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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All,
I'm looking for opinions and recommendations from some of you experienced members, if you have the patience to respond to an inexperienced newcomer. I have a '66 Bel Air that I plan to start the restoration on soon, and am undecided on which way to go. I'm trying to decide whether to go LS, or a Big Block. 4, or 6-speed automatic, fuel injection, and an upgraded rear end from the stock 10-bolt, are all items I plan to use. I plan to do the typical stuff, wiring, brakes, and suspension, but would love input on the power choice. Again, thanks in advance for your patience.
 

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1961 Impala 2 Door Sedan
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I think that's all based on your taste. I prefer my classic to look and feel like a classic, so my choice would be BBC (well it is my choice, I have the 348 W sitting in the barn waiting for funds). But if you prefer to make your classic more modern, with a less fussy, dead reliable if slightly less emotional experience than an LS is absolutely the way to go.

If you are looking at performance, if you are going with a mild build my bet is the LS will be the better performer. The BBC will have superior low end torque but the LS will take the top end (and likely the drag strip), be more economical and the hundreds of lbs saved on the nose make the car ride and handle better and help offset a power disadvantage (if there is one to begin with).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks cintocrunch. I realize that opinions here will be widely varied, it's the experience that folks like you have, that I'm interested in hearing from. Upsides, problems, etc.
 

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I took mine back to the original BBC configuration but did upgrade the manual transmission to a Tremec 5 speed. No complaints at all and you pick up a lot of fuel economy with an overdrive.
LS would (in my opinion) have been more complex and way more expensive. I wouldn't have minded but it will never be as fast as my Tesla without some radical changes that wouldn't really make it easy to drive.
 

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Hey there Pops, you've definitely hit a topic that has a laundry list of Pro's and Con's on each. I'll just toss in my 2 cents.....

For my Impala - I went old-school because it's just a fun toy, a driver, not expected to be a show winner or anything. Then again - no huge road trips were expected out of it either. Just a fun driver toy.
This car wasn't exactly intended to be a forever-car. I didn't want to go through the hassles (or extra $$) of oil-pan fitment, researching proper mounts, radiator fitment, existing Trans connectivity to an LS, ECU/Wiring harness stuff, etc. I just had no desire to spend that time to make the LS happen. As it is, I'm super happy with my crate 383 and TKO600. And the gas mileage is not bad at all!

On a different classic car I have, that I want to be able to hop in at any time, hot or cold, rain or shine, and be able to make a road trip - I went with an LS motor. This is an "all-in" kind of car I'll keep potentially forever so it gets the research time, the $$$ and all the goodies.

So you can guess my vote - if your car is a toy I'd go old school and when you pop the hood people will have immediate respect for the torque of them wide valve covers, gas mileage be damned. :)
If you see the car being used more and driven a lot, and further distances, than my vote is LS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys. I appreciate the responses. I plan to drive this car, so it might just end up being a LS swap. Any other wisdom or perspectives would be appreciated here!
 

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"Thanks guys. I appreciate the responses. I plan to drive this car, so it might just end up being a LS swap. Any other wisdom or perspectives would be appreciated here!"

You pretty much answered your own question. You want to drive your classic, so the small block is the better choice. There are several definitions of "performance." I have built several Impalas for customers, from original 6 cyl to 600hp BBC monsters. My theory is to ask what you intend to actually do with your car. Some think "drag race" while others, like me, want roadability and gas mileage. My personal 66 Impala has it's original 283 with a 200R4 overdrive and highway rear end. Headers, mild cam and bits of chrome set off the engine compartment. Open the hood and it impresses anyone. I can merge onto an expressway easily, it rolls comfortably, sounds mellow and gets more than 18 mpg cruising just under 70mph. One more small factoid: most people do not realize the 66 full size Chevrolets weigh less than a new Camaro, 3500 lbs vs over 3700 for an overrated, overly expensive computer on wheels. :sneaky:
Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Land vehicle
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Eddie. Yeah, I plan to drive this car for enjoyment/cruising. I hope that my Ermine White Bel Air looks as sharp as yours eventually. Thanks again for your response.
 

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I'm two months late to the party. But I went LS Swap in mine, I hope to have it on the road next year. But have it driving around the block so far and I like it a lot. Honestly to me it wasn't much harder to convert than trying to convert from SBC to a BBC. Price wise was a bit more but I went with a supercharger. but NA to NA I don't think it be that much different. Just depends on how far and fancy you go
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the reply here. Yeah, it's LS, even though a BBC would be pretty cool. Hoping to start this project work in '22, after I get some parts in. LS, 4L65or 4L70, suspension, brakes, electrical to name a few. Happy New Year All.
 

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Thanks for the reply here. Yeah, it's LS, even though a BBC would be pretty cool. Hoping to start this project work in '22, after I get some parts in. LS, 4L65or 4L70, suspension, brakes, electrical to name a few. Happy New Year All.
skip the 4L70, go with a 4L80 or stick with a 4L60. you'll be doing a whole wiring harness to so you'll need the computer. easiest thing to do is get a matched set from a wrecked vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
skip the 4L70, go with a 4L80 or stick with a 4L60. you'll be doing a whole wiring harness to so you'll need the computer. easiest thing to do is get a matched set from a wrecked vehicle.
I don't have the experience to back this up, but I've heard that either the 4L65 or the 4L70 will fit the Bel Air without the need to cut the existing trans tunnel. I know that both are longer than the Power Glide I have now, so a new cross member is a must.
 

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I don't have the experience to back this up, but I've heard that either the 4L65 or the 4L70 will fit the Bel Air without the need to cut the existing trans tunnel. I know that both are longer than the Power Glide I have now, so a new cross member is a must.
possibly, I haven't looked into it, just heard the arguments on other forums. just google 4l60 vs 4l70.....

From what I gather, the 4L65E and 4L70E are just a 4L60E with the upgraded internal parts that most 4L60E hop-up rebuilds do, anyway... They are both uncommon enough that you may just want to rebuild your 4L60E with all the good parts, and make it as strong or stronger than a 4L70E.

here's a puff piece from a vendor


some of these threads are old so take with a grain of salt
 

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I installed a 4L80e in my 67 and I didn't have to cut the floorboards. Only thing I did was beat Around where the cooler lines go, but I could've avoided that with Bango fittings. I have the old style 80e. Then I customized my crossmember to the 4l80e. I could've Just moved it back but I wanted to keep my ebrake functional. I ended up needing a custom length cable anyways with the rear disc so should've just moved the crossmember Back anyways.

My opinion is do the 4l80e with the Holley terminator X max. Ecu.
 

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Thanks to BOTH of you for the feedback! This is really cool to see!

If you're interested In seeing my project, check out my Flickr Album. I pretty much have most of what I did on there. There may be something in there that could help give you ideas. If there any questions, feel free to ask.


 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Awesome looking wagon! The classic wagons definitely have a cool factor all their own. At risk of sounding goofy here, I've been pleasantly surprised at how much you and others have been willing to share. I hope to give back some myself when I have similar experience to call on. Happy New Year ALL.
 
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