Topic: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

Howdy, new team as of this season and holy crap this series is fun.  Ran two races in a 95 ext cab 2.2L manual S10, even that truck is fun on track, but we are a speed bump.  Season is over for us so time to put something in that makes us faster on straights than our current horse and buggy speed.

Important - think of your own mechanical aptitude and knock about 25-50% off, depending.  We've changed motors and trans, but always just replacing same type.

At first glance it seems appropriate lemony work would be to buy a 4.3L S10 for $1000, move the engine/trans/fuel sys/rear end to our truck...then put our old stuff in the donor and sell it for $800.

But....nearly all of those 4.3s came with automatics.  I know we could find an NV3500 5sp, so might just have to get that separately. 

Another option is to get a chevy 1500 work truck with 4.3 and 5 spd.

We also saw the dang ol Camero 3800s were about 100lbs lighter than the 4.3.

I wouldn't post here if I didn't want feedback, so please fire away with what's a good idea / bad idea / bad-great-IOE idea.

2021 Gingerman-I:  IOE (Strickland Propane)
2021 Gingerman-II:  20 seconds of footage on the wrap-up!
95 Chevy S-10

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

The only answer is a flathead 6 from Chrysler.  All the cool teams are doing it.

From countless races with a 3800 RWD it has its weaknesses...and none of them are the engine.  Manual trasn options are not optimal.

If you can find an AR5 trans, the Ecotech movement is strong for a reason.  You can get almost double your current power with similar fuel economy.

If you want to go over-the-top awesome there is only one answer.  You have to put a Tornado/Cadillac engine/transaxle in the bed and make it mid-engine, RWD.  Fuel cell up front.

3 (edited by That_Noise_Is_Normal 2021-10-16 04:35 PM)

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

Ok...that Torinado/Caddy idea....maybe I should've put take 85% off the aptitude scale :-)

Although, we'd have to do what, 5 laps to win IOE if we had a 502 in the bed? Maybe a few more, but we'd be the leaders off the trailer.
If I was as good as some of you guys we'd remove the bed and have a motorcycle powering each rear wheel.

This will show how much I know....what all used the AR5?  Googling now of course.....update, 04-08 Colorado?  Even the 4cyl makes 175hp....we made 118 new.   Hm....

2021 Gingerman-I:  IOE (Strickland Propane)
2021 Gingerman-II:  20 seconds of footage on the wrap-up!
95 Chevy S-10

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

That_Noise_Is_Normal wrote:

Ok...that Torinado/Caddy idea....maybe I should've put take 85% off the aptitude scale :-)

Although, we'd have to do what, 5 laps to win IOE if we had a 502 in the bed? Maybe a few more, but we'd be the leaders off the trailer.
If I was as good as some of you guys we'd remove the bed and have a motorcycle powering each rear wheel.

This will show how much I know....what all used the AR5?  Googling now of course.....update, 04-08 Colorado?  Even the 4cyl makes 175hp....we made 118 new.   Hm....

AR5 came in very few CARS by production #.  The one with the right bolt pattern came in the Solstice/Sky and the 4-cylinder, RWD original Colorado.  Theya re not valuable, just uncommon.  Now they can be had out of a certain ecotec-powered modern three-wheeler...and I would bet its production count more than doubled all the manual Soltice/Sky's produced at the very least.

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

I'd think a 3800 and a 5 speed out of a Gen III F-body work be the easiest and cheapest route. They are pretty strong. There are also more cheaty go fast parts for them than the 4.3's. What ever route you go, take you time. If you are buying a used unit, tear it down, go thru it, maybe take a look at some home port work. Don't just go to the junk yard and take the 1st "only has 50k on it" and drop it in.

"get up and get your grandma outta here"

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

Mr.Yuck wrote:

I'd think a 3800 and a 5 speed out of a Gen III F-body work be the easiest and cheapest route. They are pretty strong. There are also more cheaty go fast parts for them than the 4.3's. What ever route you go, take you time. If you are buying a used unit, tear it down, go thru it, maybe take a look at some home port work. Don't just go to the junk yard and take the 1st "only has 50k on it" and drop it in.

We pulled a 4.3 for the LUV 3-4 years ago out of a donor car and disintegrated the bearings 1/2 lap into our first shakedown.  Turns out 4.3 aren't kind to bearings after 100-125K miles.  Once we got a fresh engine in no issues so far after 3 races.  If you are going the 4.3 route, I would do some looking around for low mileage units, buts that's going to be hard to find now.  Also not a big fan of the NV3500 transmission,  Its pretty sloppy

1975 Chevy LUV.  1 Corinthians 13:7 (RIP. LUV didn't fail, driver did)
2003 Chevy Blazer

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

Thanks!  Is the LUV automatic?

