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Project 1964 Oldsmobile F-85 Engine Swap - F-85 Street Fighter

Our Low-Dollar '64 Olds Returns With A New 455, Better Brakes, And Better Steering All As Part Of Our . . .

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When we last left our intrepid, 455-powered '64 Olds F-85, we had patched it together with a few budget bolt-ons to get it running, but it quickly began to show its age. The '64 Olds F-85 body was in decent shape (although it's still in dire need of a trunk floor) and the TH400 works great, but its big-block was substantially down on power. It was time to step up our game, so we decided to build a new Olds while retaining the original engine so we could continue driving the car while the new motor came together. You may remember the buildup of the new Olds engine in the Oct. '10 issue ("455 Rocket Olds") in which we made 511 lb-ft and 445 hp at the flywheel with near-stock Edelbrock aluminum heads, 10:1 compression, and a Torker single-plane Edelbrock intake. We never would have survived the buildup without help from Dick Miller and our pals at Don Barrington Engines, who performed all the machine work and supplied assembly guidance. Now it was time to bolt all our newfound power back into the car.

Where It All Began
As a quick visual recap, we bought this Olds from our buddy Tim Moore about four years ago already swapped with a 455 and a TH400. It needed some visual TLC but ran fine, so we just started driving it. We won't go through all the details; you can find that in the Dec. '06 issue, when we built the car for CC's $3,500 Challenge. The idea was to build a worthy street car for around $3,500. We came closer to that budget requirement than most federally funded government programs, but like you and unlike the feds, we had to sacrifice a little power and efficiency to get there. During a tuning exercise, we performed a quick cylinder pressure check and discovered that while the best holes were capable of an underachieving 155 psi, No. 2 hobbled in closer to 135 to 140 psi, making it obvious that our engine needed assistance.

The Destruction Phase
Had we treated the Olds with a little more care, the engine swap would probably have required less effort. But because we'd allowed the cooling system to decay and spray rusty coolant over most of the engine compartment, we decided a good cleansing and repaint were in order. We dialed in a new aluminum radiator from Mark 7 to replace the original, which, like the heater core, was sporting barnacles. Based on this and with the help of CC family member Kris Shields, we decided the entire engine compartment needed freshening. The new radiator also required removing and modifying the lower radiator core support, so fabrication work was in our future.

We decided to work smart this time and had the core support and two front inner fenders chemically stripped while a large pile of rusty fender bolts went to Van Nuys Plating for black cad immersion so we would be saved the drudgery of weeks of cleaning bolts. We also were immensely lucky when we discovered a '65 Olds four-door Cutlass with A/C in the junkyard. It donated its upper radiator mount that was almost the correct size to match our aluminum radiator. Sometimes dumb luck is just that.

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