Help with 81 cutlass 3.8 to BBC/SBC

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Sep 25, 2006
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Hey guys I sold my import and Im giving the old cars a shot. My last car, 93 dsm, went 11.7 at 127 so I need to go 10s to step it up to myself. When my grandfather died 3 years ago no one was left for the 81 Cutlass Supreme. Original owner and 20k original miles. Mint interior and all. Now no one drives it and I would like to do something with it. I want to go with a BBC 454. I know they can be put in the monte SS and I think it can be done to this. It wont be a daily driver more fun car.

So what do I need to get a big block in. I have read frame mounts and motor mounts for a sbc swap.

Give me opinions on whether a stroked out SBC or BBC would be better. I will have about 4-5gs to do a motor with and I want it to push 10s. On the bottle is fine. Im gonna keep searching but any input on what I need and motor setup would be great. Thanks
 
Sep 1, 2006
6,687
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Tampa Bay Area
81cutlassBB said:
Hey guys I sold my import and Im giving the old cars a shot. My last car, 93 dsm, went 11.7 at 127 so I need to go 10s to step it up to myself. When my grandfather died 3 years ago no one was left for the 81 Cutlass Supreme. Original owner and 20k original miles. Mint interior and all. Now no one drives it and I would like to do something with it. I want to go with a BBC 454. I know they can be put in the monte SS and I think it can be done to this. It wont be a daily driver more fun car.

So what do I need to get a big block in. I have read frame mounts and motor mounts for a sbc swap.

Give me opinions on whether a stroked out SBC or BBC would be better. I will have about 4-5gs to do a motor with and I want it to push 10s. On the bottle is fine. Im gonna keep searching but any input on what I need and motor setup would be great. Thanks

Use the same mounts that you'd use for a small block Chevy and you're there. You'll also want a beefed up trans like a TH400 or maybe a TH700R4, a Chevy V8 distributor ( same as for the mounts....), and either a well built 9 inch Ford or 12 Bolt Chevy rear axle from someone like Currie or Moser should round out the basics. Also, don't even think of using the stock rear susepnsion pieces as they have a tendency to fail under lots of power. You can get bolt in replacements from Hotchkis, Global West and others. Another thing you'd want is a beefed up driveshaft and possibly some extra bracing on the frame, and a rollcage. Solid or polyurethane body to frame mounts are highly recommended too. You can get the accessory drives from a truck or passenger car with a big blcok application, and something unique to GM cars of this era is the "Hydroboost", which uses power steering fluid pressure instead of vacuum for brake assist. It was used on diesel models, and may be able to be retrofitted to your big block application. You will also need the right rear trans x member for the trans you choose, and possibly a cowl induction style hood for clearance.If you want manual steering, I think a manual box from a S-10 will work if you use the right pitman arm. BTW, a 454 isn't much cheaper to buy than a 502, and GM now offers up to a 572 CI crate engine, so I would consider something larger so you can build it milder for reliability and driveability. Also, you could consider a turbo'd LS1 for a real streetable setup that would cost more, but may be worth it if the car is that nice. Your budget of 4-5k is pushing it to run 10's, the drivetrain and suspension that comes stock in your Cutlass would break almost instantly with that kind of power.Plus, most tracks would not permit you to run without serious safety improvements.If you had the drivetrain and chassis sorted, you may be able to build a "nitrous grenade" that would get you there on a junkyard shortblock and a shitload of nitrous, but it wouldn't last long.If you ran reliable 11's in your DSM, you likely had to replace alot of parts like the driveaxles, etc to make it work. G bodies are no different, but do require fewer overall drivetrain parts, and cheaper ones at that.I've played with a DSM and know what kind of cash is involved.
 

Cutlassjim

Apprentice
Aug 7, 2006
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Being a DSM owner myself I can tell you for a fact you literally have to do NOTHING to the motor or drivetrain to run reliable mid 11's. A clutch, more fuel, and more air (read bolt-ons) = 11's. Hell lots of people run 12.8ish with nothing more than an exhaust, K&N, and a boost controller.

On that note, good luck hitting 10's :D
 

pontiacgp

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Mar 31, 2006
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Kitchener, Ontario
I'm with CutlessJim on this one....There are plenty of GN's out there running in the 10's with very few upgrades to the suspension and running a 200 R4 with the stock rear end...
 
Sep 1, 2006
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pontiacgp said:
I'm with CutlessJim on this one....There are plenty of GN's out there running in the 10's with very few upgrades to the suspension and running a 200 R4 with the stock rear end...

