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Hot Rods Your first engine swap - Remember when?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by HOTRODPRIMER, Jul 1, 2020.

  1. My first engine swap was in my '54 Ford sedan, I bought the car for 300 bucks and it had belonged to the same old gentleman since it was new, The car was dent and rust free and had been lovingly taken care of, the car was only 12 years old but the poor old inline six couldn't take the punishment of a teenager with a size 12 right foot, I owned the car for less than a few weeks before I spun a main bearing .

    My granddad had a older teenage neighbor that agreed to help me repair the main bearing, over the weekend the job was completed in my granddad's front yard.

    Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, that fix didn't last too long and Darris ( my granddad's neighbor ) told me about a local junkyard that could supply me with a good V8 and swapping the engines out would be a pretty simple job.

    My granddad, Darris & I drove the the junkyard and we started looking for a engine, Darris located a 1963 sedan that had been hit in the side, the yard owner sent a man out to pull the engine & transmission and my granddad parted with 100 bucks.

    We, Darris & I worked on and off for a couple of weeks and I was learning by doing, between Darris and my granddad they helped a lot but they were teaching me the whole time.

    Removing the anemic inline six and shoehorning the 390 and newer 3 speed transmission under the hood was fun and I felt like I had really accomplished something not everyone could do, but when we got the car fired up and I drove it down the road, I knew at that minute I was driving a hot rod and I loved it.

    That car was fast, but when you go fast you need good brakes, but that's a story for another day.

    BTW, it took me a while but I paid my granddad back every single penny, and he never had to pay anyone to mow his lawn again. HRP
  2. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 25,118

    Jalopy Joker

    High School - '55 Chevy totaled in wreck caused by drunk driver - put drive train into '57 Chevy that turned out to have a bad drive train - learned as I went, no one to guide me a long the way. No quality tools. But, when about 14 did help a boyfriend of my Sisters' pull a motor out of a '55 Chevy. Greasy hands became a normal way of life.
    ladyhrp, 3W JOHN, Fordors and 2 others like this.
  3. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,257


    289 in my sisters Ford wagon, forget what year it was, small wagon, two doors if I remember correctly, bigger than a Falcon. Oil light came on, she stopped and had it checked, full, kept driving till it stopped. Oil pump drive had sheared. Did the swap in the family garage. Wouldn't mind having the car today.

    ladyhrp, 3W JOHN, Fordors and 2 others like this.
  4. 4ty
    Joined: Dec 11, 2018
    Posts: 62


    I had 2 32 5W coupes in '61, made one out of the 2, just after purchase of the 2nd one someone from neighboring town stopped by the garage with a 55 Olds std shift engine for sale, 100$. Bought it and got it home. Ordered the starter cross over, 11" ford truck p/p and 10 1/2" disc, and Hurst mounts and a 1/4" drill and went to work.
    All my knowledge came from the Little Books and HR Magazine.
    Paul in CT
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  5. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 2,913

    Flathead Dave
    from So. Cal.

    289 into my Pinto.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
    ladyhrp, rbrewer, 3W JOHN and 5 others like this.
  6. Popped the 6 cylinder out of a '66 Impala and dropped in a 283. Bolted it up to the 3 speed column shift and then found out about a pilot bushing. Pulled it back out put it in and blew it up 6 weeks later and went after a 350.
    ladyhrp, 3W JOHN, alanp561 and 3 others like this.
  7. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 27,232


    I had a couple of misguided attempts but the first actual swap I did was putting the 283 in my 48 in the mid 70's. I had it in my T bucket and the 194 in the truck was beyond worn out. JD Fikes and I pulled the truck into a bay in his father in law WH Thomas's shop and did the swap over the weekend complete with a new set of side pipes.
    He was an absolute wiz when it came to engine swaps and knew all of the tricks.
    The six was so worn out that we tossed it in the shop scrap pile. We got the whole swap done by Sunday afternoon and I drove it home and then to college Monday Morning and back to work at the shop Monday afternoon.

