So now that we have beat our project to death on the ethics table and formulated a rough plan, we have started to make more specific decisions.
This jeep has never been a powerhouse and will require a little more oomph to tackle the hills and valleys here in Vermont. As I recall 45-50 MPH was pretty much non-attainable in this mountainous region when it was far newer. In addition the cracked block and disassembled state of the motor leaves many open ended questions to be answered and it seems pointless to dump large amounts of money into what will ultimately be an original yet underpowered engine.
So my daughter Lucia and I did some research and learned that they pretty much started upgrading these vehicles when they were new and adapting them to many different uses. While just about any motor can be adapted and made to fit, they all seem to have their own individual problems.
The first issue is that you are dealing with an 80″ wheel base which doesn’t leave a lot of length to fool around with. the second is that the frame is built to flex and can twist under heavy torque, causing damage. The third is probably that the entire vehicle weighs in around 2000 Lb’s.
So when we talked to the guys at advanced adapters and at Novak conversions we found that most of the adapter kits that help with the shortened wheel bases are Chevrolet based. Either a V-6 or V-8 small block can be made to fit relatively simply. Therefore we began searching for a Chevy motor for the project.
Now young Lucia is fairly easy to convince, with limited knowledge about engines, torque and HP and their effect on a project like this. So I took the lead.
I decide that the V-6 and the small block V-8 do not vary that greatly in size. The V-8 does have a bit more HP and they seemed to be more readily available. My inclination was to go with say an older 283 or 307 just because they were made farther back and were a bit milder than more recent hot rods.
So we began searching and discovered that certain motor were not as available as others. I was opposed to a 305 for personal reasons and time after time a 350 would show up. So we wound up buying a 350 small block off an engine stand in Massachusetts.
Small block Chevy motors are a lot like Willys jeeps, in that there are mountains of information out there that is available to identify them and trace their lineage. To make a long story short ours came out of an 1987 Iroc Z-28, when GM finally decided to put more horse power in them again.
The L-98 was built to have good low end torque and the horse power runs out about 5000 RPM. Not a bad set-up for a jeep, that should provide good performance off road and a very road-able vehicle to boot.
The big issue now is that we have created a monster. When the engine comes back from the machine shop it will be pushing 300 HP and around 350 FT-Lbs of torque.(Remember the 2000 Lb, 80″ wheel base jeep?) So our plans to keep the drive train stock are out the window and a whole new design phase is beginning.