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Old 07-30-2011, 01:18 PM   #1
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Default 81 Malibu Budget 5.3 swap!!

My 81 Malibu has a tired old 350 that has seen better days.. so instead of taking the time to rebuild 50's technology it's time to upgrade!

My goal is to be able to convert the car to a feul injected ls style motor for how much it would have cost to rebuild the old SBC. This will be including selling the old motor to regain profit and reusing as many old parts as I can.

Old motor coming out!

Click the image to open in full size.

I called up a junkyard in NH and they sent me a 100k mile 5.3 Vortec out of an 01 Silverado. I got it complete with harness, ecm, intake to oil pan, all accessories. I tore it down to long block, replaced all key gaskets and painted it to spruce it up! Also went with a caddilac CTSV oil pan and pickup tube for optimal clearance as the car is extremely low.

Click the image to open in full size.



The harness and computer has been sent off to a friend of mine to disable VATS, turn off rear o2 sensors, and clear all of the clutter out of the harness for me.

For motor mounts I went with Carshop 1in setback mounts as they are cheap and i have heard good things about them!

Click the image to open in full size.

Ill be running a TH350 transmission, so I needed a spacer for the converter snout. This can be fixed by using a 4L80E GM part crank spacer. In this case there is two ways. You can run a flat 4l80e flexplate with the spacer BEHIND the flexplate (as pictured) or use a curved flexplate (stock 5.3) with the spacer IN FRONT of the flexplate.

Also.. make sure to use the longer flexplate bolts.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.
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81 Malibu - 5.3, 220/224 .575/.575 112lsa, Longtubes, th350 3600 stall, Buick GN 10.5in rear, 3.73s, loose nut between steering wheel and seat

Project Blue Ballsl - junkyard 5.3/On3 76mm/TH400.. going into a pos 4 door
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:01 PM   #2
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Nice build you won't be disappointed with the swap parts you put together
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Old 07-30-2011, 11:06 PM   #3
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What headers are you going to use
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Old 07-31-2011, 03:00 AM   #4
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Nice project..good lookin car.
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Old 07-31-2011, 03:15 AM   #5
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That's a pretty clean '81! Is this a weekend cruiser?
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 01cherryreds10 View Post
Nice build you won't be disappointed with the swap parts you put together
I sure hope so!

Quote:
Originally Posted by LSJM1 View Post
What headers are you going to use
The plan for now is 98-02 FBody headers to keep cost down

Quote:
Originally Posted by 93Z2871805 View Post
That's a pretty clean '81! Is this a weekend cruiser?
Absolutely! I drive it as often as I can afford the gas!

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_merv View Post
Nice project..good lookin car.
Thanks for the kind words!
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81 Malibu - 5.3, 220/224 .575/.575 112lsa, Longtubes, th350 3600 stall, Buick GN 10.5in rear, 3.73s, loose nut between steering wheel and seat

Project Blue Ballsl - junkyard 5.3/On3 76mm/TH400.. going into a pos 4 door
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:55 AM   #7
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One dillema I'm having is the heater box situation. The car doesn't and never will have ac, but it has a bulky factory a/c heater box. It looks terrible and will contact the coilpack in the rear. I would like to retain a heater incase I get caught in rain or if it is chilly outside but a blanked out firewall would look so much cleaner. I'm still searching for a non ac factory heater box but they run big dollars and are typically shipped out of arizona.. california and shipping to nc would kill me.
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81 Malibu - 5.3, 220/224 .575/.575 112lsa, Longtubes, th350 3600 stall, Buick GN 10.5in rear, 3.73s, loose nut between steering wheel and seat

Project Blue Ballsl - junkyard 5.3/On3 76mm/TH400.. going into a pos 4 door
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:56 AM   #8
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Its going to be nice to have vacuum in the motor again for power brakes. The old motor had a huge solid lifter cam in it and brakes at low rpm were rather poor.
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81 Malibu - 5.3, 220/224 .575/.575 112lsa, Longtubes, th350 3600 stall, Buick GN 10.5in rear, 3.73s, loose nut between steering wheel and seat

Project Blue Ballsl - junkyard 5.3/On3 76mm/TH400.. going into a pos 4 door
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Old 07-31-2011, 01:58 PM   #9
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They are hard to find..I have one in my MCSS.
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Old 07-31-2011, 05:09 PM   #10
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Finished yanking motor today!!

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Bye Bye old friend!

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81 Malibu - 5.3, 220/224 .575/.575 112lsa, Longtubes, th350 3600 stall, Buick GN 10.5in rear, 3.73s, loose nut between steering wheel and seat

Project Blue Ballsl - junkyard 5.3/On3 76mm/TH400.. going into a pos 4 door
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Old 07-31-2011, 05:14 PM   #11
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For the fuel system, I'm going with an 86-88 Monte Carlo 4.3 TBI/Buick GN Gas tank and Buick GN sending unit with 3/8 outlet and 5/16 return. That way I don't have to sump my current gas tank and run a loud feul pump like the holley blue pump that's on it now. Im going to ditch the return style rail and run a vette filter/regulator combo. That will save appx. 15-20 of feul line, and has worked well for many on this forum. It's cheap at about 40 bucks!

