Cutlass Supreme budget sleeper build

Discussion in 'G-Body Build Threads' started by Intragration, Feb 11, 2012.

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  1. Intragration

    Intragration Master Mechanic

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    I've wanted to do this build for probably 20 years, a big block sleeper Cutlass. I'm finally just now getting around to it. It's going to be very middle-of-the-road as sleepers go, not the best performing, not entirely grandma's car in appearance, just a nice, plain-Jane coupe with a little something extra. I like that it has the SSIIs and no vinyl top. I have an identical set of 15s that I'm going to run with RWLs, but this will be the extent of the flashiness. Still got the red bench seat interior with column shifter. It was an AC car, but this was already mostly removed, so I've stripped the rest of it. CC and rear defrost were the only other power options, everything else is manual. :)

    Getting the car running and drivable on a budget before Winter, and getting some fall cruising in was the goal of the initial phase of the project. I mostly met this goal, except for the budget part ha ha. For right now I'm just catching you guys up to where it's at now. Here's the car as it appeared in the auction listing in September of '11, a mostly stock 3.8 roller that had been off the road for about 10 years:
     

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  2. Intragration

    Intragration Master Mechanic

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    Here it is on the way home from Indiana, and stored temporarily outside while I made room for it in my garage.
     

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  3. BillsHoe

    BillsHoe Apprentice

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    Looks nice and clean good luck with the build...
     
  4. Intragration

    Intragration Master Mechanic

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    The very next day my buddy Ryan and I went to pick up the motor, a '70 455. I don't know a whole lot about it, but here's what I do know. It's a '70 block and heads, I was told it only had a couple thousand miles on the rebuild. The guy I got it from had it in an original turbo car, and wanted to restore it back to a turbo, so he just didn't need it. It ran very well, and I got a chance to drive the car it was in. I didn't do any kind of testing on it, but it ran smoothly enough, and the oil was clean enough that it seemed possible. It wasn't very expensive, downright cheap if it was in fact recently rebuilt. It came with an also supposedly-low-mile TH350.

    I got it back to the shop and decided to do gaskets, intake, oil pan and valve covers, just to be safe. While I had it apart, I did a little inspection, and I was happy to see that it really did appear to have been a recent rebuild. It's got Keith Black 1631 pistons, a Melling M22F pump, and a new timing chain. All of the rods and caps were marked, and the crank had reference marks for the machining that was done. I was told that it had a "mild cam", I don't know what exactly. I did a VERY unofficial measurement of the wear on an intake valve stem, and the valve that was furthest off the seat appeared to be at almost exactly .500 lift. On the exhaust side, I was able to see what appeared to be hardened seats. I don't know for sure, but I compared with another set of '70 heads via the exhaust port, and mine definitely have a bit of a ridge around the seat that stock ones do not.

    It also came with an Edelbrock Performer and an Edelbrock 600 CFM carb. I have since picked up a 7040251 QJet that I'm going to have rebuilt. Here's the motor freshly out of the turbo car, before clean-up, a couple inside pictures, and then cleaned up and ready for install.
     

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  5. black86442

    black86442 Apprentice

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    Looks good all cleaned up and painted.
     
  6. Intragration

    Intragration Master Mechanic

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    After getting the motor cleaned up and resealed, I started working on the car. The first step was to get the old 3.8 frame mounts out. This is not a simple thing to do, it just requires the right combination of sockets, extensions and wrenches and a lot of patience. Once these were out, I cleaned up the engine compartment real good, degreased it and painted with POR15. I didn't worry too much about the suspension components, I can work on these from the wheel well area when I clean those up. While the motor was out, I figured this was the best time to clean up and paint the core support too. I did all the less visible areas with POR15, and the more visible areas I prepped better, primed and sanded several times, and painted with Krylon semi-gloss.

    Next you can see the Olds V8 frame mounts in place and the fuel line extension, bringing it over to the passenger side. I'll eventually do a new full-length V8 fuel line, but I've just done 3 full brake line replacements in the last couple years, I couldn't bring myself to do this just yet. To figure out just where the fuel line needed to hook up to the fuel pump, I made a jig out of a coat hanger that measured the exact relationship between the motor mount and the fuel pump on the motor. Then, on the car, I just put the motor mount side by the frame mount, and it indicated exactly where the fuel line had to terminate.

    Next is hood off, ready to go, with headers hung in place.
     

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  7. zuma83

    zuma83 Greasemonkey

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    Nicee
     
  8. Intragration

    Intragration Master Mechanic

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    Getting the motor in was pretty easy. There was a slight interference somewhere on the passenger side that I couldn't quite track down, but moving and rocking it a little overcame that and then it settled right down. Make sure if you use the hand-crank leveler like I have, that you have the handle to the FRONT of the car, not towards the cowl like I have it.
     

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  9. Intragration

    Intragration Master Mechanic

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    The computer harness comes out to the engine compartment through the firewall on the passenger side. There was nothing that I was going to need from that harness, so I decided to remove it. The easiest way I found to do this was to cut all the wires as close as possible to the firewall on the engine side. Then, from the passenger compartment, I just pulled on the harness and it pulled right through the grommet. I sealed the grommet with a plug and some silicone, in case someone ever wants to return the car to a 3.8 CCC. :lol:

    Before installing the motor, I improved the timing markings on the balancer, so I can easily check the timing without using a dial-back timing light. Just used the existing timing marks as a reference, and added marks to the balancer up to 45 degrees. The small hash marks are 5 degrees and the big ones are 15 degrees.

    Before doing the install, I was convinced that the battery cable running to the starter was going to be a big problem due to it's proximity to the Hooker 3203 headers. I made an insulator for all the wires running along the side of the block to the starter out of two spark plug wire insulators to shield them from the heat. As it turns out, there is a great chasm of space between the block and the headers. Maybe this is unique to the 3203s? Maybe others had problems with SBO headers and clearance? I don't know, but on a BBO G-body with Hooker 3203 headers, there is zero problem. Even the starter is clear of the headers, and could easily be replaced without touching the headers.

    Of course the transmission crossmember is a problem...
     

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  10. Intragration

    Intragration Master Mechanic

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    I resolved this by modifying the stock crossmember. I could have purchased one of the aftermarket ones, but having just purchased a car, a motor, and G-body BBO headers, I decided to go the budget route this time. I marked the factory crossmember, cut out a healthy chunk of metal, and fabbed up some sheet metal to wall in the notch and some c-channel stock to reinforce the top. With the help of my friend Kevin's welder and a crash course in MIG welding, I had the whole thing done in a couple hours. I'm very happy with how it turned out. It's got plenty of clearance, it seems plenty strong, and it turned out better than I expected.
     

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