Buick Bill1118

1955 motor swap

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I have a 55 Buick SSuper

  It is all original.  I have a chance to buy a 455 with a turbo 400.  I was wondering iif anyone hhere has tried tthis motor sswap.  Yes I know the rear end has to be changed bbut the idea oof having something tthat parts are more available is appealing.  Thanks for any help you may have

 

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6 hours ago, Buick Bill1118 said:

I have a 55 Buick SSuper

  It is all original.  I have a chance to buy a 455 with a turbo 400.  I was wondering iif anyone hhere has tried tthis motor sswap.  Yes I know the rear end has to be changed bbut the idea oof having something tthat parts are more available is appealing.  Thanks for any help you may have

 

Anything is possible with enough money. I drive my 54 weekly with the same 322 as yours and have had little to no problem finding parts.  I suspect the 455 is no more common in big box parts houses.

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I understand your point.  But I checked and O'Reilly could have a water pump in the morning for the 455.  The kid looked at me like I was from mars when I asked about a 322.   Lol   and it's not the local ttrops that worry me it would be the cross country run.   My nailhead is a strong motor and runs fine just have a chance tto grab a big block and well I love the smell oof tire smoke.

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To each their own.  I think your original post answers your own questions.  You know you'll need new suspension etc.  you'll just have to be ready to cough up the moola!

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2 hours ago, wndsofchng06 said:

To each their own.  I think your original post answers your own questions.  You know you'll need new suspension etc.  you'll just have to be ready to cough up the moola!

 

 At least he is planning on keeping it BUICK.  

 

  Ben

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1 hour ago, Buick Bill1118 said:

Thanks Ben.  At least I just didn't follow the crowd and do a LS swap

Oh I'm not dissing your swap.  I just think you already know what you're going to do.  Yes, LS swaps have been done to everything, I for one am bored of them.

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Crazy aas it seems to do upgrades tto a wonderful car my intention is simply make a cool daily driver that's safer and much more reliable.  Not having to do constant adjustments to brakes as described iin the buick manual is a plus.  Handling more like a newer car is a bonus.  Yet still having a very classy style.

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53 minutes ago, Buick Bill1118 said:
53 minutes ago, Buick Bill1118 said:

my intention is simply make a cool daily driver that's safer and much more reliable

 

Not passing judgment on your plan, but really, after 63 years it hasn't proved it is reliable?  Just sayin...:lol:

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1 hour ago, Buick Bill1118 said:

Crazy aas it seems to do upgrades tto a wonderful car my intention is simply make a cool daily driver that's safer and much more reliable.  Not having to do constant adjustments to brakes as described iin the buick manual is a plus.  Handling more like a newer car is a bonus.  Yet still having a very classy style.

 

9 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

 

Not passing judgment on your plan, but really, after 63 years it hasn't proved it is reliable?  Just sayin...:lol:

I have to agree with the brake adjustment thing....  Good grief.  I'm almost ready to give up my washer jar for a firewall mounted brake system to power 4 wheel discs.

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11 hours ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

 Bill, of you do this, drop down a space and do a "build thread"  on the modified forum.   I will be following.

 

  Ben

 

What Ben said

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So I really don't know aanythingabout reliability.  I haven't hhad her long and it did set for a few years.  Didn't gget to talk to the previous owner as she had moved away. I do know iit had left her stranded aat the store.  And if you really wwaMr to get rid of your washer jjar send it my way.  But first call ABS power brake in California.  I got a new booster aand duel reservoir master cyl from tthem that mounts under the car Where the factory one did.  They also have ffrnot disk.   Not cheap but better tthan stock.

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iRather than ask "the kid at ___________" about parts for your car, go to the auto supply's website and put in the same information.  Be it O'Reilly's, AutoZone, etc.  Then check www.rockauto.com and see what they have in their listings for whatever you're wondering about.  As for that "cross country trip", there's always "Express Shipping", which might allow for a day or so of seeing the "local sights" where ever you might end up.  For the money you'll spend on your upgrades, you might well end up in the same situation with a Buick 455.

