I sold a 1939 Packard last October and took this 1958 Volvo in trade for part of it. The car was original but the engine and transmission
were very tired. The following day I came across a 1991 Buick 3.3 liter
V6 that was a factory overrun and had never been in a car. Upon checking I found that if you take a 700R transmission (4 speed automatic with overdrive) from a S10 Chevy pick up you can make this engine a rear wheel drive set up. So off to the races I went with the set up.
The engine fit with some cutting of the floor and firewall and moving the steering gear ahead about 1 1/2". I made my own motor mounts, added 4 universal joints to the steering shaft and built my own exhaust headers and rear transmission mount. That got the engine in the car.
Next came cutting the bottom of the driveshaft tunnel out all the way back and using a driveshaft from a 94 Chevrolet Caprice with a Ford rear yoke I had a driveshaft that would couple up to a narrowed down Ford rear end from a late 80's Ranger pick up. If you take the rear end from a Ford and cut the long side down about 3" so you can use the short axle on both sides you come up with a 44" hub to hub rear end width and a bolt pattern that matches the original Volvo wheel. This gives me a rear axle ratio of 3:73 and also has better brakes and no more tapered axles that rust in place.
Next came the cooling system. I had a radiator made locally to the same width and height as the original but it is 5 tubes deep or about as thick as the tank is. An electric fan completes that part and is coupled to a computer from a 1991 Oldsmobile Calais that has been cut down to fit and also controls the engine for fuel injection and so forth. The top rear of the front cross member had to be cut out to fit the oil pan in and it was beefed up on the front and underside for strength. Cutting the floor board did not have any adverse affects on the strength of the frame and I have had no problems with that at all.
As I had no idea where to start with gears for the speedometer I went with a digital speedometer and blacked out the original numbers and made a mount to set the 2 1/16" new gauge in where the old speedo head was. a 12 volt to 6 volt converter got the fuel gauge and wipers going again.
The car has very nice acceleration and is VERY peppy. I started this project last November (2002) and completed it last month (May 2003 ) with a three month break due to a heart attack and very cold weather without a heated garage. I am 61 and a retired Firefighter/Paramedic and the only thing I had to send out to have done was the radiator and drive shaft. The rest I did all myself such as painting, welding, fabricating and etc. Not a lot of pre planing other than I knew what I wanted when I got done, I just start and overcome obstacles when I encounter them. The big help to me is I have no engineering degree and was not handicapped by knowing it couldn't be done so I just went ahead and did it.
I did have some clearance problems with the front wheels as the
inside of the rim hit the top of the upper control arm on tight
turns and I had to grind some metal off the arm to clear.
There is an inherent vibration in the Buick V6 engine and I will
have to re do the motor mounts and soften them up a lot as I get
a lot of transfer of engine vibration through the car. When it
is mounted sideways in the Buick it is on mushy mounts and
allowed to "float". I still have drum brakes all
around the car and have to find a conversion for the fronts. I
hear the Volvo 120 disks will fit on the front and you have to
re mount the shocks to the front of the arm instead of the rear
Dennis E. Flynn
An up date 15 Feb 04.
Most of the vibration I thought was engine was from the torque
converter being 12 thousands off center. Doesn't sound like much
but when you have 30 some pounds running around like an egg you
have problems. I took a dial indicator and by turning the
flywheel with a screw driver took readings at 6 equal points
around the diameter, kept at it and got the run out down to 2
thousands. The vibration is now all but gone. A note to others
that want to try a transverse engine swap.. I could not use the
original 3.3 torque converter due to the transmission spline
being different, I had to go with the torque converter from the
2.8 engine that was originally hooked to the 700R4 transmission
and re drill the holes in the 3.3 flywheel. I guess I missed by
a little and paid for it.
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