Yes, but the GN has the much better 8.5 rear, not the 7.5 a 6 cyl Cutlass comes with. I didn't mean you have to spend ten grand, but around 1-3k on an axle, shocks, and a set of lower arms, depending on your bargain hunting abilities. Finding a 8.5 is not exactly an easy feat( and if someone has one cheap, let me know! I've been hunting for months with no luck).Also, the 200C would not fit nor would it last behind a BBC. Yes a 200 4R is a good trans if gone though right, but it will still cost you $1-3k for a trans, convertor etc. that will withstand constant abuse. DSM's are cheap to get great amounts of power from, but you still need the right turbo, intercooler, piping, injectors, etc to hit those numbers. While it can be done cheaply, it again takes alot of time and bargaining abilities to do so if you don't want to spend the money on all new parts.That's the problem I have with the 1G DSM project I'm involved in right now. My friend who's car it is makes 32k a year with a kid and has almost no spare cash to play with . I make the same, and have 2 hot rod projects and a daily driver, so the only stuff I can afford is from junkyards, barter and trade. For me, a major purchase is anything over $200 and even that is hard to come by. I found a Th200 4R for $65 and can't afford it. That's why I think things are pricey.
 

mrapii

Greasemonkey
Jan 5, 2006
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Waipahu, HI
While the 8.5" 10-bolt can take quite a bit of abuse the same can't be said of the 7.5". Any G-Body in the 10's will have to have considerable upgrades to the drivetrain and suspension.
 
Sep 25, 2006
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Cutlassjim said:
Being a DSM owner myself I can tell you for a fact you literally have to do NOTHING to the motor or drivetrain to run reliable mid 11's. A clutch, more fuel, and more air (read bolt-ons) = 11's. Hell lots of people run 12.8ish with nothing more than an exhaust, K&N, and a boost controller.

On that note, good luck hitting 10's :D



Hahaha NO. Coming from someone that hasnt run a 11. Thats why I hate dsm guys everyone has their opinion on how to run when they havent. This was on a 1.9 sixty foot and yea lets see 127 trap with bolt ons lol. good luck hitting 11s :roll: This is not an average dsm.

http://www.dsmsource.com/classifieds/sh ... 4027&cat=6


Anyone with actually help that would be awsome. Thanks alot everyone else and thanks 85 cutlass for the info. I will be using a 400 trans and Ill just go all out and get a currie 9in rear bolt in for the g body and a custom driveshaft. What else do I want for the back for suspension. Also what mounts do I need for the big block chevy I dont think I will be going with the sbc. Thanks
 

pontiacgp

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Mar 31, 2006
29,270
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Kitchener, Ontario
oppps..I wasn't suggesting to use the stock rear end of the Cutless. I meant that the set up for the rear end doesn't need much of an upgrade. A cheap way to tighten up the rear set up is to weld a plate on the trailing arms to box them in.
 

Cutlassjim

Apprentice
Aug 7, 2006
70
0
0
what is a dsm

A DSM is any 1st generation (90-94) or 2nd greneration (95-99) Mitsu Eclipse, Eagle Talon, or Plymouth Laser. Laser only 1G and Talon only until 97.

Hahaha NO. Coming from someone that hasnt run a 11. Thats why I hate dsm guys everyone has their opinion on how to run when they havent. This was on a 1.9 sixty foot and yea lets see 127 trap with bolt ons lol. good luck hitting 11s Rolling Eyes This is not an average dsm.

This is from the DSM forum I'm on I mention below. This is the kind of time you should see from a 127mph trap. Just because the guy can't drive doesn't mean the car's not fast. EDIT: Wait, is that your car? The things beatiful! It looks VERY well put together. But yeah learn how to drive/tune.

10.849 @127.65, 1.693, 96 Eclipse GSX, FP 3575, fjo_newport, Joe R

And here is one of the guys who schooled me in DSM's, http://www.rizzottiracing.com/ , 585 WHEEL HP and 10.6 on a stock block, and a 1.516 60' on slicks with nothing more than an ACT 2900 clutch for drivetrain mods.

And no I haven't hit 11's and only a lowly 12.4 but hey let's look at my set-up/budget.

Car: Free (Blown motor)
Junkyard motor: $300
New EVO3 16G: $600
Apexi AFC: $200
Buschur Racing 2.5" Turbo back exhaust $550
255 LPH Fuel pump: $100
ACT 2600 clutch $400
K&N: $60
Boost controller: $40

So let's see $2200 in go fast goodies and STOCK intercooler, injectors, suspension, wheels and tires, transmission, axles, throtle body, intake mani, exhaust mani. Doesn't seem to shabby to me. And that's at 210K miles on the body and god know's on the motor. And it will do it all day long.

And the reason I have my "opinion" on how to run something I haven't is because I've seen 10-15 people do it before me. Here is a link from the DSM Forum that I am on under the 1/4 mile times section. And mind you everyone on this list is from Mass,CT, or NH and I have met almost every one of them. So I have a good knowledge base to fall back on.

http://newengdsm.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=842

Don't get me wrong, I've seen guys throw LOTS of money and LOTS of parts at a DSM and never make a good pass or lots of power but hey it's not my fault they don't know what there doing.

Sorry for the long rant but when I don't know what I'm talking about I keep my mouth shut so when I'm told I don't know what I'm talking about I freak out :p
 
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