GM Pistons, Vintage Air System & 1979 Chevy Malibu - Performance Q&A

Kevin McClelland Dec 1, 2008 0 Comment(s)

The numbers you gave us were casting numbers, not part numbers. Our Super GM Parts Man Ken Casey was able to find that these pistons are from '96-and-later L-31 Vortec 350 and L-35 4.3L Vortec V-6 engines. These are nicely designed cast pistons with a slight dish, four valve reliefs, a coated short skirt, and a metric ring pack. We couldn't find the specific ring pack dimensions, but we recall that they are 1.5 mm top, 1.5 mm second, with a 3.0 mm oil ring. This is a very low-tension ring pack that works very well on oil control and cylinder sealing. This piston and ring pack is a major upgrade to the standard slipper skirt, 1/16-, 1/16-, 3/16-inch ring package.

You will be very happy with the performance numbers you get with these pistons. Just make sure you don't get greedy and spray the engine with giggle gas. Beating your classmates is the objective, but the car better be running when you're done. Good luck.

Real Pony Swap
Q I'd like to start by saying that I've been a Chevy man most of my life. Recently I had the opportunity to purchase a '68 Mustang minus engine and trans extremely cheap. It has been a fad lately to drop small-block Chevys into late-model Mustangs. Does anybody make a conversion kit to put a Chevy engine and trans into these early Mustangs? Maybe something that contains headers and motor mounts? Thanks for your help.
Richard Topolewskit
Bolingbrook, IL

A Yes, one of today's more popular engine swaps out there for the Ford group is to pick up a cheap Fox-body Mustang and drop in a nasty small-block. They're lightweight and have a decent rearend and suspension, and all you have to do is drop in some power and you have a robust combination for a rather quick car.

As for the earlier Mustangs, a couple of things prevent an easy engine swap. First, the tight shock towers really make it tough, given the 9.020-inch deck height and the exhaust port and spark plug location, to squeeze in there. Next, all the early Mustangs had a front sump oil pan configuration. Even if you used an early Chevy II pan, which is a front sump, it would be tough. We couldn't find anyone with engine swap components for the early Stangs.

The Fox-bodies have much more room in the engine bay and used a rear sump oil pan, and the small-block drops right in. If any of you out there are interested in making a Mustang better-and really want to tick off the Ford lovers-check out AJE Racing for a bolt-in engine swap kit, which comes with engine mounts and headers to drop in a small-block Chevy.

Pulley Play
Q I had a Vintage Air system installed on a '66 Malibu with a 327ci. I noticed after adding the double pulley to the water pump that it now rubs on the power steering belt. I was wondering if anybody made a pulley smaller than stock that would fit my water pump. My current pulley is a stock 6-inch, and I think a 51/2-inch would work fine. What are your thoughts?
Dwayne Foland
Des Moines, IA

A Vintage Air is a very nice upgrade to any of our early Chevys. Cruising around in air-conditioned comfort is hard to be beat, especially in the hot Iowa summers. These kits are second to none and provide you with years of trouble-free service.


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