El Camino dumped in my lap i have the funds just not sure what i really need

Through a series of hand me downs ive recently came into an 84 el camino with a 400 small block out of a 77 chevy RV and i have a few questions before i let someone tear into it, the foremost of which is its linked to a 350 turbo tranny and i know when it was parked it was leaking tranny fluid real bad, i have the 400 turbo the engine came with but the el camino being orginally a V6 car it doesnt have room for the 400 turbo without doing some cutting and id like to avoid that, so my question is, if i have the 350 turbo rebuilt will it be a suitable tranny for the 400 small block, i dont intend to do the 406 or stroke it just a medium cam to thump for the street, also any advice on regearing the rear end or cam suggestions or just what you would do if it was yours would be greatly appreciated, im not looking to get rid of the 400 because of sentimental value. I come from a family of Ford men and im just shooting in the dark really, thanks for anything

Even a 400 from 77 did not produce much power. You can add cam if you want but unless you do a whole package with performance matched parts, you’ll be wasting money, but it is your money.

A 350 tranny is perfectly good for this engine, even with a mild build up. You could go to a place like Summit Racing online and see if they have 350 transmissions that have been strengthened. Sometimes there are a few weak parts that rebuilders know about and just those parts upgraded. You get a more durable transmission but not the high performance version which can be hard to live with. I know that Summit has a heavy duty 4L80 that the weak factory parts are replaced with custom HD parts that is used in off road and RV’s

Check out these guys. They do a lot of projects like this.



Well, you basically have to replace the cam if it’s an RV motor so I would put in what you want from the start. The rest of the stuff bolts on and isn’t buried in the motor. as long as you maintain the position of making a little lumpy but not going overboard, it won’t hurt to do the cam.

The Turbo 350 can be built fairly stout, it won’t be a 400 but unless you’re intent on roasting the hides off’n it on a regular basis, it will be just fine. One of my friends has a 71 Camaro with a 400/350 combo w/posi rear and it has taken tremendous abuse.

Something to be aware of with the cam is the Torque converter stall speed.

I don’t think the El Camino was ever a V6 .

You could get it with engines ranging from a 200 cid V6 to the 350 V8.

I think Inline 6 cylinder not V6 .

Not according to Wiki. During that period GM had a number of V6 versions to try and improve mpgs. By 1984 the base engine size had been bumped up from 200 to 229 (the Chevy 3.8L) V6 :

1 Like

I set corrected . I wonder just how many of those with the V6 were sold .

If this is truly a TH350, then it’s likely not the original to the car. The 1984 V6 El Camino would have come with a TH250c trans. If what’s in the car is actually a 250c, then it might be good to upgrade to a “built” 350.

What part of country are you in? Rust belt?

Yeah, before I spent any serious money I’d want to go over this front to back, put together a list of everything needed. Lots of rust? That’s a BIG problem.

1 Like

I don’t know much about El Camino’s except that I like them and the market seems to feels the same way.

Just some general advice, don’t go cutting into anything unless you’re planning on keeping it forever!

There’s a market for Numbers Matching/trailer babies, daily drivers, barn finds and even high end restomods but nobody want’s a chopped up car and I’ve seen too many poorly done Straight 6 to V8 Mustang conversions go for scrap value to believe otherwise. No matter how well done, one look at the weld marks and the buyer just walks away.

From the sounds of things you can mate the 400 to a strengthened 350 tranny w/o cutting so you can have it like you want now, while still appealing to a future buyer who may want to restore it to it’s “as original 6 cylinder configuration” by simply replacing the engine.

1 Like

If you’d like an overdrive 4 speed auto consider a 200R4. Performance built trans are available, will fit the transmission tunnel and are available with a lockup convertor. Decent fuel economy with good punch.

As for the engine… a 400 doesn’t like to rev, it will product tons of midrange torque. Suggest a dual plane Edelbrock Performer RPM manifold. 650 to 700 cfm carb. You can go rather big on the cam because the engine is large. 215 degrees duration at 0.050 lift, 112 degree lobe centers, 0.500 lift would give lots of punch on the street with 3.08 rearend gears with a turbo 350 and 3.45 gears with a 200R4

1 Like

There’s a guy at work with a tan 1982 El Camino with a V-6 . . . 3.8, I believe

According to him, he gets offers to buy it all the time.

My brother in law has owned an 82 El Camino for over 25 years. It has a 3.8 V 6.

What it needs is a 454 with a cam and OD transmission.

These things have gotten to be pretty popular. A few years ago a local grocery store had a drawing and gave one of these things away. Not a show car but a very respectable looking car in black with red/silver trim along and custom wheels. My understanding is that there were a bunch of names submitted.

The guy at work . . . in spite of his only having the 3.8 V-6, versus a small block V-8, it’s still highly optioned. I was a little surprised. I guess I was expecting the ones with the small motor to be strippos

it’s some kind of brown, by the way. Not a color I would have picked, but it was common for the day. And the paint is original but in surprisingly decent shape.

The sad thing about this guy is that back in the day . . . according to him, anyways . . . he was taking an apprenticeship to become a mechanic when he messed up his back. So he became some kind of helper, instead, something that required less physical strength. In any case, it’s plain to see that his back is really messed up, so that part seems to be true.