2021 Gingerman-I:  IOE (Strickland Propane)
2021 Gingerman-II:  20 seconds of footage on the wrap-up!
95 Chevy S-10

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

That_Noise_Is_Normal wrote:

Thanks!  Is the LUV automatic?

Nope we have the NV 5 speed.  The drive train was all out of a 97 S-10

1975 Chevy LUV.  1 Corinthians 13:7 (RIP. LUV didn't fail, driver did)
2003 Chevy Blazer

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

Mr.Yuck wrote:

I'd think a 3800 and a 5 speed out of a Gen III F-body work be the easiest and cheapest route. They are pretty strong. There are also more cheaty go fast parts for them than the 4.3's. What ever route you go, take you time. If you are buying a used unit, tear it down, go thru it, maybe take a look at some home port work. Don't just go to the junk yard and take the 1st "only has 50k on it" and drop it in.

From experience, the T5 for the 3800 is not endurance racing quality.  It will last longer behind an NA but in the end, the standard T5 problems are still there and you can't build yourself out of them like with Ford T5 (again, we really, really tried).  I would be very hesitant to suggest the combo to team this green (even though they are awesome and totally get Lemons).

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

Hey thanks!  Green is correct, and with that we kinda wonder if running an auto and being kind to it would be an option.  We're pretty nice to stuff so far, and having one less thing to do does allow you to do better at things like picking up flag stations and focusing on a line (I'm admittedly bad at flag stations, great for 3 laps, bad for 1, repeat).

I know automatics at a track are sacrilege, but anyone think we could run a 4.3 with a 4L60E?  Or are we asking to 'splode?  I've seen a lot on here about cooling methods and temp gauges.

We've screwed with a lot on setup, and really not that far away, we hit 2:08 at GMR with that old 2.2 with no mods.....really if we can just get up that friggin hill on the back stretch we can prob get close to 2:00. 

Thanks again guys

2021 Gingerman-I:  IOE (Strickland Propane)
2021 Gingerman-II:  20 seconds of footage on the wrap-up!
95 Chevy S-10

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

OnkelUdo wrote:
Mr.Yuck wrote:

I'd think a 3800 and a 5 speed out of a Gen III F-body work be the easiest and cheapest route. They are pretty strong. There are also more cheaty go fast parts for them than the 4.3's. What ever route you go, take you time. If you are buying a used unit, tear it down, go thru it, maybe take a look at some home port work. Don't just go to the junk yard and take the 1st "only has 50k on it" and drop it in.

From experience, the T5 for the 3800 is not endurance racing quality.  It will last longer behind an NA but in the end, the standard T5 problems are still there and you can't build yourself out of them like with Ford T5 (again, we really, really tried).  I would be very hesitant to suggest the combo to team this green (even though they are awesome and totally get Lemons).

We run a T5 behind a modified 305, we have probably 12 weekends on it and plenty of test laps/runs. No issues. We are not drag racing rowing thru the gears.

"get up and get your grandma outta here"

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

Huskar wrote:
Mr.Yuck wrote:

I'd think a 3800 and a 5 speed out of a Gen III F-body work be the easiest and cheapest route. They are pretty strong. There are also more cheaty go fast parts for them than the 4.3's. What ever route you go, take you time. If you are buying a used unit, tear it down, go thru it, maybe take a look at some home port work. Don't just go to the junk yard and take the 1st "only has 50k on it" and drop it in.

We pulled a 4.3 for the LUV 3-4 years ago out of a donor car and disintegrated the bearings 1/2 lap into our first shakedown.  Turns out 4.3 aren't kind to bearings after 100-125K miles.  Once we got a fresh engine in no issues so far after 3 races.  If you are going the 4.3 route, I would do some looking around for low mileage units, buts that's going to be hard to find now.  Also not a big fan of the NV3500 transmission,  Its pretty sloppy

Our 1st 305 had 169k on it. All we did was put a new t-chain kit and cam in it. It lasted about 4-5 weekends before we spun one...lol. The new 305 got the full scale garage rebuild.

"get up and get your grandma outta here"

13 (edited by rcazwillis 2021-10-20 02:11 PM)

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

12 races on a th350 behind a 4.3 v6.  We shift from 2-3-2 as needed in turns.  Keeps the driving simple.  As commented, 100k mile 4.3l will come apart quickly as experienced in our first race.  Fresh engine has lasted 11 races.  TH350 was rebuilt once due to damage caused by a locked up diff at speed.

