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How To Install a 383 Engine - Transplant Surgery

Stuffing a New Powerplant into a Classic Camaro

Nov 12, 2013
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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.

Tci 12/21

11 To keep our transmission running cool, we mounted a TCI cooler (PN 823500) to the Flex-A-Lite radiator. The cooler came with hose barb fittings, but we decided that some 90-degree fittings would work better, so that meant another trip down to G&J Aircraft for more fittings and push-lock hose.

Npd Battery 13/21

12 The old battery tray was pretty beat, so we picked up a new one from National Parts Depot. To this we mounted an Optima YellowTop to ensure trouble-free starts. For the battery cables, we found the cleanest solution was to buy the components and make our own to just the right length.

American Autowire 14/21

13 In terms of the Camaro’s electrical system, the forward wiring in the ’67 was pretty beat down, with more than a couple broken or missing connectors. Since we were elbow deep into the front end of the car, we decided to make it all new by replacing the front harness with a new one from American Autowire (PN CA72097DI). This kit was made specifically for our ’67 RS and was a plug-and-play installation.

Engine Harness American 15/21

14 We also replaced the engine harness with a fresh one from American Autowire (PN CA71981H). Since the GM pulley system we sourced from Pace Performance utilizes a modern CS130 alternator, we also ordered one of their conversion harness kits (PN 37796). This made wiring in our new engine a snap.

Flex A Lite Radiator 16/21

15 For the cooling system, we went with a Flex-A-Lite direct bolt-in Flex-A-Fit radiator kit (PN 52187) that included a 3,300-cfm electric fan and an adjustable thermostat controller. It’s a very nice package that fit the Camaro perfectly. Thanks to their bracket design, we were able to easily adjust the height of the two-row aluminum radiator on the core support. One problem we had was that the upper radiator hose was hitting our alternator area. This was due to the fact that the alternator rides closer to the engine centerline compared to a stock alternator. After digging around a bit, we found that the upper radiator hose from a ’72 C10 truck fit perfectly. The lower hose used was a Dayco (PN 70664).

Lokar Billet Throttle 17/21

16 The main component in getting our Holley hooked to the car was this new billet throttle plate from Lokar (PN TCB-4150). It’s a very sturdy piece that incorporated double return springs and had provisions for the transmission kickdown cable. For the rest of the throttle linkage, we grabbed a ’69 Z/28 throttle rod and hardware kit. You can also see where we mounted the Dakota Digital water temp sender in the RHS intake manifold. The oil pressure sender was mounted down by the oil filter.

Pertronix Flame Thrower Hc 18/21

17 To finish off the install, we mounted the PerTronix Flame-Thrower HC coil to the firewall along with a Lokar black locking trans dipstick (PN X1211147). On the engine side, we installed a Lokar stainless oil dipstick (PN ED-5001) and ran the PerTronix plug wires.

Detroit Speed Radiator 19/21

18 The reward for all of our hard work was an engine that fired on the very first try. In fact, we didn’t even have to hook up the electronic choke on the Holley. We chalk that up to having a good-sized carburetor and a great ignition system. To clean up the front of the engine bay, we installed a radiator closeout panel from Detroit Speed Inc.

Eddie Billet Hood 20/21

19 To further dress it up, we installed a set of billet hood hinges and hood latch from Eddie Motorsports. They come in polished, natural, and black finishes.

Npd Cowl Induction 21/21

20 One problem we ran into was that the original flat hood would no longer fit on the car due to the higher-rise RHS intake manifold. Well, it wouldn’t fit if we wanted to run any sort of air cleaner. Our solution was to spend $200 and grab a steel cowl-induction hood from National Parts Group (PN C-8000-4A). Now it’s time to get this Camaro on the road and shake down its new driveline.


American Autowire
Bellmawr, NJ 08031
Automotive Racing Products
Ventura , CA 93003
Don Lee Auto
Cucamonga, 91730
Energy Suspension
San Clemente, 92673
Fife, WA 98424
Dakota Digital
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
TCI Automotive
Ashland, MS 38603
PerTronix Performance Products
San Dimas, CA 91773
Racing Head Service
Memphis, TN 38118
Eddie Motorsports
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Holley Performance Products
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Pace Performance
National Parts Depot - Florida
Ocala, FL 24474
Performance Speed and Custom
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Lokar Performance Products
Knoxville, TN 37932
Detroit Speed
Mooresville, NC 28115
G&J Aircraft & Competition
Ontario, CA
Optima Batteries
Milwaukee, WI 53209



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