79 Buick Century Wagon Ls swap?

TanHew

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 14, 2022
8
3
$10-15k on the drivetrain? If yes, then ‘and then some’ haha.

Was your previous post indicating a turbo? If yes, then get the best running motor you can find - 4.8 or 5.3 will be just fine. Gen 4 stuff is a better program always, but not necessary.
Yes I was meaning throwing a turbo on a stockish motor and having 500+ pretty easy with some minor supporting mods.
And perfect thanks for some advice!
Have any recommendations for trans or suspension? To make it nice to drive still yet be able to handle some power ?
 

64nailhead

Goat Herder
Supporting Member
Dec 1, 2014
4,999
113
Upstate NY
Suspension - I have no recommendations. Trans - either stick with TH350 and get it built or get a 4L80. A properly rebuilt 4L80 in stock form will take 700-800 without issue. Put a shift kit in it and forget about it.

Grab one of Happel’s ‘Best cam’ or a SS2 Elgin, PAC 1218’s, an S366 clone and 500whp will be a breeze and easy on the driveline. Get a Holley, MS3 and Microsquirt for the trans, or an entry level Haltech and a trans controller for engine management. The Holley Term X Max will be the cheapest option (it’s the reason I have one - yes I’m cheap/not wealthy/a penny pincher, etc - you pick ;) ).

I’m a firm believer in recommending stuff that works and that you can work on.
 
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TanHew

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 14, 2022
8
3
Suspension - I have no recommendations. Trans - either stick with TH350 and get it built or get a 4L80. A properly rebuilt 4L80 in stock form will take 700-800 without issue. Put a shift kit in it and forget about it.

Grab one of Happel’s ‘Best cam’ or a SS2 Elgin, PAC 1218’s, an S366 clone and 500whp will be a breeze and easy on the driveline. Get a Holley, MS3 and Microsquirt for the trans, or an entry level Haltech and a trans controller for engine management. The Holley Term X Max will be the cheapest option (it’s the reason I have one - yes I’m cheap/not wealthy/a penny pincher, etc - you pick ;) ).

I’m a firm believer in recommending stuff that works and that you can work on.
Exactly some advice I was looking for! Yes I’m cheap with most things too, but somethings I’m willing to not be cheap with! Cheap and reliable don’t mix well normally, especially for something like this. I would like to build it right the first time and not be spending just as much time fixing things as I am driving lol. I’ve heard good things about the Holley terms. I appreciate the information, will be looking into some of these options!
Thanks!
 

64nailhead

Goat Herder
Supporting Member
Dec 1, 2014
4,999
113
Upstate NY
A SBE LS is the wild card in the equation. Do you completely rebuild it? Or run it? Stock LS’s have an inherent issue that leads to an easy decision if you aren’t scared to swap when needed. The issue is the oil system and what can happen to the cam bearings. If you decide to upgrade all of it, then you’re into machine shop $ , rotating parts, etc. And at that point the budget of the SBE motor loses the adjective of ‘budget’.

And, the worst part, the possibility of the rebuilt LS that goes badly. If that occurs, then you have a pile of thrown away money and still need to spend more.


I operate with concept of ‘no love’ for my engine only because the next replacement is another $200-500 from being in the car. My current motor, that I hate to say I’m beginning to have some attachment to, I got as a core for $250. It was taken out because it had low pressure when warmed up. The issue was the valley cover bolts were loose causing the DOD solenoid seals to leak (I knew this when I bought it.) I checked all of the bearings including cam bearings, put in a new oil pump, head gaskets, head bolts (splurged for ARP bolts), lifters (cheap Sealed Power), PAC springs and SS2 cam and intake gaskets. Total investment about $950. I make close to a 1000hp with it, it regularly spins to 7500 rpm’s and doesn’t use any oil and doesn’t leak any either. Almost forgot, pulled the pistons to open the ring gap- they all were over .024” and I pot them right back in.

I have a 4.8 waiting for the inevitable. I can swap an engine easily in a day.

But at 500-600hp that occasionally sees that HP I’m sure this motor would last for another 25000 miles or longer.

Long post for me, take it with a grain of salt. I know alot of guys aren’t good with the ‘no love for the motor’ program, but………..

to each their own.
 
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Northernregal

Sloppy McRodbender
Supporting Member
Oct 24, 2017
3,308
113
Red Deer, Northern Montana territory
Dario Giaga, a shop owner local to me here, and the builder of the crazy supercharged LS powered Mini Cooper. He built a Malibu on the ultra cheap in his YouTube channel. I would have a look there, I think it was $3-5000 all in with the car. Might get you started on what you are going to have to do and give you some inspiration.
 
