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1953 Buick Special drivetrain change


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Hello. 2 door hardtop.(model 45R)

Has anyone experience with putting either a 350 or 401/430/455 drivetrain in this particular make/model? (sticking with Buick engines  :) )

This is my 1st time attempt at such a project, and would appreciate any advice/tips from someone who has been down this road before. Car sits now stock with no modifications as of yet. Is the 350 my best/easiest option compared to the other larger sizes?

thanks

 

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In 1953 Buick used a torque tube drivetrain which does not lend itself to engine swaps. It requires a complete re-engineering of the chassis and transmission, driveline and rear end and suspension.

 

You can, by the way, soup up a Buick Straight 8'

 

 

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Save your money to buy gasoline so you can enjoy driving your Buick.  As it sits it is capable of driving comfortably and safely at or above the speed limit on any north American road.  I consistently drove mine 400 miles in five hours, including a stop for a leisurely meal and a gas up.  Did this trip twice a month, Winnipeg to Moose Jaw Friday evening and back before work on Monday, every month for over ten years.  Drove the car in WSCC rallies and ice races, even came second on a rally and fourth in the races.  A fantastic car.

Edited by Tinindian (see edit history)
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51 minutes ago, vermontboy said:

In 1953 Buick used a torque tube drivetrain which does not lend itself to engine swaps. It requires a complete re-engineering of the chassis and transmission, driveline and rear end and suspension.

 

That is nowhere near the big deal you are implying.  People have been swapping newer axles and transmissions with an open driveshaft in place of torque tubes for well over half a century.  No, it's not a bolt-in, but neither is the engine. I realize this is AACA and not H.A.M.B., but this is not rocket science.

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Not rocket science, just fiddly and a lot more expensive than it looks. This goes for any sort of driveline and/or rear suspension mods on a torque tube car.

 

For what it's worth, torque arms from a 1960s era Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup are usually used to carry the suspension forces Buick carried on the torque tube.

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1 hour ago, joe_padavano said:

People have been swapping newer axles and transmissions with an open driveshaft in place of torque tubes for well over half a century.  No, it's not a bolt-in, but neither is the engine. I realize this is AACA and not H.A.M.B., but this is not rocket science.

 

I agree totally, and any kid who grew up in the 60's with access to a set of torches, a Lincoln welder, and a down home junk yard full of cheap raw material is familiar with the drill. But well over half of those homebuilt specials did not handle well, chewed through tires on  monthly basis, and braking often left a lot to be desired. Not to mention that after a couple of years in the salt the welds would fail at inconvenient times.

 

So while it is not rocket science, to do it properly involves a fair degree of engineering knowledge, a decent background in math, and patience to cut the parts correctly, jig them up in alignment,  and the ability to complete a weld with proper penetration (easier with todays equipment and materials.).

 

As a first project I just felt it might be a bit more than a novice would want to attempt. We all have (had) to start somewhere  (mine was a frame off Model "A" sport coupe in the early 60's). It just kind of seemed like jumping into the deep end of the pool for your first swimming lesson. 

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31 minutes ago, vermontboy said:

 

I agree totally, and any kid who grew up in the 60's with access to a set of torches, a Lincoln welder, and a down home junk yard full of cheap raw material is familiar with the drill. But well over half of those homebuilt specials did not handle well, chewed through tires on  monthly basis, and braking often left a lot to be desired. Not to mention that after a couple of years in the salt the welds would fail at inconvenient times.

 

So while it is not rocket science, to do it properly involves a fair degree of engineering knowledge, a decent background in math, and patience to cut the parts correctly, jig them up in alignment,  and the ability to complete a weld with proper penetration (easier with todays equipment and materials.).

 

As a first project I just felt it might be a bit more than a novice would want to attempt. We all have (had) to start somewhere  (mine was a frame off Model "A" sport coupe in the early 60's). It just kind of seemed like jumping into the deep end of the pool for your first swimming lesson. 

 

I don't disagree with this, and many novices who watch too many cable shows think you can built a car like this in seven days.  On the other hand, you can buy an aftermarket trailing arm suspension setup that will replace the torque tube with a minimum of "reengineering" and math. Attention to detail and proper weld technique is always necessary, however.

 

weedetr-trailing-arm-suspension.jpg

 

Alternately, you can also get a plethora of aftermarket four link kits.  The Buford already has provision for the panhard rod.

 

1-20-15-020.jpg

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4 hours ago, johnnyrock70 said:

Hello. 2 door hardtop.(model 45R)

Has anyone experience with putting either a 350 or 401/430/455 drivetrain in this particular make/model? (sticking with Buick engines  :) )

This is my 1st time attempt at such a project, and would appreciate any advice/tips from someone who has been down this road before. Car sits now stock with no modifications as of yet. Is the 350 my best/easiest option compared to the other larger sizes?

thanks

 

 

  Do you have a Dynaflow?  Buick used Dynaflow through 1960, I believe.  I have never done a swap. have heard the Buick 350 is a heck of an engine.  Should be a fairly easy swap, as swaps go.  The "Nailheads" work well.

 

  Pictures?

 

  Ben

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Is it a difficult swap to install a nailhead in place of the straight eight. I know motor mounts and possibly an adapter plate for the three speed tranny, but outside of that? I have a ‘52 Special 45R with a boat anchor of an engine in it. Apparently it sat for years in a junkyard without a head or hood. TOAST! Just looking for a reasonable solution without swapping trans or torque tube rear end.

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Hmmmm?  In '53, the Special still had a straight 8, but the Super and Roadmaster had the new V8 "Nailhead."  My understanding is that only the senior cars with the larger body had room for the V8.  How close are the under hood dimensions of you 52 to that of a 53?  The 264 / 322 was replaced in 57 by the 364. Every Nailhead from 57  - 66 has a smaller diameter bell housing than the 53 - 56 Nailhead.  You cannot bolt a 57-66 engine to a 49 - 56 transmission.

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Rivnut, the dimensions are the same for ‘51-‘53 Specials. There should be ample room. The Chevrolet of the same vintage can easily accommodate a V8 to replace the six, so I can assume the Special can too. I’m guessing that it may be feasible to bolt an early Nailhead up to the existing three speed tranny. Sound reasonable to you?

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