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Old 06-18-2013, 01:15 PM
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'40 Olds: Where To Start

I am a new guy to this forum. I do a bit of restoration work, mainly on old muscle cars. I have a chance to work on a 1940 Olds 4 door sedan. Bone stock and really nice; straight 8 engine, 3 speed manual (column) and all of the original suspension, wheels, 6 volt, etc. The owner had one of these cars back in the early 50's and he wants this car (bought 7 years ago) made real road worthy, able to take him and his wife, in comfort wherever he wants to go. We are thinking of putting a GM LS engine/auto trans (out of a late model GM truck or Camaro/Corvette/etc) in the vehicle along with all the amenities - a/c, power windows, good insulation, etc. I realize this represents a lot of work (and cost) and I am the first person to admit that I have not done this type of conversion before. However, I have some talented help and I think we would, with a bit of direction, be up to the job.
I have a few initial questions that I hope you folks could help me with. The X frame on this car seems to be pretty substantial. Can you use this original frame with a new engine/trans? I guess parts of the frame could be boxed if there were strength issues?
Has anyone here put an LS engine in a '40 Olds? I guess that a '40 Olds is pretty close to being like a '40 Chevrolet (of which I an sure someone has done a LS conversion on)?
The car has independent suspension on the front. If upgraded (new bushings, bearings, etc) could this original suspension on the front be maintained?
The rear suspension is made up of a single axle with coil springs and some long trailing arms (I think that is what you would call those-again, it is the stock set up). Can this set up remain (again after a complete rebuild) or would some sort of new modern set up be necessary? No drag racing for this ride.
Those are my initial questions and any guidance would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Mike

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Old 06-18-2013, 01:19 PM
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40 olds

get rid of the 6v... if its like a ford and its a positive ground ?? do it tomorrow.. my truck dives me nuts.. i gotta think backwards with a + grounding..
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Old 06-18-2013, 02:40 PM
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Hello Mike. I tend to do quite a lot of research before ever picking up a wrench, so my approach would be to get these publications ahead of time and arm myself with facts from those who have done this swap successfully (and lived to publish books about it).

How to Swap GM LS-Series Engines into Almost Anything (S-A Design): Jefferson Bryant: 9781932494815: Amazon.com: Books How to Swap GM LS-Series Engines into Almost Anything (S-A Design): Jefferson Bryant: 9781932494815: Amazon.com: Books

GM LS-Series Engines: The Complete Swap Manual (Motorbooks Workshop): Joseph Potak: 9780760336090: Amazon.com: Books GM LS-Series Engines: The Complete Swap Manual (Motorbooks Workshop): Joseph Potak: 9780760336090: Amazon.com: Books

Chevy LS Engine Conversion Handbook HP1566: Shawn Henderson: 9781557885661: Amazon.com: Books Chevy LS Engine Conversion Handbook HP1566: Shawn Henderson: 9781557885661: Amazon.com: Books


There's an old saying that states "You don't know what you don't know". Reading each of these offerings would allow you to put a comprehensive swap list together, something that you could sit down with the owner of the car and go over point by point. You will be armed with all the correct answers and the car owner will be impressed with your preparation, perhaps impressed enough to write you a blank check.

Keeping or changing out the front suspension would be dependent on whether the owner wants armstrong steering or one-finger steering. I would have no doubt at all that the original front suspension would handle the LS1. Kits are readily available to change the brakes over to power front disc......
Wilwood Disc Brakes announces new Classic Series front disc brake conversion kits for the 1940-1952 General Motors Oldsmobile

The rear suspension and differential would be fine with the LS1, in my opinion, as long as the driver realizes that the original motor probably issued somewhere around 100 horsepower or a little more to the ring and pinion. If the driver uses some common sense, the original rear should work fine in my opinion.

Last edited by techinspector1; 06-18-2013 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 06-18-2013, 03:07 PM
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Tech: Thanks much. That is the kind of information I am looking for.
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Old 06-18-2013, 05:28 PM
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olds rear

In the 50's the olds-pontiac rears were a popular swap. and the 57 and later olds was the choice for dragsters.
The only draw back for the rear suspension is the lever shocks . Some 6 cyls came with 4.56 ratios. I think the olds used a U joint that might be hard to find.
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Old 06-19-2013, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timothale View Post
In the 50's the olds-pontiac rears were a popular swap. and the 57 and later olds was the choice for dragsters.
The only draw back for the rear suspension is the lever shocks . Some 6 cyls came with 4.56 ratios. I think the olds used a U joint that might be hard to find.
Most fellows are too young to remember these diffs. '57-'63, I think, 10.25" ring gear. One tough rear. We had a narrowed one with 3.90 gears in my son's 455 Olds-powered 1972 Chevy Luv pickup truck.

If I were going to change rears on this early Olds, I might lean more toward a late model diff that would do the trick, maybe something like a Ford 8.8" out of a 5.0 Mustang that you could buy parts for most anywhere and hang on a couple of leaf springs adapted to the Olds frame.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:40 PM
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Nascar truck design.

The rear suspension design is often called truck arms, gm used that design in 60's pickups and they hook up good, Just use a cheater bar to over torque the rubber bushings at the rear axle mounts. Keep the rear rear coils, sway bar and panard bar and switch to newer tubular adjustable shocks. I think the The front Drum brakes can be upgraded to late 50's wider shoes and drums . An Explorer 8.8 would be an ideal swap. I have a 4.56 Olds out of a 46 in one of my other T buckets, and was given an unfinished T bucket that has a 57 olds rear
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:40 PM
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While I do understand the late-model swaps, there is another fairly common route not often disussed here. That is, get a 350 or 403 Olds, a TH200-4R and keep it "all Olds". You're not looking for a "hot rod". The Olds V-8s are very smooth, torquey and tough. The earlier transmission eliminates the need for a computerized electronic system. This will keep costs "down" a little and provide the customer with a much less complex product, but still have plenty of power, decent fuel economy and overdrive.

6V wiring is heavier than 12, so it's mostly componenets that need to be changed (bulbs, starter, alternator, etc.). Never did an Olds, but did lots of Bugs.

Late '70s/early '80s Ford F-150s had 9" rears with leaf springs. Doesn't get much simpler. Bulletproof rear with parts EVERYWHERE. Being "old" doesn't make it a bad design.

Just an alternate view from an "old guy"... (:-

Jim
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