Engine swap question - First Generation Forum

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Engine swap question
Monday, April 22, 2019 11:13 AM
I have an '87 Sunbird SE with the non turbo 2.0 engine. I have had this car for 25+ years so I am not new to the ownership of a J Car. Anyway, recently found an '88 GT 2.0 turbo convertible in the junkyard. What all do I need to do an engine swap from the non turbo to the turbo engine? In addition to the engine/ turbo set up, engine wiring harness, instrument cluster and computer all from the GT. The transmissions are the same in both cars and are automatics. Do I need the dash wiring as well? Anything else? Thank you in advance for the help!

~1987 Sunbird SE 2.0 auto (white with blue interior)

Re: Engine swap question
Monday, April 22, 2019 4:08 PM
Should be a different dash so the cluster, let alone the harness won't work for you.

The only difference between the turbo and non turbo cluster is the useless boost gauge. Save the headache, and just get an aftermarket gauge, if you really want to see boost pressure.

You pretty much have it covered for what you need. The rads and related hoses will also likely be different , there were 4 rads for these cars, two of which were turbo specific.

Also the AC system is different between turbo and non turbo, there's also a difference in years, but AFAIK, the change was in '87. If yours doesn't have AC, I'd be interested in a few AC lines that will be on that car in the wreckers. (I'm converting my '87 Skyhawk non-turbo, non-AC to turbo and AC.) I have '88 Sunbird turbo AC lines, but a couple are damaged from sitting and corrosion. Related to the AC system, the charcoal canister location changes.

Other differences I can think of, and some are pretty obvious, but figured I'd mention them anyway, the exhaust, fuel pump, air filter, power steering lines I thing are different, but the existing ones should be able to be massaged to work. I'm sure I'm forgetting something small, but this is all the major stuff in addition to the obvious.
Re: Engine swap question
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 6:23 AM
Just my 2 cents worth.....

I'd want to make darn sure that engine & turbo are in good condition before going through all the trouble. There is a reason this 31 year old J was taken to the salvage yard. If it is a U-Pull It yard it is a cheap engine but you are doing a coin toss. So many of these machines are long gone. While I wouldn't hesitate to grab it up for parts it may very well wind up being blown , or worse.....all but blown. Loose rods and burned main journals and a worn out turbo. Cracked Head or ground up cam. You very well could put the extra power in front of your transaxle and burn it up as old as it is too.

Not being hypocritical - all these new cars out today with all these variable valve timing and turbo charged engines are going to be terrible to maintain as time goes by. Trying to pick up a replacement engine 30 years from now for one of these things is going to be nothing short of a nightmare. Maybe after your 4th engine you might get lucky and find something usable.I know a 2 guys from work that went through 3 transmissions each from a U-Pull It yard before finding one that worked longer than 2 weeks. One of them put their last one in and is desperately trying to sell it before it goes out.

It could be a fun project but just keep in mind even good non turbo engines and parts are getting very hard to find. Even the old iron head engines are rare now for my old Wagon. Personally I'd rather get that engine if I already had a turbo setup and had the space for a spare.


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Re: Engine swap question
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 1:55 PM
Also doesn't the blocks for manual and auto have different bolt patterns? ( 6 or 7 )

One works on the other but the other won't?

Doug in P.R.



92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 150K miles. Hurricane Maria Survivor ! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: Engine swap question
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 3:24 PM
92Sunbird PuertoRico wrote:

Also doesn't the blocks for manual and auto have different bolt patterns? ( 6 or 7 )

One works on the other but the other won't?

Doug in P.R.


Sort of...

The difference up to 1987 (from my research) is that one of them, manual I believe has an extra bolt hole, but it's EXTRA, the rest of the bolt holes are in the exact same spots, so you can just not use that bolt hole if you go from one to the other.

AFAIK, 1987 and later GM went to only 6 bolts regardless of which transmission was being used.
Re: Engine swap question
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 5:31 PM
Thanks for the information. This '88 sunbird Gt was in the junkyard due to a blown head gasket. We were able to get the engine pulled out of the '88 over the weekend. In addition to the engine assembly, we also got the engine wire harness, computer, instrument cluster, etc. The plan is to clean up the engine and take it to a machine shop and then rebuild the engine before putting it into my car. I'm not putting it in my car as is. I know it's going to be a lot of work changing my car over. My son is a mechanic and is going to help me with it

Six_shooter:
The A/C lines from the junkyard GT were damaged (they were bent and disconnected by someone) when we started working on the car. They weren't salvageable.

To me it was sad seeing that poor sunbird in the junkyard. I know many have gone before it. The paint was horrible on it. Car was originally red but was so faded that it was orange and it needed a convertible top. Body was straight too and no rust. It will live on in my '87 though!!☹

~1987 Sunbird SE 2.0 auto (white with blue interior)
Re: Engine swap question
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 7:21 PM
sunchicken87 wrote:

Thanks for the information. This '88 sunbird Gt was in the junkyard due to a blown head gasket. We were able to get the engine pulled out of the '88 over the weekend. In addition to the engine assembly, we also got the engine wire harness, computer, instrument cluster, etc. The plan is to clean up the engine and take it to a machine shop and then rebuild the engine before putting it into my car. I'm not putting it in my car as is. I know it's going to be a lot of work changing my car over. My son is a mechanic and is going to help me with it

Six_shooter:
The A/C lines from the junkyard GT were damaged (they were bent and disconnected by someone) when we started working on the car. They weren't salvageable.

To me it was sad seeing that poor sunbird in the junkyard. I know many have gone before it. The paint was horrible on it. Car was originally red but was so faded that it was orange and it needed a convertible top. Body was straight too and no rust. It will live on in my '87 though!!☹


You may think they may not be salvageable, BUT, if the hose going between the compressor and the dryer in the right side wheel well isn't damaged, and isn't corroded at the dryer, and I can use it and the one I have to make one good hose assembly. The assembly I have was corroded at the dryer and the tube broke, so I need to replace that end and I'll have everything I need.
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