After quickly realizing we had the wrong engine and transmission, we decided to actually come up with a game plan. What a concept, huh? My dad and I decided we needed to start disassembling the car to prepare for the right engine and drive train. I was working in Canada at the time and didn’t have a ton of time to dedicate to disassembling the car, but I slowly began to remove parts and pieces.
The real work was spent online sourcing the parts we needed. We quickly purchased the correct V6 conversion kit from a Sunbeam forum member. This kit had everything needed to install the right engine and transmission into the Sunbeam Alpine with relatively minimal adjustment. The kit cam with headers, motor mounts, transmission mounts, steering rod,, alternator brackets, and a clutch slave cylinder mount. The kit was exceptionally made and came powder coated. This money pit is starting to get deeper. I’d say around ankle deep at this point.
After a month of deciding what to buy, we had a car, conversion kit, and a plan. We then had to source the heart of the car. After talking to a few of our resources and detective work online, we ran into a gentleman who was willing to part with his partially completed project. We had struck a literal gold mine.
The gentleman had to part with the project due to a life hardship and we were more than willing to pay a fair asking price to take the burden off of his hands. What we received was a parts car, a correct refurbished V6 2.8L bottom end engine, the correct T5 transmission, ported and polished heads, a refurbished front end, and tons of new parts for all the fiddly bits like tail lights and pedals. It was rough taking the project over from him since he had put so much effort into his project, but we made sure it would be in good hands and we would give the project the
The heads were at a machine shop in Washington state and were in the hands of a shop that was quite familiar with this conversion and engine. After a few months, the heads arrived and were worth the wait. They were stunning, to say the least. The engine also came with a Delta racing camshaft. The cam is a special ground Delta cam with a high lift which is great for top-end driving and has decent torque. The car has a great sound with a small lope. The trade-off is a high idle since the engine has no vacuum up to 900 rpm.
Another performance upgrade we decided to go with is the addition of the 4 barrel Offenhauser Dual Port intake manifold. Dual Port is not the same at Dual Plane. Dual Plane is technically two intake manifolds in one. One side of the manifold is fed by one carburetor main and the other side of the intake is being fed by the other carbureted main. Dual Port is a two-stage intake. The intake works with a two-stage carburetor. Most of the time the car is driving around on the primary stage of the carburetor with the path of the air and fuel traveling through the intake through the primary path. When the throttle pedal is smashed to the floor, the secondary stage of the carburetor opens. The path of the air/fuel is now traveling through the primary and secondary paths and eventually, both paths meet in the combustion chamber. Complicated but essentially the car drives on stage 1 most of the time and then when it is floored, the secondary opens up and the two stages eventually combine to allow for more horsepower. The technical language can be explained by Offenhauser below.
We then had the engine assembled with the Delta cam, new heads, and intake manifold. Included with parts car were the bell housing and transmission. The bell housing, Part Number: D4ZA-6394, is from a Mustang II, just like the engine. The transmission is a Borg-Warner T-5 from a 1990’s V6 Mustang. The gearing of this transmission is perfectly suited for this modification. Gearing is: Rev – 3.15, 1st – 3.35, 2nd – 1.93, 3rd – 1.29, 4th – 1, and 5th – 0.73.The transmission is a Part Number: 1352-238 Borg Warner. We plan to eventually recondition the transmission once we get the car up and running since we do not know the state it is in.
At this point we had the option of upgrading the clutch but since we would hardly be breaking an dynos with our power figures, we opted for just a stock clutch. However, we didn’t entirely stay away from the modification Kool-Aid. We had the bright idea of installing a hydraulic throw-out bearing. Hydraulic throw-out bearings are a great idea until they aren’t but as I mentioned before, enthusiasm can blind anyone. We picked up a 1400 McLeod hydraulic throw-out bearing and slapped that baby on. If we only knew what was to happen later.
This left disassembling the car to prepare to install the motor and transmission. This process wasn’t quick and was long and drawn out. Of course, barely any pictures were taken much to the merriment of me later in the project. Many lessons were learned, but for the most part, I got to learn how the car was put together… by taking it apart. The ultimate goal was to remove everything for the motor install.
We started with pulling the V6 2.6L and transmission. After the motor was out, we completely removed everything off the firewall in order to prepare for the new 2.8L engine. We removed all of the dash and heater/airflow components from the interior. We thought it would be best to have a clean slate to install all of the new equipment and hardware. Gas tanks and lights also were removed until we eventually just had a rolling shell. Things were starting to pick up speed.
One of the last things we needed to do was swap the front ends. The front end of the parts car was completely reconditioned. It was repainted and all of the bushings were replaced with Sunbeam parts. The front end is only held on with 4 bolts, making the swap relatively easy. Although this was easy to install, the front end is beefy and quite heavy by today’s standards. With the engine, transmission, and body of the car ready for the new engine the only thing left was to install the motor and transmission.
Next up, will be the motor install. This is where the project started to pick up steam. Motor on.