    The most fun swap was the one my then 13 year old son John and I did. on my 51 Mercury coupe. My buddy Jim Rosen had drug an early 60's Chevy long bed pickup to my house to pass on what someone else had given him and it had a 350 Olds and turbo 350 out of a 72 Cutlass in it. Gave it to me because it had a knock at an idle. We stuck a battery in it and fired it up and sure enough it had a knock but if you put it in gear an torqued it a bit no knock.
    I grabbed a couple of wrenches slid under it and tightened up the torque converter bolts and we jumped in and took a test drive, The engine ran great and the trans shifted perfect. Back to the house and we wheeled it under a big tree in the back yard and pulled the engine and trans with a comealong and drug the truck out of the way and pulled the front sheet metal off the Merc that had had a 350 Buick in it that had died of fatal rod bearing disease but had an empty engine bay. Stuck it in place, bolted the trans mount down and leveled up the engine and fabbed some rather suspect mounts. We hooked up the stock radiator that already had an inlet and outlet blocked off and got the exhaust pieced together and went for a test drive. All in about four days of summer time work on it.
    We put a lot of miles on that car with the 350 in it including a trip to Texas and Bonneville in 1988.
    ladyhrp, 3W JOHN, alanp561 and 2 others like this.
  8. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,267


    It was 1973, and I had just bought a 56 Chevrolet, Model 150, Utility Sedan (AKA Business Coupe), less engine and transmission, for $80.00. The guy had pulled the six/3-speed for use in his truck; the car had belonged to his FIL, who had passed away. Car had a title, but the owner was dead; that was't a problem for a 19 year old. My older sister's boyfriend had a 360 HP, 1966, 396; he sold it to me fairly cheap, and even helped to install it in the old Chevrolet. A Hurst front saddle mount kit and Jardine headers, some judicious firewall massaging and refinishing, and the BBC was in. Bought a Muncie 4-speed for it, and I had my first self-built hot rod. The 3.70 open rear end actually lasted over a year because of the fairly narrow tires on the car, but once it started howling, a 5.38 Positraction equipped third member went in, then it was a real hot rod. This was strictly a street car, and a friend of mine hounded me until I sold him the car. Running the car on the street with 5.38 gearing just accelerated engine wear, and we had to rebuild the 396. I wound up buying the car back when he lost interest, and it became my first dedicated drag car, after a 5.38 Positraction 12 bolt went in, along with an aluminum Powerglide I built myself. I tried keeping track of the car after I sold it again to buy a FED, and it went through at least 3 more owners before it came up on E-Bay for sale, with a $56,000.00 BIN price! My $80.00 car for sale for $56,000.00??? By then it was a full on Pro Street car capable of running in the EIGHTS!!! The second owner, after I sold it the second time, won the Super Chevy event at Seattle International Raceway with it one year. I called the car Strictly Business (Business Coupe, dedicated drag car), when I had it. I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
  9. Fordors
    Joined: Sep 22, 2016
    Posts: 2,834


    1967, a pal and I built his ‘51 Ford Business Coupe. Solid car in primer and when he bought it it was dechromed, ‘49 taillights leaded in, dash full of S-W gauges, chromed garnish moldings and a new white headliner.
    I built a .030 over 327 ,11-1 pistons, big valve heads, the 030/030 cam, Corvette 340 horse intake and a 3310 Holley, custom fender well headers by Robin Hood muffler shop (Chicago old guys will remember them), backed by a T-10 and a ‘57 Pontiac 4.30 posi that was too wide for the car with the chrome reverse on the back. Sat a little high and rubbed the tires on turns; live and learn, we were 18!
    We used a Hurst mount and a home brewed trans crossmember, hydraulic clutch, I don’t recall if it needed a dropped tie rod or not, and I wired the car from headlights to taillights following a tech article in Popular Hot Rodding.
    The car lasted about 6 months, it was fast, not terribly loud but his parents hated it. I always thought they blamed me, but it was strictly his deal, I just provided knowledge and muscle. The Ford was sold to a guy from the neighborhood and his SIL’s dad sold Oldsmobiles, he bought an old man’s style ‘68 Cutlass, brown with a black vinyl top, 350/auto. :(
    Jerry died young at 44, as far as I know the jerk that bought the car still owes him $150.
  10. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,968

