'62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

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'62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

Post by gearznbeerz49 on Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:31 pm

This project really began last year when I started a search for 60’s station wagon. I initially considered a Nova or a Falcon, as after-market parts are so plentiful for them. I liked the high-performance possibilities of the Nova and the two-door configuration of the Falcon. But I have had several high performance cars in my past, and had to admit that they are tough to live with, expensive to drive and really suited to only occasional use, so I turned my attention to the 1961 – 1962 Buick Special wagons. I’ve had a few Buicks that I really enjoyed over the years, including a 1954 Skylark and a 1966 Gran Sport. I also was always a fan of the all-aluminum V8, even suffering through a few years of Triumph TR8 ownership. The ’61 and ’62 Special wagons are just the right size for my needs, and I really prefer the styling to either the Chevy or the Ford, especially the sculpted sides and surfboard front fenders. On a trip to Southern California I found two 1962 Special wagons listed for sale within 100 miles of me. I took a day to check out both of them; one a stick shift and the other an automatic. Although the automatic had been sitting for quite a while, it was a one family car that Grandpa had bought new in ’62 and been passed down through the family over the years. Two different grandsons had driven it to high school, but both were now off to college and the old Buick sat a bit forlornly in the family’s driveway. It came with an inch-thick binder documenting every service the car had undergone for 52 years, and had fewer rust issues than the stick shift car as well as a nicer interior, so a deal was struck and I became the proud owner of a 1962 Buick Special Model 4135 Deluxe Wagon. I installed a new battery so the old Buick would crank over and start, but it refused to stay running. Another quick trip to the auto parts store and a new voltage regulator later, the 215 came to life and played nice. I was tempted to attempt the nearly 400 mile drive to Northern California, but my common sense took over and I arranged to meet a car hauler at the local Sears parking lot. That proved to be a wise decision when the old girl drove fine the few miles to Sears, then refused to climb the ramp onto the car trailer when the “Dual Path Turbine Drive” sighed its last breath right there in the parking lot.
Once at home in Northern California, I began the process of rebuilding the wagon into something I envision as a cruiser with some modern-day amenities and a cool ‘60s vibe. One of the modern touches I wanted in this car was fuel injection. Looking around for a Lucas 14CUX injection system, I came across a complete 1995 3.9 Range Rover engine with the fuel injection unit intact for a price that I would have paid for the injection alone, so I snapped it up. I had originally planned on adapting the fuel injection to the original 215, but doing some exploratory surgery I found the 3.9 engine to be in remarkably good shape. Since the 3.9 did not need to be bored, I decided to rebuild the ’95 3.9 and replace the 215 entirely. I reasoned that advances in metallurgy over a few decades, a complete serpentine system that could drive an air conditioner as well as a power steering pump, and a bit more displacement were all good reasons to swap in the 3.9. D&D Engineering was an invaluable source for parts, including bearings and rings, and a conversion kit to mate the 3.9 to a Chevy 700r4 transmission. I kept the 3.9 nearly stock, substituting a slightly hotter Crower cam and lifters, a Pertronix flamethrower distributer, and a mild performance chip for the stock items. The biggest stumbling block was the oil pan. For some reason, Rover moved just two of the oil pan holes in the block, precluding a bolt-on of a Buick pan. The oil pump pickup is also deeper in the 3.9, so I used the stock 3.9 pan and reconfigured it to the shape of the Buick so it would clear the Y-member. I also had to relocate the battery tray and cut a small notch for clearance of the air conditioning compressor. The oil filter unfortunately comes to rest directly behind the sway bar, so I will either have to relocate the sway bar or mount a remote filter to facilitate future oil changes. I had some trepidation about the height of the plenum, but it clears the hood nicely, and actually the alternator turns out to be the highest point of the engine, narrowly clearing the hood when it’s shut.
An aluminum radiator from a mid 80’s Corvette is the right height and has the upper outlet on the driver’s side, accommodating the 3.9 water pump. I installed twin Spaal fans and an aluminum shroud, which should keep things cool. As I mentioned, a D&D adapter mates the 3.9 to a Chevy V6 700r4, which has a smaller case than its V8 sibling. I installed a converter lock-up kit and a floor shifter from Gennie Shifter. I had to shorten the driveshaft a bit to accommodate the extra length of the 700r4. Northern Drivetrain supplied a weld-in stub that fits a 1310 u-joint and the proper Chevy input shaft. Of course, I had to fabricate a new transmission crossmember as well.
Now that the driveline was bolted into place, I started on all the plumbing. I had originally planned to go with an in-tank fuel pump, but when I removed the tank I found it to be too shallow for the units I had in mind. Plan B was to have the fuel sending unit rebuilt to include a return line. TriStar Radiator in New York was able to handle the required modifications to the sending unit. I’m using mostly Vintage Air components along with the stock Land Rover compressor. I replaced the original heater controls with a panel made from a ’62 ashtray, which is the same size. I plan to make a mounting plate for the control panel that will fit into the original radio speaker opening, since I plan on a stereo with speakers in the doors. A very wet winter has brought a screeching halt to my project progress, since all the work is being done outdoors in my driveway. Once the weather warms again, I plan to paint the dashboard, replace the dash pad and re-wire everything. That should get me to the point of once again having a starting, moving vehicle again instead of driveway sculpture. I’m looking forward to it.
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Re: '62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

