Copyright Björn Hammarström 2011


The 1957 Chieftain will be converted to fuel injection.
An '87 Firebird Trans Am GTA was bought to act as a donor car.
The 'bird engine features Port Fuel Injection, which seems to be General Motors lingo, and
is the same as Tuned Port Injection. Lots of new things to learn here...


The first few things that have been removed from the Firebird.
Two piles of parts are growing. A junk pile, and this, which is the pile of parts that will be used on the Chieftain.

On top is the air filter and Mass Air Flow sensor (MAF), and below some "normal" parts, radiator, fans, their relay and a V-belt.

With the radiator and air conditioning compressor removed, the engine can be seen under the plenum and throttle body (arrow).
The wide belt drives the water pump and alternator, and the V-belt drives the power steering pump.


Ow, what a jumble of hoses!
I had to take a real good look at these to understand what they all are. Some carry water, and some are vacuum and air hoses.

Following the electrical harness got me inside the car, and there the Engine Control Module (ECM) was.
This is what's usually called "the Box".

After removing the alternator I started to remove stuff from the right hand side of the engine.
A lot of this stuff is not going into the Chieftain.

Here's the ECM box with the Ignition Control Module on top.
1989 and newer cars don't have one as the spark control is built into the ECM.

The result of a day in the garage.
Most of the engine control harness gathered up on the windscreen. This engine has a lot more senders and stuff than your average fifties or sixties engine, no wonder people think injection is complicated. It is.

The complete engine control wiring harness.
It looks kind of simple here, but it has at least some thirty connectors and relays.

After the interesting work with the engine control harness, it was time for some wrenching.
Out has come a lot of parts, such as exhaust, starter, propeller axle, and transmission.
Here's the Turbo Hydramatic 700-R4 in all its glory.
(December 2010)

The GTA on stilts to provide some work space underneath.
Next up is to yank the engine.

Lifting out the engine was easy after removing engine mount bolts, the complete fuel system, including fuel lines, filter, pump and tank.
Here the engine is bolted to an engine stand for some cleaning.

A few aerosols of Bräkleen and some elbow grease later the engine was ready for some black and silver paint.
The leaky valve cover gaskets were removed and new ones istalled. The AIR tubes were removed too, partly for being unnecessary, and partly for a cleaner look.

EFI harness to vehicle harness junction connectors seen here are to be connected to the existing electrical system in the Chieftain.
This really looks much worse than it is, as most of these wires in fact connect to each other, and a few will be left out.
A few days have been used working out how the electrics are to be connected in the '57.

At long last the Firebird got pushed out, and the Chieftain pushed in. The starter is so bad, that it wouldn't crank fast enought to fire.
The first thing to do was to lift the car up on jack stands and measure the prop shaft, which needs to be about 15" longer than the one from the Firebird.
The radiator, shroud, fan and hoses are gone here too.

Looking forward, the biggest problem anticipated at this time is the drivers side exhaust manifold, which isn't exactly of a perfect design for this application.
(January 2011)

This is what the three speed manual transmission looks like.
It was easier said than done to yank the tranny, as it seemed to like it where it was a lot. When separated from the engine the bell housing stuck on the flywheel, and had to be separated from the gear box...

The old engine on the floor after a long day of wrenching.
These old Pontiacs are a bit different from your average sixties GM car, so a lot of figuring out how to unfasten things had to be done.

The new engine will have lots of room here as it's a lot smaller than the old Pontiac engine.

Next up will be to mount a power steering box in place of this manual box.
Also, as an automatic transmission is going in, so is a steering column from an eighties Buick along with its shifter and linkage.
See Steering page for more on this conversion.

Here the new engine is hoisted into the engine bay for the first time.
It sure looks small! It's 4" narrower over the heads than the original Pontiac engine.
Otherwise installation seems pretty straightforward, but for the driver's side exhaust manifold, which probably will have to be fabricated to fit.
Of course that's the one that has the O2 sensor built in...

The oil pan of the 1987 Firebird engine fits perfectly! An inch or so of space is all we need.

In order to mount the transmission under the '57 Pontiac, the Firebird crossmember had to be lengthened some 3". Holes for mounting bolts were drilled in the X-member.
As the transmission came out too low, a 1" tower (arrow) had to be built into the crossmember.

The engine had to come out to make room for finish welding the engine mounts, and here they are with a coat of
black paint squirted on.
The engine mounts proper, are out of the Firebird.

The transmission in this pic is a TH-700R4, also out of the Firebird

The Firebird engine mounts proved to be in the exact right position! See how close to perfect this is:
Red arrow: Less than a half inch from the steering gear.
Yellow arrow: About 3/4" from the control arm.

The distributor is about one inch from the fire wall.

More on the TPI conversion here.

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 The project: [ page 1 ] [ EFI conversion ] [ EFI Part 2 ] [ EFI electrics ] [ Interior ] [ Steering ]