1957 Buick Special 6.0 T56 8.8 Build Thread

etizz

New member
Hey everyone! My name is Eric and I'm a proud owner of a 1957 Buick Special 4 door. I got this vehicle back in september from a gentleman in Lexington Ky.

As the story has it this was an old lady's car who had it garaged for most of its life. It apparently last saw the road according to the inspection sticker in 1984, was taken to a shop due to a blown engine in the late 90's early 2000'. That shop owner bought the car off of her. Shop decided to pull the drivetrain and install a 8.8 rear axle from a Ford LTD. It then was found by the owner I purchased it from in early 2000's who bought it and was gradually restoring it , redoing the brake system, cleaning up the chrome and front end inner fenders, installing a buick 350/th400 from his 70's GS he upgraded to a 455. But back problems and lack of motivation (and probably room due to this big car) had him put it up for sale on which I found it.





When I recieved the vehicle, I had plans to get it driveable as soon as I could since I'm getting married in May of this year and would like to drive it to my wedding. I did a front disc brake conversion from scarebird, and had a driveshaft made for the existing drivetrain in the car. Things were looking up as it seemed like it just needed an exhaust, and to plumb a fuel system, everything else seemed like it was good to go. I was tinkering here and there with parts i had laying around , buying some wheels for it as the stock wheels had super old tires and were just in bad shape rust wise. even decided to attempt to use a ls ignition box to fire the old buick 350, i got it to spark but ended up changing my mind, a lot haha. the brake system had been redone but the master cylinder mounting strategy wasnt so great, i needed to fix that.

Well the hot rodding bug within me decided that if I'm gonna drive this car, I'd like to make it my own. I've wanted an old car for a long time and this isnt necessarily my dream car but I want to build it like it is. I want it stock appearing , be reliable to drive whenever i'd like. be easy to drive. and be able to fix easily with available parts .





 

jacob

Member
Very nice car, I've always liked the 57's.
Have you already bought the 6.0 engine?
and for the master cylinder, it looks like there is room for a modern booster and master cylinder, has anyone made a bracket to mount one yet?
 

etizz

New member
yeah I was going to post this as well but I had to wait for the thread to populate.


Well the hot rodding bug within me decided thatif I'm gonna drive this car, I'd like to make it my own. I've wanted an old carfor a long time and this isnt necessarily my dream car but I want to build itlike it is. I want it stock appearing ,be reliable to drive whenever i'd like. be easy to drive. and be able to fix easily with available parts.


Now I have quite a few ls swaps under my beltfrom old gm trucks to my latest sale of my 3 year project mazda rx7. I decided that the buick needed to have an lsas well. i stumbled upon a cheap t56 andi decided to put it in my mazda, and use the rebuilt nice one out of it forthis buick. so 6.0 t56 it was. Now the car was an automatic, so no clutchpedal. I needed to figure out how to goabout that. I bought a setup from kugelskomponents and decided to make a piece to mount to the firewall and mount thepedals as well.


also in order to make it easier to drive idecided to convert the manual, 6 turns lock to lock steering to a power boxfrom an astro with 2.5 turns lock to lock.


at this point i'm wondering why i ripped apartall systems to start over and have such a short deadline, apparently i like achallenge lol.


so ill break down each system as to what it willhave:


Engine:


6.0 Aluminum LS2, L92 Rectangle port heads, LS9camshaft, Painted factory Buick green, holley midrise intake, to look"retro" instead of like all ls swaps look.

















Transmission:


Fbody T56, stage 2 rebuild, mcleod rst twin discclutch, shifter maybe stock with a custom shift rod and knob (undecided at thispoint), 3/4 wilwood clutch master cylinder





Rear axle:


8.8 Ford LTD (2.73ish) rear end ratio, may bechanged (after wedding) to something in the 3's or 4's, drum brakes


Exhaust:


Headers, to single exhaust out passenger side,may be converting to turbo in the future


Fuel:


90 Cadillac EFI Fuel tank, Walbro 400 fuel pump,Corvette Fuel filter/regulator


Cooling:


Recored stock radiator, not sure on electric fanor mechanical fan yet.