Rock Auto has a new tank availible for $109, Sending unit w/out pump for $102, and I'll run a Walbro 255 or Bosch 044 hv pump. Be around 400 for a complete feul system including lines and clamps.. a little out of my budget, but I don't mess around with gas.
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81 Malibu - 5.3, 220/224 .575/.575 112lsa, Longtubes, th350 3600 stall, Buick GN 10.5in rear, 3.73s, loose nut between steering wheel and seat

Project Blue Ballsl - junkyard 5.3/On3 76mm/TH400.. going into a pos 4 door
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Old 07-31-2011, 06:24 PM   #12
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Just notch the heaterbox. I repaired mine in a couple hours with a Walmart fiberglass patch kit. Can barely tell it was touched. I'm about to patch a non ac box that was damaged during shipping to my house. They added an aftermarket heater control switch to it. I'll let you know how it goes if you are still looking for one in a couple weeks.
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Old 07-31-2011, 06:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superbean View Post
One dillema I'm having is the heater box situation. The car doesn't and never will have ac, but it has a bulky factory a/c heater box. It looks terrible and will contact the coilpack in the rear. I would like to retain a heater incase I get caught in rain or if it is chilly outside but a blanked out firewall would look so much cleaner. I'm still searching for a non ac factory heater box but they run big dollars and are typically shipped out of arizona.. california and shipping to nc would kill me.
i know where one is in myrtle beach for probably around 250

Last edited by labelblack68; 07-31-2011 at 06:40 PM..
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:38 PM   #14
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You have to modify that Sending Unit to get it to work correctly..look in my thread here and you will see what I did.

http://www.ls1tech.com/forums/conver...-carlo-ss.html

There are some good pics in there of the Heat-only box too.
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:47 PM   #15
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You have a nice malibu....
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Old 08-01-2011, 03:11 PM   #16
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that's a clean looking g-body!
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Old 08-01-2011, 03:30 PM   #17
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This may have been answered other places, and i dont mean to jack the thread.

But Since you seem to have some insite on this, im using a 6.0 in my Nova with a 5.3 Flexplate. and a 4L60E from a 99 4.3 astro. The flexplate holes had to be opened up slightly to allow bolting it up to the Converter, Did i need to use the spacer like you did?

I Havent started my car yet and im sure once i do and rev it a few times i will find out quickly.
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
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This may have been answered other places, and i dont mean to jack the thread.

But Since you seem to have some insite on this, im using a 6.0 in my Nova with a 5.3 Flexplate. and a 4L60E from a 99 4.3 astro. The flexplate holes had to be opened up slightly to allow bolting it up to the Converter, Did i need to use the spacer like you did?

I Havent started my car yet and im sure once i do and rev it a few times i will find out quickly.
You need the 4L80E Flexplate and Spacer..anything else wont work properly with the LS Engines and older style Transmissions/Convertors.
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Old 08-01-2011, 08:46 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 74novacustom View Post
This may have been answered other places, and i dont mean to jack the thread.

But Since you seem to have some insite on this, im using a 6.0 in my Nova with a 5.3 Flexplate. and a 4L60E from a 99 4.3 astro. The flexplate holes had to be opened up slightly to allow bolting it up to the Converter, Did i need to use the spacer like you did?

I Havent started my car yet and im sure once i do and rev it a few times i will find out quickly.
This was covered earlier in the post. The 5.3 flexplate is curved wheras the 6.0 (4L80E) is flat. When using an LS with an older sbc (same to 4.3) transmission, the converter snout is .400in too short. In order for the converter to ride in the crank "snout" a spacer is needed. Since the shapes between the plates are different, so is the positioning of the spacer. The spacer needs to be behind the flat (6.0/4L80E) plate and in front of the 5.3 curved plate.

Two options:

5.3 curved flex plate, drill out converter holes a tad, crank spacer in FRONT of flex plate.
4L80E flex plate, holes are already correct for converter holes, and spacer BEHIND the plate
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81 Malibu - 5.3, 220/224 .575/.575 112lsa, Longtubes, th350 3600 stall, Buick GN 10.5in rear, 3.73s, loose nut between steering wheel and seat

Project Blue Ballsl - junkyard 5.3/On3 76mm/TH400.. going into a pos 4 door
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Old 08-01-2011, 09:08 PM   #20
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^^Exactly^^

On your heater box dilemma... why not do a coil pack relocation instead of modifying the box?

I took the heat / AC box out of my 83 Monte Carlo because it was broken and someone cut most of the wires and vacuum lines. My solution was shaving the firewall, then painting it to match the body... looked great but made for a limited driving season car.
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Old 08-01-2011, 09:08 PM
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