Install Chevrolet’s Ram Jet 350 Into A ’66 Nova

Blending The Latest With The Greatest

Bob Mehlhoff Aug 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)

Step By Step

Chevrolet designed the Ram Jet 350 to fit in older body styles originally equipped with a carburetor. The GM Performance Parts crate engine uses Chevrolet’s proven Vortec cylinder heads, Ram Jet electronic fuel injection, a wiring harness, and MEFI controller, and comes with detailed instructions. This new electronic fuel injection engine produces 350 hp at 5,200 rpm.

Since ’66 Novas use a unique front sump oil pan to clear the drag link, and the Ram Jet 350 utilizes a one-piece rear-main seal with a rear sump, a custom oil pan had to be built. We contacted Rudy Martinez at Modern Performance Classics who set us up with all the ’66 Nova oil pan parts including the pump, screen, oil-pump drive, and a front sump pan. To complete the conversion, we went to Dooley Enterprises and Pat Dooley built a custom-made oil pan.

To provide the one-piece base for the new ’66 oil pan, a late-model pan is scribed and cut. Dooley Enterprises has been manufacturing custom oil pans since 1973.

To make the special pan requires both a stock ’66 Nova pan and a late-model one-piece rear-main seal pan. Here the sump section of a ’66 Nova oil pan from Modern Performance is cut.

After successfully cutting the ’66 Nova pan, the sump section is separated and will be fitted and welded to a one-piece oil pan base.

Next, a one-piece base is prepared to fit to the ’66 Nova sump section. The large metal plate is attached to keep the base from moving while welding.

Careful welding and alignment is required to fit the two pan sections together.

After the pan is completely welded, it is filled with solvent to make sure no leaks are present.

Installing the Ram Jet 350 engine into a ’66 Nova required some minor modifications. The Ram Jet’s computer is mounted to the intake manifold, and needed to be repositioned forward about 1-1/2 inches. The Ram Jet coil also needed to be removed from the driver-side cylinder head and mounted to the firewall. Since the Ram Jet 350 uses an electronic fuel injection system, a special harness is also supplied. All special instructions are included in the service manual.

To actuate the right-hand throttle required a special pedal and cable from Lokar Performance Products.

A set of Hooker fenderwell exit headers, a K&N air filter, and an Edelbrock water pump helped to complete the engine installation.

Thanks to Modern Performance and Dooley Enterprises, the custom oil pan fits perfectly and looks great. The Ram Jet 350’s windage tray must be removed to use a ’66 Nova front sump pan.

CSR chose a 4L60E-overdrive automatic to keep engine revolutions down. To install this unit, CSR relocated the stock crossmember 2-1/2 inches rearward to custom frame brackets welded in place. For additional transmission clearance, CSR dimpled the stock Nova floor near the 4L60E’s tail shaft section. The 4L60E’s computer is mounted underneath the dash. Pete Morrerl then installed a throttle-valve control cable from TCI to allow the 4L60E to shift properly behind the Ram Jet 350.

The previous transmission in the Nova was a three-speed automatic. Since the new transmission uses four gears, we contacted Year One for this neat overdrive conversion.

The kit comes with an overdrive detent pattern and accompanying four-speed lens.

To keep the automatic cool, Pete at CSR hooked up a custom transmission oil cooler.

The Ram Jet 350’s electronic fuel injection system operates on 45-psi fuel pressure. To supply this system, CSR installed a Holley fuel pump, a 3/8-inch supply line, and a return line. The stock ’66 Nova pickup provided the supply feed and a second fitting welded into the tank accepted the return line.

To give the Nova the right stance, CSR cut one coil from the front springs. Since this affects suspension travel, Pete installed special shorter shocks from Modern Performance Classics.

The wheels are from Budnik and the tires are from BFGoodrich.

The interior of the Nova makes it seem like 1966 all over again—until you notice the four-speed automatic and start the engine.

Hot rodding has always been about improving the breed. Today that statement has never been more true. With all of the latest performance products available, hot rodders have the opportunity to blend today’s horsepower with yesteryear’s body styles. So when it came time for the folks at California Street Rods to build this year’s Route 66 Power Tour giveaway car, they chose a ’66 Nova powered by Chevrolet’s latest PFI Ram Jet 350. Follow along as we show you what is involved in blending the latest with the greatest.

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