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Old 05-20-2021, 05:17 PM   #1
Jdvolvo240
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Default 1990 Volvo 240 LS swap (5.3 4L60E) questions

Edit: I have decided to go down a different route although I will leave the post up for the next guy who has similar questions. I have decided to go with a L31 5.7 vortec out of a 90's Chevy truck. I have questions now about fitment, more specifically the cross member clearance with the oil pan and if I'll run into more issues with that or not.


I'm sure these questions have been regurgitated time and time again but it seems like answer are all over the place. I'm strictly looking for cheapest options with the least amount of issues that can be worked with.

So, I'm beginning to gather parts for my inevitable LS swap. I've got the mounts for both engine and transmission. I already have something set up to acquire the engine and trans. My last big thing to tackle is the rear end as well as drive shaft.

I've read multiple posts with people saying the rear end will be fine with and unmodified 5.3, that Its better to get a Ford 8.8, or that it's better to get a Toyota truck axle.

I'm on a fairly small budget (roughly 3k but don't want to go above 5k) so I am being as cautious (and cheap) about everything I do for the swap. My big questions are: what kind of rear is best for both budget and to ensure I don't blow out the rear end? Do I need to have a shop make a custom drive shaft? I am planning on not running the holly 302-1 oil pan, will I run into any major issues with the stock one?

For more context, my rear tires are 245/35/17. I'm not planning on adding any crazy mods to the engine apart from a mild cam at most (later down the line depending on how much work goes into it). When I do an inevitable burn out (on the drag strip of course, hehe) can the Dana 30 hold up to the torque? Does anyone have experience with a LS swapped stock rear end that can give some input? I've read that you can swap in a g80 diff, does that add any extra durability?

Finally, thank you for the help!

Last edited by Jdvolvo240; 06-06-2021 at 04:05 PM..
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Old 05-20-2021, 05:32 PM   #2
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The words 'cheap' and '240 LS swap' don't really go together. Prepare for that budget to expand, or disappear entirely when it comes down to it.

I haven't put an LS in a 240 myself, but I have helped a friend put one in an older F-body. I can tell you with 90% certainty that a stock truck oil pan will not fit.

A stock Dana 30 will probably hold the torque of a stock 5.3, but not with big tires. Grip = rip.
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Old 05-20-2021, 06:03 PM   #3
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I ran the stock Volvo rear[3.90] in my V8 car. First motor made 375 HP wore that motor out after 200K hard miles, no issues with the diff. 2nd motor put in in 2005 [350HP] changed the diff in 2008 to a 3.31 now has 100K miles on it, still no problems. Yes I can break tires loose but they are the safety valve.
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Old 05-21-2021, 12:37 AM   #4
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Keep it simple. You need shorter pan. This is the cheapest one. https://www.stsmachininginc.com/coll...nd-740-chassis

You need these headers:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/223468721020

Steering shaft to clear header:
https://www.stsmachininginc.com/coll...olvo-1993-1975

I would also recommend this too:
https://www.stsmachininginc.com/coll...-1975-1993-240

You can spend 3k in parts alone. Engine/trans can be anywhere from $700-1500(including ecu & harness), engine mounts($350). Oil pan($300). You will need a custom drive shaft($150-300). Engine harness rework($150-250 unless you can do it yourself), Ecu reflash($50-100). Exhaust work. Also in add ancillary parts(gaskets,seals). Easily over 3k. If you can a lot of the work yourself, I can see it being under 3k.
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Old 05-21-2021, 07:16 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by white855T View Post
Keep it simple. You need shorter pan. This is the cheapest one. https://www.stsmachininginc.com/coll...nd-740-chassis

You need these headers:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/223468721020

Steering shaft to clear header:
https://www.stsmachininginc.com/coll...olvo-1993-1975

I would also recommend this too:
https://www.stsmachininginc.com/coll...-1975-1993-240

