WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 16, 2017 7:46 p.m.

This is Methyl, she is a 1985 LeBaron Town&Country with 53,000 miles and a blown head gasket. The plan is to take all the parts, that will fit, off of the totaled Spirit r/t to the right and put them on Methyl. Add a larger intercooler, do some tuning and hopefully find some Charger wheels to keep a more or less stock look. It should be a pretty straight forward job although Methyl is a K body and the Spirit is an AA. The motor looks like a straight swap. The Spirit has different mount points for the front suspension to improve roll center, so I may not be able to take advantage of that, the Spirit is flat on the ground right now so I can't take a peek. The front of the Spirit is pretty wrapped around the motor so I am hoping the nothing hard to get is broken. Ahh, impulse purchases.

Feb. 16, 2017 7:54 p.m.

Nice, welcome to the Forum. You should get along fine here with the few Turbo Dodge guys we have.

Can't see the pic, you may need do drop a URL from a website if you haven't already done that. People have a hard time getting a picture posted their first time around.

minivan_racer UltraDork
Feb. 16, 2017 7:54 p.m.

For the front suspension you'll have to swap the entire front subframe over, the spirit has better suspension geometry so its worth it. Is Lebaron a manual or auto?

Is the the car that ECM mentioned in the valimino (or whatever it's called) thread?

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 16, 2017 8:09 p.m.

Thanks, I was a member many years ago, and have returned since I started fooling with cars again. I figured out the pic. I use Chrome and had to create a static address even though the picture is already hosted, extra steps. I am hoping the subframe is a bolt in because that would be easier and quicker but if not, so be it, it will get swapped, I want the geometry. The Lebaron is an auto. I have not even looked yet but I believe the later models, like the Spirit, the pedal assembly bolts in the same place for auto and manual, so hopefully it is a straight swap. If not, it will get worked out. This is the other car EastCoast was talking about. The Valimino is going to be a little more work than this. I made about two pages of notes for it and there is an interesting mix of shade tree mechanics and pretty decent metal work.

EastCoastMojo Mod Squad
Feb. 16, 2017 8:14 p.m.

In reply to WhatistheWheel:

You've got to post a pic of that mint burgundy vinyl interior for full effect.

minivan_racer UltraDork
Feb. 16, 2017 8:21 p.m.

You should be able to take the shaft the brake and clutch pedals ride on and transplant the pedals into the lebaron pedal box. That's how I've handled every 5 speed swap I've ever done. You may have to mess with the motor mounts there is a changeover in the mounts between 89 and 90 but the TIII may or may not have issues. You'll also have to transplant the wiring out of the Spirit, the TIII uses a crank sensor while the 8V engines use a hall effect in the distributor.

Woody wagons are the jam, right behind minivans of course.

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 17, 2017 9:04 p.m.

I have wanted to do something with the Spirit for years. The original plan was to put the drivetrain in an x/19 (As close as I could get to a Stratos) but those were hard to find in the "cheap but also not a total rust bucket" mode. I did find two(sold as a set) but could not arrange to get them from 4 hours away with out taking two days and spending more on the transport than I did on the cars. That led to searching for another Chrysler product to drop the motor in. Rampage and Omni were at the top of the list. Back when I looked for fun, there were plenty now there were zero. Same with Lancers an the Lebaron gts. Looked at vans but wanted the earlier model without the molded bumpers, also zero. The third plan was to find a mk1 Rabbit and put the drivetrain in the back, kind of a quasi-group B setup. Found plenty of mk1s, all of them Cabriolets. Then this woody popped up.

I was planning on pulling the complete harness from the Spirit as well as the dash display, but the box the computer resides in is pretty smashed up so the computer may also be in a bad way(I have not looked supr close because the hood will not come up and I don't wan to cut it off until I get a little closer to actually working on it. I want to keep it as protected from the elements as I can). I don't know how many of the tlll computers are out there but I would bet it is not many, so there is the possibility that the car will end up with megasquirt. I hope to get started in about two weeks. My daily driver is waiting for me to stick the transmission back in, then that will free a spot on the pad. I have a few classes to wrap up by the end of the month and that will free up some time. And I messed up my back messing with the Valiant (and Methyl) so I need a couple of days to recover from that. Plus I really want to work on the Valiant enough that Mojo can drive it around. Currently no lights, sheet metal touching the tires, and it takes about twenty pound of effort to push the throttle pedal.

mazdeuce UltimaDork
Feb. 18, 2017 7:25 a.m.

When I did a swap from a Daytona CS to a K car I brought everything over. Pedal box, wiring, front cradle with suspensions rear suspension with the bigger brakes, everything. This should be cool when it's done. I almost bought a factory manual wagon when I was a teen, it's the only one I've ever seen and I kind of always wanted one.

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 18, 2017 7:58 p.m.

There were some manual five speed turbo 2.5s spec'ed for the militarry. I saw one with 43,000 miles for sale once.

minivan_racer UltraDork
Feb. 20, 2017 8:02 a.m.
WhatistheWheel wrote: There were some manual five speed turbo 2.5s spec'ed for the militarry. I saw one with 43,000 miles for sale once.

Yeah the paint colors are the best part of those, especially the forest service green ones.

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 21, 2017 11:42 a.m.

Well this is not good. The transmission case is cracked pretty bad. This is what happens when you plan a project based on a vague memory of the condition of a car from five years ago. So now the question becomes do I get another transmission (568) or will the internals of this transmission fit a 555, or other, case and can I get the crank angle sensor to work.

EastCoastMojo Mod Squad
Feb. 21, 2017 11:45 a.m.

