57 Barn find has bent push rods and stuck valves

Discussion in ''Da Nailhead' started by Dznuggets, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. Dznuggets

    Dznuggets Active Member

    1957 Buick Special: Anyone have any idea how much it should cost for a top end rebuild and/or a full rebuild. I got a quote of $3000 for a full rebuild today. Not sure how many die hard are out there that want completely original parts. I have toyed with the idea of dropping a fuel injected LS into it with an updated transmission. I know the purists hate this but how much more dependable will new technology be?

    Also, How do these transmissions rate?
     
  2. flynbuick

    flynbuick Super Moderator Staff Member

    I cannot imagine a "full rebuild" costing only 3K unless they are reusing a lot of old parts.

    You realize this car has a torque tube and will require lot of modification to use a LS.
     
  3. 8ad-f85

    8ad-f85 Well-Known Member

    Depends on how you define 'dependable' and how good the shop/you are at completing this.
    I've used hot rods as daily drivers, business and travel purposes.
    Many don't call classics 'dependable' in any stretch of the word.

    Not sure what your overall budget is but swapping in a used good engine is often a better option unless there's good skilled resources available.
     
  4. 322bnh

    322bnh Well-Known Member

    "57 Barn find has bent push rods and stuck valves"...at least you found out why it was parked in the first place, unless someone rushed to try to start a long dormant engine. In that case there may be other reasons it was parked.
    $300-600 to redo the heads which might get it going if the pistons and cylinders look good. The dynaflow is probably as good as any transmission if rebuilt correctly. With the modern lubricants I have driven over 100K miles with no problems.
     
  5. Phil

    Phil It really *is* a 350...

    Or find a complete late model Corvette turn-key drivetrain to go under it. :)
     
  6. nekkidhillbilly

    nekkidhillbilly post whore

    yeah you will have swap the whole rear for proper width modern one and weld the mounts all that junk to it and have a custom drive shaft built. unless you got the welder lift and know how to use it your looking at some coin. I think if you use a ls truck rear you would be close in width but then the bolt pattern is different from the front. you will have to weld the perches on and shock mounts and hope it all clears right. you may be able to use the truck drive shaft too and cut it down if its long enough. prob as much as the rebuild. then you get to your front end fitting the ls engine in. you could get a Camaro subframe and well that in or use that trucks front clip again and weld to it. again if you don't know how to do any of this. you get to pay someone. you prob could buy a aftermarket frame for about the same.
     
  7. ttotired

    ttotired Well-Known Member

    As everyone has said, engine swap isnt easy
    i saw somewhere that someone used and modified the rear from a truck to make another swing arm setup and had an open tail shaft and pretty sure if you google 4 link suspension for your car, you will find it, but there is no way it would come out cheaper than fixing the nail.

    This is all assuming the factory chassis is still used, you may be able to graft a different chassis in.

    Definitely not what I would do (picturing a mini monster truck) but its you car
     
  8. flynbuick

    flynbuick Super Moderator Staff Member

    I saw a 57 Buick that a guy had grafted on a 72 Buick Estate Wagon chassis, including the suspension, 455 cid Buick, TH400, 9 3/8 rear etc.
     
  9. Dznuggets

    Dznuggets Active Member

    Thanks for all the input fellas. I figured the swap would be a handful. I fully understand that it does not end with the motor. The whole drivetrain would need to be swapped out. FYI I saw that the Ford Explorer rear ends are "compatible" within 1/2 inch width.

    Sounds like rebuilding the heads and attempting to get that to work is the best case scenario, then rebuilding nailhead 2nd, sell as is 3rd.
     
  10. John Codman

    John Codman Platinum Level Contributor

    Nobody who really knows Nailheads will do a proper job of rebuilding one for $3,000. To start with, I would insist on a new set of quality pistons. Tom T hopefully will jump in here, but I would think that a full rebuild will cost about twice that estimate, and that's if no huge problems are found. Personally, I would try to locate an early (pre-1961) 401 and bolt it in. If you can get one with a late Dynaflow, so much the better. Later Dynaflows are a "tighter" transmission and will provide better performance without your having to rebuild the driveline and rear suspension.
     
  11. nekkidhillbilly

    nekkidhillbilly post whore

    I wonder if a 57 chevy frame would work. I think a explorer rear would pretty skinny on a 57 buick. 02-10 models are wider but still seems like the buick is wider. that said its a ford bolt pattern and not very strong.
     
