Saturday, July 2, 2011

An actual 4200 in an F-body!

While I've heard some unfounded rumors of F-body 4200 Vortec swaps, this is the first one I've actually seen pictures or verifiable documentation of.  In the August 2011 Car Craft, there is a spread on a '69 Firebird with a turbocharged 4200 swapped in.  The owner/builder's name is Jeff Wieser, and I'll be making an effort to find out more about his car.

There don't seem to be much in the way of links or pics out there. :(

I really hope Car Craft has a bigger story planned for Wieser's car.  It deserves a full-on look.  Given the amount of play given to the usual (insert yawn) V8 Camaros, it would really be nice to see something different.

(For those of my friends who don't have any clue what an F-body is: All that means is it's either a Camaro or Firebird--easy, right?).

The writeup is very short, and only covers some high points.  But it's extremely interesting, and encouraging.  Jeff's car had the Pontiac Sprint straight six, which was a 250 cubic-inch OHC motor that was actually quite ahead of its time--as far as American car companies were concerned.  The Sprint came with a factory 4-barrel carb, and a split manifold for a true dual exhaust.  From what I've read, the '69 engines were rated at 250 horsepower (gross, not net), which wasn't giving up much of anything to the base 327 Chevy V8.

One other thing to note is that there was some talk of making the Sprint the base engine in both the Camaro and Firebird.  Although that could've been a healthy batch of B.S. some inliner came up with. . .  It would've been a much more appropriate base engine than the Turbo-Thrift.

I actually have entertained a Sprint swap versus the 4200 Vortec.  The Sprint would be period-correct, and more than a little hare-brained.  It would be a direct bolt in, with little or no fabrication necessary.  And it would certainly raise some eyebrows.  The only thing is that the Sprint would never deliver the trade-off in power and efficiency that the 4200 can.

I guess if I saw a '69 Sprint 6 sitting there ready to drop in, I'd probably put the 4200 idea on hold.  I know that many of the Sprint engines were dumped for V8 swaps in those Tempests and Firebirds.  But I've never run across one.  I'd really like to take a close look at one, and think it over.  A Sprint with a little Clifford 6=8 rebuild kit, maybe some homebrew TBI and electronic ignition, could be pretty fiesty.  And almost wierd enough to be worth it.

Yes, I realize that a simple small-block swap would deliver more power for less money.  Yes, the LT and LS engines rock.  I've driven a couple of 94-2000 F-bodies, and they were fun as hell.  The trouble is, first-gen Camaros with 350's are as common as dog shit.

I only want to hear two questions from the guys doing a double-take at the car show:
1. "What is that?"
2. "Why would you do such a thing?"

There is some significant interest in the 4200 in the 1st Gen Nova crowd, and there seem to be many swaps into other platforms, like Toyota Land Cruisers, some Jeeps and other wierdness.  There's one guy with an awesome, exhaustively detailed thread on a 4200 swap into a Toyota Supra.  But what I'd like to see is detailed photos of a 4200 swap into a first generation Nova or Camaro/Firebird.  Still looking.  I know they're out there.

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