HomeThe MarketLike people, cars sometimes get heart transplants

Like people, cars sometimes get heart transplants

This week’s trip through the AutoHunter docket features cars that have replacement engines


Carroll Shelby transformed a small British roadster produced by AC Cars into the mighty and sensational Shelby Cobra by transplanting Ford V8 engines — of 289 or 427cid —  beneath the “bonnet” where the Brits had been using an inline 6.

Ironically, Shelby also would undergo an engine transplant of sorts. He had to cut short his racing career, which included a co-driving victory at Le Mans in 1959 because he suffered from chronic heart issues. In 1990 he received a heart transplant and he lived until 2012 and the age of 89.

Which brings us to our weekly look at the docket for AutoHunter, the collector car auction site driven by ClassicCars.com. Each week one of our editors shares highlights of cars up for bidding. This week, it’s my turn, and I’ve selected several cars that, like Shelby and his Cobra, have had engine transplants:

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

AutoHunter, Like people, cars sometimes get heart transplants, ClassicCars.com Journal

The consignor of this ’57 Chevy reports the hardtop has been driven 2,000 miles since an upgrade that includes a 350cid crate V8, Saginaw 4-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter, new suspension, front disc brakes, air conditioning, Autosound audio, reupholstered leather interior and Dakota Digital gauges.

By the way, be the winning bidder on this car and you also get the original 283cid V8 that the factory had put under the hood.

1957 Ford Thunderbird

AutoHunter, Like people, cars sometimes get heart transplants, ClassicCars.com Journal

This ’57 Tbird has traveled 4,500 miles since its restoration, which involved the installation of a 5.3-liter General Motors LS V8 — yes, a Chevy engine in a Ford! The engine’s output goes to the rear wheels through an automatic transmission.

The 2-seater also got Vintage Air, front disc brakes and rear air shocks.

1988 Chevrolet C1500

AutoHunter, Like people, cars sometimes get heart transplants, ClassicCars.com Journal

This short-bed Chevrolet pickup is advertised as a “show truck” and has been owned by the same family since new, undergoing its frame-off restoration in 1996. That redo included a new 358cid V8 engine (replacing the factory 4.3-liter V6) and rebuilt Muncie M-22 manual transmission. Other changes included a clear pickup bed floor and the installation of vertical Cadillac tail lamps.

The truck has single-cab architecture, and its ride height was lowered 7 inches in front and 10 inches at the rear while riding on 18-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels.

The interior is done in red and maroon with cloth seats. Between the seats is the canister for the nitrous kit that boosts the engine power.

As a show truck, the vehicle reportedly has been driven only 4 miles since its upgrade and has been transported to events in an enclosed trailer.

1934 Chevrolet

AutoHunter, Like people, cars sometimes get heart transplants, ClassicCars.com Journal

This 1934 Chevy 2-door sedan was turned into a chopped and shaved cruiser in 2006. Its power comes from a Chevy 350cid small-block crate V8 linked to an automatic transmission. It rides on coil-over suspension (and 4 inches closer to the pavement than stock) with disc brakes up front. 

It also has an air-conditioned custom leather interior (with custom audio system and Bluetooth).

The paint is Cadillac silver and has custom pinstriping in silver and blue. 

1994 Chevrolet Impala SS

AutoHunter, Like people, cars sometimes get heart transplants, ClassicCars.com Journal

I’m including this ’94 Impala SS even though it still carries its factory-installed 5.7-liter V8. But it qualifies for this list because that engine is now turbocharged, with a trio of fuel injectors atop the throttle body and connected to a power programmer. Power goes to the limited-slip differential through a 4-speed automatic transmission.

To see other vehicles up for auction, visit the AutoHunter website.

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Why would you put a GM engine in a 57 Ford Thunderbird. How about a Ford Coyote 5 liter. I don’t get it but a real turnoff to a potential buyer. No interest personally.

  2. The T-Bird is one of those iconic cars you just do not slap a Chevy motor into.
    It is like they say it’s sacrilegious!
    You might as well put a 351 Windsor in a Corvette. It just ain’t right!

    • I agree with you! My neighbor across the street had a 57 T-Bird, and he crammed a Ford 427 in that one! Plus, did one beautiful paint job on it back when! I don’t remember what issue/year it was featured in, but it was featured in a Hot Rod Magazine, back then. His name is Dave Kowal. He used to do auto restoration work.


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