What's fun without being expensive?

Engine Swaps

  1. moreada

    moreada Well-Known Member

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    Jun 26, 2015
    I know it sounds like an oxymoron.

    Looking at swaps, and am not sure what or even if I should do one.

    1983 Mirada with gutted interior, less creature comforts like the A/C and am looking for something thats streetable and fun. I don't drag race and hope to be able to corner better than stock and a little quicker than normal. Sort of a Pro Touring meets the cheapest guy in town, so its gonna take forever anyways, kind of build. A crate motor would be the ideal, but gets expensive when pricing them. Looking to grab something a little less costly, maybe a little different, and hopefully fun. Junkyards don't scare me, cash registers do.

    I have a 318 with an auto now, want to swap to a manual of some sort. Considerations so far have been:

    - 318 with a mild 300-350hp build and a manual like the A833.
    - Magnum 318 or 360 engine (hate that the heads are always beat) and manual box
    - Slant 6 but add a Turbo with a manual transmission (unless free I may as well do a 318)
    - 318 with 360 heads, EFI and a cheap Turbo - tranny to be decided.
    - Early 2000s 5.7 Hemi and some sort of manual box.
    - Something not Mopar but cheap/creative.
    - Keep existing 318/904 drivetrain and build it to 300hp or so.

    So many options. I dunno where to go or begin. Any pointers or day dream fantasies are welcome. There is a lot of space in the Mirada and I am not sure if I am doing a bunch of pipe dreaming or what... it's like having too much canvas and not enough paint! Thanks for reading.
  2. kkritsilas

    kkritsilas Well-Known Member

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    Jun 21, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    just some thoughts:

    1. If cheap is the over-riding consideration, then a manual transmission conversion will not fit into that scenario. A833s are gettingexpensive, and there will be some serious fabrication required.

    1. Easiest way to get to get to where you want is with a junkyard Magnum 360 (don't forget to get the flex-plate and torque converter). Get it with a right of return option, so if the heads are cracked, you can get your money back. Factory stock Magnum 360s were rated at 245HP, significantly above the 318-2V (140 HP), or the 318-4V (160 HP). You will need to figure out the fuel system (probably easiest to convert to a carb). The way forward would be EngineQuest heads (better flow, no cracking), and when you can, a 4 speed automatic (A500/A518, either will require a new drive shaft). Might want to think about grabbing the transmission at the same time as you get the engine, even if you don't install then all at once. See the magnumswaps.com site for all the details/considerations.

    2. Hen III hemis are possible, and members here have installed them successfully. At one time that required changing out the K member. Shumacher now makes conversion mounts. Hemis are still quite expensive, though. There is a lot of effort to get the electronics to work out. You can convert them to a carb, but then a lot of thein, you would need to figure out how to hook up a transmission (transmission is controlled by the computer). This is a great solution, but by no means the cheapest. Out of the box, 5.7s are 345 HP, so if you stay with the computer, you don't need any performance improvements.

    3. rebuilding a your 318 to get 300-350 HP can be done on. there are a few articles (see the Hot Rod site, they have a couple of articles). this may or may not be the best route, depending on what it will cost for a rebuild. It should be understood that this will not bring any of the Magnum engine improvements (roller lifters, tighter tolerances overall, an serpentine belt). It will not involve any electronics work, and you would still be able to use an overdrive automatic, if you wanted to go that way.

    Note that moving to an overdrive automatic will require shortening the driveshaft. There are also driveshaft considerations when changing to a manual transmission.

    I personally think the carb'd (or third party fuel injection) Magnum 360/overdrive automatic is the best overall way to go. You can drop the rear end raio to 3.21 or 3.55 to get a better low end response, yet the overdrive will keep the RPMs down on the highway.
    Jonnyuma likes this.