Parts car for my 78 Catalina Safari

cammerjeff

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Belleville MI
Well one of the 2 things I didn't care for on my 78 Catalina Wagon was the Stock Buick 350, the other was the aftermarket non working A/C the car had installed by a previous owner.

Over the Christmas New Years break I stumbled on 60,000 mile 78 Catalina Safari equipped with the optional 400 Pontiac V8 & Working Factory A/C in upstate NY. The asking price was a bit more than I wanted to pay but I got it for $3000 plus around $500 to go pick it up and bring it back to Michigan.

Unfortunatly the rust free car is only parts due to its interior condition, but I am very happy with how the engine runs, even starts right up and does not stall in the below freezing temperatures

If anyone is interested I will Post some pic's of the parts car, and document the process of swapping out the engine & the A/C Systems.
 

cammerjeff

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Here are some pictures of the Parts wagon as bought, it is actually a strangely optioned car, from the outside it looks like a base model car with the dog dish hub caps, no roof rack & no passenger side rear view mirror.
But besides having the biggest available engine for the year, a Pontiac 400 4bbl, Automatic A/C, Power windows, Locks, and Drivers seat, it has the upgraded interior with the split bench front seat with a fold down armrest, a Gauge package with indash clock, Cruise control, Tilt column, factory air shocks, and a 4-speaker AM/FM stereo radio.
My other car has a few different options, including rear window defroster, and intermittent wipers, along with a economy meter (vacuum gauge) in place of the clock.
My plans are to swap the engine and A/C, and possibly the rear axle & air Shocks
 

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cammerjeff

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As for the engine I just plan on adding a Harmonic Balancer, cleaning it up, painting it, and adding the set of Ram Air 3 exhaust manifolds that I have sitting on the shelf.
This is a Late Pontiac 400 V8, and most 76 to 78 400's did not come from the factory with a harmonic balancer, just a cast iron hub to bolt the crankshaft V-belt pulley.
Another odd thing about the car is the type of A/C compressor mounted in it, it has the small B4 style compressor usually seen on 301 or 265 V8's. But have been told that late in the 78 Model year the smaller compressor was mounted on some Catalina's & Bonneville's. This is the 1st one I have actually seen so equipped. I actually like the access the smaller compressor gives me on the passenger side of the engine.
As you can see the car is actually pretty solid, but with the headliner missing, the drivers seat needing recovering, and the dash cracked it is really only good to drive or for parts, as the cost of restoring the interior alone would be more than the car is worth.
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92 Sunbird LE

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Salinas, Puerto Rico
Reminds me of one of my old winter cars (77 Chevy wagon $75 special, just needed the starter cable cleaned
and the oilpan JB welded .) Motor and trans went on to power a 12 second Chevelle after my friend swapped the drivetrain into a 80 Cutlass first.. which was another winter car for me the next year..lol I then sold the Cutlass to my son's friend which had the motor built, then gave up on it and sold the motor to the Chevelle's owner.

When my friend junked the body, it came off the frame when they lifted it up in the air. Never got stuck in the winter with that tank, was even good for pushing snow that was 40" high.

Good drag week canidate, just needs a twin turbo ls, or a stroked 455.

If you could take it apart and mail it in flat rate boxes , I would take it off your hands, Jeff. Lol ;)

Doug in P.R.:)
 

cammerjeff

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I know what you mean Doug, the car is so solid its a shame to part it, but its not as nice as the Brown Wagon, and my wife hates Blue Cars, and really hates Blue interiors, so parts it is.
 

cammerjeff

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Well Believe it or not I have finally started stripping the Parts car I bought over 1 year ago. Pulled most of the Front Clip off to make pulling the engine & Transmission easier. If anyone needs any parts let me know. I plan on putting a New Timing Chain, and replacing the Crankshaft Hub with a Harmonic Balancer & the earlier Timing cover with cast on Timing marks as the Plastic bolt on 77-79 Timing marks seem to be made out of unobtainium! This should be a major improvement over the Buick 350 currently in our good brown 78 Catalina Safari.

Lt Side.JPG Front.JPG Rt Side.JPG
 

melsg5

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That should keep you busy for awhile. Nice looking Solstice in the picture.
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cammerjeff

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Belleville MI
I finally got the engine & Trans Pulled out, seperated, and the engine on the stand to clean up and work on. So far I have only broken 1 exhaust Manifold bolt, but I still have 1 more stubborn one to go that didn't come break free with heat & an impact gun. So it is soaking with penetrating oil over night. I removed the front cover and found that it has had the timing chain replaced already, but it is very loose (or is it the original with all the plastic fallen off?)
Plans are to replace the Timing Chain, Front Cover, Install an actual Harmonic Balancer and the older 69-76 style front cover with the timing Marks cast on the front. Replace the Leaking Front Main Seal, Oil Pan Gasket, & Valve cover Gaskets. Just to keep the work to a minimum to keep the project moving. I will also be replacing the stock exhaust manifolds with a set of repo D port Ram Air Manifolds I have left over from my old 71 wagon project that was stolen years ago.
The Engine is a 1978 YJ Model that is rated at 180 HP. But has alot more torque than the sick Buick 350 currently in our good 78 Safari Wagon. That and swapping out the 2.72 rear axle with the parts cars 3.08 rear axle should help it get out of its own way.
This is not going to be a performance car, just a unique tow car & Dog hauler.
Engine Coming out.JPG Engine out 2.JPG Engine out 3.JPG AT5.JPG

Does anyone know what the AT5 Stamp on the front of the drivers side head means?
 
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cammerjeff

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Probably Not, It has good compression on all 8 cylinders, runs very well, 40 psi of oil pressure, and less than 60,000 miles on it. I am just going to fix the leaks, and change the timing chain, and add a Harmonic Balancer.
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