  12. Dznuggets

    Dznuggets Active Member

    Excellent info. A couple questions on that thought:

    1. Will the 401 bolt in with no modification to the motor mounts? And will it bolt into my existing dynaflow without modification?

    2. If I find a 401 with the late dyna, will that fit with the current torque tube/drive shaft?
     
  13. telriv

    telriv Well-Known Member

    Any 401/425 will bolt in place of the 364. You need to swap oil pans & get a rear sump pick-up for the oil pump on the engine you will be using unless you can find a '59-'60/401 which would need NO mods as it's already rear sump. Pay attention to the type of trans. an engine may come with. '64-'66 have the rear crank flange for a TH400 & would take some doing to modify for a DynaFlow. Pay attention to the flywheel for balancing reasons.
    The 364 has an approx. 3 1/2 ozs. imbalance as opposed to a 401/425 at approx. at 4 1/2 ozs.
    As far as I'm concerned you would be better off having your trans. gone through. Pay particular attention to the converter. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE TRANS. For some of the thrust washers Torrington needle bearings are available. If you search you can find better quality internals than original. Mods can be made to make them perform better/last longer. If you can swap parts from an open drive trans. to the torque tube you could use up to the '63 as ALL '61-'63 were open drive. '58-'59'-'60 trans. were all torque tube with many diff. length tail housings.

    For a rear swap you could also go to a JAG set-up. I've seen it done on '56's/'57's/'58's. Independent rear suspension, disc brakes, availability of MANY diff. rear springs, etc.
     
  14. John Codman

    John Codman Platinum Level Contributor

    One other thing to remember is that there are a number of "364 only" parts. This includes intake manifolds. Many parts will fit 401-425 but a few will not. Given the choice, unless I wanted a numbers matching car, I'd go for the 401. The 425 is nice, but it will cost more as there were a lot fewer built.
     
  15. Dznuggets

    Dznuggets Active Member


    Thanks Tom. I browsed my local Craigslist and found a couple 401's but they need to be "gone through". Is it less expensive to rebuild the 401 or the 364. Or are they the same when it comes to the cost of parts and availability? How much more am I gaining by swapping to the 401? I guess I am trying to see if it is worth losing the originality for a little bigger motor. Thanks again I appreciate your time.
     
  16. Dznuggets

    Dznuggets Active Member


    Since the 401 bolts in, I could always keep my 364 if the next owner wants numbers matching. How much would I gain by swapping to the 401?

    I found a couple in Southern Ca but they will need to be "gone through".
     
  17. Babeola

    Babeola Well-Known Member

    Factory ratings for the higher compression 4bbls were: 300 HP -364, 325 HP - 401 and 340 HP - 425.

    Cheryl :)
     
  18. 322bnh

    322bnh Well-Known Member

    Factory ratings for the higher compression 4bbls were: 300 HP -364 (torque 400@3200), 325 HP - 401(torque 445@2800) and 340 HP - 425 (torque 465@2800).
    Torque is what gets the big boats moving and what you feel "seat of the pants" when you nudge it.
    Also torque at a lower rpm is alway better here.
     
  19. John Codman

    John Codman Platinum Level Contributor

    I would think that they (364, 401) would be about the same to overhaul unless something ugly is found. The crankshafts are different as are the pistons. Most other 364 parts will also fit the 401. I have a factory '59 manual which specifies what parts will interchange and which will not, but unfortunately it is packed up somewhere due our upcoming move south. One nice thing about the 401 and 425 is that they don't have the 364 one engine only intake manifold. If you do purchase a used 401 (or any Nailhead), check behind the starter for a horizontal crack in the block. If the engine's cooling system has ever frozen, there is a good chance that there will be a crack there.
     
  20. 66electrafied

    66electrafied Just tossing in my nickel's worth

    Another important yet subtle point; - unless you look at the numbers, who's going to be able to tell them apart? Grind off the engine numbers, paint them Buick green and I challenge anyone besides the Gurus here to be able to tell a 322 from a 425. If it were up to me I'd find a nice 401, retrofit the car with electric wipers, and keep the Dynaflow; it's cheapest rebuild alternative that doesn't require a degree in automotive engineering because of the cutting and welding involved to dump in something modern that won't necessarily be better. Besides, it looks real and adds "originality" to what would otherwise become yet another generic GM powered cookie cutter. But, I'm a purist and that's purely my opinion, so I'll shut up now...:grin:

    Good luck in whichever way you decide!
     

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