This LS-Swapped Buick Century Wagon Is a Land-Yachting, Off-Road Champ
, 2022-10-26 15:23:09,
It didn’t take long for Gordan Bettles to find himself in a position that very few other racers do. His 1978 GMC Jimmy he built for off-roading was “far too capable and reliable,” he said. In other words, it was too good. Too good for the Gambler and all he wanted to do was make his life harder.
So, he did. Bettles and his friend were looking for the opposite of good when it comes to off-roading and landed on an inevitable pick: a Malaise-era land yacht that was neither reliable nor especially capable off-road. They result was a Buick Century wagon they saved from the crusher. The junkyard owners gave it to Bettles for free, which was a surprise: the massive wagon started and drove just fine.
Back at home, the wagon was parked in Bettles’ yard for about a year before they decided to wrench on it for real. Out came the factory 403 V-8 three-speed automatic and in went an LQ4 V-8 with a four-speed automatic from a heavy-duty pickup from his dad. It wasn’t a perfect fit, Bettles says he had to fabricate a few motor and transmission mounts, which is probably putting things lightly. The big rig still ran a stock ECU but needed a new fuel pump—more on that later.
Not content with a hot-rod wagon, Bettles turned to the suspension for his newfound off-road land yacht. The wagon’s front springs and shocks were taken from a 1995 Chevy 1500, which gave it nearly five inches of lift already. In the back, coil springs from a 1988 Ford F-150…
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