Post by regal81455 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:38 am

Welcome to our board! Sounds like a pretty cool cruiser you've got there!! Please share some pics, I'd love to check them out!

Josh

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Re: '62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

Post by gearznbeerz49 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:11 pm

Thanks. A cool cruiser that my Labrador Retriever and I can enjoy is what I have in mind. I wanted to add an under hood pic of the 3.9 in the engine bay, but couldn't figure out how to do it. I'm a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to being tech savvy, but if someone would explain to me how it's done, I will add before and after shots of the 215 vs the 3.9.
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Re: '62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

Post by regal81455 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:08 pm

Hey I've got a lab too! His name is Gunner, he's a 9yr old silver, yours? I used to have a yellow but he passed away about a decade ago. One of the hardest days of my life.

Common question!! Here's a breakdown on how to add pics! Think I will post a sticky thread on it.

Hit the host images button ( Fourth panel to the right, just above the text pane, 1st icon ).

Hit select files and select your pics from your device.

After selecting all your pics you want to share, hit the send all button.

You can then choose the size of the pics, by default it's 800 ( which is good for the forum ).

Next hit the insert all button.

Then finally hit the send button on the bottom of text pane. Viola pics!

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Re: '62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

Post by gearznbeerz49 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:45 pm




Thanks for the tips. I hear you about losing your dog. I had a black Lab/Chesapeake mix that I lost in 2012. I mourned for a few months before I went out and found a yellow Lab pup. She's four now, and a big reason I started the wagon project. I used to have a hot rod '48 Chevy pickup, but she hated that thing and would jump out of it whenever she got a chance! Anyway, hopefully my before and after pics will now show. Thanks again.
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Re: '62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

Post by regal81455 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:03 pm

That looks sweet in there! How does it run? Can you compare to the 215? I'm diggin' it! Smile

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Re: '62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

Post by gearznbeerz49 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:23 pm

Thanks. I haven't started or driven the car since the 3.9 install because it isn't wired as of yet. I will have to wait until the weather gets a bit warmer before I get back to it. With a bit more displacement, a fresh rebuild, fuel injection and now a four-speed transmission, I expect it to be quite a bit more lively than the 215 with "Dual path Turbine Drive"!
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Re: '62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

Post by gearznbeerz49 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:35 pm

I bought a Vintage Air unit that has heat, air and defrost and fits under the dash, which frees up a good deal of room under the hood. Are you adding F.I. to yours as well?
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Re: '62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

Post by regal81455 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:38 pm

gearznbeerz49 wrote:Thanks. I haven't started or driven the car since the 3.9 install because it isn't wired as of yet. I will have to wait until the weather gets a bit warmer before I get back to it. With a bit more displacement, a fresh rebuild, fuel injection and now a four-speed transmission, I expect it to be quite a bit more lively than the 215 with "Dual path Turbine Drive"!


Damn, that's right you did say that in your 1st post, in my excitement I totally forgot!! LOL You better stay active on here and keep us posted! Smile

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Re: '62 Wagon 3.9 Swap

Post by gearznbeerz49 on Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:48 pm

I'm interested to hear your impressions of the Rover F.I. Having had plenty of old cars with carbs and new ones with F.I., the easy start-up, smooth power delivery and "driveability" of fuel injection is what I'm after with this swap. Fuel mileage should be pretty good, too.
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