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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/15/20 11:45 a.m.

Love--and love seeing you drive it on the Zoom chats. 

4/15/20 12:01 p.m.

Great, now I'm looking at G-bodies to shove big blocks into on CL again

bonylad Reader
4/17/20 7:12 a.m.

It just looks so fun to drive.  I approve!

759NRNG (Forum Partidario)
759NRNG (Forum Partidario) UltraDork
4/17/20 8:54 a.m.

Had a '79  Pontiac GP, woulda been even better with a stick....carry on

mjrj (Forum Supporter)
mjrj (Forum Supporter) New Reader
4/19/20 11:10 p.m.

Decided this weekend to install the headers and fabricate the hook up pipes.  I bought a pair of sanderson shorty headers that fit a '68-'72 GM A-body with a small block olds.  The passenger side fits great.  The driver side is close to brake and fuel vapor pipes so they will have to either be moved or insulated.  I have some heat sleeve that I can use.  I know these headers won't be as good as a set of full length headers and right now I'm fine with that.  Anything is better than manifolds.  Don't have a lot of pics of this.  Spent yesterday removing the exhaust manifolds, installing the headers and fabricating the passenger side down pipe from a flowtech kit made for street rods.  Today I got the driver side down pipe fabricated and o2 sensor bung welded on the passenger side.  Then took it all back off so I can paint it.  And broke the terminal end off my battery cable to the starter.  So I'll have to make another one.  Or just relocate the battery now.  Don't mind the cardboard creeper and safety socks.  I also found out that if there is enough room, the passenger side exhaust manifold can come out the top so the oil filter adapter does not have to be removed.

Toyman01 (Forum Supporter)
Toyman01 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/20/20 7:45 a.m.

I had one of these for a lot of years. One of many cars I wish I had never sold.

Super cool project!


mjrj (Forum Supporter)
mjrj (Forum Supporter) New Reader
5/3/20 11:09 p.m.

We're back!  They're installed.  My DD truck started acting up, then our old poodle got sick and was touch and go on top of having cancer in his mouth.  Dog is better now thank goodness.  The driver side is not right and you'll see why.  Lots of pics.

I got the headers and hook up pipes primed and painted.  Used VHT gray high heat primer and aluminum paint from Pep Boys.  It was 25% off if you ordered online.  Cleaned, sprayed and halfway cured with a heat gun.

And here is the finished product.  Now we install.  Sanderson doesn't recommend using header gaskets they recommend high temp RTV sealant.  Header can go in from below if starter is removed, or above if steering shaft is removed.  I chose from above.  The steering shaft had not been removed ever I think.  Ended up removing steering gear bolts to get enough room to remove the shaft.  To protect the header I wrapped it in a disposable blanket.

Great success!  Now we remove and apply the schmoo.  This side was easy.  The passenger side sucked.  I tried to install the header twice and smeared RTV all over the place.  Removing the AC compressor gave me enough room to install.

Got the passenger side hook up pipe installed and quit for the weekend.  Came back to it yesterday.  Got the battery cable repaired.  This cable was salvaged from a wrecked Yukon Hybrid from the old ambulance company.  Reinstalled, re-routed and heat sleeve reinstalled.

I installed heat sleeve on the brake and fuel vapor pipes. I removed  them from discarded #9 injector assemblies from the old duramax ambulance fleet.  You can see the brake hose is touching the collector flange, and the fuel vapor line has 1/8" clearance.

The driver side hook up pipe is hitting the crossmember.

I was able to move the brake and fuel vapor pipes out of the way.  Then I reinstalled and put more salvaged heat sleeving on the steering shaft cover.

I ran it for 15 minutes twice and let it cool down then hammered on it.  Sounds a little throatier.  May be quicker I honestly can't tell.  Paint hasn't peeled off yet.  I'm calling it a win for now.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
5/18/20 6:24 p.m.

I watch videos from Nick's Garage in Montreal.  This week he has a 1976 Buick Century Free Spirit in the garage - it was the Indy pace car that year, and it made me think of this thread.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIDLuqCaQPQ

Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
5/18/20 7:31 p.m.

I imagine you're getting pumped with the race this weekend.  Well, last years race being shown.  

1977 was my first 500 - James Garner driving the Oldsmobile Delta 88 pace car. awesome memories and you're doing a great job fixing up the car.  

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
5/18/20 7:38 p.m.

Niiiiice. My Dad had a 78 sedan model that was one of the cars I learned to drive in. I was riding in the back seat when it was totaled by a head on hit a couple years later. Guy in a Tempo nailed the drivers side front corner running 40+mph. The four of us in the Delta walked away. The couple in the Tempo were in the ICU for a week. 

