Put a 2.3 into a 5.0 chassis?

vristang

15 Year Member
Mar 31, 2005
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Doing this out of necessity... need a car to drive to work Monday.
I have a 1990 GT, originally 5.0/t5. It had a 408w at one point, engine blew, then parked the car... its been sitting 10yrs or more.
I have a 1989 LX, factory 2.3, with a A4LD. The engine is perfect, and runs like a gem. The auto trans is junk, estimated rebuild cost is over $2K.
My 5.4L Navigator has a busted spark plug, so I need something to drive to work.

Current plan is to gut the LX, to get the GT running with a t5.
The GT is a better car all around... subframes, Cobra brakes, massive tires, built limited slip 8.8, 3.27 gears, panhard bar... and still plenty of other junk ready to put on...
Right now, I just need to get it running with the n/a 2.3 engine though.

I will pick up a 2.3 bell housing from a j/y tomorrow.
The stock t5 is in decent shape.
Have a new 8" clutch kit and flywheel coming to the parts store tomorrow afternoon.
I will use the LX/2.3 computer and engine wire harness
Engine mounts will come with the 2.3. Trans mount is on the 5.0 car.
Stock K-member is still in the GT.

My questions...
1. Can I use the stock 5.0 clutch fork and clutch cable?
2. What size pilot bushing am I looking for? ID - 0.672". OD - 0.827"?
3. Tach will be off? This signal comes from the TFI?
4. Will fuel line routing be an issue? Putting a 2.3 fuel rail in a 5.0 car?
5. Any rewiring needed on the 2.3 engine harness, when hooking up to a manual trans?


Is there anything I'm missing? (I'm sure there is something I'm missing, lol)
 
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ChaseRoads

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I know this doesn't really answer your question, but it might be less work to swap the trans into the lx and run it while you figure out a daily. I usually suggest people not depend on a 30 year old car as a only means of transportation.
 
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vristang

15 Year Member
Mar 31, 2005
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Thanks Chase,
The Navigator is my daily driver, but still has a broken spark plug. The Lisle extractor doesn’t work for where it broke. Looks like the head will have to come off.

My experience, a t5/2.3 is very reliable for a daily driver. Ran the previous one 110miles a day, for nearly 10yrs. Everything is easy to fix, even did a head gasket after work one day, and was done before dinner, lol

The 2.3 LX car has some issues. Heater core, leaky windshield, dented fender, broken seat mount/stud…. The GT car is perfect, just hasn’t run in years.

Pretty sure the above specs are right for the pilot bushing. I’ll stop by Napa at some point, and hope they have one.
 

vristang

15 Year Member
Mar 31, 2005
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Nope, at this point I have almost everything, except the clutch/flywheel/bellhousing. Should be about $250-$300 to get this running, unless I hit some major snag….

The 5.0 T5 gear ratios and 3.27 gears won’t be ideal, but should be tolerable…

On my way to parts yard, then Napa for bushing, then will start prepping the GT for a 2.3.
Hope to have the engine sitting on the k-member, with trans bolted up by end of today.
Gonna make for a long day though…
 
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90sickfox

Wasn't a pretty sight...and I've got big hands
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Fuel lines are on opposite sides of the car. Engine harness and computer for the 2.3 should work in the 90 gt. I think the clutch for is different for the 4 banger bell housing. The 4 banger motor mounts bolt to the k member different than the 5.0L. Can be done but a stretch to get done and running in 1 day.
 

vristang

15 Year Member
Mar 31, 2005
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Good call sickfox, this is going to end up stretching out for a week or 2…

I removed the stock k-member at one point, and had a team-z mocked up with coil over suspension. Had to put the stock setup back in to move the car on short notice a few years back. Doesn’t make sense to put the stock setup together, then change it all out later…
So, made the decision to install the tubular k-member and coil overs.

The fuel lines are on the wrong side. Again, I had a full aeromotive fuel system, complete with sumped tank, lines, all of it. Since the stock tank has been composting fuel for 15yrs, may as well make use of that hardware too…

I spent most of today tracking down a 2.3 bell housing. Finally found one, and may have a lead on a turbo engine as well…

I’ve been wanting to dive into a 2.3 for a while, pretty excited to see where this car ends up….
 
