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The V6 Chevette- How it was Done

The beginnings:

The V6 Chevette project came about by doing some thinking and measuring, deciding there was enough room. It turns out the idea was not too original as GM had tried it back in 1982 (see the Hot Rod Magazine article). I didn't know about this article until about a year ago. Rather interesting, when I first assembled this car in 1990, I sent a letter to GM asking about whether they had ever thought of doing this and they denied it!

My project was done without any commercial parts: we manufactured the mounts, the alternator bracket, etc., yet it was not a difficult swap. There is plenty of room. My donor drivetrain was from a 1982 S-10 P/U with a Borg-Warner 4-speed manual. I might have gone for a 3spd auto from the same series, had I known how well it would fit. If you take a look at the tunnel with the tranny out, you can see that the humps and bumps are exactly where they need to be to fit that transmission. The Chevette yoke is the same as any GM turbo 350, etc. so it fit. The tranny is much longer, so I had to shorten the driveshaft by some 9 inches. The stock rear end, 3.36:1, was used; for good measure I put in Amsoil for better protection. Don't worry about the u-joints, they are more than ample for the job. I installed heavy-duty springs all around (Chevettes of that era always broke their stock springs, anyway) and a HD front stabilizer bar, available from GM.

The airbox for the heater had to be modified, I lined up the engine/bellhousing joint same as stock. It is important, of course, to keep the angle of the engine matched to the stock angle so that your driveline will work properly. One of the biggest difficulties was with the oil filter, as it directly interferes with the steering column. I installed a remote filter near the rad on the driver's side. That gave me the large P7(?) filter which kept the oil squeaky clean. Disadvantage: being so out in the open, I think it overcooled the engine in the winter. It would never get up to temperature. I used the stock rad, though it is about 20% too small. This can be remedied by having it triple-cored. It only ran too hot on long highway hills on hot days, at that.

The intake was a gem. I took an air cleaner from a FWD Buick Skylark (Citation, etc.), turned the air horn around to the other side and lined it up with the fresh air intake. The top of the cleaner fit perfectly in the space between the reinforcements of the hood. I fashioned my own fan from an old TR3, but the logical thing to do would be to use an electric fan.

The nice thing about using the 1982 engine in the 1981 Chevette was that the wiring and ignition setup is very similar so it virtually plugged right in. I found myself a temperature gauge at Princess Auto's surplus dept. just the right size for that middle lower spot in the dash. That beats the idiot light, and I think it was a necessity.

Next problem was the clutch fork, and probably the most irritating. The Chevette's clutch fork goes down at an angle to miss the floor. The S10 fork goes straight out sideways. I ended up cutting out a little box in the floor for the fork. This still works, you just have a little less room by your gas pedal. The throttle linkage is easy, just hook up the cable. The clutch fork needed a little work to make it compatible with the cable and I had to design a pad for the cable casing to rest against, attached to the block.

There's probably a few things I am forgetting, since I did this so long ago, but I think you can work out the rest of the details if you try your own. The driveshaft tunnel needs to be slightly massaged where the handbrake is, for example. Also, the oil pan needed a little bump to clear the steering rack. The battery and pruge tank are able to stay in their stock locations.



A nice, fresh coat of Canadian Tire rustproof paint.
[One part Oxford Blue to four parts White]



This is the installation in the early stages, before it was tidied up. It gives you an idea of how roomy it is for a 60 degree V6.

  Driving impressions:
This car was always a real joy to drive. I had many happy years with it, until one day last year the clutch disintegrated. I really wish I could have afforded to restore it, but the rust was beginning to get too far. The drivetrain was only 80 lbs. heavier than stock, which put the car at just over 2000 lbs, and since the engine is actually shorter and the transmission longer, the weight distribution is more rearward and handling is improved. It was great in the snow. The car was actually quieter than stock, since the original engine has a cam belt. Shifting is greatly improved, as the truck transmission has a very positive feel in comparison to the wimpy stock shifter. (I shortened the truck shift lever to fit.) Driving it in traffic, you never had the impression that anything was that different, until you put your foot down and the secondary barrel opened. What a sleeper! Passing on the highway was done with ease, the only drawback was the high engine revs, due to the small diameter tires. If a guy could get a higher rear end, say a 2.73:1, it would make all the difference. An overdrive trans would also help. I took it to Mission Raceway Park for a test and tune day and ran 15.99 @ 86 mph. Not bad, considering the truck engine was stock and likely only putting out 105-110 HP. With X-11 heads and cam, it would have been 145 HP.

Future hopes and dreams:
If I am able to some day, I would like to do another one, this time with the 3.4L V6 from a 1993 Camaro, (same block) or maybe even get one as a crate engine. These put out 160 HP and can be had with a choice of three different Crane cams. I have a 700R4 that I had always intended to install, which has a 0.7:1 overdrive ratio. I am also looking into other rear end options, as I've heard some people have used units from Monzas and Ford Mustangs and such. If I do it, I'll likely do it up right, with custom paint & interior.

News Flash: Someone has actually done this! A guy named Phil reports that he has a done-up 3.4L and a TH700R4 pushing through a 7.5" 3.73 POSI. He reports a weight of 1924 lbs, 0-60 in under 5 seconds, 1/4 mile: 13.71 @ 97 MPH. And 26 MPG!


Other swaps to look at:
Here's a good site to link to other Chevette sawps:
V8 Chevette


Follow this link to see the Hot Rod magazine articles. One is about GM's V6 prototype, the other, a Chevette with a 500 cid Caddie engine. Talk about the sublime to the ridiculous!

HOT ROD Chevette



An Old Marque Revived:


Take this link to see a modern, updated expression of a grand old automobile, the Packard.

Packard Motor Car Company



This is the way we brought the engine and transmission up to Penticton from Vancouver!



Recycled Chevette crankshaft.


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