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Engine compatibility with a 1981 Chevy Diesel Pickup

I have a 1981 Chevy Diesel Pickup with a bad engine. I decided to sell it for parts and in the process one of the interested buyers (a friend of mine) told me that his brother (who is a car dealer) had an engine that might fit into my pickup. I contacted the dealer, and he has a 350 diesel engine that is out of a '79, '80, OR '81 Chevy diesel pickup. He could not tell me for sure if the engine would fit into my pickup if the engine happened to be a '79 or '80. The price is right if it would work without any retrofitting. How can I determine if the '79 or ‘80 Chevy Diesel pickups’ engines were the same as the ‘81 pickups’ engines?

Think about this in another way. A 81 Chevy diesel pickup doubles in value when you fill the tank,not worth the effort to make the swap.

Those engines were dogs! Just about the worst diesel ever made. I agree with the previous post; don’t waste you breath even talking about it.

Hey, his lasted for at least 27 years! If he does it himself, and the engine if free, it might be worth it. How hard are diesel engine swaps? There is no ignition to hook up.

O.P., I agree that it is probably not worth what it would cost to have someone do it, but if you are doing the grunt work yourself, check on a chevy truck board. Someone will know. Keep in mind that pickups are dirt cheap right now. A few weeks ago, I heard on the radio about a Dodge dealer that was having a buy one, get one free sale.

Hello Beadsandbeads,

Thanks for your positive response. Can you tell me what a “chevy truck board” is? Thanks.

I would just find a junkyard/used gas 350 and swap that in instead. It will have more power and cheaper/easier to live with.

FoDaddy is probably right however there would be a some changes to be made if you put in a gas engine. I bought an 83 Bonneville that had been a diesel and it had a 301 Pontiac gas engine in it. It seemed that the exhaust was about all that had to be changed

As one who finally gave up on my 81 diesel I would not even consider fixing it and would thank my lucky stars that it finally died. Get the number off the engine to try to determine what year it is, but in 81 it was a redesigned version that was heavier duty. Prior to 81 was essentially a gas engine converted to diesel. It was too light duty and not worth fixing at all. Problems with rings, bearings, heads, etc. which were too light duty for high compression diesels. They should be paying you to take it. Only way I would even consider it would be if it were a Goodwrench rebuilt in the crate that they wanted to get rid of.

A “board” is virtual place like IN this case, one specific for GM trucks.

Unless there is some big screaming reason for needing a diesel engined truck then why not drop an earlier gas engine into it?

An '80 model and earlier has no computer to mess with and wiring is a snap. Since 350 gas engines can be found all over the place on the cheap that would be my recommendation.

Why trade one diesel headache in for a another potential one.?
Along the same lines I remember watching a 60 Minutes show many years back in which they were discussing this era of diesel engine.
The program took 2 identical Buick Rivieras, both with low miles, and attempted to sell them back to a dealer. One car had a diesel and the other had a gas engine.
Top offer on the gas engine car? 11k dollars.
Top offer on the diesel car? 1500 bucks.
That should say something.