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    Ok,guess I'll do a way back story,,,,,;1957,a buddy Mack Sinclair, had a 46 Dodge sedan with a bad floating power 6, we called it "The Lump" body style looked like a bump. .The plan was to make it run so he could drive it to high school when the time came. He lived 5 blocks away,so along with the rest of us teens ,kind of a neighborhood gang <as there was 11 teens all less then 3 years apart age wise in only a few blocks Coconut Grove Fla.. That made it fun,as one could always find a like minded crazy to do something not safe with. LOL
    Mack calls a few of us to help get a V8 motor an tran out of a crashed, junked 1952 Desoto in the nearby woods,took us three days. We thought we were lucky the crashed car was dumped next to a tree with a limb that looked great for lift out.
    { Who knew the 1952 Firedome V8 Hemi was more lbs. then all other motors ever made on earth ??? } This must be a faked photo,as we never found the girl.
    So ya ,that's why it took four kids 3 days,on day one ,was dropping motor and tree limb back on crashed car,the one fender that had been OK, now crashed too.
    Next trick was linking up 4 tree limbs together for big lift,"Rube Goldberg book of how too"lot of rope was involved with likely many near by spiders laughing their little ass's off. We were getting very good at dropping the motor,as the next drop was on too Bob's Dad's lawn trash trailer that we were using as a big wheelbarrow< none of us could drive yet ,so man power was the power. The perfect drop{OK not really,just by kind of luck}the oilpan/bellhousing busted through the plywood bed of trailer,an that hole held the motor in place all the way to Mack's house. Yes ,Mack's yard had a nice tree too,but much bigger limbs. To hang the world's heaviest motor we ever saw in. Took another day just to fix Bob's Dad's trailer an return that. Actually putting the Hemi V8 in to old Dodge,well that took over a year.
    To help Mack an ourselves on are cars,we all had to do a lot of reading,Rube Goldberg engine Swap of try an try again,Book edited by Murphy.
    That's the same book all you other HAMB guys used too?? Right ?
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
  11. e1956v
    Joined: Sep 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,529

    Alliance Vendor

    1984 I bought an OT 72 Camaro with a 250ci six and a 3 speed. I found s 350 and had it built to LT-1 spec's, bought a M21 Muncie at a swap meet and had at it. I changed the front springs first while the 250 was still in the car so the front end kinda looked like a gasser. Made a lot of mistakes but it was a great learning experience.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  12. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 1,989


    I bought my '47 Plymouth with a slant six already swapped into it so it doesn't really count. I kept on getting daily driver cars with slant sixes to put my engine into if I ever wanted to upgrade. My pal Bill bought a '41 Fargo pickup with no engine so we decided to stuff the six from my '64 Plymouth into it. The only serious tool I owned was my acetylene torch so I crudely flame cut mounts for the engine and tacked it in with the torch and then rope towed it to a welding shop with a real welder. Ended up with the engine mounted crooked but somehow it worked good enough for Bill to use as a work truck where he built sundecks for new houses. Enthusiasm overrode stupidity.
    ladyhrp, j-jock, 3W JOHN and 6 others like this.
  13. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,399


    When I was 16 I bought a 34 Ford 4 dr that someone had started an Olds with a Hydro swap. Since my dad had our old 53 Olds sitting and rotting in the back yard with a good running 303 I was on it. I pulled the 303 that was in the Ford with the hydromatic and found all the parts to put a Cad Lasalle trans behind my dads 303. I dropped the Olds engine from my dads old car with the stick trans into the Ford, bought a Hurst floor shifter and I was in Heaven. Now all I needed was an interior and some glass for the windows. I did end up with an upholstered front seat and the windows, just good enough to cruise around town and drag race on Lake Street in Minneapolis.
    ladyhrp, j-jock, 3W JOHN and 6 others like this.
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,424


    When in high school dad had stopped driving the 53 Olds Holiday hardtop, and was driving a 58 Ford. I talked him out of the car, took the engine and transmission out of the car. In auto mechanics class I overhauled the engine, put the engine and hydro into a 50 Ford I had bought from a friend. The auto shop teacher wanted the 4 barrel carb and manifold and swapped me straight across for a J2 manifold and carbs he had in his 47 Ford coupe.
    ladyhrp, j-jock, 3W JOHN and 5 others like this.
  15. jetnow1
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,557

    from CT
    1. A-D Truckers

    The first swap I was involved with was helping the mechanic at the Esso station with his
    Ford Galaxy. He had a 65 xpolice car that had a 390/3 speed on the column. His wife spun it one day and bent the frame in his driveway! He loved that car, tore it apart and saved everything. Bought another police car but it was an auto. Drove it that way for a year then
    one night after work we pulled the old 390/auto and the steering column, then swapped in the 3 speed column, the 390 and the 3 speed, The 390 had been rebuilt.
  16. birdman1
    Joined: Dec 6, 2012
    Posts: 964


