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BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon SuperDork
7/20/18 5:15 p.m.

I’ve had my 92 Custom Cruiser for a couple months and I’m wholeheartedly enjoying it. But... the fuel injected 350 is tired and didn’t exactly provide inspiring performance stock anyway.

So I want to do something about that over the winter. I may also sell it at end of summer to make some $$ but I think I like this one enough to keep it long-term.

Right now I see my options as:

Swap: 4.8/5.3 engines in various condition are easy to find around here. Seems like if I can find the right accessories and exhaust bits it’s a pretty straightforward swap. I need to do more research.

Or: Pull the 350 and do a rebuild +  an extra helping of small block hop up parts.

Or: Of course there are other options out there that I haven’t thought of yet. Feel free to offer off the wall suggestions purely for entertainment value.

The biggest factor might be budget, both time and $$. Since most of my experience is with little 4cylinder stuff any option will be stretching the limits of my mechanical know how but that’s ok. That’s how I learn.


Dusterbd13 MegaDork
7/20/18 5:23 p.m.

Tbi or lt1 now?

Edit: its a 92. Tbi

Ls swap it. Or lt1. Theres no reasonable way to get those levels of power out of a tbi engine without serious effort.

With it being assumed 700r4, a complete 5.3 4l60 dropout would be tbe way to go. Patrick can tell you what accessories and such you need, as hes done tbis exact swap

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon SuperDork
7/20/18 5:28 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13 :


Edit: also the trans is a 4l60. That’s one of the questions I’m curious about: if the stock trans could be made to work with a 5.3.

Dead_Sled Reader
7/20/18 6:48 p.m.

Bang for buck I'd go LT1, they go cheap around here compared to LS and they're alot of fun, even with lots of weight.

Knurled. MegaDork
7/20/18 7:19 p.m.
BlueInGreen - Jon said:

In reply to Dusterbd13 :


Edit: also the trans is a 4l60. That’s one of the questions I’m curious about: if the stock trans could be made to work with a 5.3.

If it is a 4L60 (renamed 700-R4) and not a 4L60-E, you're in for a pain in the ass.  The non-electronic 4L60 requires a TV cable to function, which means you're trying to figure out how to bodge that onto a 5.3 cable throttle if you're lucky.


It would be much easier and simpler to just bolt in a 4L60E.  The only possible difficulty is if you require a speedometer cable, but I think by then everything was electronic speedo.


Edit:  Or, you could get a carb manifold, and a carb with provisions for the TV cable, and an ignition controller box, but at this point you will have spent $2000+ in order to avoid having to do a trans swap.  But a pyrrhic victory is still a victory, right?

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon SuperDork
7/20/18 7:48 p.m.

In reply to Knurled. :

So, not really then. See, I’m learning so much already!

buzzboy Reader
7/20/18 8:17 p.m.

I feel like making 4.8 power levels is cheaper with a mild 350 build than with a 4.8 swap.

logdog UltraDork
7/20/18 8:47 p.m.
BlueInGreen - Jon said:


My experience is with little 4cylinder stuff


Sounds like an Ecotec swap is your answer!cheeky

Stealthtercel Dork
7/20/18 8:52 p.m.

Since all suggestions are welcome, let me say that I've been pondering an LFX or LGZ and 6-speed auto from a 2015-up Colorado for a swap like this.  The nice people at Trifecta could help you get to the 300 hp range, which I have to figure is more than you've got now, and because it's an all-aluminum engine, you should have less road-hugging weight on the front of the car.  (I'm sure that's a big consideration for you ;).)

Also, a V6 is only half as unfamiliar as a V8, right?

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon SuperDork
7/20/18 9:20 p.m.

A V8 is just 2, 4 cylinders stuck together, right?

Ha. An ecotec probably makes as much power as the tbi 350 in there now, probably would be wanting for torques though.

I’m new to the small block Chevy mythology of “my uncle had such and such motor with such and such cam in his Camaro that made such and such [unrealistic] hp” and  “It drops right in, my neighbor had one that I saw once ten years ago so such and such must be a bolt in swap”

I like this forum because I know most of the knowledge and advice comes from real world experience.

MotorsportsGordon Reader
7/20/18 9:26 p.m.

You have many options with a b body. Anything from a 4 cylinder to a big block can fit in there.