Well crap.

Stefan MegaDork
Feb. 21, 2017 12:03 p.m.

In reply to WhatistheWheel:

523 5-speed is the same physical case, They are found in all of the 5-speed Chrysler FWD cars from 1989-on. The V6 cars used the same transaxle with a case that had a different bellhousing pattern.

Combining the 523/568 simply requires drilling the hole for the crank sensor. You could even use the 523 final drive to change the gearing a bit so the gear split is a little closer for autocross and the like.

The OBX limited slip for the early Neon/Stratus is a fairly reasonable price for a Quaife knock off and will help improve traction in the front greatly. Bolts right in with a slight trimming of the passenger side axle.

Another thought would be to fit the Neon/Stratus 5-speed, which is related to the 523/568 and matches the bellhousing pattern minus one bolt hole, but it locates the starter to the front of the block, which may be an issue.

I do have a 523 I could spare, but I'm on the West coast so it would likely be expensive to get it to you.

Stefan MegaDork
Feb. 21, 2017 12:09 p.m.

BTW, the entire front suspension and rear axle will swap over without issue so you can get proper 4-wheel discs and better sway bars.

Grab the master and brake splitter from the Spirit.

Hit up Polybushings.com for poly motor mounts, shifter and suspension bushings to really help the car handle well.

Johnny runs it out of his shop in Oregon. He's also building a killer K-wagon on top of his Consulier GTP. So if you need parts or assistance he might be able to hook you up.

The wiring will be tricky, but if you take your time you should be able to get it to work.

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 21, 2017 12:55 p.m.

In reply to Stefan:

Thanks for the response. It is good to hear that there are plenty of options for fixing this problem. I believe I have a part from Polybushing that did not get installed in the Spirit before its demise. I am in no rush to build the car and want to get it right. Actually, that is a lie, I want to start on it right now and get it done so I can drive it around but there are a few things in the way, including a daily driver waiting for me to stick the transmission back in it and that is waiting on me to finish classes so I have the free time.

Stefan MegaDork
Feb. 21, 2017 1:08 p.m.

In reply to WhatistheWheel:

Yep, that is his bobble strut. He also posts here as Johnnybquick.

I highly recommend the motor mounts as well as they will never wear out and it helps greatly with torque steer on top of protecting the frame from damage. If the front mount fails/wears out, the mount bottoms out and it eventually causes the front frame rail to break the spot welds and fail completely. The cheap parts store mounts fail really quickly and easily. Reinforcing the front frame rail at the frame horns with stronger welds helps as well.

Good luck with the project, I've always wanted to play with a 16-valve Turbo-Dodge, but never really had the chance yet.

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 21, 2017 5:34 p.m.

I really wanted to do something fun with the Spirit, we were crushed when it was totaled. It was a fun car that was also practical and you could get pretty rowdy with it. I will definitely use the poly mounts. I want to do it right within financial reason. It may take a little looking for a trans that is not already in a car :-D

Stefan MegaDork
Feb. 21, 2017 5:44 p.m.

car-part.com should help.

minivan_racer UltraDork
Feb. 21, 2017 6:15 p.m.

I have a 523 out of a later model shadow that could be your donor, I started to disassemble it because I suspected the shift pads were worn but bought another unit and used it. It's missing the diff cover now because I cracked one and robbed it off of this trans, but is otherwise a good core.

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 21, 2017 6:30 p.m.

In reply to minivan_racer: Thanks, I may be taking you up on that.

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 21, 2017 6:37 p.m.

In reply to Stefan:

Excellent, there are some 523 options out there via car-part. I was a little worried when I did an LKQ search and found none listed and no suitable cars in the local yard.

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 24, 2017 11:23 a.m.

As you can see from the pic the body got little bent between the two mounting points for the cross member. It is possible that there was bolt slippage and the member is not bent (There is nothing obvious indicating that it is bent) but I will be able to tell better once I get it off and can make some measurements. Everything is out of the way now except for getting the rack loose from the cross member. That will be fun because the motor is pushed back and right on top of it. The motor might be coming out of the bottom. The way the chassis is caved in around it that may be easier than cutting stuff away until it will come out from the top.

Stefan MegaDork
Feb. 24, 2017 12:08 p.m.

leave the rack in place, it will slip off the column as the crossmember drops out.

You could also drop the column from inside and pull it ahead of time.

I built stands out of wood that sat on top of the Harbor Freight furniture dollies that held a complete motor/transaxle assembly. Worked great for dropping them out the bottom.

Pop the axle nuts off (I use a heavy duty screwdriver in the brake rotor slots to break them loose with a breaker bar), drop the outer sway bar clamps and rotate the sway bar out of the way. Then pry the control arm down with a large pry bar and you can take the axles out and remove the upright/strut assembly as one piece.

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 24, 2017 2:40 p.m.

i used furniture dollies to get the engine/trans in and out of my Scirocco. I used the engine hoist to lift the front end of the car enough to roll them out. That is good to know about the rack. It was going to be very tight on the driver' side. I may drop it out now. The oil pan also has a big dent/small hole in it from hitting the cross member. That can be dollied out and welded up. the trans not so much :-D

WhatistheWheel New Reader
Feb. 24, 2017 5:20 p.m.

The cross member is bent, both rear mounting horns are pushed forward.The fronts look OK. Any suggestions as to how to fix this? Would a hand ram or hydraulic press do the job? Can it be heated? Should I take it to a body shop? (I would rather do it myself) The one pictured is the worse of the two. It is shifted 10 15mm, the other is 5-10mm

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