CUTLASS A little late for the most original competition

dgmeadows

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Mar 29, 2017
37
18
I just took delivery Monday of this very original 1979 Cutlass Calais with only 39,000 miles. I searched for one to replace my first car, the brown Cutlass Calais in my avatar pic. Missed the opportunity to submit it for last months "Most Original" G-Body of the month contest, but she is very original. The paint has some scratches and there are a few dents and dings particularly on the hood (typical storage, became a shelf) and driver's front fender and door, but for a 42 year old, it is in great shape.

But, it is not going to stay original. The diesel engine is a slug and has to go. An old friend from my high school days has a custom shop, so he will be handling the swap. Not sure yet which engine I am going to go with. My primary use will be cruise ins and shows, maybe run an 8th mile or fun run from time to time, so I don't need 1,000 hp. Probably aiming for around 375-400 for now. My goal is make this car what I always wanted the first one to be, but I did not have the money for when I was a teenager to early twenty-something. I drove the brown 79 for 7+ years, age 16 - 23.

The game plan right now is to do the drive train swap first. I will probably use an aftermarket instrument panel, either Dakota Digital or Vintage USA - anyone have any experience with either ?

Additional plans include body and paint touch ups, which I can hopefully have done along with the engine swap (budget allowing). Things I plan to do myself over the coming months and years iunclude rear disc brake conversion, 17" SSII aluminum wheels, and suspension kit (looking at BMR level 2, appreciate any recommendations on suspension kits.) I don't intend to modify cosmetics beyond the wheels. Interior is in great shape, so no intention to spend $$ there anytime soon, except possible radio upgrade, but that's a lower priority for me at my age (was the first thing I did at 16, LOL.)
 

Attachments

  • Cutlass front.jpg
    Cutlass front.jpg
    3.1 MB · Views: 37
  • Driver rear .jpg
    Driver rear .jpg
    1.1 MB · Views: 35
  • Driver side.jpg
    Driver side.jpg
    423.3 KB · Views: 31
  • Interior.jpg
    Interior.jpg
    420.7 KB · Views: 32
  • Passenger rear.jpg
    Passenger rear.jpg
    643 KB · Views: 35

ck80

Royal Smart Person
Feb 18, 2014
2,356
113
Is it the 4.3l diesel or the 5.7l diesel?

If the 5.7, that's a more durable higher nickel content block you could have rebuilt as a gas motor to be pretty durable and well within the power goals you have.

If it's the smaller guy... well, it's a nice boat anchor or cheap swap for a mileage daily driver to someone out there.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DJHull

dgmeadows

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Mar 29, 2017
37
18
Is it the 4.3l diesel or the 5.7l diesel?

If the 5.7, that's a more durable higher nickel content block you could have rebuilt as a gas motor to be pretty durable and well within the power goals you have.

If it's the smaller guy... well, it's a nice boat anchor or cheap swap for a mileage daily driver to someone out there.
It's the boat anchor 260. It is hilarious how this car was configured. 260 diesel, with T-Tops. NO power windows, door locks or seats but it does have rear window defrost, engine block heater (obviously ordered up north) and in-dash clock. Basic AM/FM radio with no tape player. Oh, and NO tilt steering column. Fortunately for me, it sits about right for me. Probably the one I would like to have is power windows, as rolling down the passenger side manually is a pain. Power locks and seats I don't miss at all. I have already bought a center dash panel with the rocket logo. I will probably disconnect the rear defrost and clock, as the clock doesn't keep time and I won't need the rear defrost living in GA. The rocket logo panel will look better, and reminds me of my original car.
 

oldsmobile joe

Royal Smart Person
Nov 12, 2015
1,661
113
mpls
I just took delivery Monday of this very original 1979 Cutlass Calais with only 39,000 miles. I searched for one to replace my first car, the brown Cutlass Calais in my avatar pic. Missed the opportunity to submit it for last months "Most Original" G-Body of the month contest, but she is very original. The paint has some scratches and there are a few dents and dings particularly on the hood (typical storage, became a shelf) and driver's front fender and door, but for a 42 year old, it is in great shape.

But, it is not going to stay original. The diesel engine is a slug and has to go. An old friend from my high school days has a custom shop, so he will be handling the swap. Not sure yet which engine I am going to go with. My primary use will be cruise ins and shows, maybe run an 8th mile or fun run from time to time, so I don't need 1,000 hp. Probably aiming for around 375-400 for now. My goal is make this car what I always wanted the first one to be, but I did not have the money for when I was a teenager to early twenty-something. I drove the brown 79 for 7+ years, age 16 - 23.

The game plan right now is to do the drive train swap first. I will probably use an aftermarket instrument panel, either Dakota Digital or Vintage USA - anyone have any experience with either ?

