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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2013, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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87 , 3.8 Need Input

Hello All,
We have a 87, with the original 3.8 still kicking . While it still motivates the wife to and fro, its developed many issues. leak's, Blow by, and low oil pressure as one might expect from a unit almost 30 yrs. old.
I have given thought to pursuing a used 3.8 with lower mileage, but the recyclers in the area all ask what year of car and such. Are there other vehicles I might inquire about in such a search, that they wouldnít cross reference automatically?
Changing manifolds, oil pickups/pans, and accessories all might be within our doable price range, if we can find a sound long block from a donor. Seems the 3.8 has been though many slight transformations through its long history.
Found one complete unit in a car, but itís a 86. My guess is that it would need a rebuild as well, but the $525 is baiting.
For reference, Iím located in Alaska. Not a lot of old thunderbirds still in one piece up here to pick from, but I found it odd that from three local recyclers, only one complete 3.8 popped up.
Our 87, has the Automatic w/ overdrive. AOD?. CFI .
IM not required, currently.
Might a early 289, 302 or Winsor 351 bolt to this transmission?
Would the front need to be re-sprung, to hold a V-8 swap?

Thank you, for your time & thoughts
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2013, 05:49 PM
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i would go for as late a model 3.8/4.2 as you can find. they are basically the same engine, and while there are differences, there are not enough to cause any problems you cant handle. if you still have the CFI injection, i would either go with a carb, or step up and go with a sefi system from the car that you get the engine from.

if you want the V8, then yes the ford small block will bolt to the V8 trans, you can even use the torque converter. you will need the proper flexplate though, you can source them from summit racing. if you have the AOD you need a 164 tooth flexplate with the proper balance factro for the V8.

the suspension can remain as is if you like since it is a daily driver. in fact the springs are the same as used in the V8 birds of your year.

by the way, another option if you want to stay with EFI is to use the megasquirt system. the current one has added an ignition controller so you can use either a coil pack, or a cop system. check them out at http://www.diyautotune.com/ for more information.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2013, 09:17 PM
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While I'd be surprised if your 87's body would merit an engine swap after so many Alaskan winters, if you are really interested in a 5.0 swap I believe I have I still have the AOD flexplate from one or both of my 93 5.0 Tbirds i recently parted out. I'll be happy to ship it to Alaska if you need it for minimal $$. I don't need them because I'm using these two engines with my M5R2 transmission.

These flexplates will be setup for a 50oz imbalance (what you would need for any late model 302 swap).

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2013, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the shouts back. The V8 has crossed my mind but as S4gunn points out, she does need alot of tlc in the looks dept..
Easy enough to do stuff but the current need for transportation had me looking for a possible swap that wouldnt be to entailed. The 6 is plenty strong for daily transport and given a freshening, might net a few saved fuel dollars. Idk

rbohm? might you have knowledge of how late of a 3.8 might take the CFI manifold currently in use/oil pan/all the items the current 3.8 sports. I just dont get why the yards here didn't have a ton of 3.8s to pick from? Are the ones in mini trucks and other cars so different? Maybe I should call again, and refuse to mention age of the car Im putting it in?

We have had the car for close to 15 years, lol . I would like to restore it. But, being that its not concidered a rare unit, I might eventualy look at a upgraded engine and drive.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2013, 04:04 PM
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If your up to it could to a MAF swap and essentially any 3.8 starting from 1990. I helped a guy do a swap on his 87 Mustang (5.0), and I wouldn't figure would be too different. Beyond that any RWD 3.8 short block will work.

The only issue I can think of with CFI is the oil pump is different but shouldn't be a deal breaker. If my memory serves.

The interchange books are only going to show 84-87 being interchangeable.

Link for all the changes http://www.enginebuildermag.com/Arti...8l_engine.aspx

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-07-2013, 11:22 PM
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Originally Posted by XLnAK View Post
Thanks for the shouts back. The V8 has crossed my mind but as S4gunn points out, she does need alot of tlc in the looks dept..
Easy enough to do stuff but the current need for transportation had me looking for a possible swap that wouldnt be to entailed. The 6 is plenty strong for daily transport and given a freshening, might net a few saved fuel dollars. Idk

rbohm? might you have knowledge of how late of a 3.8 might take the CFI manifold currently in use/oil pan/all the items the current 3.8 sports. I just dont get why the yards here didn't have a ton of 3.8s to pick from? Are the ones in mini trucks and other cars so different? Maybe I should call again, and refuse to mention age of the car Im putting it in?

We have had the car for close to 15 years, lol . I would like to restore it. But, being that its not concidered a rare unit, I might eventualy look at a upgraded engine and drive.
if you are going to keep the CFI system, then any single port 3.8 will work from any year. in fact the later the better. and you could use a 3.8/4.2 short block from any rwd vehicle, even the split port motors, if you swap on the early single port heads. and the power loss from going from a split port to a single port head isnt that much in reality, i think about 10-15hp at most, but others may have a different opinion.

personally what i would do is keep the single port heads and port them( i dont like polishing the ports for the street), and then contact tom morana racing or supersix motorsports at these websites;

http://www.moranav6racing.com/

http://www.supersixmotorsports.com/

and get one of there four barrel intakes, and then go to holley, edelbrock, fast, or any number of other EFI manufacturers and pick up one of their four barrel systems, and bolt that on. your CFI fuel pump should do nicely with those systems since it is already a high pressure pump, but check with the company you get the system from to be sure.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-12-2013, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, bowez! Thats what I was after. Thank you so much. The link answered alot of questions.
rbohm, thank you as well. Tons of good info.
S4gunn, Thanks for the offer. If i go 289 or 302 I will need flexplate for joining a C6 or C4 old school. I have lots of xp with them.
Its not that I would want to keep the orig. power plant but, for the time being if I could find one that has a few miles left to it I might. Might not be a bad idea, if they start the IM prog. back up here, and want matching power train. Grr
Would love to put a 289 or 302 in it from back in the day .
Best wishes
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-12-2013, 12:56 PM
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actually unless they do am I/M program like california does, where they check the block part number and compare it to the year of the car, you can use an early 289 or 302 if you want, just update the older engines with modern EFI, and emissions systems as needed. for instance and air pump doesnt use a lot of power to run, perhaps 3-5 at most, and catalytic converters used by ford are fairly high flowing from the factory, and are the basis of the really high flowing aftermarket converters.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-26-2013, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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, Yup I remember them actual doing the engine compaire, to stock on my 83 f350. They even looked at my 70 camaro a bit funny. Had a good tech disco. the the vac advance on the 70 to get it to pass tho. It was old enough to not be subject to the look under the hood #rs match as you mention.
Great info for sure rbohm. Winters about to fall here pretty hard, so I'm locked into some fixes on my 04 SD atm. The 87 TB is still kicking( fingers crossed) so I'll revisit the notions soon.
Thanks again to all! Best wishes
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-26-2013, 04:24 PM
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time was in cali when they kind of didnt care. you could take an 85 monte carlo ss, and swap in any chevy big block you wanted s long as you used all the emission controls from the 85 monte. or you could take a 92 lsx motor and swap it into your 70 monte carlo, as long as the engine emission controls went with the swap. now they have the IM deal where they check the engine build date, so now you cannot take that say 95 corvette lsx engine and put it in your 96 camaro, even though the engines and emission controls are virtually the same.

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