Wagon Engine Swap

With 195,000 on the 1.8L, the coolant started disappearing (not onto the ground) and the transmission was sounding clunky, so I decided it was a good time to do an engine and trans swap. I’ve had a TBI 2.0L junkyard setup with around 90k on it in storage for years that was once a replacement for the high mile original Sunbird we had. I pulled the head that was on it to check it out and it was cracked, so I swapped a rebuilt 92-94 head along with an EFI intake setup and topped it off with a 20SEH cam. The TBI pistons have zero deck clearance and a 12cc dish, and this rebuilt head has 41cc chambers, bringing compression to about 9.3:1.

I took about a day for each major step: disconnecting everything, pulling the engine, dropping in the new engine, and reconnecting everything. Thanks to the help of some friends, it all went pretty smoothly and it was up and running within a week. A little Megasquirt tuning and it was back to daily driver duties.

Gravel driveways are not ideal for engine swaps.

Going from the 1.8 to the 2.0 plus the cam really made a huge difference. Directly comparing the 93 Sunbird 2.0 (which has higher compression, stock cam, and a mildly ported head) to this engine, it is significantly quicker. The 1.8 on the other hand, really had to be flogged to get going and with a full load like on the 2000 mile road trip, it actually struggled to make it up some of the big hills. The new engine will even spin the tires, and the power doesn’t die off up high. The 20SEH cam is really nice; I had tried one a long time ago in the green car, but with no way to tune for it and because it ate itself due to no oil, I didn’t really get a good chance to put it through its paces.

The only issue I’ve had is the 16 pound injectors from the stock 93 engine aren’t quite up to the task and will hit 100% duty cycle at wide open. I band-aided them for now by cranking up the fuel pressure, but I may have to put in some bigger ones at some point.

More displacement.

Anyway, something I wish I had done a long time ago, but it’s hard to justify when the engine in there was running fine, not to mention the work and time involved.

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