Additional plans include body and paint touch ups, which I can hopefully have done along with the engine swap (budget allowing). Things I plan to do myself over the coming months and years iunclude rear disc brake conversion, 17" SSII aluminum wheels, and suspension kit (looking at BMR level 2, appreciate any recommendations on suspension kits.) I don't intend to modify cosmetics beyond the wheels. Interior is in great shape, so no intention to spend $$ there anytime soon, except possible radio upgrade, but that's a lower priority for me at my age (was the first thing I did at 16, LOL.)
very nice. i missed it by a couple of days. are you in minnesota also?
if near by, i might be interested in the diesel engine.
Is it the 4.3l diesel or the 5.7l diesel?

its the 4.3l. i looked at the car also, but he got it first.
 

dgmeadows

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Mar 29, 2017
37
18
very nice. i missed it by a couple of days. are you in minnesota also?
if near by, i might be interested in the diesel engine.


its the 4.3l. i looked at the car also, but he got it first.
No, I am actually in Georgia. I had the car shipped down here. I had been looking for months and when I came across that one on CraigsList, I jumped on it pretty quick after talking to the Seller.
 

ck80

Royal Smart Person
Feb 18, 2014
2,356
113
It's the boat anchor 260. It is hilarious how this car was configured. 260 diesel, with T-Tops. NO power windows, door locks or seats but it does have rear window defrost, engine block heater (obviously ordered up north) and in-dash clock. Basic AM/FM radio with no tape player. Oh, and NO tilt steering column. Fortunately for me, it sits about right for me. Probably the one I would like to have is power windows, as rolling down the passenger side manually is a pain. Power locks and seats I don't miss at all. I have already bought a center dash panel with the rocket logo. I will probably disconnect the rear defrost and clock, as the clock doesn't keep time and I won't need the rear defrost living in GA. The rocket logo panel will look better, and reminds me of my original car.
You never know... if you ever decide to take a trip to the north mountains, or even Atlanta in the cold, you may use that rear defroster. Also, if it fogs up inside if you get in walking through too much rain, it'll help clear the rear window.

I know when we used to go up to blue ridge in the fall for apples we used the rear defog in the Mustang to help with frost, and when we lived just north of the city we used it before as well. Nice little option to have.

As far as the rest though, I like the non tilt and have it in all my regals. Crank windows and manual locks too. Seats are all full bench these days no no power there. So aside from the ttops sounds similar to how my cars were configured... maybe a basic dealer order pkg in the day
 

oldsmobile joe

Royal Smart Person
Nov 12, 2015
1,661
113
mpls
congratulations. the p o mentioned someone from georgia was interested in the car. enjoy the car, nice find.
 

dgmeadows

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Mar 29, 2017
37
18
congratulations. the p o mentioned someone from georgia was interested in the car. enjoy the car, nice find.
Thanks much, my old group of friends are all excited for me to find it.

Looking at your signature line, its obvious you've got a lot of experience with these cars. Do you know what transmission and rear end came with the 260 diesel models? I know my prior 305 had a THM200 transmission, but it did have a limited slip differential. I haven't put the diesel up on ramps yet to count the bolts on the transmission pan or look at the differential.
 

oldsmobile joe

Royal Smart Person
Nov 12, 2015
1,661
113
mpls
Thanks much, my old group of friends are all excited for me to find it.

Looking at your signature line, its obvious you've got a lot of experience with these cars. Do you know what transmission and rear end came with the 260 diesel models? I know my prior 305 had a THM200 transmission, but it did have a limited slip differential. I haven't put the diesel up on ramps yet to count the bolts on the transmission pan or look at the differential.
trans is either a 200 or a 350. a 200 will have the word metric embossed on the bottom of the pan in big letters. the service manual you got with the car may help you also.
the rear end is 2.41 ratio. posi was an option. some times there's a tag on the diff cover that states posi fluid needs to be used. but i don't remember seeing it on your car. its also possible that some one took it off the axle. there is also a code stamped on the front or top of the right axle tube. if its readable, you should be able to match it up to the info in your service manual. you'll have to check this out for your self. or find a build sheet.
don't be afraid to ask questions, we're here to help.
 

oldsmobile joe

Royal Smart Person
Nov 12, 2015
1,661
113
mpls
if i had gotten the car, i was going to do the same as you with the drive train. then i was going to use the diesel in another project with a manual 5spd and hyper mileage that biitch
 

Similar threads

G-Body Performance Upgrades

GBodyForum is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

Please support GBodyForum Sponsors

Classic Truck ConsolesDixie Restoration DepotMike's MontesP-S-TSouthside Machine PerformanceUMI Performance

ContactAdmin@GBodyForum.comfor info on becoming a sponsor