With the cab and mounts dealt with, next on the list was fitting the donor engine and transmission, which proved to be more than just a simple bolt-in operation. Our LUV came originally equipped with an Isuzu-built 1.8L and a four speed manual trans that was seized long ago, which was the reason it was abandoned out in the field to begin with. In a situation like this, we had a few options: find a stock engine and replace it, find a foolish V-8 with gobs of power to swap in, or do what we opted to do and throw in what we had laying around. In this case we had access to a Mitsubishi 2.6L and five-speed out of an abandoned Mazda B2600 project that was mid-way through being parted out. This was a winning option for a few reasons. One: we knew the history of the engine as we built it years back, plus it had a Pace Setter header and Weber carb that came with it. Two: it would be much more viable in keeping it affordable as a daily driver or parts chaser, versus if we opted to step up to a gas guzzling V-8. Reason three: we got both for free through a horse trading deal for an engine that we gave up a few years back.
We started out by pulling the combo out of the Mazda, and right off the bat doing a dry fit into the LUV, which instantly opened our eyes to the fact that this new setup took up way more real estate than the old stuff. Both the engine and transmission were noticeably larger in physical size and didn't even come close to dropping in. Fitting this powertrain required repeated measuring/cutting/fitting of the setup probably to the tune of a half a dozen or more times, and trust us, nothing says good time like installing and removing an engine over and over! We were finally able to nestle the engine as far down and back in the engine compartment as we could manage, fitting the whole deal under the factory hood, which was our ultimate goal. Although a fair amount of the transmission tunnel and firewall needed to be cut for clearance, along with part of the hood brace and some modifications to the valve cover and oil pan, but guess what? It all fit snuggly under the hood!
To finish up this stage of the build, we fabbed up a new rad support cross member, and modified the bolt-in one that sits under the oil pan. And with that, it was time for that little motivational booster, we hung the doors, fenders, rad support and hood, and drug the thing out into the driveway to have our first true look at this thing out in the open—not too bad, and so far out of pocket, we're still around the $300 mark! Next on the list, we'll make this lil' LUV go up and down … 'bags and valves coming next!