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Old 09-10-2012, 08:23 PM   #1
Quaraxkad
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Default Quaraxkad's '92 Cutlass L67 swap

After years of telling myself, "one day, I'm going to make that thing drivable!", I'm actually starting the project! Little back-story: When I bought my Legend (a last minute long-distance eBay purchase, sans inspection), I got scammed, and it was not at all in the condition promised. At the time I knew nothing about cars, but I wanted to learn and fix the Legend myself. Around the same time, my Aunt was in the market for a safer car, one suitable for a mother and baby. She had been driving this '92 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme S coupe, with Enkei wheels and a custom two-tone paint job. Even though I get the impression that most people throw up in their mouth a little when they see it, I had always liked it. The end result was, she got a new car, I got this one to drive while learning/working on the Legend project. But then it needed just as much work as the Legend. Or more specifically, even a tiny problem in the Cutlass leaves you stranded with a dead car, whereas with all the massive problems with the Legend it was still reliable and drivable every day. So the projects swapped places.



I've done a little work on the interior in the past with some spare trim panels. I painted them hammered silver, they have a nice real 3D texture, they're not just flat silver. I'm not thrilled about the result but I think it's better then stock. I'm thinking I'll do carbon fiber in the future.

Before:



After:


I also swapped out the stock analog gauge cluster for the one used on the International model Cutlass (watch the video):



The Cutlass has sat nearly unused for years now. It saw some use while doing a headgasket job on the Legend a few years ago. Then its passenger side window was shattered when the lawnmower threw a rock at it. Then the wheels were stolen and the car was left sitting on bricks for 2 months. Eventually the cops found the thief when he was wanted for another crime of attempted murder. Prints matched the grease-stains the idiot left behind all over the fender and quarter panel. So I got the wheels and tires back, the tires were worn down to the threads, and one of the wheels had a massive gouge in it. That settled, it resumed its duties in the driveway, and sat around some more.

This car is a first-generation GM W-body. It has a 3.1L V6 (LH0), which puts out something like 4 HP and 6 Ft-Lbs of torque. That's what if feels like, at least. According to GM, it's actually 140 HP and 185 Ft-Lbs. It stalls for no apparent reason if you're too light on the throttle from a stop . The custom paint job turned out to have been very poorly done, and all of the clear is peeling off.



So here's the plan... To start with, I'm taking out the engine and transmission (4T60), and swapping in a Buick 3.8L V6. It's a very common engine, also known as the 3800. It's used in cars like the Grand Prix GTP/GTX, Regal GS/GSX, Monte Carlo SS, Impala SS, Bonneville SSEi, and tons of other cars had different versions of the same 3800, both supercharged and not. The one I'm going to be using is a supercharged "Series II" (L67). It uses a Generation III Eaton M90. It makes roughly 260 HP and 310 Ft-Lbs of torque. The engine has massive aftermarket support, tons of cheap parts, and basic bolt-on mods can give you pretty significant power jumps. The new transmission will be a 4T65e-HD, electronically controlled rather than vacuum controlled like the 4T60.

The L67/3800 is a common swap, so I am by no means doing anything unique. Although in a W-body it's nowhere near as simple and well documented as the C35 swap is for the Legend. There are two donor cars that simplify installation into the Cutlass, the Regal and Grand Prix. Both of these are also W-bodies so they have all the correct mounts and brackets. Other parts will need to come from the Monte Carlo, Lumina, Intrigue. Axles need to be custom-assembled using the inner half from the donor car and the outer half from your own. You also have to do a complete swap to OBDII and a custom tune is required.



The engine/trans swap is only the beginning. After that's in and running I'll be tuning it myself using primarily HPTuners. Once it's running smoothly the next thing that needs to happen is new brakes and suspension. The stock brakes can't even stop the car as it is, they're certainly not going to be able to handle it with moar powar(!!!). The problem with this is that there is absolutely *no* upgrade for the G1 w-body brakes. You can swap the rear brakes with slightly better ones from a 94-95 W-body, but that's about it. The rear suspension is a fiberglass monoleaf and struts. Aftermarket coilovers are available.

After brakes and suspension will be the body work. The body is in decent shape, a few dents here and there but all easily fixable. There is some rust on the trunk interior but nothing visible from the outside. Then comes the paint. I haven't settled on the exact colors yet, but the main idea is midnight blue on top and graphite/gunmetal on the bottom. The colors I have in mind right now are Dark Ming Blue (06-08 Saturn Sky), and BMW Sparkling Graphite Metallic. I tried to Photoshop that color combo on my car, but my skills in that area are lacking, it just looked like a cartoon. Any Photoshop experts want to volunteer?!

After all that I'll start the mods. The "Series III" 3800 (known as L32) has an upgraded Generation V Eaton M90, which can be used to upgrade the Gen III that'll be on my engine. Headers and full exhaust. Rocker arms. Head porting, or even custom heads. Intercooler. Cams. Smaller supercharger pullies, higher boost. Stronger pistons. LSD. After every little upgrade I'll re-tune. Or I'll give up half way through and never finish step 1. At some point I want to put Motegi Traklite 1.0 wheels on it. They are forged and ridiculously lightweight for their size.