You can spend 3k in parts alone. Engine/trans can be anywhere from $700-1500(including ecu & harness), engine mounts($350). Oil pan($300). You will need a custom drive shaft($150-300). Engine harness rework($150-250 unless you can do it yourself), Ecu reflash($50-100). Exhaust work. Also in add ancillary parts(gaskets,seals). Easily over 3k. If you can a lot of the work yourself, I can see it being under 3k.
Thank you! This will be a huge help! I plan on keeping the stock rear end for now just to get it drivable. It's more of a show car/cruiser vs a race car. For the initial swap, I wanted to keep it under 3k as that's my budget currently. In the future I plan on doing more but that will be a few years from now. I should have it running by spring next year and after that it'll be a few years of saving to eventually boost the motor and do additional supporting mods like coilovers as well as some more "show car" work such as interior redesign and body work for a wide body. Thanks again for the reply!
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Old 05-21-2021, 09:26 AM   #6
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The myth that the 1030/1031 rear end can't hold power doesn't hold up given that the swedes don't seem to have the same issues we talk about as 'inevitable'. I would not hesitate to throw an LS at a stock rear end, or even a boosted one. If it breaks, it breaks...but odds are, it'll just be axles...which are replaceable and will only die if you abuse the hell out of them.
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Old 05-21-2021, 09:52 AM   #7
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A couple of random points:

My alu 5.3 came from a Hummer H3 Alpha, which means it has one of the better oil pans for rear-sumped cars. But even then, when I test fit it in the 240, it fit very nicely with the crossmember, but hung down below it. By an inch or more. I did NOT want a cast aluminum oil pan hanging down that low, every speed bump in the county was salivating to get a crack at that. I used the Holley oil pan on mine, pretty much the same dimensions, just a bit shorter. Now the oil pan is a little higher than the crossmember. Which is a good thing. I think someone makes a cheaper 'knock-off' version of the Holley now.

I plan on putting a Ford 8.8 in mine, and I even have one sitting in the garage, already shortened with 240 mounts welded on it. It would just take another custom driveshaft, new wheels, and some tinkering with the speed sensor (to keep the speedo/odo and ABS working properly). I was planning on doing it with the engine swap. But that project dragged on for 2 long years, in the end I just wanted to start driving it and stop working on it, so I went ahead and had a driveshaft made to work with the Volvo axle. This is a turbo 5.3 (cam-n-springs, 80lb Dekas, LS3 intake), running 6 - 7 psi, probably somewhere around 500 - 550-ish HP, Nissan CD009 6 spd manual. And the important part - still the 225 width Toyo T1R's. They're not bad tires, somewhat sticky, but the lack of wide tacky tire in the back is probably keeping the axle alive. Feed it too much power, and you just spin the tires. It's traction limited in 1, 2, 3, and sometimes 4th gears (depending). If it was actually hooking hard in the lower gears, the Volvo axle would have lowed up reel good a long time ago. As is, I've been driving it for about 5 or 6K miles so far, and the axle seems OK so far. And this was even a total shade-tree G80 swap (kept the original pinion gear in the axle housing, put the new ring gear in with the new G80, kept the shimming the way it was, just bolted it on, checked the lash by 'feel', seemed OK, close it up, and I've been driving it that way for 10+ years, mostly with a 300 - 350 HP 16V turbo redblock). I still plan on swapping the Ford 8.8 in at some point, the Volvo axle just hasn't yet made it a priority (by blowing up).
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Old 05-21-2021, 12:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by white855T View Post
Keep it simple. You need shorter pan. This is the cheapest one. https://www.stsmachininginc.com/coll...nd-740-chassis

You need these headers:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/223468721020

Steering shaft to clear header:
https://www.stsmachininginc.com/coll...olvo-1993-1975

I would also recommend this too:
https://www.stsmachininginc.com/coll...-1975-1993-240