 

Save the money and invest in a few "trunk box parts" to make sure they are correct BEFORE you leave.  OR wait to see what you might end up needing and pay the express shipping to where you're at.  Cheaper than the upgrades you mentioned.

 

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)

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Wow I didn't realise iI was going tto upset so many ppeople.   I haven't checked to see if rrock auto hhas a big selection of dinaflow goodies.  Other than the fluid they are known to leak.  And so of course iI can just change the tranny and rear end like that's simple.  And of in my search I just happen to find one of the best big blocks out there and yes it's a buick. So I try to ask some people how love this brand for advice and catch flack from purest that probably take their cars from town to town on a trailer. 

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6 minutes ago, Buick Bill1118 said:

Wow I didn't realise iI was going tto upset so many ppeople.   I haven't checked to see if rrock auto hhas a big selection of dinaflow goodies.  Other than the fluid they are known to leak.  And so of course iI can just change the tranny and rear end like that's simple.  And of in my search I just happen to find one of the best big blocks out there and yes it's a buick. So I try to ask some people how love this brand for advice and catch flack from purest that probably take their cars from town to town on a trailer. 

 

  Bill, Bill, don't despair. Some folks just like to stir the pot.  Don't let them get to you.

 

  Carry on.

 

  Ben

 

  

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No offense taken, at least for me.  Just wanted to point out that the 455, although "modern", is still at least 40 years old at this time.  Last year produced was '76.  Which, plus the non-volume of parts requests for one at the auto supply stores, is not that much better than with your existing motor.  The THM400, although "modern",  was last used in about the late '80s, living on in 4L80E form for many years later.  So, the "modern stuff" mentioned isn't all that "current" when you look at what's on the shelves at most auto supply stores.  Even IF you found some parts in stock, it would mean they'd have been on the shelves for decades.  To me, those are reality issues.  No more, no less.

 

While many who come into these forums are more concerned with keeping things as they were built, which I understand, myself and others also appreciate your desires "while on a trip", too.  You might find a more receptive group for what you are considering in the "Modified" Forum, a few notches down the Buick AACA Forums list.

 

I know that everybody tends to gravitate toward the "big motors", but for a normal car upgrade, a Buick 350 V-8 and a THM350 or THM200-4R or THM700 automatic would probably make more $$$$ and sense, in the long run.  Not hard to put a HEI distributor in one that didn't come with it.  Your choice of carburetor (2bbl or 4bbl)r or after-market self-learning EFI, too.

 

Notice that I said "BUICK" 350, which is a totally different breed of Skyhawk than a Chevy 350!  The transmission bell housing bolt patterns will need to match the BUICK or B-O-P bolt pattern, too.

 

When it was new, the Buick Nailhead had many advanced design features, which made it a better motor than the beloved small block Chevy, but it also had a few things that made it a little less desirable at the same time.  The cylinder heads, in particular, had to have enough narrowness for the exhaust manifolds to clear the chassis, for example.  This necessitated the smaller valves and ports, which also had higher velocity for more torque in the mid-range, but limited ultimate top end horsepower.  A torque motor, which the DynaFlow needed.  The small block Chevy, being a physically smaller motor, was more prone to be able to be put "everywhere", by comparison, and had much better rpm and power output.  Plus being lighter than the straight-6 it replaced!

 

The middle'50s cars were still generally using body/chassis architecture which originated when the engines were all "inline", rather than V-shaped.  This tends to explain the head-width issues I mentioned PLUS why the Chrysler Hemis had exhaust manifolds which had to hug the block before they attached to their under-car exhaust systems.

 

Other than the issues of rear suspension, drive shaft, and such with any engine/trans swap, you'll need to have a good shop build the engine mounts to put the newer engine in your car.  THAT can be expensive, just by itself.  It's not a really "drop-in" situation, even for a Buick 455, although a 425 might be easier. 

