Jeep CJ5 trans swap

Hello I’m new here and I was wondering if anyone could give some insight on this. I have a 1979 Jeep CJ5 and I want to put a small block in it with a NVG 3550 because I’m not into offroading and want the overdrive. I’ve been reading Novak conversions and they have that it fits nicely on a small block and works on a CJ7 but is probably too long for a CJ5. Since it says probably, could it work or could it be made to work like shorter drive shafts and such?

Just about anything can be done. I built a car with two transmissions and had to make many modifications including a significant reduction in driveshaft length. This required changes to the rear end geometry as well. If you’re hiring people to do most of the work, it may require significant financial expense. Your best bet then is to find a local shop that does these kind of mods to get an idea of the costs involved and how long you’ll be without the jeep…

Folks in a Jeep CJ5 forum would know all about this, I’d think.

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By small block I assume you mean a Gen 1 Chevy V8 or a Gen III?? You will keep the 4WD and transfer case - although you are not into off-roading? Then why do you drive a CJ5??

CJ5 conversions to Gen 1 V8’s were very popular back in the day. A friend of mine did one. Seems like a Gen III 5.3 or 5.7 liter aluminum block conversion would be killer but there are a lot of upgrades required to everything else to make this work. Almost everything from the fuel supply to cooling and maybe even axles may need to be upgraded to take the new-found power and torque. Are you ready for the expense and work this requires?

Seems like Novak are the experts, why don’t you give them a phone call and ask them this question?

friend wanted an OD trans adapter for his motorhome that he drove <1k miles/yr. said he wanted lower rpms/noise vs mileage. he sold the motorhome.

I think your best bet is to call around and ask Novak and/or some Jeep specialty shops. I imagine it could be made to work with a shorter driveshaft, but the issue you may run into with a very short driveshaft, at a very steep angle, is the shaft binding under load or if you do ever go off-road. Also, you could get some driveline vibration with the steep angle of the driveshaft.

I owned a 79 CJ 5 myself. I bought a 4” spring lift and they recommended lowering the trans/transfer case 1” (by lowering the trans cross brace) to reduce the angle at which the driveshaft met the pinion to eliminate vibration. The longer trans will have the same effect, making the driveshaft to pinion angle steeper.

Short answer, I do not know, but a Jeep / off-road shop would. I do know really steep driveshaft angles are not good.

The term small block is not exclusive to Chevy or even GM,

I thing a 4.3 liter Chevy truck V6 would fit much better and they have been over 300 hp for a while now.

Most of the CJ-5s from that time seemed to have 304 V-8s. There should be room for a small block Chevy or a 302 Ford. And there seems to be a world of adapters for early Jeeps to install anything reasonable or unreasonable in them.

I seem to remember another company called “advance adapters” . . .

A friend of mine put a 1996 or so vortec 350 in an early 80’s CJ 8. Same vehicle with a longer wheelbase. It’s been done quite a bit, the small block Chevy (and Ford, to a lesser extent) V8 swap. But he used the stock T176 manual 4 speed. And I believe an adapter from Advanced Adapters. The differential was geared with a goofy fuel saving ratio like 2.73:1, I believe. With 33” tires, it wound up being ok on the highway. And he claimed he got 20 mpg highway, although I find it hard to believe. 1st gear was a bit tall, though.

The hard part is going to be finding an overdrive trans short enough to accommodate the short wheelbase of the cj5 without having a really short rear driveshaft at a super steep angle.

My 1979 CJ5, I never really considered an OD trans. The short and narrow wheelbase made it a little sketchy to drive over 60 mph or so anyway. 10” wide wheels and 12.5” wide tires helped the stability a bit. I had the 304 V8, 33” tires and a 3.54:1 differential. Worked pretty well up to 60 or so mph. Then I installed the 4” lift to clear the 33” tires and it felt really unstable because of the lift. It rode much worse with the arched lift springs too. I wound up selling it to pay off the house lot before starting construction on our house.