4.3 L V-6 Chevette

I recently received an email from Ed Werick. The pictures and information he sent me is startling. Ed has pulled off a few items already that I have been "thinking about", and I'm anxious to hear back from him for more concise details.

He already has a set of my favorite wheels mounted on the car ( I have always had a set of those laying around since I can remember ), he already figured out how to install a 200R4 transmission, he certainly solved the weak Chevette braking problem, and he sure took care of the weak Chevette rear end problem. I'm sure he will regale us with tales about transmission crossmembers, front spindles, brake lines, rear axle mounting, driveshaft, and lots of other details.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! new.gif (111 bytes) Check out Ed's latest "Chevette" project here  !!!!!!!!!!!!

Below is the text of Ed's email that I received Dec 29, 2001, and below is another far more detailed description of how he did it. Fantastic information, and apparently a World Class Fabricator. I would like to see Ed on "Junkyard Wars" !

new.gif (111 bytes)  For a comprehensive pictorial of how Ed made the modifications and "improvements" to his Chevette, click here.  Ed has provided the captions for the pictures that he took also. Note: this page has a lot of photo's, and may take some time to load !

Hi! I clicked on your site while surfing the Chevette web world and I enjoyed it very much. I noticed that you said that Chevette S models are rare. I happen to have an 86 S 2dr that I planted a 4.3 V6 into. I'll try to keep the details as brief as possible. The engine is from an 87 Monte Carlo. It has an Edlebrock aluminum intake and 4bbl carb and dual exhaust. The trans is a 200-4R OD automatic, rear end is a 79 Firebird with 3.42 posi gears narrowed 7" The front spindles and brakes are from an 83 Malibu (No, they don't bolt up) Wheels and tires are 15x7 Camaro mags with 205/50R-15s I got it on the road near the end of Nov 2001 and it is a blast to drive! I still have a few things to sort out (connect the lock up circuit for the torque converter, adjust the mixture on the carb ect.)  The body is pretty much as I got it. I hammered out a few dents, fixed some rust and touched it up with a spray can. The car is scheduled for repainting next spring. I'm sending along some pics. I hope you can find time to post them. This the third site I've sent pics to this month. No response from the others. If you want more details on the swap let me know.  Thanks,   Ed

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Vehicle specs gleaned from Ed's description below:

Vehicle:                     1986 Chevrolet Chevette S
Engine:                      1987 Chevrolet 4.3L V-6
Transmission:           200R4 4spd automatic w/lockup torque converter
Rear end:                  1982+ Pontiac Firebird,  3.42 Posi
Front suspension:     1983 Chevrolet Malibu spindles, disk brakes, 1977 Pinto front coils
Exhaust:                    Dual Turbo mufflers
Fabrication:               Lots. See text below !

( The unabridged text from an email from Mr. Werick. Study it carefully, this is good stuff. )

