At first glance you might assume that getting a big-block to fit into our project El Camino would be a cinch. Originally you could order a '66 El Camino with the 396ci option with stock iron exhaust manifolds and manual steering; and believe it or not, it fit like a glove. However, when you add aftermarket rack-and pinion-steering, a stock oil pan, 2-inch headers, and a Turbo 400 transmission, space becomes scarce in this A-body. Our motor swap took us a tad longer than we had expected. However, the outcome surely outweighed our efforts. If you're wondering why we didn't make it easier and drop in a small-block, we put aside those thoughts way before we ever started this project. Besides, our big-block already made serious power on the cheap and we couldn't let the motor live out the rest of its days on the dyno. If you remember in "Budget Stomper" (Feb. '08), our combination was good for 701 hp and 702 lb-ft on nitrous. In our eyes, it was a perfect match to throw into the El Camino. After all, it is a truck and it's going to serve the magazine at hauling around dyno-mules and parts, track days, and even duties around the house.

To get the big-block fitted for its new home, we started by doing a little homework on the motor mounts and frame brackets. Since our sled was originally outfitted with a six-banger that was backed by a three-speed stick, we went ahead and ordered the complete big-block conversion kit from Ground Up. As we began shoehorning the new motor in, we soon learned that the stock style oil pan was preventing us from clearing the center crossmember. To clear extra space, a new pan specifically designed for clearance on Chevelles was ordered from Milodon and swapped in. Also, the original transmission crossmember will not work for our new Turbo 400 transmission because the 400 is longer than the original. We're happy to report, though, that we're currently in the works with Monster to build a new off-the-shelf transmission crossmember for this type of application. Nevertheless, we did get the motor in with the headers and the transmission bolted right up, and that in itself was a big accomplishment. Follow along as we get this beast rolling!

Quick Notes
What We Did

Shoehorned the big-block and trial-fit the transmission into the El Camino

Bottom Line
This bad boy is almost ready to be fired up and driven

Price (Approx)

Slick Shiftin'
Our Monster Transmission Turbo 400 is no slouch, and it's built to hold up to 950 hp. Even though we won't crest that mark by any means, it's nice to know we've got some serious parts inside and won't have to worry about breakage down the road. When you add Monster's flexplate and the 3,000-stall converter into the mix, you've got a slick package for the street.

TH400 SS Mega Monster
Gear Ratios: 2.48, 1.48, 1.00
Precision Master Overhaul Kit
Gaskets, seals, O-rings, Teflon rings
Governor filter
Rubber seals for drums and pistons
High-performance friction clutches
Steel friction plates
Steel check balls
Double-lipped seals (front and rear)
Alto Red Eagle Race Clutches
Brass washer kit "No Plastic Here"
Bushings and Torrington bearingsSuperior High-Performance Reprogramming Shift Kit
Super pump
Pump bushing
Stator bushings and sealing rings
Modified boost valve assembly
Boost valve spring
Direct/reverse input drum
Machined surface for maximum band performance
Spun balanced and checked
34-element roller sprag
Smooth cam drum assembly
Forward clutch housing
Thoroughly checked and inspected spline, drum casting
Updated/modified accumulators
Raybestos Pro Kevlar band
High-temperature tolerant
Improved holding power
Added strength at strut support
Updated and modified governor with spring kit and nylon gear
Recalibrated valvebody
High-flow filter
Low/reverse heavy-duty sprag
Heavy-duty accumulator spring
MFG Description PN Price
ARP Flexplate bolts 100-2901 $9
Doug's 2-inch headers (coated) D322 709
Ground Up Motor mounts AMC-103KIT 110
Milodon Oil pan 30950 224
Monster Flexplate G102HD 80
Transmission SS24-TH400/SS Mega Monster 1,500
Torque converter 46714C 500
Moroso Valve covers 68350 390
  TOTAL $3,522
Automotive Racing Products (ARP)
Doug's Headers
Ground Up
Monster Transmission
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