Ok, here's my first post. I am about to get a 81 caprice wagon for a cheap second vehicle/project. Overall the body and interior are in good shape. Glass is fairly good too. Even has power windows and doors. At the price I am getting it for, ~300, it is a good starting point.
The one question I really have is the motor. It is the stock 350. I know 81 or so was about as low power wise as you could get. There is where my problem is at. I don't have to have a world beater, but I do want better than average performance. I know you can get tons of parts for the 350. And where I live emissions are not a concern. So what I am thinking of is one of two things. Either fixing up the 350(dual exhaust, new intake, new carb, maybe new heads depending on my budget, rebuild, nothing wild) or dropping a 500 caddy into it. I have always wanted one of those big motors. And from what I have read/seen it would be an ideal motor for the heavy wagon. Good low end torque.
The questions I have about such a swap are what could I keep on the drivetrain. I have read of built TH350s behind 500 caddys. And this would be a nice solution if it would work because then I would not have to screw with the drive shaft. The rear end is another questionable area. I know this part probably belongs in another topic, but I am trying to decide if the engine swap would be worth it.
I plan on getting a shop manual for the wagon when I get it later this week. So that should answer some of my questions about the drive train. I don't have a lot of experience but I ain't a complete dumb*** either. Either approach would teach me alot, but I also have good help available.