 

As you and your car are still in the "getting acquainted" stage of things, do that FIRST before you consider doing anything to it.  If it's been sitting a good while, there are some things (fuel line hoses and other related rubber items) which will need to be replaced with current-type rubber first.  Plus other general "tune-up" items.  Fluids, filters, and such, too.  Learn about the car and what makes it what it is and why it's that way.  There are MANY things to appreciate and learn about why it's one of GM's best products for its build time.  Get it to the point that you'd feel safe in driving it long distances, too.  This might take a year or two, possibly.  Then start considering what might make it better.

 

DynaFlows are allegedly supposed to leak oil, just like Harleys, it seems.  BUT gasket technology and sealers have come a very long way since back then.  There are a few techniques to keep the torque ball seal from leaking, too.  So "leaks of old" can now be dealt with.  Even some who claim "they all leak" or "they're supposed to leak" don't like getting a "Most Drips Award" at some car shows!

 

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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You can get water pumps new from NAPA. Its probably just as difficult to scarce up a 455 water pump as it would be a Nailhead water pump. The only issue is that you need to do a timing cover swap to a later 401/425 Nailhead, new from TA performance. They bolt onto the 322 block, and you will also be able to mount the fuel pump sold over the counter. I daily my 56, too, without much issue. If you're worried about adjusting brakes, find some adjusters out of a later 60s Buick - they go right on and all the springs can also be bought new from NAPA.

 

If I were to modernize my Buick, I would look at using a modern engine and transmission, not 50 year old ones. The 3.6L V6 engine would be a good fit, comparable in power to your 322 and parts are all over the place for them. All it needs is the Buick plastic cover and you're good to go. Hide the ECU somewhere, and you'd probably be getting 30MPG on the highway. With the new GS model, or even the Cadillac CTS, you have the option of single or twin turbo manifolding, too.

 

Whichever way you decide to go, good luck! I'd be interested in following your thread, too. Just make sure you reinforce your X-frame, it was engineered for 250 HP and 341 ft/lbs of torque.

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17 hours ago, Buick Bill1118 said:

Wow I didn't realise iI was going tto upset so many ppeople.   I haven't checked to see if rrock auto hhas a big selection of dinaflow goodies.  Other than the fluid they are known to leak.  And so of course iI can just change the tranny and rear end like that's simple.  And of in my search I just happen to find one of the best big blocks out there and yes it's a buick. So I try to ask some people how love this brand for advice and catch flack from purest that probably take their cars from town to town on a trailer. 

Opinions are like some parts of our anatomy, everybodies got one. The key, imho, is to be respectfull enuff to not get personal about it! We all ignorant, just on different subjects. Ive heard complaints about the club not attracting new members, hmmmm! You are welcome here by me and anyone else who thinks inclusion is a good thing, like the folks who got modified and performance forums "ok"d by the general membership! No ones pushing them to mod their stockers. Do what you like. There are plenty more open minded folks willing to help out and have another great Buick stay on the road! Whats the opposite of an open mind?

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The problem with using something as Beemon mentions  . . . would be finding a controller to run just the engine, rather than engine/trans/etc.  GM Perf Parts has a stand-alone transmission controller for their "Street Rod" plug-n-play, with a 4L80E (I believe) transmission, which was over $2K the last I looked.  Using something like the 3.6L DOHC High Feature V-6 might be neat, but there are LOTS of moving parts in that engine.  The great fuel economy they can get on the highway depends upon ALL of the vehicle systems and sensors working together, many of which would not be needed on a street rod/street machine application.  Not to mention the phenomenally good aerodynamics of the modern vehicles.  BUT, if you have some trouble in a remote town, just because it's a current OEM engine doesn't mean a dealer will have parts on the shelf for it.  They might still be one or two days "out", depending upon the stocking warehouse location.  AND, they aren't "cheap to fix", either.  More reality issues, to me.