    Put a 430 Merc in my brother's 1957 Ford custom line 2 door post. It had a 6 banger fordomatic. It would run right with his twin brothers 1963 1/2 fastback 428 police interceptor.
    ladyhrp, j-jock, 3W JOHN and 2 others like this.
  17. Gosh...I am thinking the first one I did was in the summer of 1979 and I blew up a motor in my 1971 VW Super dad made me pull the thing out at a neighbors garage to teach me a lesson...I pulled it out the bottom with a floor jack...swapped the heads on it and bolted everything back together with the help of a Haynes manual...I cursed and cursed and cursed some more....never liked working on the funky air cooled engines...just not enough room...bolting a motor in from the bottom side while laying on my back was never a fun time...I learned...sold the old heap and then moved on to a little Jap truck...
    wow...long time ago now....seems like yesterday tho...

    ladyhrp, 3W JOHN, Fordors and 2 others like this.
  18. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,114


    In about 1965, a friend of mine bought a chopped '32 sedan called "The Red Rose" in St.Louis Park, MN. (This is the same car featured in a thread posted by "RoadSir" on here a couple of years ago.) This car was well known in the twin cities back then and had been in a number of shows. The car originally ran a flathead, but when my buddy got it, it had no engine or transmission. His plan was to put a small block and Chevrolet three speed in the car (nobody we knew back in those days could even consider a four speed because of the price). Since I was the only guy the purchaser knew that had any skills with stuff like this and a welder, I was elected to do the swap. I believe that I installed a '55-'57 Chevrolet rear end on the original spring with radius rods (time has a way of erasing memories).

    I made cardboard templates for the side mounts on the engine he had and laboriously cut them out of 1/8" plate with a hacksaw (plasma cutter in 1965? nawww) and welded the mounts together. The big surprise came when I tried to weld the mounts into the frame. Since the car had been a "Show Car", the original builder had filled all of the extra holes in the frame. Unfortunately for me, he had used lead to fill them. Have you ever hit a lead-filled hole with a 180 AMP Miller buzz-box at 125 amps? Not a fun experience. I did get it done and the engine in, but it wasn't fun.

    32Ford (2).jpg
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  19. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 4,262

    from Berry, AL

    I had done several remove and replace jobs, everything from air cooled VW’s to Pinto’s and a Chevelle 283, but my first swap was a Buick 231 and Saginaw 4 speed out of a Chevy Monza into a 78 Toyota pickup. Had to build everything, mounts, exhaust, with a Lincoln 225 stick welder, still have the welder! Had a radiator shop change one of the hoses to the other side, and had a shop weld the GM yoke on the Toy driveshaft. It was a hoot to drive! With the stock 4.11 rear and G 60 14” tires, it would pull a freight train!

    I used everything I learned from that swap, what I did right and mistakes I made, to do the same swap on a CJ5, and later on, to swap from a Chevy 350 to a Ford 302 in my 47 Lincoln. Still learning every day....
    ladyhrp, Fordors, 3W JOHN and 3 others like this.
  20. Paulz
    Joined: Dec 30, 2018
    Posts: 14


    Put a 302 Ford with a manual 4 speed in a 54 Dodge pickup I had when I was 15.
    My dad said it would be too hard to get the clutch linkage to work right.
    My buddies dad said; "that truck will never see pavement again".
    They were both wrong, that truck saw a lot of pavement in the 6 years I owned it.

    302 Ford, because that's what I had available.
    ladyhrp, Fordors, 3W JOHN and 3 others like this.
  21. By 1959, I had already done several Ford to Ford swaps into my 39 Ford coupe ( I was a little hard on engines and transmissions). In 1959, I bought a 1934 Ford pickup, and a 53 Olds that had been rolled, and swapped the engine, transmission, and rear end into the pickup. After the swap, I then started on the body. I chopped, channeled, and shortened the bed, as well as installing a dropped axle. I loved that drivetrain, it was one of my all time favourites. My other favourite engine for swapping was the Buick nailheads, but it was much more difficult to find the parts to convert them to a standard. I ran the dynaslow slushbox, but it was not my idea of a hot rodder's transmission.
    This was the first of many swaps. I am 77 this week, and have not been well enough to do anything on my toys lately. I haven't lost interest, and still have hopes that I can get back to working on my stuff again.
    blkarw, ladyhrp, Fordors and 5 others like this.
  22. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,488


    1979....I still have the truck, and still have the 396, but it's not in the truck right now.