Hi Bob!  Thanks for the great response it's nice to be appreciated!   Well you wanted all the details on the 86 so here they are. Sit back, relax, grab a beer it's a long story. It all started back in 97 when I bought an 84 scooter with an automatic trans. It was beyond a doubt the most GUTLESS car I have ever owned! When I left the used car lot I floored it and the throttle stuck- one mile later I was going 45mph. The rest of the way home I turned the key when I wanted to slow down. I tried evrything I could think of to get more power from that engine. I put on a Holley 390 carb, built a set of headers with a 2 1/2" straight pipe, tried jumping one tooth advanced on the timing belt, yanked off all the emission crap, ect. Everything I did either made no noticeable difference or made it worse. My buddy got tired of me whining about my gutless wonder and suggested that I do an engine swap. A quick trip around the engine bay with a tape measure convinced me that a V8 was out of the question but why not a V6? I picked up an 81 Malibu with a 229, put a 305 in the Malibu and sold it. One friday afternoon I arrived home from work at 4pm, We yanked the 1.6 & trans out of the Chevette and commenced to install the 229 with a short tail 350 AT. I chopped the stock motor mounts off the cross member and set the v6 in for a trail fit. I found that I had to cut the bosses for the torque converter cover off the trans and shorten the engine oil pan sump about 1".  I also had to cut the outlet off the left side exhaust manifold , rotate it 90 degrees and weld it back on so the studs would clear the frame rails. I also had to trim the bracing for the right side rear lower control arm mount to make room for the right side head pipe. After this was done, I could set the engine in the car, minus the distributor. The HEI would not clear the heater box. I removed it and reshaped it by pressing a curved piece of sheet metal against the front side and heating it (the sheet metal) with a propane torch. I also had to rock the engine to the right slightly to clear the steering shaft. Once the engine was in position I made brackets from 1/4" plate to connect the V6 motor mounts to the side of the frame rails. Basically triangle shaped pieces. I then welded these to the frame. I used the stock Chevette trans mount to hold up the back of the 350 AT. That fit with no modifications as well as the shift linkage. I wound up using a heavy duty Chevette radiator that I had rebuilt with a 3 row core. I had to cut away part of the lower core support to move the radiator foward about 2" and make new top clamps. The HD radiator is much wider than the original one. The V6 water pump is much higher than the 1.6 so I chose to mount an electric fan in front of the radiator. A little work with a file allowed the stock throttle cable to fit the V6 bracket which left the hoses, wiring and exhaust system left to do . The only difficult part of the exhaust was the right side head pipe. It was a very tight fit at the firewall. Once I got down past the frame I just adapted up to 2 1/2"  into 2 turbo muffs and out under the rockers in front of the rear tires. I was driving the car with the V6 in it on the following monday afternoon(I was late for work) It had to be a quick and dirty job because the Chevette was all I had to drive at the time. The first thing I noticed when driving the car was that the engine was turning much faster than I wanted so I shopped around for an automatic overdrive trans. I picked one up with a dual patern bellhousing for $120 and installed it in the chevette. This was fairly simple but it required making a new trans mount. The AOD is the same overall length as the 350 but the pan is much longer and the mount is back further. The shift linkage worked as is. While I was in the neighborhood I hooked up the lockup torque converter. This involved installing a push on-push off switch in the shift handle, an indicator light in the instrument panel, a 4 pin cruise control brake light switch and a micro-switch on the throttle linkage to unlock at full throttle. By the way, the bottom 2 pins in the plug on the AOD trans are for the lockup. Well now the little shit will GO!  I had it up to I guess about 120mph. The speedo runs out of numbers at 85 but lets see- 60 mph is at about the 2o'clock position and the needle is at 7 o'clock  hmmm. I had 205/50-13 tires on Monza rims on the car at the time and it was surprisingly stable at that speed. Very nice suspension. Oh! that reminds me I forgot to mention that I installed 77 Pinto coils in the front to handle the extra weight of the V6. The car did bottom out occasionally with the stock coils. It's great fun to tool along in your V6 Chevette at 120 mph but sooner or later you have to slow down-I said slow down-- PLEASE SLOW DOWN!  Wow! we gotta do something about those brakes! And *sigh* I'd sure like to have a posi and I could really afford more gear with the overdrive- let's see. How about this 82+ Firebird rear? Yeah it's a mile too wide but we can fix that- just narrow it 7" The tubes are  a little bigger than the Chevette rear but by the time I cut the brackets off with a torch they should fit just right. The FB rear is designed to use a long torque arm which connects to the trans mount on the left side. Sorry but there's no room for it over there-the drive shaft tunnel is too small. I had to build set of brackets across on the top and bottom of the pinion housing connected with a vertical plate to provide a mounting surface for the torque arm. This I built from 2 pieces of 1/2" pipe with a 1/4" web between them. I used a piece of lower control link with a rubber bushing for the front mount and welded tabs on the trans mount to connect it all together.  The FB rear had 3.23 gears so I put in a set of 3.42s and a new Auburn posi. I also had to have a drive shaft made. That takes care of the back of the car but what about the front? I aint lookin' like a geek drivin around with 5 bolt wheels on the back and 4 bolt wheels on the front no siree. And besides most of the stoppin' is done with the front brakes!  