Also, with a 4.3 v6, you get all the weight of a v8 and 1/3 of the power!

Organizer's Choice Award 2011 Heaps in Heart of Texas
IOE 2012 North Dallas Hooptie
2014 ECR Class C WIN;  2015 MSR Class B WIN
Speedy Monzales

14 (edited by That_Noise_Is_Normal 2021-10-20 08:12 PM)

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

rcazwillis wrote:

12 races on a th350 behind a 4.3 v6.  We shift from 2-3-2 as needed in turns.  Keeps the driving simple.  As commented, 100k mile 4.3l will come apart quickly as experienced in our first race.  Fresh engine has lasted 11 races.  TH350 was rebuilt once due to damage caused by a locked up diff at speed.

Also, with a 4.3 v6, you get all the weight of a v8 and 1/3 of the power!

Novice Q here...but a TH350 will bolt up to a 4.3 from a 94-03 S10?  I assume you're using that bc it's better than the 4L60Es that came with originally? Edit: did some internet searching on Ask Jeeves and Netscape, didn't realize these bolted up ok.  I thought they were for old muscle cars, been watching too much Roadkill I suppose.

2021 Gingerman-I:  IOE (Strickland Propane)
2021 Gingerman-II:  20 seconds of footage on the wrap-up!
95 Chevy S-10

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

4.8LS...this is the way LoL

LS-10 Racing '98 Chevy S-10
2021 NOLA: 21/65 (6/25 B-class) snapped upper control arm
2020 MSR: 73/103 (27/36 B-class) blown transmission

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

JMelancon2019 wrote:

4.8LS...this is the way LoL

I like it.  I like it a lot. 

Midwest season starts later, we've kicked around the idea of NOLA, good to know the Soooper10 would have a cousin there.

2021 Gingerman-I:  IOE (Strickland Propane)
2021 Gingerman-II:  20 seconds of footage on the wrap-up!
95 Chevy S-10

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

If you go for a 4.3, get out of a full size truck 96 or newer.  Some of them were pushing out 200 hp.

If you go the Camaro route for a V6, go with a 3.4.  It is a lighter engine and will withstand higher rpm's better than the 3.8.

"She's a brick house" 57th out of 121 and 5th in Class C, There Goes the Neighborhood 2013
"PA Posse" 21st out of 96 and 2nd in Class C, Capitol Offense 2013.
"PA Posse" 29th out of 133 and Class C WINNER, Halloween Hooptiefest 2013
"PA Posse" 33rd out of 151 and 2nd in Class C, The Real Hoopties 2013

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

Why on God's green earth would you put a 4.3 into a racing vehicle - on purpose?!?!?  They're heavy, and they don't really like rpms.  I mean, if you had an S-10 that came with one, fine, but, there are so many better GM engines that could be done.  As already discussed, Buick 3800 has all the upsides of the 4.3, with none of the downsides - similar power, much better on track, and noticeably lighter.  4.3s are great engines - for a work truck.  If you were starting out with a truck that happened to have a 4.3 in it, fine.  But for God's sake, don't go through the effort of adding one! 

To me, a better choice than both would be the 60 degree V6 family - 2.8/3.1/3.4 or, preferably, 3100/3400/3500/3900.  All way, way lighter than a 3800 (much less a 4.3) and a good bit more compact (easier to work on).  A lot of 1st gen S-10s came with 2.8/3.1s as their V6 upgrade, so swapping to that from a 2.2 should be fairly straightforward, mounting wise.  Do seriously look into the 3900 - lightest of the bunch (much lighter than a 3800), 240hp/240tq.  I might can put you in contact with someone who can assist on getting it running with VVT.  We started with a 3100 in our Buick, engine did flawlessly, ended up upgrading to a 3500 LX9, because it's just such a damned easy swap in those, and, again, engine did flawlessly.  If you're anywhere near NC, I have a lower-mileage, freshly gasketed 3100 (160hp/185tq) that really needs a good home. 

Or, you can really go off the deep end, and do a Cadillac 4.9 V8 swap.  Uses the standard FWD mounts and the bellhousing bolt pattern from the GM small corporate/'Metric' family, very light for what it is (aluminum block with iron heads - yes, you read that correctly), and they've done well on track so far.  Search for 'V8 Miata - the Lemony Way'. 

~*BoNuS*~ If you use any of the above engines, the hardware part of your swap should be extremely simple.  I'm not positive, but (as I alluded to above), I believe the 2.2 shares similar mounts with all the FWD engines, and I know it shares a bellhousing pattern and starter location, so you can reuse your current transmission.  Assuming it's rated to hold enough power, I have no idea what transmission comes in a 4-cyl S-10.

