If you want to put a V-8 engine in your mini-truck, there are plenty of options to consider. We did the legwork and put together a comprehensive V-8 conversion guide with some things you'll need to know to begin moving in the right direction. The most important step in any engine swap is making a plan. Before you begin the actual swap, make a realistic wish-list of parts on paper. You should consult technical manuals such as the Jags That Run (JTR) V-8 Engine Conversion and the sources from Advanced Adapters.
Once you've ordered and gathered your parts and have a plan of action drawn up, map out a timeline. The average time for an engine swap can vary greatly depending on your schedule, the funds, and numerous other factors. Some experienced shops that perform V-8 conversions day in and day out boast a two to three day install. If you're jumping into this project headfirst and performing the swap yourself, allow plenty of time to work out all the bugs that can arise as the swap progresses.
Another important thing to keep in mind is cost. Most people don't have the funds to build a $10,000 motor and swap it into their mini-truck. Since the junkyard is a mini-trucker's paradise, you may want to start there. Good engines, transmissions, and most parts you'll need for such a big project can easily be found hiding at your local parts graveyard. Most yards offer some kind of warranty on motors and transmissions, but ask before you buy. The final price of the swap can drastically increase depending on the engine, the engine's fuel system (carbureted or fuel-injected), and the transmission. Choosing to have a shop perform the swap can also change the price considerably. The average cost we found for a V-8 conversion, including all the necessary parts, is between $3,500 and $7,500.
Manuals referenced: Jags That Run V-8 Conversions (JTR), Advanced Adapters Installation Manual
Parts and Information:
www.advanceadapters.com - motor mounts, complete kits, installation guides, technical information
www.flex-a-lite.com - electric fans and accessories
www.godfathercustoms.com - hoods and accessories
www.howell-efi.com - fuel-injected kits and wiring
www.jagsthatrun.com - reference materials, conversion parts, technical information
www.jegs.com - engine parts
www.leeshightechtrucks.com - V-8 swaps, custom wiring harnesses
www.painlessperformance.com - complete wiring solutions
www.pawengineparts.com - engine parts
www.s10v8.com - (small fee applies for membership) question forum, parts
www.summitracing.com - headers, engine parts
www.tdperformance.com - motor mounts, engine parts
www.ultimatecustoms.ca/index2.html - V-8 installation, conversion kits, parts
www.v8conversion.com - FAQ forum, parts, company information
www.v8-ranger.com/swapkits/swapkits - Ford 302ci swap information
www.vintageair.com - compact air-conditioning units, front-runner systems
This is a GM Goodwrench 350ci...
This is a GM Goodwrench 350ci long-block crate motor that has been built at Joe Sherman Racing.
There are many engines available out there that are ready and willing to be put to the test. The engine you choose will have to be matched to a transmission that will function properly with the new motor. The most common engines used for these conversions are the 350ci Chevy small-block and the 5.7L 320ci Mustang motors. JTR uses the '88-'92 Camaro/Firebird 350 TPI motors for most of its smog-legal engine swaps performed on the same-year trucks. JTR recommends the 700R4 transmission, or if you opt for a manual transmission, the Borg-Warner T-5. These transmissions, along with the 4L60E, work well with the Chevy V-8 conversions, depending on the horsepower and torque the engine puts out. Depending on your budget, the engine and tranny will be the main chunks of dough spent if performing the install yourself. Some other creative engine choices include the Buick V-8s and the Toyota I-Force V-8 engine. If you can afford a brand-new motor, it might be best to have a crate motor built to your specs, such as the one pictured here.
This is a set of motor mounts...
This is a set of motor mounts offered by Advanced Adapters, which will make your engine-mounting duties straightforward.
There are a number of ways to mount your new motor. Some people choose to use their factory mounts and adapt them to work with the V-8 motor mounts, while others build new mounts. To make this swap easy, various mounting kits are available through a few of the companies in our online source guide. If you're not an experienced fabricator, we recommended you use one of these engine-mounting options. You can find Stealth Conversion motor mounts at JTR. A few other companies offer custom motor mounts, such as Advanced Adapters and Ultimate Customs. If you decide to build your own, you're going to have to test-fit the engine several times before getting the mounts and engine properly lined up. Measure and mark your locations before you completely weld in the motor mounts. The motor mounts are a crucial step and will need to withstand the brutal task of holding the engine in place under stress.