S-10 Vette
I recently sold my '90 454 SS pickup. It was my daily transportation and the terrible gas mileage was burning a hole in my wallet. I would still like a high-performance pickup, but I'd like something a little less thirsty.

I was thinking about getting an S-10 shortbed pickup and dropping a V-8 in it. In particular, I was thinking about using an engine and transmission from a Corvette. My best friend drives a late-model Corvette and he actually gets quite good fuel economy (mid 20s on average).

I have several questions regarding this swap. First, I favor the '94-and-newer body style, but most of the V-8 S-10 pickups that I've seen have been the early body style. Is there a difference in how hard or easy the swap is depending on body style? Is a Corvette engine viable, or should I look into another GM V-8? I'd like a manual transmission, but again, the trucks I've seen have all had automatic transmissions. Is there a problem with using a manual transmission? What would I have to do as far as wiring?

Finally, I live in California. I'm concerned that there might be problems with the state as far as emissions legality. Where can I find out about rules related to engine swaps?

Thanks for your help.
Jon Taylor
via email

Dropping a small-block V-8 in an S-10 is one of the most popular engine swaps around. There is a lot of information available on the Internet. We suggest that you do a thorough search to see what's available parts-wise and how different sources feel about various drivetrain combinations.

A great place to start your S-10 V-8 education is at www.jagsthatrun.com. Even though the name refers to Jaguar/Chevy V-8 swaps, the long-established company is a leader in engine swaps, including S-10 V-8 swaps. It offers extensive instruction manuals and sells all of the parts needed for the swap. Advance Adapters (www.advanceadapters.com) is another longtime engine-swap components company. Hedman Performance Group also offers mounts, headers, and oil pans for this swap. A general community site is www.s10v8.com. This site can put you in touch with other enthusiasts who've installed V-8s in their S-10s. A custom wiring-harness company that deals in harnesses for this swap is Current Performance (www.currentperformance.com).

You can do the swap on either a first-generation S-10 or a '94-or-newer truck. More swaps have been done on the early trucks and they're less complicated electronically. The newer the truck, the more sophisticated the computer controls are.

There are many similarities between the chassis of the two series. The newer chassis are stiffer, which is better. A new shifter linkage and a new steering column offer more engine-compartment room for a V-8.

A Corvette engine can be used, but it's not the best choice. The problem is the unique accessories that need to be changed to Camaro versions. You're better off starting with a Camaro engine.

Manual transmissions can be used, but automatics are favored for their simpler linkage components. If you bought a wrecked '93-'97 Camaro/Firebird you could use the T56 six-speed that comes in those cars. Another possibility is the five-speed that came with '90-and-newer 4.3L V-6 S-10s.

For wiring harnesses, check with a company such as the aforementioned Current Performance. These late-model Chevy V-8 engines are extremely popular with street rodders, so finding a custom wiring harness shouldn't be a problem.