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Thread: About to pick up my first D50, considering swap options and a few questions

  1. #1

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    About to pick up my first D50, considering swap options and a few questions

    Hey! My name is Blair and I should be picking up an 87 D50 this week. It will be my first Japanese vehicle. I'm getting it mainly to become a DD for a while as I'm currently driving my major project car (3500T Firebird). I was originally looking for a 4/V6 S10 but came across this truck for a good price and it doesn't look to be in too bad of shape. Sometime next year I'd like to update the engine to something newer.

    First off what kind of mileage can I expect from the 2.6?
    What rear gears come stock in these trucks?
    I've read some info about 5-lug conversions on the front; what is done to convert the rear? Ford 8.8 swap?
    The stock speedo isn't currently working. Is this common? Probably the speedo cable?
    Going from sports car quick-ration steering to the stock truck steering just feels wrong. Are there any quick-ratio boxes available?

    As for engine swaps, I have a couple major ones I've been considering. I understand the 4G63 will bolt in with a 2.0L trans, or a Starion 2.6T will bolt in with the current trans, but neither of those are really appealing for me. 1st, I don't think I'll EVER find a 2.0L trans locally, so that pretty much removes the 4G63 as an option, and 2nd, I'm not really interested in a turbo motor at least for a while because I know from experience they can really suck the gasoline. So that leads me to the 2 main engines I've been considering:

    Mazda FE3 w/B2200 trans
    I can get the engine for really cheap from a Kia Sportage, it's already set-up for RWD, and B2200 transmissions are common enough it should be easy to source one. Naturally I'll just make some solid mounts for it, have the driveshaft modified, and call it a day. Would use the Kia ECU and probably install an inline fuel pump for EFI. These engine seem to have a really good reputation and are built pretty tough. Should be pretty good on gas and have enough power to satisfy me. Bummed that I probably wouldn't be able to tune it as much as I'd like unless I figured out an easy way to get a GM 7730 to control it.

    GM 3400/3500 V5 w/S10 T5 trans
    This is the swap I originally wanted to do with an S10; I can get the engines pretty cheap all day (super super common), I'm already familiar with the engine inside/out, and calculated the cost of the complete swap w/stainless headers at a hair under $1000 (in an S10 that already had a T5). I already have tons of parts for these engines already as well. I could probably source out a T5 for a couple hundred so that's not too bad. Advantages over the FE3 are having shared parts with my Firebird, ability to tune the ECU for ultimate gas mileage, and probably 180-200 whp depending on 3400 or 3500. Difficulty would be working around the cast-aluminum oil pan and figuring out what exhaust manifolds to use. S10 2.8 headers may or may not fit.

    I'm also toying with the idea of installing a Ford 8.8 IRS in the back, since there's a setup locally for really cheap and it mainly would require building the 4 mounts for the IRS subframe. Nice thing is that leaf springs are eliminated and the whole suspension setup is pretty much self-contained with the subframe. Should have the 5x114.3 bolt pattern as well.

    Feel free to comment!

  2. #2



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    Welcome to the forum caffeine.
    You can find manuals and source information in our wiki section of the forum that should help you with many of your questions. You may use the search and advanced search to scan the forum for more items you seek. Once you become familiar with our layout and information spots you will see we are the best source out here.
    We also have many knowledgeable people that check in on a regular basis.

  3. #3


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    83-87 Ranger 7.5" diff is 1.5" wider then the stock Mits. I use one in mine and went with a 17x7" rim's with a 42mm back space and they fit fine. You can probably go with a Toyota 7.5" as well out of a P/U. Front have been converted to the 86-94 Toyota hub so it runs the 5 x 114.3 as well. there is a post about doing the front swap somewhere on the site. As for the swap just grab a 4.3/T5(700R4) out of a S-10 or a Safari Van, Unless you can fine the 3400/3500/3800 out of a Camaro or Firebird as the RWD engine mounts are expencive as hell or next to impossible to find.Headers are no real problem all you have to do is cut them up and modify them to dump where you need them. Not sure about the oil pan but someone else might know what to do to make them clear.

    Welcome to the site and I hope you enjoy the truck.

  4. #4

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    welcome................................and pics..........like pics

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fordubishi View Post
    83-87 Ranger 7.5" diff is 1.5" wider then the stock Mits. I use one in mine and went with a 17x7" rim's with a 42mm back space and they fit fine. You can probably go with a Toyota 7.5" as well out of a P/U. Front have been converted to the 86-94 Toyota hub so it runs the 5 x 114.3 as well. there is a post about doing the front swap somewhere on the site. As for the swap just grab a 4.3/T5(700R4) out of a S-10 or a Safari Van, Unless you can fine the 3400/3500/3800 out of a Camaro or Firebird as the RWD engine mounts are expencive as hell or next to impossible to find.Headers are no real problem all you have to do is cut them up and modify them to dump where you need them. Not sure about the oil pan but someone else might know what to do to make them clear.

