How To Install a 383 Engine - Transplant Surgery

Stuffing a New Powerplant into a Classic Camaro

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Dropping a new engine into your Camaro is a big deal since nothing ratchets up the “fun factor” of a cool car more than a high-performance engine that runs well. We’ve been wrenching on a ’67 RS, and even after installing a killer Heidts suspension system, the car still wasn’t very exciting to drive due to its tired and anemic 327ci small-block.

A few issues ago we put together a budget 383 stroker and decided that this pump-gas mill would be perfect for the RS. Doing the swap also reminded us how many little widgets are needed to swap a new engine into a Camaro. Engine mounts, dipsticks, wiring, starter, kickdown cables, radiator hoses, throttle linkage, and more are needed, and these items, while not expensive individually, add up to a pretty good chunk of change. We also came to appreciate having local speed shops around to buy those items that are always forgotten until you need them. To get the new drivetrain mated to the somewhat worked-over Camaro, we headed over to Don Lee Auto in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Energy Suspension 2/21

01 Before setting the new 383 into the engine bay, we bolted on a set of Energy Suspension urethane engine mounts. They look a ton better than the stockers and will hold up to the raucous little small-block. The kit (PN 3.1120R) included both engine mounts and a transmission mount. They were bolted on using some of the ARP stainless bolts that came in the engine assembly bolt pack we used when building the engine.

Don Lee Auto 383 3/21

02 It was then time to lower the engine into the Camaro’s freshly painted engine bay.

Passenger Hooker 4/21

03 The passenger-side Hooker header pretty much dropped right into place and was bolted to the head using more of the ARP fasteners from the kit. The ceramic-coated headers will help control engine bay heat, and the 1.75-inch tubes will help keep our stroker breathing easy.

Driver Hooker 5/21

04 The driver-side was a bit tougher due to our upgrade of a close-ratio 500 steering box. Given how tight it was, we decided to tape up the Hooker header to protect the finish before putting it in place. To get it to fit, we had to raise the engine a bit and trim a little metal off the corner of the steering box cover.

Tci Streetfighter 6/21

05 For a transmission, we decided to keep it simple and install a time-tested TCI StreetFighter Turbo-350 (PN 311000). Rated for up to 575 hp, this trans should have no problem running behind our stroker. The TCI valvebody will also let us either manually or automatically shift through the three gears.

Transmission 7/21

06 The trans went in without issue and we were able to reuse the crossmember from the original Powerglide transmission. The TCI trans came with a chrome pan, but we will need to find a properly fitting torque converter cover. You can also spot the ultra-compact Hitachi PSL100 high-torque starter we picked up over at Performance Speed and Custom in Rancho Cucamonga. When doing these installs, it’s nice to have a brick-and-mortar speed shop close by since you always end up forgetting bits and pieces.

Inland 8/21

07 With the TCI trans in place, we were able to take a measurement and get a new 3-inch steel driveshaft from Inland Empire Driveline. The length ended up being just a quarter inch longer than the driveshaft with the Powerglide. The new one was fitted with 1350 U-joints to match up with our Currie third member.

Lokar Th350 Kickdown Cable 9/21

08 To get our transmission and engine working together, we picked up a Lokar TH350 kickdown cable kit (PN KD-2350HT).

Efi 10/21

09 Our plan is to eventually fit this car with an EFI system, but for now we just picked up a basic mechanical fuel pump and pushrod from our local parts store.

Holley Adjustable Fuel 11/21

10 On the other end of our fuel system, we ran this trick Holley adjustable fuel log. This piece is a work of art and the best way to feed fuel to a Holley carb. For the fittings and fuel line, we picked up what we needed at G&J Aircraft in Ontario, California.

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