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'86 El Camino in progress.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thanks in advance.

I have been tossing around the idea of swapping out the stock 305 in my 86' El Camino with a 350. Seeing as I know basically nothing about the specs, what are the chances that I can find a derelict car or pickup with a working engine, possibly transmission as well, that could be changed out without too much hassle?

What year range would the basic specs fit up well enough to drop and go, as it were?
 

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One thing about small block chevy engines is you can install any combination of engine and transmissions into your 86 El Camino. What will be a factor is whether you want to retain the computer control carburetor setup and a 2004r or 700r4 transmission.

So, to answer your question of finding a derelict car or pickup and changing that setup without too much hassle, the answer is YES...it can be done! The deciding factors will be what you want done and how large is your budget.
 

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'86 El Camino in progress.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. Im guessing most 70's tru 80's should be plug and play as far as the mounts go. Is there an issue as far as car vs. truck?
I have been looking at a few crate engines and newer transmissions, but that would, with installation, double the cost of what I paid for the car. Dont get me wrong, If I had the cash to burn, I would do it tomorrow. However it runs and drives just great as it is now, so I thought I would keep a lookout for a someone who wants to get rid of an old hulk that has been darkening their driveway, and go from there.
 

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Good luck. I don’t know where you are, but around North Georgia, the days of buying a car to harvest the engine got dicey ten or more years ago. (Not just scarce but expensive and less ‘honest’.) If what you have runs great, leave it alone and drive it while you get to know the car and the feel for engines and ideas for upgrades and set a goal and budget. If you blow your budget and don’t like the engine you buy, you’re a lot worse off than now. Now you have money and a good running truck.
Patrick

PS-I’d budget for rear gears (low to mid threes depending upon trans), transmission (700/200 are nice but nothing wrong with a T350), and a good torquey small block (I hear 383s are excellent) from Summit, Jegs, Scoggins, etc. with a good (not cheap) converter. Mild cam (not a Thumpr). GM HEI (with vacuum advance) recurved for the combo and Delco or Taylor wires, fed by a Qjet from an esteemed builder (not the parts store) not an Edlebrock if you want any economy.
 

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'86 El Camino in progress.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, I am around most of my city all day every day. There are 2 late 60's to early 70s Rivera boattails rotting away in driveways, numerous early to mid 70' stingray vettes doing the same. 2 I have seen have been show quality. Have seen an AMC Javelin, a 71 (I think) continental, a really early firebird, and several El Caminos/Collabros of similar model to mine. I have seen a 79 camaro, stock, garaged, with under 35k miles on it.The lady laughed at me when I asked if she wanted to sell it. There are 4 others I know of just rotting away in driveways. I lucked out finding my Camino. I asked a neighbor, he knocked on the door, and a week later I rumbled home with a huge grin on my face. There are lots of 70's-80's era pickups just rusting away in driveways around here. I am going to enjoy what I have, and if I can get a good deal on an off chance like I did with my baby, then itl'l happen, or I will add a step side or blazer to my driveway to monster truck out.
I have a shop that specializes in restoration, so I am in good hands when it comes to information about what I will need and what it will take for getting my **** done up right. It is all about resources and opportunity at this point. I would like to be able to cruise Hot August Nights in my baby without being totally humiliated.

Oh, and at one of the shops around here that I have visited, I saw, and heard, a real life Ferrari Dino being worked on. Also a custom Aston DBS so beautiful I had to change my shorts, and a Lister race car and a Ferrari 356. A few decimal points out of my league though.
 

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Sounds like you have better pickings than we do! It’s good that you have a shop you trust, too. I’d still suggest making sure the engine you swap in has been ‘gone through’ either by buying a crate motor or building what you find.
Patrick
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
So, the upgrade is in progress. 2005 5.3L LM7 complete with harness and ECM is torn down and being rebuilt now. Isnt in bad condition at all but going to do an almost full rebuild because why not at this point. Bearings, cam, rings, valves, etc... Still cheaper than a turnkey, and I get EFI!

Original shop I went to is no longer a factor.

While the engine and transmission are fairly straightforward, if big ticket kind of items, its all the rest of it that just buries you money wise. There is the conversion kits, the wiring kits to fit the ECM to the old school wiring, the wiring kits for the fuel system, the fuel system itself, and screw it, rebuild the entire front end while its torn apart instead of piecing it together here and there as the parts give up the ghost bit by bit every year down the road. And why not replace the leaf springs while you are at it? How bout some new headlights, these are pretty dim...

But we are in progress! Parts are piling up in my garage, and paychecks are piling up in my account because of illnesses and shipping backlogs, and we are getting there. Just a half an hour or so at the shop, and all the parts will be ordered and on the way. Looking at 2x what I thought I was going to spend (oh, sweet, sweet ignorance....) and about 1/3 of what I was worried that I was going to have to spend, so its going well!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Engine rebuild should be done soon. Have my new front end in boxes in the garage. Just need the transmission, the wiring, the fuel system, and a pelvis tingling, but not attention whore Harley riding asshat, rumbling exhaust.

A bit down the road, want new gauges. Dakota digital has a few options, but I really do like the black and chrome old school type. Considering installation cost, not sure which is better yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Machine shop is backlogged. Badly. Im third in line, and the block was ready for honing in November. Stupid Covid. Stupid holidays..

Just the wiring kits are going to be almost a grand. (You should SEE the kludgetastic shitstorm whoever installed the trailer brake created! Good god. I know absolute jack **** about wiring anything, and I took one look at what I was dealing with and my sphincter started hurting.) Like the front end, why fiddle about here and there every few months fixing or replacing the next worn out piece and paying out the ass for the two hours it takes to take it all apart, the 30 min it takes to replace that part, then the three hours it takes to put everything back together? Its going to be in pieces anyways. May as well replace it then!

This might be cheaper...


And goddamn, a new gage cluster is expensive! Overtime. Sweet, sweet, shitty overtime...

On the upside, upgrading the cam on the rebuild so should have a fresh engine with just over 300hp, a fresh transmission (with 4 speeds! and doesnt whine at anything over 1500rpm!), and all new wiring and fuel and cooling system, and be over 100lb lighter as it sits now, so about 3100lb, maybe less. (not counting my fat ass...)

Almost there with the parts. Pushing for and August completion, and an empty bank account. Fingers crossed.

Also, I saw one of these. Not shitting. Not joking. Not bullshitting. A real, live, in the flesh, drivable and goddamn if the leather hood straps didnt look original, one of these. (same place as I saw the Ferarris and Aston.) Apparently, not the original engine though. Like I give a ****...


Intrepid Racing,
 
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