 

Nothing's impossible with enough time and money, it's just that danged cost-benefit analysis "thing" that might get in the way for some (including ME).

 

Old-Tank has successfully proven that driving and enjoying his '55 Buicks is very possible in modern times.  It can take a bit more work to a higher level of execution, but it CAN be done with a stock-spec Buick.  Check out his Buick Restorers Internet presence.

 

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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3 hours ago, NTX5467 said:

The problem with using something as Beemon mentions  . . . would be finding a controller to run just the engine, rather than engine/trans/etc.  GM Perf Parts has a stand-alone transmission controller for their "Street Rod" plug-n-play, with a 4L80E (I believe) transmission, which was over $2K the last I looked.  Using something like the 3.6L DOHC High Feature V-6 might be neat, but there are LOTS of moving parts in that engine.  The great fuel economy they can get on the highway depends upon ALL of the vehicle systems and sensors working together, many of which would not be needed on a street rod/street machine application.

 

I don't think it would be any more complicated than using an LS engine that also requires a PCM to run the engine and transmission. $2k is also seat cushion change when you calculate rebuilding a 455 engine and matched transmission, boxing the rear axle and fabbing mounts.

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There have been many changes in the 3.6L from its first introduction.  A cam phaser failure, which was finally tracked back to a poorly-installed paper gasket for the cam phasers' attachment to the engine, but it trashed the heads when it failed.  Of course, that was then and no related issues in that areas since then.  I know that we kept a LOT of heads and the stuff to build them completely in stock, for months, before GM finally decided to ship us assembled heads instead.  Then it went down to that one gasket/seal.  The 3.6L in the current Camaros is the  2nd Gen version, that was allegedly completely re-engineered.  Still if one fails, still a few days out for the parts for the repair, which is my point.  Whether new or old, if a failure results, you're going to either be "on the back of a wrecker" or "in a motel for a few nights".

 

We know that the relative aerodynamics of a mid-'50s Buick is not the same as that of a current Camaro.  That 30mpg EPA could easily drop to mid-20s in the older Buick, which is getting close to what I suspect a Buick 350, THM200-4R/THM700 trans, with self-learning EFI might achieve under similar cruise conditions.  MANY things go into that mpg for the Camaro, too, which would require a bit of doing to duplicate on the Buick.  Be that as it may . . .

 

IF you're going to use almost any late model SOHC/DOHC V-8 or V-6, you will also need the later model automatics with the 4.50- low gear (6L90E or similar 8-speed automatic) as so many of the later engines have somewhat weak off-idle torque, up to about 2000rpm or so.  That initial low gear gets them through that lower rpm range quickly, with the tightly-spaced upper gears keeps the engine rpm low during mild acceleration or going up hills . . . as if they don't have enough torque to pull them without a downshift, by observation.  By comparison the GM LS late-model pickups with the 8-speed work flawlessly with very little throttle input.  Much more off-idle torque and fewer downshifts on the road at 70mph, by observation, plus I've averaged 20mpg plus on several of them, in my normal freeway-centric driving with the cruise control.  Which is probably ONE reason they can be so popular with the street machine people.

 

By the same token, I ran many tanks of fuel through our '87 Silverado 5.7L V-8.  3.08 rear axle,  P235/75R-15 radials, THM700 automatic, and 2bbl TBI pickup. Keeping cruising speed to 55-60mph, when the national speed limit was 55mph, which yielded similar 20mpg results.  That was driving it like a carb, using the "slow and gentle" accelerations.  Now that I know how to drive a EFI vehicle better, I might get even better results?  In a somewhat blocky vehicle.

 

Therefore, I stand by my Buick 350/OD automatic orientation as an upgrade from an earlier Nailhead.  Not that a better-optimized Nailhead and a THM200-4R might not be such a bad deal either!

 

NTX5467

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