400 Pontiac Swap into our 78 Catalina Safari

Discussion in 'General Station Wagon Discussions' started by cammerjeff, Apr 10, 2019.

  1. cammerjeff

    cammerjeff Longroofs Rule!

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    As many of you may remember back in January I bought a Loaded 78 Catalina Safari as a Parts car as it would be the easiest way to get all the parts needed to swap a Pontiac V8 into the place the Buick 350 now resides in our 78 Catalina Safari.
    So far I have been pleasantly surprised to find the 400 4bbl Pontiac in it actually runs very well, and starts right up even in below freezing temperatures, big bonus, all I am planning on doing is cleaning it up, painting it, replacing the stock crankshaft hub with a new Harmonic Balancer, replacing the front main seal & valve cover gaskets, and installing it. I actually believe the claimed 60,000 miles on the car as the engine does not make any odd noises, on leaks oil from the Valve covers, and starts and idles better than I could have expected.
    Future plans will include a camshaft change, but for now I am keeping it simple to get swap done as early as possible. I will also be installing the Factory A/C system, and using the Drivers side front door as it is much better than the Door currently on the car.
    I finally crawled under the parts car yesterday to get the rear axle code, the little bit I drove the car I thought the car had more rear gear than the 2.73's installed in our good car. According to the axle code it is a 3.23 open rear axle, so best gear available that year!!!! Bonus.
     
  2. elB

    elB Well-Known Member

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    Always a good thing to get a good part out of the deal! My '71-76 large wagons and a sedan have all had 3.08 rears which is great for those cars. My '78 4 door had a 2.41 rear end and while it was a joy on the freeway it sure wasn't super fast off the line (the 400 did help though). I think with a 3.23 and a little extra work on the 400 you'll really enjoy that thing's street manners. Maybe put an overdrive in too eventually and really have a car that flies!

    I would recommend doing the oil pan seal too and maybe redoing the intake gasket solely to get that bypass o-ring replaced. Every Pontiac I've had that was lower-ish miles that I started driving regularly started leaking from those 2 places and you'll have the engine out of the car making it easy to do. If you're replacing the hub you may have the short tab timing cover that doesn't accept a full balancer (I've had one that did) so you'll also want to do that [and water pump!]

    But beyond that I wouldn't do anything else ;-)
     
  3. cammerjeff

    cammerjeff Longroofs Rule!

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    The Oil pan Gasket is a good Idea, Thank you. As for the Front cover style it looks to have the type with no cast on timing marks. If I remember correctly I will need to find the small plastic bolt on timing marks that were used on the engines with HB's. The one currently on the engine is the larger metal style that will not clear a HB.

    Thanks for reminding me of that, it has been at least 20 years sense I first dealt with a late production 400 that was not originally installed in a T/A. This car was built the 1st week of July 1978 so it may be one of the last non F-Body 400 Pontiac's made. Moving it around the driveway yesterday I realized the Power Steering Pump is shot on the parts car, so I will have to swap the pump over from the Good car. A few Pictures of the Parts Car. s-l1600.jpg s-l1600eng.jpg IMG_6652.JPG s-l1600lt.jpg
     
  4. Silvertwinkiehobo

    Silvertwinkiehobo "Nothing is foolproof as fools are ingenious."

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    You should advertise in the parts section, in case anyone needs something, they can ask if you have it.
     

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