Putting a 1988 engine & trans into a 1959 sedan delivery

January 1, 2010 | By Richard Prince


I have a 1959 Chevrolet sedan delivery and a 1988 Chevrolet G20 van. The van has a 350 cid engine with a 700R4 overdrive transmission.

I would like to put the engine and transmission combo from the 1988 van into the 1959 sedan delivery.

The 350 engine in the van has a throttle body injection system. Is it possible to use the computer setup from the van in the 1959? Or can the throttle body be used without the computer?

Does the computer control the transmission overdrive or shifting in any way? Would it be easier to just strip the motor of all the emissions hardware and put a carburetor on?

How would you set up this swap?

Also, could I swap the disc brakes from the van into the 1959 front end?


The throttle body injection system needs to be controlled by a computer. You can use the computer from the van to operate the engine once it’s in your ’59 Chevy. You can also use the wire harness, high pressure fuel pump, and all of the sensors and other control elements out of the van. You will probably have to make adjustments for some of these, such as the vehicle speed sensor, which will not give an accurate reading unless the sedan delivery happens to have the same differential ratio and tire diameter as the van.

I would not strip the van engine of all emissions and electronic control components and put a carburetor on it. You will get much cleaner exhaust, considerably better gas mileage, and increased reliability from the computer-controlled fuel injection.

Assuming the overdrive transmission in the van is correct for the vehicle’s year, it is not computer-controlled. GM did not use computer-controlled automatic transmissions in vans until 1993 with the introduction of the 4L60E.

I don’t know what you will need to do in order to install the van’s disc brake system on the sedan delivery but it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out given that you have all of the necessary components in hand already.

I think the key to this part of the project will be successfully mating the van’s spindles with the sedan delivery’s set of control arms