Semi-Sentient Centenarians
1996 Buick Century - we upgraded our crappy GM sedan with parts from a crappy GM minivan.
"In a race where everyone runs a Buick V6, their Buick ran a Chevy V6.  And a crappy one at that!"
IOE - Lemons Block Party (minus the block party) CMP 2020

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

The 4.3L has been a pretty serviceable engine in Lemons, which is kind of par for the course with logical thought processes in Lemons. They're generally understressed, can take a beating, and you can run one with a rudimentary carb setup. That has some appeal for Lemons; see the ORCA Racing CTS guys in Texas who threw out the Opel V6 and instead of putting a 4.8/5.3/6.0, they put in a 4.3L with a two-barrel. Looks hilarious, can be fixed with a big rock and swear words, and makes enough power to get that boat to mid-pack lap times and Top 20 finishes. In reality, I think they're old-school guys who are just more familiar with carbs, so the 4.3L is supremely easy to find for replacements.

The S10 was, as you point out, available with a 2.8L for a while so the 60-degree stuff also all works. In the Midwest, you can still find 3.1s all day in junkyards from Monte Carlos and Luminas and Centurys. That's probably a better middle ground if you aren't a carb guy and you can upgrade to the 3.4, 3.5, or 3.9 even if you feel so compelled over time.

The 3800 has a bunch of the upsides of the 2.8/3.1/etc. and is probably a better road-racing engine, in theory. The torque curve is basically flat so there's no need to rev the hell out of them and they're pretty robust. But they do make quite a bit more power and torque than the other engine families so you'll probably need to do a bunch of other upgrades like brakes and you'll have to be gentle with the transmission (Paging OnkelUdo to the Busted Cheaty T5 Phone).

OR if you wanted to chase another IOE, you could:

* Cut your power in half (51 crank horsepower) and run an Isuzu Diesel from a Chevette or an I-Mark. I even know where you could find a couple of them just 2-3 hours away. You'd be able to race the Simca 1204 straight-up (ish) and get 30 mpg on the track.

* Find a Chevy "Super-Thrift" 153 somewhere. AMC used them in the DJ-5 and they were a base-base-base option on Chevy IIs in the '60s. Nobody in the world wants them, but Mercruiser made (and makes, present tense) a marine version you could probably find cheaply. Plenty of people have run Mercruiser 4.3s, by the way, in Lemons. The shitty old gray Monza that resurfaces periodically has one.

Edit to clarify: Don't buy a new Mercruiser engine, that's stupid. But plenty of people have boats they don't want or that they don't use. The 4.3s we've seen, one came out of a moldy house boat and another was stolen from a neighbor's unused boat or something.

* GMC V6. Talk about heavy V6s, these things are massive and we've been dying for someone to put one in a Lemons car for ages. There's also a V12 version that was special order in Canada with 702 cubic inches for 250 HP/585 lb.-ft. torque.

* Or go find an Opel V6 from a Cadillac if you really hate yourself. Overhead Cams!

Eric Rood
Everything Bagel, 24 Hours of Lemons
eric@24hoursoflemons.com

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

If you want to go the LZ4/LZ9 60* GM V6 route I have the tune you want for a standalone install that preserves all the VVT stuff. Repurposes the segment of code from the Trailblazer to give you the correct starter signal and all.

Volvo 544 - now with Chevy 3.9 power!
2007/2012/2013 Driver's Championship (what was I thinking!?) 116 races and counting
11/18/21

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

Can try to turbo the 2.2. wiki indicates 120hp stock, 30% increase is not out of realm or reliability, that be extra 36HP, so be in 156HP range.
if going full engine swap+trans swap, more modern engines would be better option in my opinion. Only cause availability, and less likly to be rusted boat anchor. maybe something from Chevy Impala 2012-2016, or if can get camaro driveline would be cool.

https://www.facebook.com/greatglobsofoil/
This car....Is said to have a will of it's Own. Twisting its own body in rage...It accelerates on.
1978 Opel/Buick Isuzu(B) - IOE, C class, Incredible Feats in Badge Engineering; 1996 Ford Probe GT(B)

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

That_Noise_Is_Normal wrote:
rcazwillis wrote:

12 races on a th350 behind a 4.3 v6.  We shift from 2-3-2 as needed in turns.  Keeps the driving simple.  As commented, 100k mile 4.3l will come apart quickly as experienced in our first race.  Fresh engine has lasted 11 races.  TH350 was rebuilt once due to damage caused by a locked up diff at speed.