When we found the Delta in the JY the frame was folded down to the ground just behind the drivers side front wheel.

I remember that car riding better than anything else in my childhood. 

mjrj (Forum Supporter)
mjrj (Forum Supporter) New Reader
5/26/20 7:26 p.m.

I had no idea the Indy 500 was supposed to be last weekend.  I'm usually busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest around this time.  I'll have to catch it in August.  Likewise I've been busy and haven't had a lot of time to devote to the car.  I sold some items on FB marketplace and used to proceeds to buy some stuff for the car.  Moved the diesel short block to the engine stand.  Put the 403 on a HF furniture dolly.  Replaced a cracked wheel on the truck and fixed the tire on the Honda.  Had the backyard landscaped with rock.  Since Memorial day falls on a Monday and I don't work Mondays, I can elect to take the following day as my holiday.  So I did.  Then I learned it would be 102 on Monday, and 106 on Tuesday.

This was a bad idea so don't ever do this.  The old cylinder lifted the 403 fine.  Could not lift the diesel more than a foot off the ground.  This is the spare cylinder.  Its 6" shorter, has no way to mount to the plate on the bottom, and the hole in the end is 1/8" smaller than the old one.  That's a 1/2" head bolt.  It did work though.  I need to rebuild and/or take the other to be rebuilt.  Also cleaned the garage in preperation for more work on the cars.

Then I needed to rotate the tires on the truck which I haven't done in a long time.  Cleaning all the brake dust off I found this.

I had a spare wheel so it got swapped out at work.  Then cleaned the side yard so the landscapers could get back there.  You could not walk through there before.

Made a makeshift paint booth to paint the wife's chairs and set her table up.  I used almost all the old spray paint I had.

Spent half the day Sunday taking the interior out on the Oldsmobile.  Sorting out my cables and planning cable runs.  I had the location set for me to have the power pass-thru deals I bought.  And that's as far as I got.  When this car had a hydraulic clutch, the master cylinder passed through the firewall like a 3rd/4th gen F-body does.  And I want to go hydraulic clutch again.  The cables would pass through this area and hit.  I'll do the trunk mount battery later its not a big deal.  So monday, after dousing myself with suncreeen and setting up a fan I began to clean up the underhood wiring.  I didn't like the MSD box under the master cylinder so I moved it by the evap canister.  Made some new and modified some old battery cables.  Installed a fuse on the whole car instead of just the alternator.  Remote starter solenoid.  I'll be putting electric fans in this so I'll be running power along the core support to supply power to the MSD and a saab fuse box I picked up years ago for the fans.  I'll be using winstar fans.

This was as of this morning.  I spent several hours today laying out and installing the wiring for the MSD minus power and ground.  After the wiring is done, the radiator comes out to mount the fans.  Then intake manifold swap and EFI.

mjrj (Forum Supporter)
mjrj (Forum Supporter) New Reader
6/3/20 7:09 p.m.

I got a little bit more work done over the weekend.  I ran a 4 gauge cable from the fuse to a battery post I installed on the RH side of the core support to supply power to cooling fans and the ignition box.  I had this saab fuse block sitting around and wanted to use it for the fans.  Then found out I need 3 relays instead of 2 to control the secondary 2 speed fan.  So I gutted it and installed 3 40 amp relays.  Not much room for the circuit breakers to run it all but I'll make do.  The sealed fuse holder on the outside supplies power to the ignition box.  Once I install the fans I'll finish the wiring.

Afterwards I focused on the fuel system for the EFI.  The pump that came with the kit is set up for external use and can be used in-tank as well.  I've been undecided for a while if I want to change to an in-tank pump setup.  I have a friend that has a Nova with FiTech on it and he has cavitation issues with his in-line pump setup.  An EFI tank from a '86-'90 Caprice is a direct fit, as well as the later plastic tanks in the '91-'96 cars.  I wanted the plastic tank but can't find one used for under $300 that isn't missing parts.  I ordered the metal EFI tank, straps, and sending unit for under $250.  The tank is 24 gallons so I'll gain a little more fuel capacity over the stock 19 gallon tank.  Those parts should all be here by next Tuesday.

wawazat Dork
6/3/20 8:37 p.m.

I’ve had problems with my FiTech but not cavitation.  I am using an in-tank pump.  

mjrj (Forum Supporter)
mjrj (Forum Supporter) New Reader
6/26/20 8:09 p.m.

its been a few weeks.  I've been working dilligently on the car.  Had some ups and downs, not related to the car though.