The other that I have always had my eye on is the original Gramlights 57F, monoblock forged, also very lightweight. They are very rare and expensive though, so I'll probably never find/afford them.



Is anybody still reading? I spent the weekend cleaning up the garage to get myself as much room as possible. This is likely going to be a slow swap/build, but I finally started it. Today I evicted the Legend and pulled the Cutlass in.



Didn't do much else today. I removed the front and rear bumpers for clearance. GM likes to use screws rather than bolts and u-clips rather than nuts , many of which I broke .



Drained the coolant, removed the radiator fans, air intake, coilpacks, coolant reservoir, battery cables. And... that's all I did today! It's not much, but I finally started.



If you read all of this, you get a gold star!

Last edited by Quaraxkad; 01-27-2013 at 06:08 AM.
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:34 PM   #2
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Sounds like a nice build. You sure have your work cut out for you. When you started this thread I thought it was muscle car cutlass and not this but I'm still intrigued to see the end result.
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:43 PM   #3
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When you started this thread I thought it was muscle car cutlass and not this but I'm still intrigued to see the end result.
That is indeed a common reaction! "Ooh, a Cutlass? Nice! A what? 1992? Meh."
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:46 PM   #4
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give me my gold star! and good luck with the project. Question though, would it be easier to swap in the 3.8 series 1 supercharged from a 95ish Buick Rivera? My buddy had one back in high school so i learned a lot about the massive aftermarket for those motors. hell, the gains a smaller supercharger pulley yield are impressive. But, because obd 2 wasn't mandated by law until 96' would a 95 supercharged riv' power plant be an easier swap? Even if its 225hp is slightly less then the 98 Rivera's 260hp Series II? (which the my friends grandmother had and still currently owns)
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:59 PM   #5
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I was hoping that one day you would post about the Cutlass, I remember you had linked to it outside to a GM based forum, and I had hoped the day would come where we would learn more on this side of the fence.

I have a fondness for these cars, your current engine looks vaguely familiar, would that same engine have called the ~1991-1994(?) Chevrolet Lumina Euro Sport Coupes home as well? I have a fondness for the early 1990s Lumina Coupes, all I have is "real" photographs of that car, but its special to me as it was the car I learned how to drive with.
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:59 PM   #6
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Like Dreams said, I was thinking the older late 80's boxy cutlass coupe but when I saw this then I was like "oh? That one?" lol. Then when you said "swap", the 3800 series II supercharged was the VERY FIRST motor that popped in my head lol. I was laughing when I read that was the motor you planned to use. I like your color plans. Sounds like it'll look great. Can't wait.


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Old 09-10-2012, 09:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Nino418 View Post
would it be easier to swap in the 3.8 series 1 supercharged from a 95ish Buick Rivera? My buddy had one back in high school so i learned a lot about the massive aftermarket for those motors. hell, the gains a smaller supercharger pulley yield are impressive. But, because obd 2 wasn't mandated by law until 96' would a 95 supercharged riv' power plant be an easier swap? Even if its 225hp is slightly less then the 98 Rivera's 260hp Series II? (which the my friends grandmother had and still currently owns)
The Series I was never used in any W-body, so at the very least brackets and mounts would need to be fabricated. While it may be possible, that swap is completely undocumented and would require more work. I'm doing the Series II because it's been done, I know it works, and I know who to ask if I get stuck. And I want OBDII anyway.

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I have a fondness for these cars, your current engine looks vaguely familiar, would that same engine have called the ~1991-1994(?) Chevrolet Lumina Euro Sport Coupes home as well? I have a fondness for the early 1990s Lumina Coupes, all I have is "real" photographs of that car, but its special to me as it was the car I learned how to drive with.
Indeed. The 90-94 Lumina did use the same 3.1L engine. There is also a McLaren made turbocharged version used in the 89-90 Grand Prix Trubo, and a 2.8L that looks nearly identical.

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Like Dreams said, I was thinking the older late 80's boxy cutlass coupe but when I saw this then I was like "oh? That one?" lol. Then when you said swap the 3800 series II supercharged was the VERY FIRST motor that popped in my head lol. I was laughing when I read that was the motor you planned to use. I like your color plans. Sounds like it'll look great. Can't wait.
Like I said, it's a common response! I'm hoping the color combo turns out well. But I'm a little concerned about the engine bay. I'm planning on cleaning it up and painting inside the engine bay. I can't do an exact color match to the future exterior color, so I'd probably just do black. But I'm worried that might look weird with the hood open after the top half is painted in dark blue. Yet another reason I need the assistance of a Photoshop whiz.
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:38 PM   #8
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Definitely subscribed!!
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:49 PM   #9
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I like it, i had a 94 gtp with the 3.4l quad cam, was beast until it needed 24 new lifters @22$each... sold it lol but since hen i almost bought an cutlass same body unsure year with the 3.4l $300 bucks but wifey said no lol gotta love marriage haha..
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Old 09-10-2012, 10:12 PM   #10
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Definitely in for this, Was thinking though, why don't you do the Grey up top and the Blue on the bottom? maybe with a fade so it looks like its wet and "dripping" into the blue and paint the bay the same grey as the Bimmer?
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