Also, with a 4.3 v6, you get all the weight of a v8 and 1/3 of the power!

Novice Q here...but a TH350 will bolt up to a 4.3 from a 94-03 S10?  I assume you're using that bc it's better than the 4L60Es that came with originally? Edit: did some internet searching on Ask Jeeves and Netscape, didn't realize these bolted up ok.  I thought they were for old muscle cars, been watching too much Roadkill I suppose.

Yes, they bolt up fine.  Any TH350, 400, 700r4, 4l.., will all bolt up.  Watch out for BOP transmissions.  Buick, Olds, Pontiac.  They have a different bell housing.  We had a 700R4, but sold it for some reason.  Wish we would have rebuilt and used it. The overdrive would have allowed a different gear ration in diff.  Overall, it has worked well for us.

Organizer's Choice Award 2011 Heaps in Heart of Texas
IOE 2012 North Dallas Hooptie
2014 ECR Class C WIN;  2015 MSR Class B WIN
Speedy Monzales

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

Thanks everyone!  Tons of info here and some (like 10%) actually falls within our skill set :-)

Some on the team want to try a peppy 4 cyl (or make ours peppy), some want to go 6, so the only solution is 5 cylinders, right?  I think they made like 11 Chevy Colorados with 5 cylinders.  (Actually just learned from the internet that they put the Atlas 5 cyl in some Hummer H3s???)  Learn something new everyday. 
(Note:  I like sarcasm...we're not doing a 5 cylinder)

Truly the correct thing to do in my opinion is the previously mentioned Toronado 455 mounted in the bed - but I'm not sure my profession that mostly involves Excel spreadsheets is gonna help that come to fruition.  Also the motorboating idea....I sense a theme here.

2 things guaranteed, we will be at more Lemons races next year because this sport is awesome and our truck will have an engine of some kind (maybe even installed and running).

2021 Gingerman-I:  IOE (Strickland Propane)
2021 Gingerman-II:  20 seconds of footage on the wrap-up!
95 Chevy S-10

24 (edited by chaase 2021-11-11 07:46 AM)

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

That_Noise_Is_Normal wrote:

Thanks everyone!  Tons of info here and some (like 10%) actually falls within our skill set :-)

Some on the team want to try a peppy 4 cyl (or make ours peppy), some want to go 6, so the only solution is 5 cylinders, right?  I think they made like 11 Chevy Colorados with 5 cylinders.  (Actually just learned from the internet that they put the Atlas 5 cyl in some Hummer H3s???)  Learn something new everyday. 
(Note:  I like sarcasm...we're not doing a 5 cylinder)

Truly the correct thing to do in my opinion is the previously mentioned Toronado 455 mounted in the bed - but I'm not sure my profession that mostly involves Excel spreadsheets is gonna help that come to fruition.  Also the motorboating idea....I sense a theme here.

2 things guaranteed, we will be at more Lemons races next year because this sport is awesome and our truck will have an engine of some kind (maybe even installed and running).

Volvo's made a 5cyl  2.5L Turbo for years 8-)

here is a list of 5 cylinder engines made..
https://www.caranddriver.com/features/g … s/?slide=8

1992 Saturn SL2 (retired) - Elmo's Revenge -  Class B winner, Heroic Fix winner x2
1969 Rover P6B 3500S(sold) - Super G-Rover - I.O.E Winner, Class C Winner
1996 Saturn SW2 - Elmo's Revenge (reborn!), Saturn SL1  Dazzleshipm Class C winner
1974 AMC Javelin - Oscar's Trash heap - IOE,”Organizer's Choice" and "I got Screwed" award winner

Re: S10 Drivetrain Upgrade - suggestions appreciated

mthew_m wrote:

Why on God's green earth would you put a 4.3 into a racing vehicle - on purpose?!?!?  They're heavy, and they don't really like rpms.

All the weight and 1/3 the power of a SBC.  It is Lemons after all, is anything really logical?

For some there may be better options.  However, from a simple perspective (carb, HEI), it does not get easier.  Truly, it is very dependable.  Don't over rev it, and it will run forever.  Ours has over 10,000 race miles on it.  Not exaggerating.  We have done nothing but change the oil.  Same engine carried the sombrero many laps, won class C, won class B.  Lot's of fun racing.  The engine never let us down.

Organizer's Choice Award 2011 Heaps in Heart of Texas
IOE 2012 North Dallas Hooptie
2014 ECR Class C WIN;  2015 MSR Class B WIN
Speedy Monzales