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  • #9422
    V8 Staff

    1966 Oldsmobile 442 LS3 Swap at V8 Speed & Resto Shop

    Our customer’s dad bought this sweet green 1966 Oldsmobile 442 brand new in July of 1966 from Granger Oldsmobile in LaGrange, Illinois, and now he wants to upgrade it for the next 50 years. Don’t worry, he’s got all the original parts stored safely, but now the car has numerous bolt-ons for better handling and performance. Follow along as the V8 Speed & Resto Shop team installs a modern Chevrolet Performance LS3 V8 engine – without harming the originality of the car.

    Kevin Oeste

    V8 Staff

    This is a very clean car, and our initial inspection showed us what a nice specimen this is. It was still powered by the original Oldsmobile 400 V8 engine when it arrived in our shop, but there were upgrades in-process already.

    Our customer began upgrading his Oldsmobile in his home shop. He wanted to make this car more enjoyable to drive without losing the classic appearance. He installed a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission and hydraulic clutch, but kept the original 4-speed, shifter, and shift ball.

    He exchanged the original stamped steel front control arms with some tubular units and a coilover shock system and an oversized sway bar.

    A set of oversized Baer disc brakes was installed, actuated by a Wilwood master cylinder helped by a Hydratech hydraulic brake booster.

    Outback, he installed a Currie 9-inch rear axle assembly and their billet aluminum Currectrac control arms, along with air assisted coil springs, billet shocks, and a beefy rear sway bar.

    The car rolls on 17in Torq-Thrust 2 wheels which is the only external indicator that this car had any modifications. Well, that and the lowered ride height.

    He chose some good parts, but the installation was not quite finished, as the bolts were not all tight and the car had not really been driven dialed-in. It was at this point that he wanted to go with “more power and less leaks”, so he called our shop for help.

    Kevin Oeste

    V8 Staff

    We realize that swapping any modern engine on an all original car like this can be perceived as disrespecting the car. And while we want to honor the owner’s wishes, the last thing we wanted to do was needlessly alter this car in favor of the new engine in case a future owner wants to restore the car back to its original condition. After all, this car has all of its original parts, engine, transmission, rear end, suspension and brakes in storage, so it would be a great candidate for a numbers matching correct restoration in the future. But today, he wants to drive this car harder than was possible with the original parts with the reliability of modern fuel injection, so here we are.

    Challenge is to complete a modern Driveline conversion without changing the car in any way. Our goal is to make this modern electronic fuel injection engine swap be 100% reversible leaving no evidence should a stock restoration occur in the future. This means we cannot cut the firewall or inner fender wells, cannot drill holes for brackets, cannot molest the original wiring… so the fairly simple task of changing an engine now requires some strategic planning to achieve the goal.

    Our first step was to protect the front sheet metal of the car with some math paper, and take measurements of the hood and Fender fitment and record those measurements. This car had a pretty good fit, and those measurements help us when we eventually reinstall the hood after the engine conversion is complete.

    Next, fluids were drained from the Oldsmobile 400, and it was disconnected from transmission. All the wiring and hoses were on disconnected and the team removed the hood. Next, the engine was removed and secured on a pallet to be returned to the owner. This engine will never be separated from the car, Just taken out of service.

    Kevin Oeste

    Ben O’Donnell

    I love the Olds 442s, muscle cars with a difference.

    The level of care you have gone to with the bonnet (or hood as you guys say) is next level. After reinstalling the bonnet on my ’68 elky I have a new appreciation on what a black art it is!

    Looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.


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