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Thread: Chevy 5.3L swap in a '78 Toyota FJ 40 Build Thread

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    Array LowRange4x4's Avatar

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    Chevy 5.3L swap in a '78 Toyota FJ 40 Build Thread

    For the last few months we have been working on a pretty cool project that we thought you all might like to see. Now that we are getting down to the final details we are finally ready to start a build thread.

    The customer, Hunter, contacted us about completing a motor swap in his 1978 Toyota FJ 40. It had a straight six that was developing the little quirks that an old carbureted vehicle typically has, and he was ready for a trouble free motor that put could put a smile on your face. He had a 5.3L Chevy motor out of a '99 Silverado being rebuilt and wanted to drop it in his FJ. After it leaves our shop it is heading to the body shop where he plans to keep the outside appearance as stock looking as possible. With that in mind we began to formulate a game plan to keep this project as sleeper as possible.

    This was our starting point. 1978 Toyota FJ 40 with a small Old Man Emu Lift, 31s and a tired old straight six.



    One of Hunters requirements for this swap was to keep it a manual transmission. While we could have adapted his stock Toyota transmission to work, we had our reservations on how long it would last. We opted to go with a 4 speed SM465 out of an old 2WD Chevy truck because it is a bullet proof tranny with a granny gear which should be awesome when he puts the Toyota transfer case in 4 wheel low. The next problem we faced was the siple fact that no Chevy Trucks with a 5.3L were offered with a manual transmission, so we had to figure out which computer to use. We have used Hotwire Auto for all of our wiring harness needs in the past, and their quality and customer service is second to none. After a little talking with them, we ordered their Hotrod style harness for the 5.3 and a reflashed computer for a 2500HD with a 6.0L and a manual transmission to run the swap. From there we ordered all of the necessary adapters, motor mounts, radiator, transmission crossmembers, etc that were necessary to swap the motor and transmission into the FJ from Advanced Adapters. I will go over as many of the headaches and solutions as possible that we have come across throughout the build.
    http://www.lowrange4x4.com/
    Custom Fab, Suspension, Axles, Tires, and more
    Open Mon-Fri 9-6
    910-392-3204
    105 PortWatch Way
    Wilmington, NC

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    Choosy moms choose jeep. Founding Member
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    Array Jakemd98's Avatar

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    Re: Chevy 5.3L swap in a '78 Toyota FJ 40 Build Thread

    sweet... where y'all getting your 5.3's at? are they decently priced?
    Jake Davis

    97 TJ
    4.0, 5 speed AX-15, D44 W/lock-rite & Ford 8.8 LSD - 4.88, NP-231, OME 2.5" coils w/1.25" spacers on front, 1.25" JKS BL, 35X12.50R15 KM2 on 15x8 Eagle alloys, Banks Header, Banks Monster Exhaust, Brown Dog MML, Rhino Liner, Tuffy Glove Box, AtoZ Rockers, Optima Red Top Battery, JK shortened control arms.

    99 WJ
    Stock - 4.0, select trac, d30/d35... more to come

    02 Civic
    1.7 - 38mpg... 135 ponies of power transferred to the ground with a set of T rated Michelin defender tires. Has stickers to increase HP.

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    WK Driver Section Moderator Array BonesWK's Avatar

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    Re: Chevy 5.3L swap in a '78 Toyota FJ 40 Build Thread

    looking forward to seeing more of this build... sounds awesome and unique
    Ryan - "Bone"
    Yup, its a mall crawler right now.

    2006 Black WK Limited 4.7 4x4 QD II
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    Array LowRange4x4's Avatar

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    Re: Chevy 5.3L swap in a '78 Toyota FJ 40 Build Thread

    Once the Toyota got here, we got to work removing the front end and pulling the drivetrain. From that point we had a clear idea of what we were working with.

    Here is a nice view of the stock 4.2L


    Front end removed and drivetrain pulled


    At that point we cut off all of the old motor mounts, cleaned up any unnecessary wiring from the engine compartment and cleaned up the firewall. As I mentioned before, the customer supplied his own engine that he had a friend rebuild. Once we locked in the exact specs on his motor we went to work gathering all of our parts.

    We got almost everything from Advanced Adapters, and the parts list included: Motor Mounts, LS Series Conversion Radiator, Aluminum radiator recovery can with site tube, SPAL 2100 CFM Electric puller fan, Conversion header, Transmission conversion crossmember, GM SM465 to FJ 40 Transfer case adapter, Flywheel and clutch kit for LS into FJ, Slave cylinder bracket and a few other small goodies such as spud shafts to mate everything up. Unfortunately I didn't get pictures of all of those parts, but I had to snap a pic of the shiny new aluminum radiator and conversion headers.

    http://www.lowrange4x4.com/
    Custom Fab, Suspension, Axles, Tires, and more
    Open Mon-Fri 9-6
    910-392-3204
    105 PortWatch Way
    Wilmington, NC

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    Array LowRange4x4's Avatar

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    Re: Chevy 5.3L swap in a '78 Toyota FJ 40 Build Thread

    Sorry guys, I fell behind on keeping this build going. Jake- the customer supplied his own 5.3 for this build. Check out Pacific Fab for all of your LS needs, they are certainly not the cheapest but their products and customer service are outstanding.

    Now that we had everything in, we began mating all of the components together. We used the SM465 hydraulic bellhousing to attach the trans to the motor, and all of the adapters to mate the Toyota T-Case.



    Once we placed the motor where it needed to be in order to clear the front driveshaft, we quickly realized that we would need to completely redo the steering. Simply put, there was no way that the factory steering linkage and steering box were going to be in the way of everything, and since this Yota came with manual steering, we were not too upset about the prospect of converting it to a power steering setup. This led to our next order with Advanced Adapters, the power steering conversion kit. and a steering gear box out of a 74 Chevelle. This is the kit from Advanced Adapters.

    We were still having clearance issues with the steering linkage from the column to the box, so we added a few joints to clear the headers.
    http://www.lowrange4x4.com/
    Custom Fab, Suspension, Axles, Tires, and more
    Open Mon-Fri 9-6
    910-392-3204
    105 PortWatch Way
    Wilmington, NC

  6. #6

    Re: Chevy 5.3L swap in a '78 Toyota FJ 40 Build Thread

    Is there more to this thread? Would like to see it all. I am new and not sure how to locate the complete thread on the build. Thanks for help. Don

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