Brakes:


Dual chamber master cylinder, 8" dualdiaprahgm booster, scarebird front end disc brake conversion to 12"riviera rotors and astro calipers and pads. custom firewall piece for kugelskomponents assembly











Steering:


Astro power steering box adapted to factory buicklinkage, new tie rod ends, new sway bar bushings, custom pitman arm from partsmike in CA


Suspension:


stock, may make big changes in the future


Wheels:








Dodge ram 20x8 Steelies 5x5 used with adaptersdue to the 2 different bolt patterns. 245/35r20 tires. will try to adaptfactory buick center caps to them.


So thats the plan for now hopefully ill be ableto put it all into motion and at least get it driveable , and then work thekinks out after my wedding






 

etizz

New member
pardon the mess, I had just finished a quick square body ls swap to make some money to fund this, I believe ill probably be cleaning the garage up this weekend lol its never been this bad

here the painted engine and trans mated together, will test fit Friday when I have time again.


 

jacob

Member

Painted factory Buick green, holley midrise intake, to look"retro" instead of like all ls swaps look.

Lol not that theres anything wrong with how all LS swaps look :bgrin:

Are you using a drive by wire throttle body then? And have you measured to see where that shifter is going to be? seems like it might be close to the bench seat.
 

etizz

New member
Lol not that theres anything wrong with how all LS swaps look :bgrin:

Are you using a drive by wire throttle body then? And have you measured to see where that shifter is going to be? seems like it might be close to the bench seat.
Haha no offense with your ls cars , it still looks good , just I want to try something different this time . I'll still Be doing drive by cable , I'm making a piece for the intake to work , also I'm not sure about the shifter location it'll probably be under the seat after I got the engine this weekend lol I'll have pics of it soon
 

etizz

New member


well this is almost the final fit, took me all day Saturday to fab mounts that would work the way I want. trans needs to come up a few inches in order to get the angle right, but I have to cut for the shifter hole before it will go any higher
overall im happy how far back and how low the engine is sitting in there. exhaust might be a challenge, my headers that I have laying around wont fit, hoping I can buy an off the shelf piece and not go completely custom, thinking of trying the hooker cast manifolds, plus it would look more "retro" with those anyway
 

etizz

New member
Well one step forward two steps back haha. I cut the floor for the shifter hole so I could get the angle of the driveline looking better and actually mount the trans crossmember. Only to realize that my shifter is pretty much under the seat with it all the way back lol. So I moved the whole driveline forward an inch or two to where I could at least put the shifter base on, although the stock shifter might be too much throw in the end to not hit stuff while shifting. This process may sounds easy, but keep in mind I had to worry about 60 year old insulation setting on fire (which I may have had a scare there) while I was initially cutting the floor. I used a sawzall for the rest to minimize potential fire hazards lol although its not the nicest looking cut. That was somewhat good progress , but ill have to make a new trans crossmember due to the location shift forward. Not a big deal, but now my engine mounts I made are not lining up, so I had to fab some more engine mounts. I'm not finished with them yet, just have to mate them with a plate that bolts to the stock ls location again and it should be good. They look like they'll be stronger than the old cobbled together first attempt mess anyway. I also discovered that my new mount design and location will let me use my headers I have with no issues hitting the steering box or anywhere else, so that's exciting. I'm ready to get the engine mounted for good then I can start really making progress to get it done.
 

TexasJohn55

New member
Well one step forward two steps back haha. I cut the floor for the shifter hole so I could get the angle of the driveline looking better and actually mount the trans crossmember. Only to realize that my shifter is pretty much under the seat with it all the way back lol. So I moved the whole driveline forward an inch or two to where I could at least put the shifter base on, although the stock shifter might be too much throw in the end to not hit stuff while shifting. This process may sounds easy, but keep in mind I had to worry about 60 year old insulation setting on fire (which I may have had a scare there) while I was initially cutting the floor. I used a sawzall for the rest to minimize potential fire hazards lol although its not the nicest looking cut. That was somewhat good progress , but ill have to make a new trans crossmember due to the location shift forward. Not a big deal, but now my engine mounts I made are not lining up, so I had to fab some more engine mounts. I'm not finished with them yet, just have to mate them with a plate that bolts to the stock ls location again and it should be good. They look like they'll be stronger than the old cobbled together first attempt mess anyway. I also discovered that my new mount design and location will let me use my headers I have with no issues hitting the steering box or anywhere else, so that's exciting. I'm ready to get the engine mounted for good then I can start really making progress to get it done.
Ha! Reminds me of building kitchen cabinets. I spent about a week on planning, forethought and drawings. Built the cabinets in 2 days. Takes a special kind of person to tackle a project like yours, I am not one of those people.
 