How am I gonna hang 5 bolt rotors and calipers on those itty bitty spindles? Well, I got this 83 Malibu wagon laying on the scrap heap, those front brakes should match the Firebird rear brakes just fine. The problem is they are 2" too tall, the lower ball joints are about 3 times the size of the Chevette ball joints and the steering arms are about 1 1/2" too long. Are you sure that you want to go through with this? Ok we start by cutting the ends off the Malibu lower control arms, cutting the ends off the Chevette lower control arms and grafting the Malibu end onto the Chevette arm making sure that the distance from the ball joint center to the pivot center remains the same. Hey! the Malibu upper ball joints fit through the hole in the Chevette upper control arm! All I have to do is drill new bolt holes to attatch them!  Now I have to do something about the extra spindle height. I carefully measured the location of the upper control arms and then removed them. Then I cut off the tube that is welded on the crossmember that the pivot bolt goes through. I used   strips of 1 1/2x 1/4 with  two 1/2x2 uss bolts through them and welded on the back side with the bolt threads facing out. I welded these on top of the crossmember on both sides of the car and braced them with gussets. Then I cut pieces of 1/2" pipe to fit between the bushings on the upper control arms and  welded 11/2x1/4 strips on them drilled to fit over the bolts attatched to the crossmember. When I did a trial fit I found that I had to relocate the brake lines and reshape the inner fender panels to clear the control arm bushings in their new location. Now I have shim adjustable upper control arms mounted at the correct height to match the spindles. Whew! The last item to tackle is the steering arm length. I measured the distance from the lower ball joint center to the tapered hole in the end of the Chevette steering arms and then cut the ends off about 1" from the center of the tapered hole. Then I measured and cut the ends off the Malibu steering arms and welded the Chevette ends on. By the way, I used MG250 99% nickle electrode for the weld. These spindles are CAST IRON. No other form of welding will work as well. This rod is very expensive, but it works the best. I also used it to weld the left exhaust flange.  Yahoo! I got a 3.42 posi! I can smoke both tires! Yahoo! I got real brakes! I can stop this puppy on a dime!  YA- whats that noise?  Oh Maan the 229 dropped a valve! it's history!  I gotta get another motor.  I checked the swap sheet and found an 87 Monte Carlo LS. 4.3 V6, runs good, body rough $600. I brought the car home and checked it out and sure enough all the external dimensions of the engine are the same as the 229. Even the exhaust manifolds will fit. Throttle body injection though- thats gotta go. No mechanical fuel pump drive- ok I'll use an electric. I found an Edelbrock 4bbl intake for a 229 at a local swap meet for $75 , bought a new Edelbrock 4bbl carb and installed them on the 4.3 along with the HEI from the 229 (the 4.3 dist was computer controlled) and put in the Chevette. Did I say yahoo? Well I mean YAHOO!! What a litle monster! Mustang 5.0s?-no problem. IROC Camaros?-no problem. Caddy Northstars?- no problem, BMW 190Es?- no problem. When I lean on the front bumper the battery tray moves back and forth? That's a problem. The passenger side door drops an inch when you open it? Problem. The door skins are flapping? Problem. My God! the rust demons are eating my car! When the exhaust fumes started coming into the car through the holes in the floor I had to park it.  Now, in case your wondering why I spent all this time talking about my 84 Scooter it was to illustrate that all the engineering and modifications involved with the swap were done on this car over a period of about 2 yrs. I located the 86S near Phila. PA about a year ago and picked it up for $125 with a bad trans. The body was showing only a few dents and minor surface rust. Even the underside of the floor pan was smooth and painted. I had it hauled up here to Buffalo NY and finally got around to fixing it up in early nov. It was basically a matter of moving the front suspension and drive train from the 84 to the 86. It took about 3 wks- the 86 did have some bad areas in the body. The drivers side foot well was very thin and the rear control link sockets were in bad shape. I cut out the bad spots and rebuilt them with new metal. I then partially dismantled the body and did a very thorough rust proofing inside and out. I also tore down , sandblasted and undercoated all the suspension parts. When I had everything in shape I started to assemble the 86. Something that surprised me was that nothing quite fit. I had to spread the 84 crossmember about 3/8" before it would fit the 86 body. When I installed the rear, the torque arm was about 1/2" too short. I had to slot the holes in the bracket and weld on washers. Also, the 86 was a stick shift and the 84 was an automatic. The wiring harness, and floor pan (trans tunnel) are not the same! I had to splice into the wire harness and run new wires for the neutral start switch and light for the shift indicator. I also had to cut a new hole in the trans tunnel to mount the shifter further foward. If I tried to use the hole where the stick shift was the console hit the parking braking lever.There were several minor, annoying problems like this that took quite a bit of time but it was worth it!  now it's back to   YAHOOOO!!!         See ya!   Ed Werick

This is definitely one of the "meanest" looking Chevette's I have ever seen. It just looks wicked with those big 15" tires shoved all the way out past the fenders. THAT'S what I want ! Can you imagine the handling potential of such a setup ?

Ed Werick can be reached via email here.