Engine Transplant Recommendation

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Scott Buchanan wrote:


Makes you think, doesn't it? :-)

Well, not knowing too much about the engine bay of that particular car, its hard to say. And in general Mopar swaps aren't always "easy" because of the rear distributor on the LA smallblocks, the size of the big-blocks, and the overall size of most of the v8-capable automatic trannies. Both the TH200r4 or 700R4 are quite a bit smaller than the A-500 and A-518 Mopar 4-speed ODs. For those reasons I'd probably abandon my "roots" and not even consider a B/RB big-block (383, 440) or an LA smallblock (318/340/360).
Without knowing too many details, here's what I would probably dig deeper into:
1) a turbo 4-cylinder Mopar from a FWD 80s Mopar, coupled to a RWD transmission from a late 80s Dakota (when the Dakota also used the 2.5 common-block engine that the FWDs used). The FWD Mopar guys get stupid-huge horsepower out of 2.2/2.5 turbo engines by putting on big intercoolers, big injectors, aftermarket turbos, etc. and the engines take the pounding very well (same bearing sizes as a 426 Hemi or 440). And they aggravate the bloody heck out of us muscle-car guys by getting 25+ mpg when they're not spooled up and running 12-second quarter miles. I never know whether to consider them buzzing little pests, or amazingly cool! :-p
2) A modern Hemi (5.7) which is sold as a crate engine complete with engine control computer (or carburetor and simplistic distributorless ignition controller if you go low-tech). Its nice and compact without a distributor sticking out anywhere, and narrower/lower (for the most part) than OHC v8s like the Ford Modular and Mopar 4.7. Actually size-wise its pretty similar to a GM Gen-III v8. It will mate up to any smallblock Mopar transmission bellhousing, so you can go old-school/bulletproof with an A-727, or you can go with a 90's A-518 OD transmission from a Ram, if it would fit under the floorpan. Or get creative and use a stick.
Either option would require a lot of fabrication, but the turbo 4-cylinder would almost certainly fit with room to spare. Something really out there like a fuel-injected slant-6 would be beyond cool, but I wonder whether there's enough room for a long American inline-6, and it certainly would be a DIY fuel injection setup and nothing that's OBD compliant.
A Jeep 4.0-liter straight out of a circa-2000 Cherokee would be a contender in the "low bucks/ use it exactly as it comes out of the donor" category if there is room. Those are extremely torquey and would make for a peppy driver.
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Scott Buchanan wrote:

Since you want a newer engine and I expect you would like decent mileage I would probably look into using an adapter plate with the factory trans and use a 3800. The 4.3 is a great engine but gas mileage is not it's strong suit. Get a 3800 from a later vehicle and use an adapter plate to bolt it in. Just find a machine shop to make one.
--
Steve W.
Near Cooperstown, New York
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Scott Buchanan wrote:

Conversions, especially ones where there isn't prior development work already done for you, can be very costly and problematic. I don't know what the weight of the original engine is, but you would want to make sure that any replacement isn't significantly heavier or the handling and braking can be severely compromised.
If you really must do this, by all means I would stay away from the 2.9/3.1/3.4l family of engines. I don't know if they were ever made for rear wheel drive or not, so it might be a moot point. Packaging efficiency is very good, but problems like leaking intake manifold gaskets and other make for a less than ultra-long-life design.
The 3800 from a later model Camaro or Firebird donor would be the first thing I would look at if I just had to make the conversion. Other possibilities might be the V-6 Mustang motor and transmission from 1990s vintage stangs. Lots of fabrication and making do would be involved in such a swap.
Lots of folks have done GM swaps into Volvos, Jaguars and Jeeps, but I haven't seen much written about doing so into an MB product.
Personally I would tear down the original MB motor and make it right. The cost and headache will probably be lower in the end than using low cost GM parts as the basis for a swap.
John
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You are probably right. After crawling under the car and getting a good look at the cross member and steering linkage, I lost optimism that this could work.
Thanks to every one for their the input.

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