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Old 02-04-2016, 10:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Building an Eco-Wagon

Dear List,

I am thinking of picking up a nice, clean, Box Caprice Wagon with no engine and transmission. Its a really solid roller, and the price is right. I really dig the look of these 80's GM wagons, and see this as the perfect opportunity to build one to my specs.

I have always wanted a big american station wagon with a manual transmission. I have an 80's Dodge Van with a \Six and Manual, but I wanna build up an actual wagon in a similar vein. The van is geared fairly low for hauling, so I want this wagon to be more of a spacious highway cruiser.

Many people have told me that a properly tuned V8 going through a manual transmission pushing a heavier vehicle will produce good mileage. But I really like the idea of a winding a little engine out to get 2 tons of steel up to speed. I was thinking of putting a carb'd Iron Duke and a T-5 in it. for the sake of simplicity. I am honestly not even that worried about mileage. I just want a big wagon with a 5 speed on the floor. I like the idea of diesel, but it would be more expensive, require a stronger gearbox, and be a bigger pain in the ass than a little Iron Duke. I seem to recall someone on here mentioning a Cadillac D-Body with an Iron Duke. What do you guys think? Should I just get a V8? (I love me some gutless wonders) I was kinda thinkin a 4.3 or a Camaro\Firebird 3800.
Edit:
I really like the 3800, I used to have a Grand Prix. I also read that the 4.3 has been put in production G10 vans and B-Body Sedans. I could probably find a cheap parts car in the form of an F-Body with a 3800 and T5 or an S10\Jimmy with a 4.3 and NV3500. Does anyone know if the motor mounts for the 4.3 or the iron duke are the same as a Small block Chevy? I figured the 3800 in the F-Bodys would be different but don't know for sure. I have also read that the T5's are somewhat fragile. I imagine a Caprice wagon with an Iron duke and Manual would only be a few hundred pounds heavier than an S10, but I dunno I feel like I would be better off with an NV3500.



How would you do it? T5 transmission in a B-Body Wagon. I am trying to decide on engine and rear end gearing for highway cruising with maybe very light duty towing.

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Old 02-05-2016, 01:14 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The 3800 engine has its own unique bolt pattern.
I have no idea what bolt pattern the 2.5L used. I believe 60 degree V6 and 4cyl used the same transmission bolt pattern through the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s.
The 4.3L, all generations of SBC to include LT and LS series, BBC (all generations), 6.2+6.5L diesel, duramax, have interchangeable bolt pattern.
Not only do most of those share the same transmission but if they don't have the same engine mount then there are off the shelf adaptors you can buy for cheap.
You can put a TH700 transmission or NV3500 behind the old chevy diesels.
IF you want a 2.5L then I am pretty sure you are stuck with the T-5 made for 4 cylinders and V-6 motors.

GM tried sticking under sized engines in over sized vehicles in the late 80s and early 90s, these vehicles really didn't get noticeably better fuel economy than their larger engine counter parts.
These little engines just got ran a lot harder than the V8 motors and went to the junk yards sooner.
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Last edited by oil pan 4; 02-05-2016 at 01:29 AM..
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Old 02-05-2016, 08:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
GM tried sticking under sized engines in over sized vehicles in the late 80s and early 90s, these vehicles really didn't get noticeably better fuel economy than their larger engine counter parts.
These little engines just got ran a lot harder than the V8 motors and went to the junk yards sooner.
If they were driven properly- not WOT all the time- the strategy probably would have worked and the longevity fine too.
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Old 02-05-2016, 03:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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( ↑ ) "...driven properly - not WOT all the time..." implies:

• NEVER attempting to merge onto a crowded freeway
• NEVER passing a slower vehicle in front of you
• NEVER attempting to climb any hills...or...mountains
• ALWAYS driving at a constant speed
• ALWAYS driving on flat land ONLY
• ALWAYS driving in right-hand lane ONLY
• NEVER accelerating...
• ONLY coasting
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Old 02-05-2016, 04:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Tele man View Post
( ↑ ) "...driven properly - not WOT all the time..." implies:

• NEVER attempting to merge onto a crowded freeway
• NEVER passing a slower vehicle in front of you
• NEVER attempting to climb any hills...or...mountains
• ALWAYS driving at a constant speed
• ALWAYS driving on flat land ONLY
• ALWAYS driving in right-hand lane ONLY
• NEVER accelerating...
• ONLY coasting
Never towing anything in any of the above conditions.
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1989 firebird mostly stock. Aside from the 6-speed manual trans, corvette gen 5 front brakes, 1LE drive shaft, 4th Gen disc brake fbody rear end.
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Old 02-08-2016, 02:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
• ALWAYS driving on flat land ONLY
Excepting the Bonneville Salt Flats.

It sounds like you have a particular example in mind. I'd be looking for the fourth generation (1991–1996). Lots of cop car parts (LT1 V-8, etc).
Quote:
Several major components (including the floor pan) are entirely interchangeable between 1977 and 1996.
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Old 02-08-2016, 08:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I got it. Pics coming soon. It's an '85 so it would have come with a Chevy 305 instead of the Olds 307. The owner put the engine and transmission in a Monte Carlo. I'm going to tow it home tomorrow. I think I will opt for a V8., unless I find a Camaro\Firebird with a 3800 and T5. That might be a pain in the ass to run though with the electronics. It has a 3.08 rear end.

I want to be able to tow with this wagon. When its all said and done, I think it will handle towing better than my van does. I think the T5 would be its main weak point. It will be little heavier, more powerful, and it has a longer wheelbase than my van. With that in mind, I feel like I may be better off with the NV3500. I know both have been swapped into wagons before. I definitely want to go with a hydraulic clutch. The clutch linkage in my van has been problematic from time to time.

I don't have to tow it very far. I am borrowing a friend's trailer to pick it up. He offered up his truck too, but I am going to have a go at it with the Slant Van. This wagon is definitely the biggest car I have towed with the van, although with no drivetrain, it is likely not the heaviest.
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Old 02-08-2016, 11:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Back in the 80s I put an Oldsmobile 260" 90 hp Diesel in a 73 Olds Custom Cruiser wagon. The car got 25 mpg with a turbo 400 and 3.08 gears. I towed my Fj40 with it all the time and it would roll down the highway just fine. Of course the top two gears were high and low noise, it did not make the car go any faster. We even drove it to Yellowstone and Custer's last stand on vacation. It was pretty gutless at those elevations. Of course I'm happy with my na 6.5 in my one ton pickup, I tow a 10k lb travel trailer with it.
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Old 02-09-2016, 12:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I won't be much help on Chevy part numbers. What do you plan for brakes, wheels and tires?
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Old 02-09-2016, 03:40 AM   #10 (permalink)
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If you consider towing with it, get a Vortec 4300.

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