You can spend 3k in parts alone. Engine/trans can be anywhere from $700-1500(including ecu & harness), engine mounts($350). Oil pan($300). You will need a custom drive shaft($150-300). Engine harness rework($150-250 unless you can do it yourself), Ecu reflash($50-100). Exhaust work. Also in add ancillary parts(gaskets,seals). Easily over 3k. If you can a lot of the work yourself, I can see it being under 3k.
TSP 81074 is the same oil pan as STS/Holley, but cheaper
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Old 05-21-2021, 01:07 PM   #9
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TSP 81074 is the same oil pan as STS/Holley, but cheaper
Nice. Good to know. I do try to support our Volvo parts vendors whenever I can but its good to have options.
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Old 05-21-2021, 01:27 PM   #10
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You could save a modest amount of money on the steering shaft as well, but same sentiment, support our Volvo parts vendors when you can.
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Old 05-21-2021, 02:08 PM   #11
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I'm all for supporting vendors for engineered parts (suspension, mounts, etc) but if they're just marking up and reselling or dropshipping, I'll go other routes
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Old 05-21-2021, 02:24 PM   #12
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I guess this isn't really an STS thread anyhow. Here's the steering shaft I used: https://www.butchsspeedshop.com/product_p/119-112.htm

I forget where I got it from specifically, but with that manufacturer and part number, search around and find the cheapest.

EDIT: Oops - benefit of buying from a vendor, they probably won't screw up and link the wrong part like I just did...

Last edited by JohnMc; 05-21-2021 at 03:00 PM..
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Old 05-21-2021, 02:36 PM   #13
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I'm all for supporting vendors for engineered parts (suspension, mounts, etc) but if they're just marking up and reselling or dropshipping, I'll go other routes
It's gives people the option of being able to order all the parts at once. A lot of people pay for convenience. You want to save a few bucks, go right ahead. Don't assume everyone is like you.
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Old 05-21-2021, 02:37 PM   #14
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I guess this isn't really an STS thread anyhow. Here's the steering shaft I used: https://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Machi.../dp/B003TPOQLW

I forget where I got it from specifically, but with that manufacturer and part number, search around and find the cheapest.
The sts machining shaft is from Coleman racing. Saving a few bucks matters to some.
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Old 05-21-2021, 02:38 PM   #15
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Don't assume everyone is like you.
Never did. Just shared a link to the unbranded, cheaper oil pan. I'm running it and its literally the Holley pan without the logo
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Old 05-21-2021, 03:01 PM   #16
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The sts machining shaft is from Coleman racing. Saving a few bucks matters to some.
FWIW I linked the wrong part in. I had that bookmarked, but I thought I'd look up where I got mine from when I bought it, and it was the 12" version, not the 18 I linked. I bought mine direct from Coleman.
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Old 05-21-2021, 03:23 PM   #17
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Never did. Just shared a link to the unbranded, cheaper oil pan. I'm running it and its literally the Holley pan without the logo
I like to save money where I can too. It's always good to have more resources.
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Old 06-06-2021, 04:03 PM   #18
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Okay, so after several days of research, I've decided that for my budget, it will be cheaper to pull a 5.7 vortex out of a 90's Chevy truck. They're more readily available in my area as I have been watching inventory at my local junkyards and have seen plenty of 90's trucks pass through. On top of that, I can go with a non EFI carb and dual point distributor eliminating the need for a computer. Also, the trans that will be in the truck (4l60/700r4) is hydraulically controlled so I won't need a controller for the trans. My only concern is fitment. I know (I think) the engine mounts from sts machining will fit as well as the trans mount. My only concern is cross member clearance. Does anyone know if I'll have issues or not?
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Old 06-06-2021, 04:07 PM   #19
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Okay, so after several days of research, I've decided that for my budget, it will be cheaper to pull a 5.7 vortex out of a 90's Chevy truck. They're more readily available in my area as I have been watching inventory at my local junkyards and have seen plenty of 90's trucks pass through. On top of that, I can go with a non EFI carb and dual point distributor eliminating the need for a computer. Also, the trans that will be in the truck (4l60/700r4) is hydraulically controlled so I won't need a controller for the trans. My only concern is fitment. I know (I think) the engine mounts from sts machining will fit as well as the trans mount. My only concern is cross member clearance. Does anyone know if I'll have issues or not?
The 5.7 Vortec is a Gen-1 small-block Chevy. It's basically a fancy 350. It will not fit in your 240 with LS (Gen III) swap parts.