jacob

Member
Haha no offense with your ls cars , it still looks good , just I want to try something different this time . I'll still Be doing drive by cable , I'm making a piece for the intake to work , also I'm not sure about the shifter location it'll probably be under the seat after I got the engine this weekend lol I'll have pics of it soon
None taken, I got a laugh out of it. Half of the car guys that see it roll their eyes so its very true haha

They make offset T56 shifters, so the shifter comes out of the forward hole instead of the regular location. not the cheapest thing though.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/TREMEC-T-56-6-SPEED-MID-SHIFT-CONVERSION-SHIFTER-SOCKET-/131900047148?hash=item1eb5daff2c:g:KUAAAOSwLzdWShJo&vxp=mtr
 

etizz

New member
Haha yeah. I've seen those mid shift kits, in hind sight it would've been nice to have originally but this will have to do. I had to make my final motor mount design, but still havent had time to implement it. hopefully will tonight. as well as my trans cross member.

i unexpectedly sold my headers i had over the weekend to a friend looking for some. so i ordered the cast iron manifolds that look more period correct , definitely should clear no issues.

got my fuel injectors/rails in. still had to modify those to work for some reason but theyre on there. then its ready for one fuel line to be ran up from the fue filter to be connected and fuel system is complete. then i only have all the other systems! lol


so for a list maybe of what is left for my own reference lol


fuel: above mentioned, install a flex hose for the filler neck. good to go.


brakes: make hose from front brake splitter to master with the correct fittings so no adapters. modify brake pedal angle . bleed, check and done. i was going to try to adapt a pressure switch for the stock brake lights but the brake pedal assembly has a switch on the pedals so ill just wire that instead of all the connection adaptors for that.



steering: waiting on a pitman arm from partsmike in CA, should be here next week. clearance slightly for the steering box, mount it for good. fab a u joint to steering column adapter. try to hang steering column, make a brace as needed. run ps lines once pump is on



engine: still needs an alternator and ps pump, brackets, plugs, wires , throttle body after my friend makes my adapter plate, figure out throttle cable , mount gas pedal. my standalone harness should be here tomorrow so itll just be a few wires and itll be ready to go. fill with oil and try to start it as long as i have fuel system done and the drive train mounted.



drivetrain:

trans fluid filled, driveshaft potentially shortened, swap yokes, shifter made for bench seat clearance.


cooling:

connect upper and lower hoses, see what fan option would be best


exhaust:
mount manifolds, fab something lol
 

etizz

New member
finally free from its chains! lol overall fit is pretty good, still making trans crossmember but im happy with it, what a PITA lol.



put the radiator back in, put the battery in, as you can tell ran most of the harness just haven't ran it thru the car yet, put coils on, some progress is better than no progress lol
 

etizz

New member

next little piece added, not sure how im going to to do the same on the other size (read: blower housing in the way lol) well see.
also my friend mated my two pieces for me for my throttle body

put my power steering pump on and part of my alternator bracket I could without the alternator, got that today in the mail, keep plugging away. I wish I was good at taking pictures like most people on the internet lol I just suck at it
 

etizz

New member
OK combined update from my other forum im on so thats why it looks like its separate posts cuz it is haha.
so I had to modify my engine mounts AGAIN lol my cast manifold was hitting them so I had to lower them, need to get some beefier bolts for them now but its sitting where it should and my exhaust manifolds can be bolted on. got my alternator on, need to lengthen the wires, that plug into that, not a big deal. measured for my belt, just need to get one, I actually had one at the store and forgot to checkout with it lol. decided ill probably just use an electric fan but hide it with the factory shroud, cooling system is pretty much done other than 1 steam tube fitting and some clamps. haven't had much time to work on it lately I was out of town, but ill hopefully make some progress this weekend. I did install the engine harness on the engine, all sensors are hooked up other than o2's, main power is ran other than adding one cable from positive to alternator stud, and then running my fuel pump wire, and hooking up 12v key on, still trying to figure out how I should route the harness into the car. not really a big concern yet, I could leave it in the engine bay for now and fix it later. throttle body is on, need to fab a bracket for the cable, and for the pedal, and get a cable lol, I could keep going and going but ill just update later with some more progress instead of whats to come
 
