1963 Willys Truck, 4.27 gears

HoJoPo

Gear Grinder
Aug 28, 2016
8
Northern Nevada
First Name
Howard
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1963
I have a 1963 Willys Truck, a former ranch truck from the Dillon, MT area. The previous owner removed the L6-230 engine after the truck was brought to Nevada, and replaced it with a Chevy Vortec 4.3, keeping the original T-90 3 speed and transfer case.

It's a pretty good swap, just needs to have a few fitment issues ironed out... runs great after a new electric fuel pump and fresh fuel (it had been sitting in the desert for 3+ years, with only 12 miles on the rebuilt 4.3 engine.) There's a progressive four barrel Holley carb that seems to run OK. I need to replace the oversized Ford radiator he used, as it blocks the cab heater air intake.

I was considering a Saturn Overdrive conversion, but after test driving the truck and finding it to be quite quick, I checked the axle ratios. Both the rear Dana 53 (the cover looks like a 53, fill plug below axle center line) and front Dana 25 have 4.27 gears according to the tags, and it definitely drives like it has that high of a ratio (not like 4.88 or 5.38). I haven't found any information on this gearing, though it does make sense for a Montana truck of that era, and appears to be the factory installed ratio.

I have the original Montana green title, signed over for sale in 1975! It hasn't been on road since then, though it was used on the ranch until the mid 90s.

I'm going to have to do a complete rewire (previous owner wasn't a very good electrician...), dimple the firewall on the passenger side to clear the valve cover, fix the alternator wiring (it doesn't charge, parts are on the way, GM 5 wire CS-130 alternator) and the tail lights. Oh, and add some tail pipes to the mufflers, and fix the exhaust hangers....

Other than that, and some fresh tires (it has Dunlop bias-ply 7.50-16 tires from the 70s on it)... it will be street ready. I'll either go with the STA reproduction 7.50 16 tires, or some Goodyear Duratracs in 235/85R16. I will have to buy one wheel as the spare is a 15 inch rim / tire.

Only trim missing so far are the 4 wheel drive logos for the hood. Only rust throughs are in the driver's floor pan, pretty good since the rancher liked to drive it up and down the river on his ranch.

It was originally white, but the previous owner sprayed it with 1 1/2 coats (some parts one coat, some parts two coats) of canary yellow paint. I will repaint the truck international yellow as it is the correct yellow for a 1963 Willys.

The front has a "Willys" script chrome bumper, in decent (minimal surface rust) shape. The rear has a Luverne diamondplate bumper with flip over hitch... no tags, but it does look like a Luverne.
 

Ken_Parkman

Sharpest Tool
Oct 28, 2013
337
Ontario
First Name
Ken
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1962
The "normal" gears in a Tornado engined pickup were 4.09 rear, 4.10 front. I have axles out of a very early production 62 Tornado, and it has 4.27s front and rear. The 4.27s were listed as optional in earlier trucks with the 226 engine.

I'd thought the very early truck may have had the 4.27's cause they were had them on hand and were using them up. But maybe the 4.27s were still optional all the way through.

And Welcome to the forum!!
 

scramboleer

Super Moderator
Staff member
All-Star
Aug 16, 2011
7,394
San Francisco, California
First Name
Dan
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1964
Welcome to the forum. Your truck sounds sweet. Looking forward to seeing pictures.

Cheers from the next state over,



Scramboleer AKA Dan
 

Pivnic

Well Oiled
Nov 24, 2009
3,909
Conifer, Colorado
First Name
John
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1957
Welcome from Colorado, Howard. It sounds like you have a good plan for your Willys Pickup. Post of some pictures of it when you get a chance. Pivnic
 

HoJoPo

Gear Grinder
Aug 28, 2016
8
Northern Nevada
First Name
Howard
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1963
Here's a picture, I'll take some more later showing the 4.3 Vortec.

1963 Willys Truck.jpg

It will definitely look better once I get it repainted the correct 1963 Transport Yellow / Caterpillar Yellow color.
 

lbpa18

Precision Fit
Nov 9, 2013
677
Alaska & Utah
First Name
Lew
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1959
Glad it went to a good home Howard. Had I not been out of the country Id have snatched it up. I talked to the gentleman for quite a while. I think you got a great truck. Good luck.
Lew
 

beewhisper1

Sharpest Tool
Jan 29, 2012
448
Voluntown Ct
First Name
Chet
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1962
Here's a picture, I'll take some more later showing the 4.3 Vortec.