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vristang

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Clutch setup is different on the 4cy for sure. Man, too bad you can't find a Turbocoupe drivetrain.
Might have an svo block located, from the same engine I pulled the bell housing. The svo and turbo coupe used basically the same short block?
I have turbo/intercooler in storage

I managed to pull the 2.3 engine today. The junk auto trans is separated.
Almost ready to sell the 2.3 roller chassis. Still thinking about whether I want the ecu and harness for the 2.3…

I have clutch, flywheel, bell, fork, tob…. Just need to find the right pilot bushing
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666DF7DA-6E83-4EFA-847C-41332BD89203.jpeg
4176700B-8ECF-4073-8F8D-49869A3D43BF.jpeg
 

vristang

15 Year Member
Mar 31, 2005
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I have all kinds of crap stored in the shop, lol
I found a C1A1 ecu, for 2.3 n/a manual MAF.
I also found a PK1, for turbo 2.3 VAM. I used to have a VAM as well, but haven’t seen it yet.
I don’t recall for sure, but these have been converted from VAM to MAF, right?
Or is that only the LA3 that can convert?

I’ll check the kinky in a few minutes…

Edit, link… not kinky, lol
 
Last edited:

vristang

15 Year Member
Mar 31, 2005
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Yep, looks like the bushing would have to be made. Can’t find anything OTS.

I was calling the PK1 an SVO computer. Thanks for correcting me! Could have messed up the wiring…

Realized last night, the C1A1 ecu is DIS. I’m not sure I have any ignition coils, or the right crank sensor…. So may not go that route…. This would be a temp setup anyway.
 

junkyardwarrior

Well-Known Member
Jan 10, 2011
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Yeah
Doing this out of necessity... need a car to drive to work Monday.
I have a 1990 GT, originally 5.0/t5. It had a 408w at one point, engine blew, then parked the car... its been sitting 10yrs or more.
I have a 1989 LX, factory 2.3, with a A4LD. The engine is perfect, and runs like a gem. The auto trans is junk, estimated rebuild cost is over $2K.
My 5.4L Navigator has a busted spark plug, so I need something to drive to work.

Current plan is to gut the LX, to get the GT running with a t5.
The GT is a better car all around... subframes, Cobra brakes, massive tires, built limited slip 8.8, 3.27 gears, panhard bar... and still plenty of other junk ready to put on...
Right now, I just need to get it running with the n/a 2.3 engine though.

I will pick up a 2.3 bell housing from a j/y tomorrow.
The stock t5 is in decent shape.
Have a new 8" clutch kit and flywheel coming to the parts store tomorrow afternoon.
I will use the LX/2.3 computer and engine wire harness
Engine mounts will come with the 2.3. Trans mount is on the 5.0 car.
Stock K-member is still in the GT.

My questions...
1. Can I use the stock 5.0 clutch fork and clutch cable?
2. What size pilot bushing am I looking for? ID - 0.672". OD - 0.827"?
3. Tach will be off? This signal comes from the TFI?
4. Will fuel line routing be an issue? Putting a 2.3 fuel rail in a 5.0 car?
5. Any rewiring needed on the 2.3 engine harness, when hooking up to a manual trans?


Is there anything I'm missing? (I'm sure there is something I'm missing, lol)