Also, the 5.7 Vortec motors were all-iron, and probably weigh a good 575-600 lbs or so. You can make a swap like that work (and making 350-ish bhp with a proper Vortec 350 isn't too hard), you're just going to need totally different swap parts.
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:05 PM   #20
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If you’re gonna go abc route; jtr still sells the engine mount. https://jagsthatrun.com/collections/volvo/motor-mounts.

The sbc is basically a dropin... I massaged the lip of the crossmember but nothing like what you see people doing with ls swaps.

The steering shaft mentioned above is still nice to have.
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:19 PM   #21
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If you’re gonna go abc route; jtr still sells the engine mount. https://jagsthatrun.com/collections/volvo/motor-mounts.

The sbc is basically a dropin... I massaged the lip of the crossmember but nothing like what you see people doing with ls swaps.

The steering shaft mentioned above is still nice to have.
Ooooh. Thanks for the link. I might try this myself in the future... although I'm guessing adding 200-ish lbs to the front of the car can't be good for the suspension.
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Old 06-07-2021, 05:39 AM   #22
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They do make aluminum cylinder heads.
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Old 06-07-2021, 08:08 AM   #23
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The 5.7 Vortec is a Gen-1 small-block Chevy. It's basically a fancy 350. It will not fit in your 240 with LS (Gen III) swap parts.

Also, the 5.7 Vortec motors were all-iron, and probably weigh a good 575-600 lbs or so. You can make a swap like that work (and making 350-ish bhp with a proper Vortec 350 isn't too hard), you're just going to need totally different swap parts.

So, I'm at a cross roads, go cheaper and have the job be a pain in the ass with wiring and ECU reprogramming (remove VATS, disable o2 sensors and EVAP stuff) by going down the lsx route like I was originally planning, or go the SBC route with no computers and spend about double the money I originally had planned.

Since I am somewhat on a budget (not really but I'd like to keep cost low as we all would do), it seems the ls route is still the cheapest option. That being said, a 1999-2002 5.3L was drive by CABLE meaning I won't have to swap TB's and have the ECU remapped as well as reconfiguring the TCM. I still however, will need the ECU remapped to disable all of the extra junk I won't be using. I'm estimating this to cost around $600-700 for Motor, trans, wire harnesses, and the computers out of the Junkyard. Depending on if I can make it fit or not with the original oil pan, that'll save $300 right there but let's assume I buy the aftermarket one that's got more clearance as well as the aftermarket headers that are $250 I think. Next Things ECU reprogramming, not sure how much it'll cost for a local tuner to remap the ECU but I did find this: https://warrperformance.com/product/...ls-swap-ready/

So, with all of that, so far I'm looking at around $1350 (technically $1700 cause I already bought the mounts) just to get the motor in and running plus God only knows how many hours I'll be spending trying to wire everything back up. I'd say that's not a bad price. Exhaust and customer drive shaft will come after, I'm guessing around $200 to have some custom pipes made and maybe $200 or so for a drive shaft.
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Old 06-07-2021, 08:50 AM   #24
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I made my exhaust out of S/S, headers, pipes, mufflers etc back in '91, the parts alone were $1000, plus my labor. The late 240 drive shafts have the larger u/joints strong enough for a V8 conversion, the front flange will have to be made to fit the trans.
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Old 06-07-2021, 09:28 AM   #25
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I'm estimating this to cost around $600-700 for Motor, trans, wire harnesses, and the computers out of the Junkyard. .
I would put that estimate on the high side. Not sure where you're located, but most pnp jy's around will charge $200 for an engine, $125-175 for a trans. The one pnp I go to outside Allentown, PA charges $15-20 for a wiring harness.


If you're going to carb out of simplicity, I don't get how a sbc is going to be more expensive than an ls swap.

What's your overall budget?
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