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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everybody. My name is Julio and I'm fairly new to the forum. Hung around once about a year ago. Anyways. I have an 87 B-150 van. It is in great shape, mostly. 150,000 miles on a 318. I'm getting itchy to do something with it. I just can't leave well enough alone. It actually runs pretty good, has a tick which I think is a stuck lifter. The transmission leaks, I can fix that. Needs the front end rebuilt.

Here's the question. Is there a book or good resource to learn about the Mopar options. I hear you guys talking about swapping transmissions per number, a 727 to a 518, so on and so forth. Reasons why a 360 is better to build than a 318, on and on and on. I'm totally in the dark, but would like to learn. At least get a good general idea.

I really like my van and would really like to do some cool stuff with it. So I think, WOW!! What if it had a 440 six-pack in it. That would be awesome. But I don't know.. Maybe that's dumb. Or more work than it's worth. Or maybe that would rip the rearend out of it. I just have no idea of where to start or what viable options there are. Or what makes the difference between this and that. What are the good resources to start to get an idea? I know anything is possible, but like most I've got limited resources. So I want to try to figure out what makes the most sense.

Allright, That's enough out of me. Thanks and take it easy. Julio
 

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KOG
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There's not going to be a single book covering what you want to know. A 440 will fit, but it takes much more than you want to do and sucks gas. For an 87 you probably want to leave it stock cause it's not worth enough to justify the price of any swaps.
 

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Even though it is not worth the cost to do any kind of engine swap, a labor of love is priceless. As KOG said, there is not one single location for all the information, it is a collection of information from several sources over years and years, some repeat and some wrong, then learning things in between. History is a good start, which talks about the trials, tribulations, and requirements to get an answer to a question, there are pages and pages of history on here. Believe it or not, there are articles in the hotrod car magazines that are informational, and the websites have a lot of the articles online so you can access and read them. There are also Mopar build books that can be gotten from the library, shop manuals, news articles. One thing I learned over time was, the more information you have, the quicker it is to read new things because you will know more about the topic and know whether the information is good or bad, or something to learn.
 

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Got parts?
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Mopar people are sticklers for originality. Further, you'll have an easier time finding parts for the 318 than a 440, or any other engine that was discontinued before 1980.

That said, I don't know what the resale value of your van would be stock vs. custom. If your van has a 2-barrel carb, it's probably a Holley, which I don't care for. If you want to make it run stronger, the 318 can take a 4-barrel, though, in addition to the manifold, you might also have to change the accelerator cable. If you can find a 1 1/4" Carter BBD, it should be a straight swap, and performance will be a little better. Either way, save the Holley. Your enthusiasm for the vehicle, or your economic situation, could change over time, and having the original parts will be a selling point.

The best book you can find will be a shop manual for your model year, or maybe one from a few years off, since these vans didn't change much over the years. I don't know how much Mopar support there is in Las Cruces, but if there are any swap meets nearby, you might attend one. You might also check the used bookstores, as they occasionally have some decent books in the automotive sections.
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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In your shoes I'd go for the low-hanging fruit when it comes to swaps. That van body with modifications continued substantially the same until 1997 with the same dashboard configuration and everything, and even the modifications for the '98 model year are mild.

I'd look to do a drivetrain swap from a newer van if I were going to do one. I'd probably go for a 360/5.9, A518 transmission, full wiring harness, dash cluster, and computer from a '94-'97. The Magnum engines were the pinnacle of the Chrysler small block, and with the overdrive the van should get somewhat better fuel economy too. You may need to also grab the rear axle, by the way, as the computer may get its speed information from it.

These later vans are very common and should be in self-service wrecking yards for fairly easy access. Pulling the motor is definitely difficult, but a factory book would do wonders for helping with the steps.

If you want even more power, there were headers made for these vans, they're a little thin on availability now but probably could be tracked down. And of course, there's always options for bigger cams and stroker engines with more displacement, and some of those engines can be just ordered. I don't know what kind of computer issues might be had, but I imagine that a stroker motor in big-block displacement territory with a mild enough cam could be driven by the stock computer. It'd have to be a Magnum-era stroker obviously, and may require some bigger fuel injectors too.
 

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Depends what you want to have when you get done building.
You want something dependable and economical (given that it's gonna have a V-8)? Build a 318. Definitely go with the Carter carb if you can. On a budget, balance and blueprint; if you have money to set alight, port, polish, upgrade the exhaust.
What kinda rims you got? Chrysler made some cool ones in the 1980s, and the 15 / 16 tires are cheaper than the 17/20s you see now. Plus with that van's wheelwell openings, going too big will be unstable as well as looking stupid.
That lifter tick needs attention before it gets worse.
Factory service manuals are your friend, but you're looking at vintage enough a van they're gonna be at swap meets or maybe Craigslist.
Clean up the van's interior thoroughly (that tip about a newer driveline? That cuts both ways. You can upgrade the dash, seats, etc. from the same sources as the driveline.)
If you've got a TorqueFlite, you should hang onto it. Like the 318 itself, keep the maintenance up and it's bulletproof, will run forever. There's a book out there, I forget the author's name, called "building Chrysler small block engines" that's
all about the 318 / 340 -- yeah. A 318 *is* a 340, essentially. You'll need heads, but if you can find a set of 318 Magnum heads you're on your way -- and it's got a ton of info. Try to find a copy at B&N or via a good used bookstore -- I think
the thing's out of print now.
 

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When upgrading for performance, consider that your van is a higher profile vehicle than a car. If your purpose is to take that long hill on I-10 west of town easier, that's one thing, but if it's mostly an in-town driver, you might want to focus on suspension upgrades before modifying your engine.

Here's the small-block rebuild book:

http://www.amazon.com/How-Rebuild-Small-Block-Mopar-Engines/dp/0895861283

This yard had some Mopars when I last went there years ago:

http://www.aupullit.com/

You might call them first to check if they have what you need.
 

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I'm with TWX - stick with a small block. Either build the engine you have, or go with a Magnum swap - a 5.2/5.9 would really be a nice upgrade.
 
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