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What's needed to drop a 350 in a 57 Chevy Bel Air?

 
bkellis
I love my Chevy Chevette!
Posts: 7
Joined: 01/08
Posted: 01/21/08 07:29 PM

I have a 57 Chevy Bel Air with a 265 V8 and a Powerglide transmission.  What do I need to drop a 350 in it?  Will I have to change the motor mounts or buy some type of conversion kit to install a 350?  What other considerations should I take into account?

Thanks,
Brian  

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55Guy
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Joined: 07/06
Posted: 01/22/08 09:03 AM

If you keep the Powerglide, you can use the front of block motor mounts from the 265 on the 350. If you're gonna install a different trans, you'll need to install latemodel side mounts. Classic Chevy International offers a kit for this.

But wait a sec. You said your car has a 265. Did you mean 283, or is the original motor a 265? Reason I ask, very few 265 equipped '57s were built, so if your car was an original 265 car (engine block is painted yellow, two barrel carb) it has some extra value beyond just being a '57. Also, what model '57 do you have?  

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bkellis
I love my Chevy Chevette!
Posts: 7
Joined: 01/08
Posted: 01/22/08 11:20 AM

Yes, it's a 265 -- the car's a 4 door sedan.

So if I keep the Powerglide, I can use the existing motor mounts (mounted in the front of the block), but if I change to a 350 Turbo transmission, I will have to change to side mounts.  If I opt to go with a different transmission, what other things must I consider?  Tranny mount possibly?

Also, why can I use the original front motor mounts with the Powerglide but not with a 350 Turbo transmission?

Thanks,
Brian  

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55Guy
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Posted: 01/23/08 02:17 PM

If you keep the 'Glide with the 350, you can use the front mounts still because you'll be keeping the two masive mounts that hook up to the bellhousing on the powerglide. These are very stable mounts and help keep the motor from torquing on the front mounts.  If you went ot a late model style trans with a cross-member and single mount, the front mounts wouldn't have enough strength to take the torque of the 350. The '55 Hardtop I have, someone installed a 327 and TH350 in place of the 3-speed and 235 six and rigged up a nasty cross-member and kept the front mounts, so the motor would torque badly. Their solution was bolting a cahin to the drivers side of the block and welding it to the frame. ARGH!

If you want a TH350, TH400, or even 700R4, get the kit that Classic Chevy sells for a late model trans install in a Tri-5. You'll get everything you need for the swap. You'll also need to make sure you get the proper throttle linkage and bracket with kickdown provisions for the late model trans.

Even though the Belair four-door sedans were the most popular '57s, because your car came with a 265, I would advise you to think hard before modifying the car. On a more rare version like yours with the 265 V-8, I always like to see them return back to stock. But, it's your car and you should do with it what you'd like. At least keep all the original parts around you take off, you'll never know when you might want ot do an original resto on the car, of if you sell it having the priginal equipment will make it more valuable.  

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bkellis
I love my Chevy Chevette!
Posts: 7
Joined: 01/08
Posted: 01/23/08 06:16 PM

Thanks for all of the information.  This was very helpful.  I'll do some more research into the car to determine if it originally came out with the 265 or if this is just what I got when buying the car.  The motor wasn't actually in the car, it was in pieces, mostly in the trunk.  Regardless, I'll be keeping both the motor and transmission, if I do the swap.  I just know that the motor is about worn out and I thought a 350 might add some zip.

You mentioned the chain trick -- I can relate.  I once bought a mustang that had chains around the motor mounts because of a "torque issue".  Turns out the mounts were broken and an easy fix to replace.  

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55Guy
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Posted: 01/24/08 09:25 AM

The cowl tag and VIN will tell you if the car originally had a 265 in it. If the motor you have is painted yellow, more than likely it's authentic. Even if you're not gonna reinstall the motor, have it checked by a machine shop to determine it's true condition so you'll know if it can be rebuilt later if the need or want arises.

As for a motor to give you '57 some more power but not break the bank, A moderately built 350 will make you really happy. Something making 350-400 horse that runs on mid-grade or super unleaded will let you drive the car more than once a month! Hook it up to a good 700R4 so you have overdrive for highway cruising. Sometimes the kickdown for the 700s can be tricky in a Tri-5, so I'd recommend TCI's constant pressure valvebody that keeps the line pressure up so you don't smoke the clutches in the trans!

What rear do you have? Still the stock 3rd-member?  

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bjrei
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Posted: 04/06/08 11:47 AM

I just read the questions above and I have one from what I read.I bought a 57 283,it is painted yellow.Did they do the same thing in Canada,did they paint the 57 265 blocks yellow.If so the casting #ers on the engine I have say it is a 283,that means it was painted the wrong color.How can I check into this farther?  

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55Guy
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Posted: 04/07/08 06:26 AM

As far as I know, all 265s were painted yellow in '57, the last year for the engine.

Now, the casting numbers are always the gospel when figuring out what an engine is. If your numbers correspond to a 283, then odds are someone painted the engine yellow at some point in it's life. What are the date codes on your engine?  

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