Pa $900 runs facebook [​IMG]
     
  22. hotrodj54
    Joined: Jun 1, 2007
    Posts: 623

    hotrodj54
    Member

    I just located a 59 389. May be how I go. Hopefully it works out ok.


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  23. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,551

    73RR
    Member

    Good luck!

    .
     
  24. Sounds good! Is it supposed to be a running engine?
     
  25. hotrodj54
    Joined: Jun 1, 2007
    Posts: 623

    hotrodj54
    Member

    its supposed to be, a local wrecking yard has it. was in a 59 catalina. they said it ran and yard drove so, im going to give it a try.
     
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  26. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 5,185

    sunbeam
    Member

    I'm not big into Pontiacs but I think your 287 and a 59 389 have the same bellhousing pattern.
     
  27. bchctybob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2011
    Posts: 2,932

    bchctybob
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    ^^^^ Yep, your existing transmission should bolt right up to that engine. I recommend hearing it run and doing a compression check before committing to buy it.
     
  28. BuckeyeBuicks
    Joined: Jan 4, 2010
    Posts: 2,264

    BuckeyeBuicks
    Member
    from ohio

    I am a little late to the party here and this is probably no use to you but I had a 58 Pontiac 370 Tri-Power engine given to me that a guy had built years ago for a modified pulling tractor. He ran it one season then replaced it with a 427 Chevy. I had a 54 Olds 88 with no engine or trans that I put the 370 in. The front mounts were same as the Olds and I put a 59 Pontiac hydro behind it with homemade mounts. Every thing worked great.
    Good luck with your 55, that is one of my favorite body styles!
     
  29. hotrodj54
    Joined: Jun 1, 2007
    Posts: 623

    hotrodj54
    Member

    belair, treb11 and guthriesmith like this.
  30. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,551

    73RR
    Member

    ...now how many guys have a paint booth in their garage...?

    .
     
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