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TanHew

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 14, 2022
8
3
A SBE LS is the wild card in the equation. Do you completely rebuild it? Or run it? Stock LS’s have an inherent issue that leads to an easy decision if you aren’t scared to swap when needed. The issue is the oil system and what can happen to the cam bearings. If you decide to upgrade all of it, then you’re into machine shop $ , rotating parts, etc. And at that point the budget of the SBE motor loses the adjective of ‘budget’.

And, the worst part, the possibility of the rebuilt LS that goes badly. If that occurs, then you have a pile of thrown away money and still need to spend more.


I operate with concept of ‘no love’ for my engine only because the next replacement is another $200-500 from being in the car. My current motor, that I hate to say I’m beginning to have some attachment to, I got as a core for $250. It was taken out because it had low pressure when warmed up. The issue was the valley cover bolts were loose causing the DOD solenoid seals to leak (I knew this when I bought it.) I checked all of the bearings including cam bearings, put in a new oil pump, head gaskets, head bolts (splurged for ARP bolts), lifters (cheap Sealed Power), PAC springs and SS2 cam and intake gaskets. Total investment about $950. I make close to a 1000hp with it, it regularly spins to 7500 rpm’s and doesn’t use any oil and doesn’t leak any either. Almost forgot, pulled the pistons to open the ring gap- they all were over .024” and I pot them right back in.

I have a 4.8 waiting for the inevitable. I can swap an engine easily in a day.

But at 500-600hp that occasionally sees that HP I’m sure this motor would last for another 25000 miles or longer.

Long post for me, take it with a grain of salt. I know alot of guys aren’t good with the ‘no love for the motor’ program, but………..

to each their own.
I’ll be the same way, not scared to swap. Have decent mechanical skills with appropriate tools and a nice shop with a hoist. Also have couple buddies that are very familiar with Ls engines and have easy access to a very reputable tuner with expierience in performance Ls stuff. So not too worried about that part of things, was just more so looking at options of what people have done for powertrain options for similar goals as mine. I like your ideas that you have given me! Very helpful pointing me in some direction atleast!
Thanks again!
 
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TanHew

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 14, 2022
8
3
Dario Giaga, a shop owner local to me here, and the builder of the crazy supercharged LS powered Mini Cooper. He built a Malibu on the ultra cheap in his YouTube channel. I would have a look there, I think it was $3-5000 all in with the car. Might get you started on what you are going to have to do and give you some inspiration.
Lol ive seen that mini, he was just at Ls fest with it! Crazy car Forsure! I actually have a buddy in lethbridge that knows him and was at Ls fest with him! Small world lol
 

Northernregal

Sloppy McRodbender
Supporting Member
Oct 24, 2017
3,308
113
Red Deer, Northern Montana territory
Lol ive seen that mini, he was just at Ls fest with it! Crazy car Forsure! I actually have a buddy in lethbridge that knows him and was at Ls fest with him! Small world lol
Very small world.

His build on the Malibu is pretty ghetto, but it shows what you can do for dirty cheap, if you want to go that way.
 
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Longroof79

Rocket Powered Basset Hound
Oct 14, 2008
11,766
113
Gainesville, Fl
Hadn’t thought about it much, was thinking Ls for ease of accessibility and so many performance parts available. Also can make a pile of Hp out of a stock(ish) motor and can make a fairly affordable 500+ hp vehicle.
But what were you thinking? Like a 400 or 455 thrown in it?
Not planning on doing a thing interior or body wise. Going for the little bit of a sleeper look. Also want the option say one day could put it back to the way it is and have a original car. Not cutting up the body or interior.
Don't get me wrong, I understand the attraction of LS engines. Availability for one, the ease of finding parts, performance and otherwise, plus the fact that you're able to squeeze out a considerable amount of horsepower with little effort. So, it's more of a practical swap compared to a 400-455 Buick. I guess i was thinking more old school and uniqueness over practicality. It would take significantly more money to extract high horsepower out of a Buick engine compared to an LS.
But, on the other hand. A Buick GN turbo 6 would also be a cool powerplant to go into your wagon.
 
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64nailhead

Goat Herder
Supporting Member
Dec 1, 2014
4,999
113
Upstate NY
Don't get me wrong, I understand the attraction of LS engines. Availability for one, the ease of finding parts, performance and otherwise, plus the fact that you're able to squeeze out a considerable amount of horsepower with little effort. So, it's more of a practical swap compared to a 400-455 Buick. I guess i was thinking more old school and uniqueness over practicality. It would take significantly more money to extract high horsepower out of a Buick engine compared to an LS.
But, on the other hand. A Buick GN turbo 6 would also be a cool powerplant to go into your wagon.
I went off on the LS swap info because he said he was interested, but that car would be way cooler with the original 301 and a turbo in the trunk (outta sight) , or I should say under the wagon. There is a ton of room for it. And it would be cheaper too if, big if, the 301 is in good shape.
 
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