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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Naperville, IL
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    Country Flag: United States

    Default 1966 Caprice LSx Swap Project: "Big Black"

    This is the build thread for my '66 Caprice which I inherited from my father. It was a 396/Powerglide, vinyl top, bench seat, drum brakes & whitewalls nose-high stocker when I got it back in 2000. The only thing not original was the color. Originally white, my Dad sprayed it black to match the body to the vinyl top.




    I was not too impressed with the power or handling of the big black land yacht. Prior to acquiring the car, I rode shotgun in someone else's car on Hot Rod Power Tour. It became by goal to do the tour in the Caprice.

    Winter of 2003 I started phase one, which included a 700R4 trans, 4-wheel disc brakes, 2" drop spindles, 1.5" drop springs, Hotchkis suspension, new exhaust and 17" wheels/tires:



    I finished it the day before leaving for Power Tour 2003, and we drove it on the 2004 tour also. The car was a lot more fun, but it still wasn't exactly what I wanted. Nevertheless, it stayed the same for years while I populated my corner of the Earth. Now my kids are getting old enough that I can get away to work on the car a little, so phase two has commenced.



    Along the way, I have collected some parts. My brother is building a 48 Chevy truck, which was going to be a blown small block. Then he sold the engine and bought another small block, which he sold and bought a 2007 6.2L L92 out of a wrecked, 7K mile Escalade, along with a brand new 6L90E. When I saw it, I called "dibs" when he invariably decided to sell it. It took a year, but he sold me the L92/6L90E combo for the Caprice. This was in January of 2010.



    In November of 2010, I listed the 396 on Craigslist and sold it to the first caller. The next Saturday we pulled the front clip off the car and yanked the engine/trans. The buyer put the 396 in a '65 Impala. The 700R4 is in my brother's '48 (behind engine #37 or so).



    And that's how that car sat for the next 2 years while I collected parts. But no more. I gutted the interior to prep for floorpan/tunnel mods to accommodate the 6-speed auto trans. That's when I found that my clean Arkansas car was not a "rust free" Arkansas car. Although the fenders, quarters, rockers, etc. are rock solid, the vinyl top had rusted out the rear window channel, which in turn leaked into the floorpans and trunk pans.

    For some reason, I took wood shop in highschool instead of metal shop & all these years later, I still have not learned to weld. My friend Terry has a mig and a tig... and a huge shop. Off to Terry's goes the Caprice for floor sections and a new trunk. Here's the last couple of pictures while the car was still at my house. I removed the windshield/back glass and the vinyl top. I also did a mock-up in cardboard for a custom gauge panel that will also house the ridetech air ride controller.


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    More progress updates soon...
    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    29
    Country Flag: United States

    Default

    Cool project i love those big Caprices and Impalas.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    oshawa ontario
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    1,613
    Country Flag: Canada

    Default

    Nice! Love big 60s chevies, spent my childhood ridin' in em'
    Nascar 69 Chevelle project, 1999 Hutch Pagan Nascar chassis, 69 Chevelle body,700hp, Penske's, slicks, roadrace track day https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...le-Cup-project
    89 Iroc 406 Fitech 5 spd
    01 chevy 2500HD 4x4 8.1 Allison
    31 Scarab 2 x 454

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Naperville, IL
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    Instead of buying individual floorpans, I bought floorpan "halves" so there would be more than enough metal. I only needed the passenger rear and driver front pans. I figured I could swapmeet-off what I didn't use. Here is Terry welding-in the passenger rear pan. The seams on the underside are hidden by the floor braces. I'll finish the bottom with seam sealer and paint/undercoating. The top side seams will be ground, filled, painted and the whole floor covered in Dynamat.


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    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    411

    Default

    Very cool car. Im curious how the 6L90 will fit since I have a 68 B-body that will one day get a similar drivetrain.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Georgia
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    2,210
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    Default

    that's cool to see something not everyone builds as a PT car!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    7
    Country Flag: Netherlands

    Default

    cool project, I have a 65 impala myself looking forward to see your engine swap, also nice for you as inspiration is the car that nelson racing build, a 66 impala with 572, love that car. goodluck and keep posting

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Naperville, IL
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    47
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    Trunk floors are in. The braces were mint but the trunk pans were thin metal skimmed in Bondo. That had my Dad written all over it. He didn't have a welder or the desire to use one. The top of the fuel tank had bondo drips hardened on the top where it came through the holes in the trunk floor.

    I bought the 3-piece pans from Tamraz (which is local so I picked them up and didn't pay shipping). They fit really well, and the seams are set up so they're over the trunk braces. Once they're seam-sealed and painted, you'll never know they were replaced from underneath. I'll do some filler work on the topside and splatter-paint them to match the original finish so you won't be able to tell from the top either.

