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.
Neck-deep in the engine swap, we learned all kinds of new things about our Olds during thi
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.
This is how the Olds appeared after the purchase from Car Craft family member Tim Moore.
Here's the original engine compartment complete with a 750-cfm Holley vacuum-secondary car
The interior needed work and the new Painless wiring harness took two days-plus to complet
During our original testing, the Olds ran corrected 13.94 at 97.35 mph at Los Angeles Coun
Once we started down the path of cleaning the engine compartment, it required hours of har
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.
Here's what the engine compartment looked like before reinstalling the inner fenders and d
With such a large radiator, we taped cardboard to the engine side to minimize the inevitab
Original Pontiac and Olds core support floors are stepped, which raised our new aluminum r
The Fun Part
Once we chased all the surface rust away and sprayed the entire engine compartment with Rust-Oleum rusty metal primer topped with satin-black paint, it was time to start the construction phase. Much like with our early Chevelle, we also discovered that interlocking safety motor mounts wouldn't clear the stock frame mounts, necessitating the use of our original mounts. We also learned that the headers would fit from underneath if we lifted up one side of the engine about 3 inches using the engine hoist.
The new 1 7/8-inch coated headers from Dick Miller were relatively easy to install, but bo
All old cars have their idiosyncrasies. We learned that sliding the engine in without the
We initially installed this engine-driven fan just to get the car running, but we intend t
While the engine swap was in progress, Moore found an '88 Monte SS steering box in the bon
Back in the May '10 issue we did a story ("A Quick and Easy Wilwood Caliper Bolt-On") on i
This is the completed 455 finally stuffed back in the engine compartment.
We also had to modify that upper radiator mount we found at the junkyard to properly posit
We had no end of difficulties with cooling system electrolysis in our Orange Peel Chevelle
Deadlines ambushed us again and we didn't get a chance to hit the dragstrip since we only
On The Road
With the engine nestled in place, the front sheetmetal details took a little time to align. During our junkyard tours, Moore discovered an excellent '88 Monte SS steering box that was a perfect fit for the Olds to upgrade that one-finger '60s power steering. We bolted in a new rag joint from Rock Auto to complete the deal and also upgraded to a 11/4-inch front sway bar that had spent a previous life on a second-generation Firebird. Complementing this steering and suspension upgrade are the Wilwood D52 twin-piston calipers we had previously installed. Combined with a 15/16-inch iron master cylinder and an adjustable proportioning valve, we now have excellent brakes to whoa the lumbering Olds.
With the goodies all bolted in place, the best part of the whole story was warming the big 455 and then hitting the boulevard. If you've ever built and then fired up a brand-new engine, then you know that cooking paint/smoking oil smell as all those new parts get acquainted. They say aromas are some of the most potent memory triggers, and every time that smell hits us, it's always a fun time.
"Well, whose junk pile piece of Chhhh-evelle is this? Did you boys come here to race-or just kiss?" -Kathy Mattea's song 455 Rocket
|Mark 7 aluminum radiator
||Mark 7 Radiators
|Dick Miller headers, 17/8 inches
||Dick Miller Racing
|DMR small starter
||Dick Miller Racing
|Spal twin 11-inch fans
|Wilwood D52CB calipers
|Wilwood disc brake pads
|Rust-Oleum dark-gray primer
|| 3.44 (4)
|Rust-Oleum semigloss black
|| 4.98 (4)
|Ames Performance radiator cushions
||Ames Perf Eng.
|HyperKuhl coolant additive
|Monte Carlo steering box
|Sway bar, 1 1/4 inches
Applied Chemical Specialties (No-Rosion)
2501 Ludelle Street
1731 SE Oralabor Road
4700 Calle Bolero
Mark 7 Radiators
Dick Miller Racing
214 Sunrise Drive
11 Hawthorn Parkway
Ames Performance Engineering