1980 malibu LS swap project

lt4malibu

Pro Stocker
Feb 22, 2004
2,384
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NJ
figured id start a thread for my little project, here's a basic rundown:

car: 1980 2 door malibu with 60,000 miles(found it in an old lady's basement)

power-train: 2000 camaro LS1, 4l60E, factory GM harness(modified by me to be stand-alone unit)

swap stuff: BRP hotrods motor mount kit & transmission crossmember and headers, LH8 oil pan, and modified G-body fuel tank

basically the goal is pretty simple: to have a reliable, fun, daily driver/sleeper/cruiser - the motor is stock and gonna stay that way for now, trans has a fresh rebuild with a few upgraded parts but nothing to break the bank. trying to do this on a budget of $3500-4000 and have it running by February so we'll see how that goes. i went with the BRP kit mainly because after much debate i want to keep the A/C and since im building this in my garage under my garden apartment i dont have access to a welder to modify the front crossmember (their kit allows you to keep the low-mount a/c compressor).

here's the start of the tear-down:




first test-fit with the transdapt setback plate kit i had laying around:


for some reason i had oil pan clearance issues with these and the f-body pan, i did a 78 malibu a few months ago with this exact same setup and it fit perfect so it figures on my car the cheaper route wouldnt work ](*,)

had an air intake kit from my silverado laying around, looks like it should be a good fit:



test fit with the BRP kit:







today i pulled out the stock 7.5, hopefully ill come across a good 8.5 for a decent price


EFI fuel tank mounted, corvette filter/regulator mounted and plumbed, currently in the process of bending a new steel line from the filter all the way up to the firewall but my tubing bender is a plastic POS so i ordered a sturdier one (which i hopefully wont break this time!)
 

blubaldmontess

Dragway Regular
Oct 3, 2005
872
0
0
Rineyville, KY
Very nice looking project! Good luck on everything, its a blast to have the LSx and the goals you've set are pretty reasonable
 

79loserbluebu

Frequent Racer
Jun 15, 2009
302
0
0
Illinois-60491
Nice job been waiting on a swap thread from you for a while. How do you like the trans crossmember? I went with an Iceman instead.
 

lt4malibu

Pro Stocker
Feb 22, 2004
2,384
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NJ
crossmember is nice, kinda awkward to get in i also have an iceman crossmember i might try but unfortunately the project may be on hold for a couple weeks because someone decided to break into my truck and stole my cell phone, Ipod, cd's, and a few other things :x
 

Roller406Bu

Frequent Racer
Sep 10, 2003
396
0
0
Elizabethtown Ky
I had to put some dents in my pacesetters with the transdapt mounts back years ago on the pass side.....I want ceramic coated headers now, you think your brp's would work or not? Looks like there motor mounts are def farther back then mine....let me know your thoughts...
Landon
 

LIVE4RDO

Frequent Racer
Jul 21, 2010
678
0
0
Staten Island, NY
If you ever decide to sell this one, I'd like to be first in line. Good luck. Nice build.
 

79loserbluebu

Frequent Racer
Jun 15, 2009
302
0
0
Illinois-60491
Roller406Bu said:
I had to put some dents in my pacesetters with the transdapt mounts back years ago on the pass side.....I want ceramic coated headers now, you think your brp's would work or not? Looks like there motor mounts are def farther back then mine....let me know your thoughts...
Landon
I don't think that will work out too well. The BRP mounts lift the engine up a little bit compared to the Trans-dapts
 

pmgm

Amateur Racer
Jun 2, 2007
144
0
0
OH
Nice build....
 

lt4malibu

Pro Stocker
Feb 22, 2004
2,384
0
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NJ
ive been updating the build thread on tech, kinda forgot i had one on here as well(dont come on the site much)

i put in alot of work this past week/weekend, got alot checked off the "to do" list :D

-got the Power Steering squared away: i used a 2000 camaro pressure hose - i ended up rotating the end that goes to the box and tweaked it a little and it fits good. for the return i used the stock malibu fitting with a new piece of hose.

-cooling system: i used an F-body radiator, the upper and lower camaro hoses work fine (i trimmed @ 1in off the radiator side of the lower hose) and some 3/4 and 5/8's heater hose.

-wiring: i tied up most of the loose ends, hooked up the MIL(luckily the 80 and later 'Bu has a provision for a check engine light so it looks factory). i plan to move the battery to the trunk and mount the switch when i get the car back from having the exhaust welded up. i also need to wire up the cooling fans, the line lock, and the cable-x box

-mounted and pumbed the trans cooler

-bled the brakes

-put the dash back together

all in all it was a long weekend but the car atleast looks like its made progress, here are a few pics:

engine compartment getting there




interior looks stock :D :D :D

gauges in the glovebox


tach/shiftlight(painted it shadow blue to match the interior and help hide it a little(not sure if thats gonna work lol)

MIL light
 

pkstang

Daily Driver
Nov 28, 2011
40
0
0
central mass
car looks great... thanks for the update

can you share soe pics of how exactly you routed the harness both in the engine bay as well as inside the car?

paul
 

lt4malibu

Pro Stocker
Feb 22, 2004
2,384
0
0
NJ
pkstang said:
car looks great... thanks for the update

can you share soe pics of how exactly you routed the harness both in the engine bay as well as inside the car?

paul
i didnt really take any pictures of the wiring, i ended up using an engine harness from PSI conversions - cut it up and modified it to integrate the malibu engine harness so it looks factory. i sent @ 8 wires into the car through the hole for the speedo cable (i have a cable-x box to run the factory speedometer so theres no cable going to the trans)
 

lt4malibu

Pro Stocker
Feb 22, 2004
2,384
0
0
NJ
computer will be in the engine compartment where the battery used to be
 

lt4malibu

Pro Stocker
Feb 22, 2004
2,384
0
0
NJ
some more updates! i busted my *ss today, got alot of stuff done and it was so worth it!!

-relocated the battery to the trunk
-mounted the battery cut-off switch
-finished wiring the cooling fans
-cleaned up the rest of the wiring under the hood
-mounted the ECM and fuse panels
-installed a set of BellTech 2inch drop spindles and did an alignment
-bolted on a set of centerline telstars

and.... then i drove it home!!! :D :D :D
ive put about 40 miles on it so far, aside from the idle being kinda low(which my tuner will hopefully fix on the dyno in the next week or so) and the summit brand coolant temp gauge being like 30* off(my scanner will have to do for now) the car drives great! has great highway manners, runs pretty cool @ 185-195*

i still need to hook up the cable X box for the speedometer(my scan tool works great for that temporarily too lol) and wire up the line lock, but driving a fresh build for the first time never gets old.



i think the stance is perfect(maybe might get a set of 1inch drop springs for the rear after i get a set of 275 ET streets for the back) handles good for having the stock V6 suspension from 1980 (definately needs a rear sway bar)

ill post some pictures tomorrow when its light out of everything.
 

Wagon Master

Amateur Racer
Feb 16, 2012
125
1
0
New Jersey
I've been doing a similar LS install on my wagon but went with the 6-speed instead. I also used the BRP kit which worked out great.

http://maliburacing.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=111467
http://maliburacing.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=111513

I'm about to tackle the cooling system and you say that you used an F-body radiator. Did you have to do much modification to make it fit? Did you use the F-body electric fans too? What did you use for the top radiator support? Thanks!

Scott