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    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Naperville, IL
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    Engine Mock-up: The eBay LS adapter plates were not the hot tip for this application for some reason. Using the adapters with Energy Suspension poly motor mounts put the engine way too far forward. It's hard to tell from the picture, but there is a ton of space between the back of the heads and the firewall.

    Instead of screwing around ordering different adapters, etc., the stands on the crossmember are getting relocated rearward. This will require some 1/4" plate to allow the stands to cantilever off the back of the crossmember. Once placement is determined, gussets will be added to the crossmember for additional strength.

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    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Naperville, IL
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    Fitting a 6L90e is nothing you can't accomplish if you have a metal saw and you're not committed to the sanctity of your trans tunnel.

    However, after mocking it up, it hangs too low for my taste- especially on a car with air ride. I could modify the tunnel all the way back to the rearend and raise up the engine, trans and the driveshaft tunnel itself... but I don't want to cut my car up that much.

    So, my brand new 6L90E is headed to Craigslist and I've sourced a 4L80E case to use for mockup #2...

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    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  11. #11
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    Dec 2009
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    I got to use Terry's plasma cutter to modify the spring pockets for airbag clearance. Plasma cutters rock!

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    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  12. #12
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    Dec 2009
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    All the holes in the firewall have been welded up. The new Flaming River tilt column is mocked-up as well as the new AGR steering box.

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    Inside you can see the new column, as well as the 4L80E mockup transmission. It probably would've fit with minimal clearancing... but it fits really easily with a giant hole cut in the tunnel.

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    The stock Powerglide crossmember (which was modified to fit the 700R4) will just need to be moved rearward to accommodate the 4L80E.

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    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    McKinney, TX
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    I dig it!

    bagged caprice(?) I ran across at a car show last year.

    66 Mustang "Project: Ballin on a budget"
    89 Mustang "Box Wine"

  14. #14
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    Dec 2009
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    Naperville, IL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z06killinSBF View Post
    bagged caprice(?) I ran across at a car show last year.
    That's a '70. Pretty cool- you don't see a lot of '70's done up.
    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  15. #15
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    Dec 2009
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    The mock-up 4L80E provided the dimensions to fabricate the new trans tunnel, which is now in place.

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    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  16. #16
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    Dec 2009
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    Naperville, IL
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    The headers are a pretty good fit, although one tube will have to be slightly dimpled for steering box clearance. They are Pacesetter shorty headers for a new Camaro LS3. They have the 1-3/4" tubes I was after, but the collector diameter (listed on Summit's site as 3") was actually only 1-15/16"! Yes, four 1-3/4" tubes dumping into a collector necked down to a 1-15/16" opening.

    So, the old collectors have been cut off of the Pacesetter headers and new Hooker PN# 11530HKR 3" collectors tacked on. The last piece of the puzzle is on order: Flowmaster PN# 15925 ball flanges that reduce the 3" down to 2.5" to match the exhaust. Once they're all welded up and the tube dimpled for clearance, I'll take them to Lo-Ko for thermal coating.


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    You can also see the modified engine mounts. The factory stands have been moved backwards, cantilevered off the crossmember with 1/4" plate and gusseted for strength.
    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  17. #17
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    Dec 2009
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    The ridetech suspension is now installed except for the front shocks. The rear kit is available for stock control arms or for the ridetech Strongarms (for $100 less). Of course I ordered those- even though I'm not using Strongarms. We modified the Hotchkis LCA's by drilling a hole through the center under the perch and bolting the bags to the Hotchkis bars.

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    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  18. #18
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    Dec 2009
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    It doesn't "lay frame" but it does "lay oil pan" so it looks like a skid plate will need to be fabricated. Notice the block of wood under the crossmember to keep the oilpan off the ground. I am really happy with the drop.

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    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  19. #19
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    Dec 2009
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    Naperville, IL
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    The Caprice is about 90% the same as an Impala, but it's that 10% that kicks your ass. While most Impala parts are reproduced... not so much with the Caprice-specific stuff. The panel below the back window that rusted out due to the vinyl top is reproduced-- for the Impala. For the Caprice it is not available. Desert Valley Auto Parts has a few '66 2dr parts cars but they wanted $650 + shipping to cut one out of a parts car. I passed.

    I was not a big fan of the fake chrome vents below the back window, so the new patch panels eliminate them. Terry fabricated the new panels while I was at work and sent me the below pictures. My rust-free Arkansas car is now finally rust-free.

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    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Naperville, IL
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    Borrowed a Vintage-Air mockup unit from a local hot rod shop and figured out that their largest unit will fit under the dash of my car. Definitely want the biggest, baddest air conditioner for a dark-colored big car. I'm trying to think of anything that I might need to weld under the dash before I start the bodywork on my firewall.
    1966 Caprice - LSx swap in progress, Ridetech/Hotchkis Suspension
    Build Thread: https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...Big-Black-quot

    Kevin

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