1960 Biscayne Project

 Hi all. I have a 1960 4 door 235 2 speed that I am in the midst of restoring. The general direction I am going in is to restore it to stock, except I am putting in a radio. 

The other little addendum is that this project puts me in a unique position as far as the engine. It is fairly solid as it is now, but I want to update it as far as fuel economy and reliability. I am not looking for an ultra high performance machine that I can take to the strip every weekend and impress people with, but rather the opposite. Yes it would be loads of fun but thats not what I am looking for.

I am open to all sorts of ideas and no idea is too zany or off the wall that I won’t consider it. I have heard about all sorts of interesting ideas from regearing the rear end to replacing the cam shaft. bio-diesel? diesel? Even the hydrogen option? These all sound like great ideas and I am wondering what other peoples opinions on them are and would love to hear them.Thankyou for your time and input.


There’s a thousand different ways to go on this but I would be curious as to how the vehicle will be used most of the time.
Daily driver, mostly city driving, mix of city/highway, only a weekend playing around car, etc.?


You can’t convert that engine to diesel I’m afraid, it just wouldn’t take the combustion pressures. Nothing to stop you dropping another GM diesel unit in it of course but you’d need to investigate the transmission hookup and will probably need to respring the front end and upgrade the brakes since an equivalent diesel engine will be heavier.

I’d say your efforts would be better directed at getting the original engine and ancilliaries back to original spec and take look at replacing that 2 speed tranny with a 3 speed overdrive unit.


I agree with Scudder, restore it to original, it would be a lot easier and cheaper to do rather than having to do a lot of modifications. Probably be a lot more fun to drive around it to, and probably turn a lot of heads to.


I’m with Scudder on this one. In it’s original stock configuration, this car probably didn’t do too bad when in proper tune. I have a '64 LeSabre with a 300ci V8 and a 2-speed tranny and it gets well into the 20’s on the highway, which is pretty darn good for such a big car. That two-speed slush box is the biggest detriment-- an automatic with an overdrive and a lockup torque convertor would help, or even better a manual transmission, if you can find all the parts.


OK has asked the most important question here. If it’s only gonna be a weekend cruiser/garage queen, you shouldn’t worry about fuel economy. And GreasyJack has the right idea about switching the transmission over to a (5 or 6 speed)manual transmission.


Well, this would be my daily driver. I live in fairly sparse area, but I would say that this would definately be a mix of highway and city driving because I travel so much to and from a bigger city and other outlying but close towns. I just like being old fashioned, not to mention being an all out weirdo, but no this would not be a trailer queen/ weekend cruiser, otherwise, yeah, I really wouldn’t be concerned with fuel economy. Yeah, i’m pretty sure that restoring it to original would be not only the cheapest thing to do, but pretty fun too. I’m simply trying to get an idea of what options might be good to go with. Do you guys think I should stay with the carby or do an efi conversion? Thanks for all the input so far!


One thing that I would strongly recommend is to convert the front brakes from drums to disks. The brakes on '60 Chevies were not among the best at the time that these cars were made, and by comparison with cars built during the past 15-20 years, those brakes will put you at a major disadvantage–especially if you plan to use it as a daily driver. Conversion kits for older Chevies are readily available, and they are not all that expensive.

For a daily driver, this car should probably also have modern radial tires, instead of replica bias-ply tires. The combination of radial tires and disk brakes will make you much safer on the highway. Now, if you could only do something about that “X” frame!


If hot rodding and fuel economy is not an issue then I would just keep it stock. These cars are heavy and with that Powerglide transmission fuel economy is not going to be real good anyway. One of my first cars was a '59 Impala 2 DR HT with a 283 (also a Powerglide) and it was not real good on gas either.

If you want a little more oomph and better economy you have several options. You could easily swap in a Chevy 305 or 350 with a 700R4 transmission (overdrive) and possibly change the rear end gears depending on what is in there now. With this change and a set of 3:08, 2:76 etc., gears it could be possible to get close to 25 MPG on the road with this thing.
Fuel injection is nice but it will require much more work and a LOT more money.

Another option is this, and it’s really not that rare a swap. Swap in a Cadillac engine (preferably 472 or 500, but a 425 would work) and be the biggest dog on the block.
These engines have tons of torque and were designed to move heavy cars easily while maintaining low RPMs. These engines can often be found on the cheap and they’re reliable. The transmission would also need to be swapped out. Fuel mileage would be worse than the small block Chevys but 15-17 is possible depending on the transmission and rear end.

The Cadillac engine would definitely move the car around town much easier and would be a whale of a highway cruiser.
Hope those suggestions help anyway.


You could probably put an Isuzu diesel in it with the proper Isuzu or GMC transmission.