    Welcome to the site and I hope you enjoy the truck.
    Good info on the 5-bolt swap. As for the 3400/3500 swap, they're never available RWD even in the F-bodies but mounts are cake. A 2.5/2.8 T5 bellhousing bolts right up with trimming for the starter and there are threaded bosses on the sides of the block. Just need a drill press, some 1/4" steel, and a welder. I've already built my own 3500 swap mounts so it's no big deal. I personally think the 3x00 is better suited to a small truck than the 4.3, not to mention it's more efficient, more modern, more compact, and responds well to mods. (A bone stock including stock exhaust manifolds 3500 dynoed at 205whp/25x ft-lbs with my own tuning in another car).

    I recently helped a friend swap a Gen II Sunbird 3.1 V6 into his S10 and we also supercharged it. Again, the mounts were simple and his transmission bolted right up.

  6. #6

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    Welcome. You wana stick to a 4 banger swap? Because a 350 with a 6 speed late model SBC trans will fit in our trucks pretty nicely. There's no shortage of parts for the engine or different headers etc to make it fit in that tight frame. That engine won't be working to move that truck and should get as good as if not better MPG than the 2.6L
    What about the GM3800 supercharged? That engine I belive has the same specs as a 305, same block and everything just 2 less cylinders. Would bolt up to a sbc manual trans too and may fit with more breathing room. Theyre strong engines too.

  7. #7

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    More interested in updating the drivetrain than power. Plus T56s are expensive. I know because I have one

  8. #8

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    3800s have the same trans bolt pattern as the 3400, 2.8, 2.5, etc... but are wider and heavier than the aluminum head 60*s. Fitting a 3800 supercharger setup (always designed for FWD) would probably require some hammering to the firewall and mods to the supercharger inlet. They share pretty much nothing but valve springs with V8s. Good motors but not really my thing. Also have a balance shaft that the 60* engines do not.

  9. #9


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    oops yeah they never came with the 3500, Just the 2.8,3.1,3.4 and 3.8. Friend is putting a 3.8L from a 98?? Camaro in a Chevette with the supercharger off a Boniville SSEi and it took him 3 years to track down a set of stock engine mounts as the idiots that pulled the engine cut them off with a torch to pull the engine. From GM they were almost $400 each.

  10. #10

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    I have to ask though, since its not an OEM application, why are the stock mount brackets so important?? Just cut a piece of steel for each side of the mount, drill holes, place engine in car, weld some suitable tube of steel in-between... mounts complete. My friend with the 3.1 in his S10 has solid mounts and when I'm in the passengers seat I honestly can't even tell it doesn't have stock mounts.

  11. #11

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    If you have a trans crossmember that works already it makes it nice and easy because you can locate the drivetrain with the transmission and build the engine mounts from there. But even if the trans does not bolt up, it's not really rocket science. Just have the car level so you can make sure the engine is on an acceptable angle and make sure there's enough clearance for everything else.

  12. #12



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    Would not solid mounts be harder on the components of the vehicle, more then the seat of your pants? Your cushioned just like a rubber mount would be by the seats cushions, but IMO I would think solid motor mounts would not give allowable flex that may be needed for reducing vibrations between the engine and lets say the trany, or items behind the engine.

  13. #13

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    I dunno, I've driven tens of thousands of kilometres in cars with solid mounts, and I've so far never wrecked a motor or a transmission. Rear end on the other hand... Keep in mind that in the case of the transmission, its still being 'cushioned' by the springs in the clutch disc unless running a solid hub.

  14. #14


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    yep I've built street rods with solid mounts and never had a problem.As for making plates for the Chevette the guy is strange and wanted to with them instead of building new ones. I would have done it the other way and built new ones to fit just like I did when I dropped the 302 in the D50.

    My original build with the 302 I was getting 26-28mpg in the city and 42-44mpg on the highway.Granted it was a bone stock 145hp engine with just a Weiand intake and a Holley 600 Vac Sec carb. Now with around 350hp I'm getting 17-18 in the city and 24-26 on the highway but that's still not to bad.That's with a Ford 7.5" diff with 3:45 gears behind an AOD.

  15. #15

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    Ya gearing plays a large role in mileage as well.

    Engines aside, anyone know if a starion steering box will bolt in or will come close?

  16. #16



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    it will bolt into a 2wd truck - if your truck is manual steer, get the column, as the length of the shafts are different between manual and power steering.
    Pennyman1
    The best Dodge that Dodge never made
    Living the D-50 lifestyle since 1980

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