Removed the A4 factory aluminum intake and found a surprise.  I'm not proud to have berkeleyed up like this, I'm just glad it didn't hurt anything.


Installed the Performer RPM intake manifold, ground down the #4 runner so I can install the supplied 12 point bolt and install the intake properly.  Installed the MSD TBI, sensors and booster hose.



Was going to use a set of windstar fans.  Spent an entire day attempting to measure out how to mount them.  Got frustrated and said berkeley it, bought a Flex-a-lute 298 dual fan setup.  Borrowed a welder and made new radiator brackets.  Top bracket doubles as the fan mount.  Will mount on the bottom with brackets supplied with the fan.


Planned the fuel system out.  Decided to go in-tank with the fuel pump.  Purchased a spectra replacement fuel tank for a '85-'89 Caprice with TBI and straps to match.   Going from 19 gallon to 24 gallon capacity.  Modified a '90 Caprice TBI sending unit assembly for the MSD-supplied fuel pump.



During this I took a break for a little while.  We've had Simon for over 7 and a half years.  No idea how old he was when we got him, if I had to guess he was inbetween 6 and 11 back on Labor day, 2012.  We both were diagnosed with cancer within a month of each other.  His was spindle cell in his nouth, mine was squamous cell in my ear canal.  He had 2 surgeries to debulk his, and I had my big surgery back in mid October to remove mine.  His unforuately came back right as all the lockdowns began and shortly after spread.  It began to affect his kidneys and he lost a lot of weight.  This pic was taken on a Monday and the following Saturday he crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  Its been almost 2 weeks and I still get a little teary eyed about it.  We'll be ok in the long run and I know he's in a much better place now.  He was my first dog outside of living at home.  He was extremely dominant and aggressive and it took 6 months of behavioural training to show him I was alpha.  That 6 months helped me become more confident in myself as well.  One reason this car got parked was because I couldn't make up my mind on an exhaust system for it.  Small simple E36 M3 would lock me up and I'd just abandon projects for dumb reasons.  This 26 lb goofball helped me to become a better person and I'm forever thankful for that.

Tomorrow I'm going to install the radiator and fill the cooling system, the install and wire the cooling fans.  Sunday/Monday hoping I can get the wiring and fuel system completed.  I'd like to get this stage completed and the car driving after the 4th of July.

Georges1991 Reader
6/27/20 12:09 a.m.

Awesome progress


Very sorry to hear about your dog. Been there a few times and it never gets easier.

mjrj (Forum Supporter)
mjrj (Forum Supporter) New Reader
8/3/20 10:53 p.m.
Georges1991 said:

Awesome progress


Very sorry to hear about your dog. Been there a few times and it never gets easier.

thank you George.  Most days are good, sometimes not so.  We did adopt a little bichon/poodle mix from a shelter on the 23rd.  Has some of the same mannerisms as the old man however she's much more submissive than him.

I've got more work done.  Cooling fans mounted and wired up.  Fuel injection installed.  Fuel system installed.  Car runs.  A piece of zip tie fell into the driver side header collector and caught fire.  Put it out.  Got car running.  Drove 60 miles.  Stalled and would not restart outside of town in a rural neighborhood.  Got started again and nursed home.  Would not start today no spark.  Messed around with MSD digital 6+, found when grounding out magnetic pickup the fuel pump would cycle.  Disconnected 6+ box and installed an msd HEI module I had.  No spark.  Found coil installed in cheap amazon distributor bad.  Removed and replaced with OEM coil.  terminal broke off coil.  Could not solder terminal back onto wire.  Scrubbed coating off wire and successfully resolderd terminal on.  Go on short test drive.  Ran out of gas.  Was able to push/coast car home where I put enough gas into it to get into driveway.

Needs:  adjust park brake.  Car rolls down driveway if not in gear with park brake applied.  Remove tank and check fuel level sender operation.  Was stuck on E.  Drove roughly 66 miles on 7 or so gallons of gas.  It definately got faster, I dunno how much.  Sounds different as well.  Will look at it next Monday or possibly next week, gonna help my dad disassemble a shed this weekend.

The 1st time it stalled out, I cranked open the throttle blades so it idled at 1500 rpm and it got me home.  I did some research and found a lot of people who installed this atomic efi have issues with stalling and idle instability while coming to a stop, especially with manual transmission cars.  One person noticed the throttle blades don't open up at the same time, the front (primaries) would open up first, then the rear (secondaries) would open.  The linkage inbetween them is adjustable.  They adjusted their linkage so they open at the same time.  So after updating the firmware I adjusted mine as well.  It worked well until I ran out of gas.  Oh and AC compressor clutch decided to lock up so I had to pull the belt.  If there's a 50% off sale at the junkyard anytime soon I may go another route with the accessory drive.



Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/4/20 8:50 a.m.

Glad to see you making progress on the car! The Performer RPM swap brought back memories of dealing with that intake on the Olds 403 that used to live in my Trans Am. I remember that 12 point bolt and the runner interference and thinking "are you serious?" when installing it back on the car. I think I ended up using ARP hardware on mine.

mjrj (Forum Supporter)
mjrj (Forum Supporter) New Reader
9/14/20 10:45 p.m.

I've neglected this, and the car for the last few weeks, due to heat waves and smoke from the fires and frustration/anxiety about having it stall constantly.  I found the original reason why the car stalled and would not start.  The MSD box wasn't working correctly.  It would randomly turn off so I took it out of the circuit.  Then I found the coil in the distributor had failed.  I had the coil from the original distributor so I installed that and broke one of the terminals off.  I was able to solder it back on and road tested it and promptly ran it out of gas and pushed it home.  I ended up taking the fuel tank out and found the float arm for fuel level sender was jammed and would not read correctly.  I tried to modify the float arm with some spare rod I had but couldn't get anything to work.  I modified the fuel level sending unit in order for the float arm to read correctly, by moving it to the front of the sending unit.  Then it didn't fit in the tank.  I ended up putting it back and I then made a float rod that cleared.  I got a good road test in, everything was good then I heard a knocking noise.  I thought it broke.  The speedometer cable had touched the header and broke in half.  I replaced the cable and it sat for a month.  Today I got off my duff and put the MSD coil I bought, and relearned the IAC by driving around the neighborhood and coming to a stop, then lugging it when taking off.  I can watch the IAC counts drop to 0 and come back so I could tell if it was going to stall by watching the counts.  I was able to do this in the driveway beacuse its got a good grade to it.  Its at the point where if I come to a stop it'll drop and come back up instead of flat out stalling.

I put a 160 degree thermostat in however the coolant temps when idling for a while go to 190.  The fans are programmed to turn on @ 175.  I'll have to do some research and maybe swap a different thermostat in.





Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/15/20 1:44 a.m.

In reply to mjrj (Forum Supporter) :

FWIW I've read several comments on here that those MSD boxes don't hold up very well, but I have no personal experience with them. 

mjrj (Forum Supporter)
mjrj (Forum Supporter) New Reader
9/26/20 12:57 a.m.

Took it to my parents house last weekend.  110 mile round trip.  It didn't stall at all, though anytime I thought it would I blipped the throttle and it settled right down.  The throttle blade fix made this so much better to drive.  Runs under 175 degrees unless I hammer it, it'll cool down right afterwards.  Siamesed cylinder walls will do that.  Time to fix the caster situation after I get a new jack for my press.  And mount the MSD atomic efi handheld module.  And if possible see if I can take it to one of the SCCA meets out at Crows Landing.

mjrj (Forum Supporter)
mjrj (Forum Supporter) Reader
10/12/21 12:46 a.m.

Shortly after I took this pic, the park brake pedal broke.  I happened to find a NOS replacement for a 1973-1977 A-body off Ebay which is a direct swap.  I also replaced the front park brake cable at the same time.  I got some front upper and lower tubular A-arms from a friend and they're waiting to be installed.  I ended up putting a 180' thermostat back in because I didn't like the cooling fans running constantly.  I haven't done much since then (that was back in early September) just lack of motivation.  Was prepping my 1990 Civic Si to sell, then turned it into a commuter car so I didn't have to drive the truck all the time because gas went from $2.25 to 3.89/gallon.  Been trying to organize my garage as well.  Got 20 lbs of E36 M3 stuffed in a 5 lb box.

V6Buicks Reader
10/12/21 6:40 a.m.

I just got caught up on this project.  I love this thing, but it very much reminds me of my Camaro roller coaster project.  I totally get the lacking motivation thing.  It's tough to keep trucking when the work never seems to end.  Good luck!  This car is still awesome!

12/28/21 5:30 p.m.

In reply to mjrj :do have the aluminum intake manifold for the small block olds for sale and how much need one for my ta







David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/7/22 5:28 p.m.

Any updates? Your fans await. 

V6Buicks Reader
4/8/22 7:19 a.m.

Yes.  I still love this thing.

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