View attachment 30785

It will definitely look better once I get it repainted the correct 1963 Transport Yellow / Caterpillar Yellow color.
Looking forward to seeing your pictures of the 4.3 in the engine bay. Have any idea as to MPG for this drive train?
Nice truck.
Chet
 

HoJoPo

Gear Grinder
Aug 28, 2016
8
Northern Nevada
First Name
Howard
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1963
Looking forward to seeing your pictures of the 4.3 in the engine bay. Have any idea as to MPG for this drive train?
Nice truck.
Chet
I have no idea of the mileage, and I will likely use it for around town / the local trails, so fuel economy won't likely be accurate. I'd expect in the mid to upper teens, with the 4.27 gears and 32 inch tires, for highway mileage.

Here's some pictures showing the 4.3l engine, including where I should clearance the firewall a bit more to clear the passenger side valve cover (I'm thinking an air hammer will let me do it without having to pull the engine), and some pictures of the Luverne rear bumper.

DSCF0231.jpgDSCF0234.jpgDSCF0235.jpgDSCF0236.jpgDSCF0237.jpgDSCF0238.jpg

I'll be replacing the radiator with a narrower unit, so the heather air intake will fit. The radiator hoses are a bit hard after three years in the desert as well. I also need to fabricate a fan shroud to help with cooling.

The bed of the truck is in great shape, considering it was a Montana ranch truck for most of its life.

I just received the wiring harness for the alternator (with 80 ohm resistor in the field lead), so I'll be fixing that next.
The Duralast group 34 AGM battery fits great in the stock battery tray. And I have a lot of wiring to clean up....
 

beewhisper1

Sharpest Tool
Jan 29, 2012
448
Voluntown Ct
First Name
Chet
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1962
I like the yellow on that truck. I'm surprised that the 4.3 was as close to the firewall as that, given this was a latter year truck designed to house a bigger motor in it (so I'm told). My guess is that the stock trans/transfer mount location produced your clearance concern. Are you going to keep the AC system also? Based on your "to do " list, this outta clean up real nice. Nice find and seems to be in good hands.
 

HoJoPo

Gear Grinder
Aug 28, 2016
8
Northern Nevada
First Name
Howard
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1963
I like the yellow on that truck. I'm surprised that the 4.3 was as close to the firewall as that, given this was a latter year truck designed to house a bigger motor in it (so I'm told). My guess is that the stock trans/transfer mount location produced your clearance concern. Are you going to keep the AC system also? Based on your "to do " list, this outta clean up real nice. Nice find and seems to be in good hands.
Yellow has always been my favorite for these trucks, but I'm going to go with the darker Transport Yellow that should be on it for '63 (the truck was originally white). The 4.3 location is definitely close due to using the original trans/transfer case mounts and driveshafts. The firewall on the passenger side has already been dimpled to clear the exhaust manifold... but there's no clearance problem on the driver's side. This is probably because the original engine was an inline 6, and the 4.3 is a V6.

It should clean up quite well, mostly needs the trim installed (I have to buy some clips) and paint, and I do have plans to eventually install a Vintage Air system under the dash, after all, this is now a Nevada truck!

I do have plans to Line-X the bed of the truck (in matching yellow, not black) and to do the same to the floor boards / lower cab on the inside.
 

scramboleer

Super Moderator
Staff member
All-Star
Aug 16, 2011
7,394
San Francisco, California
First Name
Dan
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1964
I'm surprised that the 4.3 was as close to the firewall as that, given this was a latter year truck designed to house a bigger motor in it (so I'm told). My guess is that the stock trans/transfer mount location produced your clearance concern.
You're right. The factory carved out the firewall in mid-1962 to fit the new 230 OHC Tornado, just like this one a few posts back:

Factory firewall to fit 230 OHC Tornado.jpg

The extra room doesn't seem to help with how the V6 is mounted in this case.
 
Top