1: no the fork is different, as is the cable. 2.3 cars had two cables. A short one, and a long one-the long one from the quadrant, has the same end on the quadrant end, but the bellcrank end is different (once you get the 2.3 bellhousing you'll see what I mean).
2: The V8 T5 has a .668 OD pilot. The 2.3 T5's used a .590 pilot. Now with that said, you can't just pick up a bushing to fit a V8 trans onto a 2.3, the crankshaft is not big enough to get a bushing to fit properly. Secondly the length of the input shaft is different, with the 2.3 input being quite a bit longer than the 5.0. So when you attach the T5 to the 2.3 bellhousing, the V8 input shaft won't quite reach into where the pilot goes. Assuming you have a 3.35 T5, you can get an SN95 input shaft, and have it ground down to .590, and use a 2.3L pilot bearing, just don't push it all the way in. Leave it out about 1/8". This has been done many times, as is mine--I am using an entire SN95 V6 T5 in my 2.3L car.
3: tach will be off. Some say you can adjust it, but mine have all been 90-93 cars, and there is no adjustment on the tach on any of them. 87-89 I cannot confirm.
4: yes the fuel line is different. 5.0 cars had fuel line run up the passenger side, 2.3 cars up the driver's side. The rail will "want" the line on the driver's side.
5: depends. 90-93 2.3 cars did not use NGS on the transmission. pre 89 did, and the T5 trans harness will reflect that. If you had an A4LD in the car, your transmission harness will be different. If it was originally 5.0, it will be different-since 5.0's had an NGS and 2.3's didn't.

Have to go back...I think Rapido made a bushing to run a 5.0 T5 on a 2.3, but they weren't well versed as I remember. Probably work in a pinch but that still doesn't fix your input shaft length issue. You "COULD" run an adapter plate (BoPort and Stinger both have them) that adapts the 2.3 block to the 5.0 transmission, using a 5.0 clutch, bellhousing, etc. The next problem with that are the gear ratios. A turbo 2.3 won't hardly pull the .63 overdrive that the V8 T5's have, without going to a 3.90+ rear gear. 4.10 is popular with those. BUT, if you aren't running a turbo, there's just no way around the lack of torque to pull a highway speed in 5th with that overdrive short of going with 4.30+ gearing in the rear.

On the DIS. The pre 1990 blocks didn't have provisions to bolt the crank sensor on, so you either have to make them, or use a later model block. Or change the computer.

PK1 is a non-intercooled ECU, 10-12 psi MAX. They're good for maybe 150hp. Personally, not worth the effort. LA3 has a much better cold start strategy, as well as marginally faster clock speed. And, the 88 TC had 200hp +/-, intercooled, and the LA3 has been successfully used up to 300hp, maybe more, with not much more than more boost and elevated fuel pressure (and ported head).
 

vristang

15 Year Member
Mar 31, 2005
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Junkyardwarrior,
Thanks, you confirmed a lot of things I’ve found over the last few days…
The clutch cable is different on 2.3. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, but don’t expect that to be terribly difficult.

The t5 trans would be a dog, I agree. I want to say 1st is 2.95 in the one I have?
Will make a more serious effort to locate another t5 as some funds come in…

Can just the tach be removed from the dash cluster? I could probably take the 2.3 tach and swap with the v8 tach. Or entire cluster would be better?

NGS wires should be easy enough to run…

The 5.0 clutch adapter plate would be great, but I’ll have to see what funds I can free up for it. Current plan is just get it running at low cost though, so, 2.3 clutch.

I had a previous 2.3 with DIS, and eventually EDIS, so I’m sure I have hardware needed for the sensor mounting. I have not found any coils or ignition modules.
Currently, I will probably run the stock 1989 2.3 ignition, just to get it running.

Looking at what you shared about PK1, this isn’t my long term solution either.
Most likely MS will be how I go…. I have lofty plans, lol
Coil on plug, boost, twin independent variable timing cam, some weird cooling ideas I want to try…

Karthief,
If I didn’t already have most of the 2.3 hardware, it probably would be cheaper/easier. The car previously had a 408w, so all that would be ready to go…
But, been there done that already.
Time to do something different…
 

vristang

15 Year Member
Mar 31, 2005
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Managed to pull the 2.3 ecu and harness last night. Once I pull the Corbeau seat, the 2.3 LX chassis is ready to sell, which will get some money available for other 2.3 junk.

Was also able to get the 5.0 GT chassis up on the rack.
Won’t get much done today, but should be starting on the GT Thursday.
38F22AE5-C10D-49DD-A9CF-9CF58BBBC95C.jpeg

This car needs a ton of work, lol
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
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So you are no longer going with what you said in the first post about needing a driver?
Or am I confused?
Seems to me this has turned into a 'project' rather than a 'driver'.
And yes, I am easily confused.
 
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