so got a belt on, hooked up a fuel filler neck, will need changed later but just want to get some gas in the tank to test start soon, wired my fuel pump sender and grounds, ran a line up for the 12v pump to the relay. need to connect that and key 12v and bat + to the box and I could start it, still need some oil in the engine before I do lawl. I fixed my engine mount for the last time on the passenger side, so my manifold fits, is bolted up, torqued, plugs gapped and in, plug wires on, dip stick in. alternator wiring was lengthened so that should be the last of the harness except for the above mentioned which is exciting. ran my fuel line up to the rail, I need one short piece of efi rubber hose to connect from my hardline to the corvette fpr outlet, just haven't done it yet. still need to fix the drivers side mount, mount that exhaust manifold, reassemble steering, fab my ps fluid reservoir, fill all fluids, fab some kind of exhaust, fab a shifter, get the driveshaft shortened, see whats left after that I guess.




 
a few more pics of progress I snapped, again very bad at this lol, one is a my vacuum block made out of a fuel y block so I could have my map sensor, pcv and brake booster hooked up. one shows the front accessories, one shows the fuel pump assembly, and one shows the engine with the harness thru the firewall finally, that turned out nicely, will be no signs of a pcm or wiring on the inside either, wiring is done other than 12v key and constant battery power and ground, had to snake my fuel pump power wire up to the front, hook up the fuel tank gauge wire, and grounds for both on the frame
 
update, only a few pics, ended up ordering a mgw shifter cuz I liked it so much with the mazda, plus it offsets the rod from the base for clearance purposes. went to install it and I just couldn't get it bolted down due to the bench seat, so I unbolted the seat, and plan to relocate back some so it actually has some adjustment (it was all the way back so it would even clear the shifter) . I got a cheap ebay 12" shifter extension and a real 8 ball shift knob, and im loving how the shifter feels and I think ill like the location in relevance to the steering wheel once its back in , the longer rod helps me determine where the gears are a little better than when I had one in the mazda with a short stick. Ill probably make a center console for the car eventually (cup holders, any extra gauges(boost?)) , but I ended up pulling up the front 60 yr old rubber mat and asbestos insulation and ill put down some carpet and some home depot dynamat for now at least . cleaned up the mess from the pics a lot haha, will take better pics once its a little further along. still need to pull up the rear section too. nasty stuff there. I wired the rest of my engine harness (12v key, bat + , grnd), still need to tuck it up out of sight, removed those aftermarket gauges that the PO installed, I dont think they look right for the car and im gonna try to make all the stock gauges work that I can. wired my brake switch for the lights, sent my driveshaft out to be shortened , got my pedals modified from my friend so they don't swing and hit the floor at full travel . got my cooling fan on, shroud on, filled with coolant, put oil in the engine, modified my frame rail to flushly mount the steering box , mounted my custom pitman arm, hooked it up to the linkage, verified it doesn't hit the oil pan which is good haha. im sure im forgetting some things, its getting close though, biggest hurdles now are steering column mounting/bracing and coupler fab to the box, and exhaust and really everything else is pretty straight forward I guess. fingers crossed. thanks for reading my rambling



 

etizz

New member
Sorry my work blocked this site on my pc so i forgot about updating otherwise. It does run and drive!

https://youtu.be/dZJ4MeQ8aAI
https://youtu.be/5-jn2a8zEk0
https://youtu.be/exP_D5kaWFw

Those tell a lot more than what I can type. First test drive was rough cuz apparently all the shocks were original (60 years old) and so it made for quite a challenge to hold it on the road lol. New shocks are on and it's much more stable . I blew a brake line out due to my installing it upside down so the hose got smashed against the frame on a full lock turn . Fixed that . I've been slacking on actually working on this since my wedding , been busy with other cars or trips etc. I've got a new intake for it with a filter so I wouldn't have 120 degree + intake temps. I need to do an alignment on the front even if I just get the toe straight for now . Exhaust kinda hangs low cuz in my rush to get it on the road i built the exhaust under the frame instead of through it . Hopefully will get some more road time with it soon and work out more kinks .
 

etizz

New member
well I'm back to working on this car. been back burnered for awhile with other things. I actually have a 5.7 ls1/4l60e, drive by wire setup I'm putting back in it using a later model steering column as well so it all will be easier to get parts for. its almost back together but its taken some work.
 
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