6.5 Diesel, or 5.3 Vortec in my FJ40 ??

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Mar 13, 2004
Lakewood, CO.
I`m looking for opinions on my project, I have a 70 fj40 rolling chassis.
I plan on dana 60 front, rear 70, or 14 bolt for my axles.

My question is what engine should I go with?
I can get a 94 chevy truck with the 6.5turbo diesel, NV4500 trans, t-case, 14 bolt FF rear axle complete, and driving for $3,800, I can get just about everything off of the 94 chevy. all I would need is the front axle for my fj40.

Or I can get a 5.3 Vortec engine, with the tranny, and t-case from my friend for $1000. The Vortec needs the engine wiring harness, about $700, and the VCM, and who knows what else. and a rear axle, and brake booster, and other misc.

What do you think, and if you have a Vortec, or a 6.2, 6.5 turbo diesel in your cruiser, I would like to get some info from you.
Personally, I'm not a fan of chevy 6.5 diesels due to lack of power and reliability issues. Also, I don't care to be smelling diesel all day when I'm wheeling.

Many people have stated that 5.3 engine does not have the low end torque like a 350 TBI, 350 Vortec motor.
I'm really liking my 6.2L diesel in my 60, but I don't think I would like it as much in a wheelin' truck.


Pros - same hp and slightly higher torque numbers as a 2F at the same RPM. idles all day without overheating or using much fuel.
can run at any angle, but then so could a FI gasser
no ignition system to get wet

Cons - heavy. Weighs about the same as a 2F or a big block. Plus the weight of two batteries, and a monster flywheel.Weight means breakage.
Tough to spin up. If you do a lot of mud or sand, a gasser will give you more RPMs
Tough to find fuel, especially if your out in the boonies in a strange area. better mileage doesn't help if you can't get fuel.
fawkin' stinky and loud. that's the part I would hate the most
I don't know how the vacuum pump or hydroboost would hold up on a steep grade at in idle. If you ran a manual or deep gears behind an auto, you could engine brake the hell out of it.

Not that it would make a big difference on a trail rig, but I'm driving the Echo today because the 6.2 had no intentions of starting at -2 degrees.

Power is not a big issue with a Vortec. I'd go for the cheaper and torquier 5.7L
Which transmission is behind the vortec, this would influence my choice, if it were an auto or some half ton tranny, I'd forget about it. I like the sound of the diesel/NV4500 combo, beefy transmission, torque available at a nice low rpm, fuel economy is an other convenient plus. The drivetrain you're thinking of will easily stand up to the heavier diesel setup.
If you are going to spend the time and money to do an engine swap you should really look at a cummins. It is the only deisel choice in my opinion.(and alot of old men that know).
I would try for something othe than a chevy disel. I've always been a chevy man but I would never own a 6.5 disel. Way too many problems with that motor. Heads and head gaskets are a big problem.

Just my 2 cents.
Chad P.
Well the 5.3 has 330torque and 285hp.
The 5.7 has 350torque and 255hp.
The 6.5 turbo that I drove in the truck I want to take it out of, has alot of power, smoke the wheels on the street in second without using the clutch.
The problems that I have researched on the 6.5 is the PMD over heats, that can be fixed, and they do seem to blow the engine when they are pulling heavy loads for along time.
The 4low in this truck felt as low as my friends fj40 with a nv4500, atlas 3.8, 4.56 gears, 37" tires.
I couldn`t beleave how low this was geared, I couldn`t hardly use the skinny pedal it was so low.
I thought about a 4bt cummins, but the seem to be almost to tall at 33" from oli pan to the top.
The 6.5 uses the same motor mounts as the small block chevy, which I already have in my cruiser, and is not quit as big as a big block.

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