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  23. bigboy308
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 144

    from Merlin, OR

    Not sure that my story really qualifies for here, but I was involved with the swap...

    Dad took over a Hudson dealership in 1952 didn't keep the franchise but inheireted a few Hudson customers to go along with the auto maintenance and repair portion.

    One favorite customer was a German scientist that worked at the Poin Mugu NAS in the rocket program. He decided that the best combo of American Iron would be the new Hudson Pacemaker sedan, cheapest but lightest Hudson model available. Took delivery, immediately dropped off the car at Dad's shop for engine exchange.

    Hudson was deeply involved with auto racing by this time, and they had developed a 308ci Hornet 6-cylinder engine (Called 7X) for their racing program. Yup, that's the engine the scientist wanted in his Pacemaker!!

    Dad ordered a brand new Hudson 7X engine from the factory, we picked it up in L.A. at the warehouse and brought back to our town in Ventura County.
    Put that puppy in, had to build an exhaust system and some rewiring, etc and that car was FAST!! I believe that the scientist raced everybody that wanted to race in Ventura County, swore he never lost a race!! Dad rode with the owner once and car scared Hell out of him!
    I do recall replacing the cork clutch a couple of times in that car.....
    Joined: Oct 13, 2012
    Posts: 169

    Not my first but helping my buddy install a built motor in his 63 ford. You can see the car and the home made tri pod we used to pull the motor. This picture of my car was taken by his mother in 1969. DSC08028.JPG
    Joined: Oct 13, 2012
    Posts: 169

    That is an awesome picture!
    ladyhrp, 3W JOHN and HOTRODPRIMER like this.
  26. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 1,104


    Why, Squirrel, you haven't changed a bit

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    ladyhrp, dana barlow, 3W JOHN and 2 others like this.
  27. Talkin bout timing, I ran into an ole friend just yesterday who btw was involved in my first engine swap. I was 15 and had bought a 55 chevy 2 door post 55 chevy.jpg with no wheels, engine or trans, had I think some mid sixties Lincoln buckets full dash good glass, paid $100.00 for the car with Title. Found a nice 56 chevy 2 door for $300.00 with all the running gear .283,3 speed, drive shaft , actually it was a much better car than the 55 but I liked the look of the 55 more. Me and this friend made a bet with another friend whom said we would not get it going for 2 weeks. Even though I didnt drink ( my friend did) the other friend wagered a case of pony millers . We spent 4 days pulling engine and trans out of the 56 and then put it in the 55 , never took a bath , we were nasty, my mom , bless me out for coming in the house but wee were determined. 4 days later we drove it to the other friends house, he was broke and did not pay up but we were so excited we didnt care.
    J.Ukrop, ladyhrp, 3W JOHN and 3 others like this.
    Joined: Jan 24, 2010
    Posts: 1,629

    from IDAHO

    Chrysler Firepower In A 1940 Ford Coupe (1965) And Redid The Swap (2010) With A Dodge..... 66817_10200672991284742_1026910985_n.jpg
    i.rant, ladyhrp, j-jock and 5 others like this.
  29. bschwoeble
    Joined: Oct 20, 2008
    Posts: 562


    I think I mentioned before somewhere. Buick nailhead into 57 Chevy at 18 years old. 1962-63. Had help from a good friend and my brother-in-law.
    ladyhrp, j-jock, 3W JOHN and 3 others like this.
  30. WB69
    Joined: Dec 7, 2008
    Posts: 1,250


    Helped my Dad swap a blown up 6 cylinder out of a 49 Chevy 1 1/2 ton wheat truck so we could finish harvest. I was 11 at the time. Basically did it in just a couple hours under a shade tree because the truck had a load on and was squarely in the middle of harvest. Our only truck at the time. Lifted the motor in and out with an old "M" Farmal tractor and bucket. Got it done and finished harvest. That old truck still sets unused on the farm now.
    ladyhrp, j-jock, 3W JOHN and 6 others like this.

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