My planning to swap the perfectly good engine and transmission out of my 1977 Corvette reminded me of when my sister-in-law's first marriage was going down the tubes. Rather than work on saving her marriage, she made plans to remodel the kitchen in her home. Not acknowledging something and attempting to divert one's attention away from it is what people in denial do. And my sister-in-law's name should be "Cleopatra", the Queen of Denial.
Much like that kitchen remodel that never happened, they split before any work started, my "LS swap" in my Corvette is not going to happen either. And I'm as disappointed as much as I'm relieved. I'm relieved because I knew the swap would be a time consuming, frustrating, logistical cluster-eff and a half. I'm disappointed for the obvious reasons - an LS swap into our car would metamorphosis it into a screaming, high-performance monster; now that's not going to happen. I'll get to the reasons why in a second.
Unlike my sister-in-law, however, I'm not in denial about what needs to be done on our car first and foremost; the woe begotten rear end trailing arms need to overhauled asap. They're so bad I get the feeling they're going to fall out of the car.
My "LS swap" dreams were happenstance anyway. One of our station vans was totaled recently in a fairly minor accident and corporate insists we junk it. Amazingly, when I asked about it, they granted me permission to be the "disposer" of the vehicle. Wow. I couldn't plate it but I could take possession of it under the auspice that I would junk it after I removed it's luscious 6.0 liter LS2 V-8 engine making 300 horsepower and 370 foot-pounds of torque. I'd grab the transmission too since my little ole '70's vintage turbo 350 probably couldn't handle the pounding of the more than 100 additional pounds of torque the LS2 would be driving through it.
If that big mill could yank this 5000+ pound van around with gusto, imagine what it could do with a car weighing more than 1,500 pounds less. Be still my beating heart.
I had done a considerable amount of research on what I'd need to get the swap done and the things did add up quickly. Keep in mind, though, I'd be getting the engine and transmission for free. If I was to buy them from a junkyard I'd be looking at least $3,000 for them and I'd have no guarantee they'd be any good. Buying them new would be insanely expensive. All I'd have to pay for were various conversion kits and sundry parts and of course, pay my mechanic under the table for his efforts. All in, I figured, if I could do the swap for maybe $2,000, why wouldn't I do it? What's more, with the car in the air I'd also take care of the damn trailing arms.
This was coming together very quickly until I found out that the transmission attached to the van's engine wouldn't fit in my car. For the record, the GM 4L80e transmission that's found in many trucks, including our wrecked station van, will not fit in the transmission tunnel of C3 Corvettes without major modifications to the tunnel. You need the car based 4L60e. They make bell housing adapters so the LS engine could bolt up to my existing transmission but I have cold feet about doing that; it sounds messy and troublesome. It's why LS swaps into cars are best done using LS engines and transmissions that came from cars in the first place. I mean, you can use the 4L80e if you're willing to modify your car but I wasn't willing to do that.
Onto what needs to be done on our car and that's getting the rear end sorted out. It doesn't need the engine swap anyway. Oh, by the way, my sister-in-law's second husband is a bigger loser than the first guy was. However, unlike her first marriage, she has remodeled her kitchen several times since she's been married to him.