Patrick MegaDork
7/20/18 10:13 p.m.

Tbi 454.  Big cars need ALL THE TORQUES

Vigo UltimaDork
7/20/18 10:23 p.m.

If you just want mild power it's probably easier to work with the stock engine architecture up to a point. I think it's reasonable to stick with the TBI setup up to about 250-270hp. Keep in mind that 270hp setup might have close to 400 peak torque and that's the same power level as a stock Impala SS.  If you want to go much quicker than that you're looking at abandoning the stock tbi setup and converting to a multipoint system like the LT1 or an aftermarket TBI system with higher airflow and fuel capacities. Since you'll still be on the same basic block you won't have to alter your belt driven accessories at all. At some point it makes sense to go with an LS, but in my opinion if you're leaving it near stock it's not a big return on effort vs the things you can cheaply accomplish with an old-school 350. 

Also, i'm tempted to start poking about what you think 'tired' is. If you have low oil pressure and high cylinder leakdown then sure. If you have good oil pressure and good ring seal you are technically a 'top end swap' away from 300-400hp on the current bottom end. 

Justjim75 Reader
7/20/18 10:28 p.m.

Mine is a 92, tbi 350, swapped to a carb 355 for the Challenge, but due to Vortec heads on new motor, I hope to put Vortec injection, and Megasquirt it later.  5.3 + turbo+ NOS and air ride is lottery money plan.  350 hp seems easy enough with the ole three fiddy

Vigo UltimaDork
7/21/18 12:04 a.m.

The old vortec crate motor which was stock vortec heads and stock vortec truck cam made 290chp with a carb manifold. So yeah, vortec heads and any kind of cam with a carb intake and headers is 350hp. The question becomes whether that's actually cheaper or more desirable than the alternatives.

MotorsportsGordon Reader
7/21/18 12:51 a.m.

Depending what your budget you could go put something like one of the 502 crate engines in there

81cpcamaro Dork
7/21/18 11:21 a.m.

How about, since we are throwing Big Blocks around, the 1996-99 454 Vortec engine from a truck? MPFI setup, plenty of torque and will bolt to the stock small block engine mounts. Should be able to get one from a JY or salvage pretty cheap. 4L60 won't last long behind it without upgrades though. 

Patrick MegaDork
7/21/18 11:24 a.m.

The tall vortec 454 intake isn’t clearing the cowl overhang.  The ls truck intake doesn’t clear either.  

maschinenbau Dork
7/23/18 1:55 p.m.

If you're not pulling the engine, fit some Vortec or aftermarket heads, cam, and switch to carb. 

If you're pulling the engine, try to find a low-mileage LT1/4l60e combo. Way cheaper than LS and still plenty of power. I loved my Roadmaster Wagon with the LT1.

xflowgolf Dork
7/23/18 2:00 p.m.

I had this LSx swap Olds CC build bookmarked:  


Some solid info there.  I like the intake. ;-p 

MotorsportsGordon Reader
7/23/18 2:02 p.m.

If you wanted something different maybe build a buick v6 turbo and have a grand national or gnx wagon 

tuna55 MegaDork
7/23/18 2:28 p.m.

I think the year of the car is wrong, but make sure you don't have a baby L99 in there:






I think the VIN can tell you, the "W" in some position is L99, and I think the block itself may have some cast information in it.


Anyway, don't try to get power out of it if that's what you have.

Knurled. MegaDork
7/23/18 4:37 p.m.

In reply to MotorsportsGordon :

If swapping a 4L60E in for the 4L60 is a pain, trying to fit  200-4R where a 4L60 used to live would probably be a nonstarter as well...

Knurled. MegaDork
7/23/18 4:38 p.m.

In reply to tuna55 :

L99s looked like baby LT1s, no?  Not TBI by any stretch.

pres589 PowerDork
7/23/18 4:57 p.m.

I don't think the Cruiser and the L99 were even produced at the same time.  

There's a lot of basic recopies for how to heat up a 350 TBI motor and were installed in approximately eleventy billion vehicles. Same with the transmissions used in these things.  Short first gear of the 700R-4/4L60 is a bonus, truck motor torque is just waiting to be unleashed.  Mild cam, chipped ECU, real exhaust system, TBI tweaks.  That would be my direction.

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