I’ve been trying to focus on existing projects but the fact that they aren’t making any more AMC’s always has me thinking about what parts/cars I can’t pass up when they come along. Recently I’ve been thinking about engines. I would like to have a couple of backup motors. 401’s would be awesome, but let’s be realistic. I used to think 360’s were pretty common but lately I’ve been questioning that. I did pick up a FREE 360 (craigslist) back in 2010. But I rarely see them for sale on craigslist these days and I don’t think they are that common in the junk yards either around here.
So, I’ve been paying attention to the local pick n pull. I got an email alert last tuesday that they had a “pre-81 AMC truck”. Don’t know why it’s listed as AMC instead of Jeep. There was no other info. I had some rare time on Saturday and I really needed to focus on existing projects. But the weather was nice for a change (it’s been raining a ton here lately) and so I decided I had to run up to the yard and just see if this truck had a 360 in it.
The website said they had three “pre-81 AMC trucks”. I got to the yard around 11am and started heading to the row the first one was supposed to be in. Found it quickly. A 1974 Jeep J20 pickup. Awesome. If I didn’t have too many projects already I would love to have a j10, j20, etc. truck. I think they are very cool. Anyway, I walk up to the truck and look in the engine bay. Engine is there and it’s a v8. I also see that it has these Doug Thorley tri-y headers and a Holley carb. The truck is lifted and on the stands they put all the cars on so it’s sitting pretty high. I stick my head in the wheel well and shine my flashlight up at the side of the block. And there it was… “401”. Jackpot!!!
I was so excited. So I start taking stuff apart to get the motor free. After about 15 minutes I realized I could really use some help. I thought I could get the motor out by myself but I needed to get one of the A-frame rolling engine hoists and I didn’t want to leave the truck in case anyone else showed up and tried to claim the motor. So I got on the phone and started making calls. Called a number of people and found TWO friends who were able to come help. Now that I knew reinforcements were on the way I went back to trying to free the motor.
The truck was so high that even I needed to stand on something to reach over the fender and loosen bolts. I got the radiator out and several of the header bolts. I removed the master cylinder as well. After a bit Mark showed up. I asked him to go find an engine hoist. After a few minutes he came back with one and the two of us kept working. It was sunny and warm but there had been so much rain recently that there was a several inch massive puddle along the driver’s side of the truck. And it was wet under the truck as well. There were already some hoods and floor mats around to lay on but it was still not ideal conditions for being under a truck at a junk yard. Mark just go to work though. I wanted the headers so he started disconnecting the headers from the rest of the exhaust.
Eventually Matt showed up and started dragging more hoods and floor mats over to try to make a bridge over the deep puddle. We removed the Jeeps hood and set it aside. I didn’t want it being stepped on in case some jeeper needed it. The 3 of us just kept picking away and removing more and more stuff. The transmission was fighting us until I realized there were a couple of allen head bolts that we didn’t remove. Got those off and was able to kick it off the back of the motor. After a couple of hours we got to the point where we were ready to pull the motor. But we didn’t think we had enough height on the winch to get the motor over the grill. So first we hooked up the lower frame/rad support and lifted the truck off the front wheel stands it was on. We lowered it back down and now the front end was nice and low. Next we strapped up the motor and undid the motor mount bolts and started lifting. Yes, it came out no problem and we got the hoist with the hanging motor away from the car and through the big puddle.
Next I got the torque converter off the back of the motor and I let a guy that had come all the way from San Jose take the power steering pump and bracket off it. Matt pulled a few remaining vacuum lines off it and then we pushed the thing up to where they ring you up. Total was just under $475. That got me a complete 401, oil pan to carb and the set of headers.
I really lucked out with both Mark and Matt coming to help. With the 3 of us it still took 4 hours total to get it out. I wouldn’t have been able to do it myself AND I realized I wouldn’t have been able to get it home without Matt. My truck has a shell and they don’t have a forklift or anything to help you load into a truck with a shell. Luckily Matt came in his Ranger and so we used the hoist to get it in his truck. Then I drove his truck home and he drove mine.
That was it for Saturday. On Sunday I got an hour to get it unloaded from the truck and onto an engine stand. I did a little research and those headers are $800+ online!? However they are for Jeeps and I don’t know if they will fit any of the passenger cars. Worst case I’ll sell them. The carb was less interesting. It’s a Holley 4160 600 cfm. Looks like you can get them rebuilt for $250 online. I was hoping it was a 750 and maybe appropriate for the Matador. No biggie. The motor was a big enough score by itself. I think this is the 401 that I will build for the Matador. It’s a ‘74 so it has the later crank style. Next order of business is to degrease the crap out of it.
HUGE thanks to Mark and Matt! Pics below…