Carburetor Bad, Fuel Injection Good: Custom Dodge Van Donates EFI System To A100 Hell Project

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

I’ve been driving the A100 Hell Project around with its horrible-at-best Carter BBD carburetor (which Chrysler almost certainly chose because it was 18 cents cheaper than a Holley), and every time it stumbles, refuses to idle, or performs any of the standard repertoire of BBD tricks, I swear to myself that I’m going to go to fuel injection real soon. That process began weekend before last, when I grabbed the intake and throttle body off an ’89 Dodge van.

Oh, I have a Holley 2300 in the garage, and an adapter to bolt it to the Carter-friendly intake, but that’ll just be a temporary measure. The long-term plan involves a Megasquirt setup controlling bolt-on Chrysler factory hardware. I need to rig a fuel return line to the A100’s tank, along with a high-pressure fuel pump and an oxygen sensor in the exhaust, but the first step involved scoring an intake/throttle body setup from a pre-Magnum 318 or 360 Dodge truck. A quick phone call to Andy, LeMons racer and owner of a Colorado yard packed with such goodies as this time-capsule ’66 Coronet and the King of the Molester Vans, and I was on my way to snatch the intake hardware off a Crusher-bound ’89 Dodge Ram van conversion. “You might have to help me move some other cars out of the way first,” he told me, and he wasn’t kidding. Here’s the view of the van when I arrived.

What van, right? After we dragged the ’02 Camaro, the Peugeot 505, the ’95 Caprice, and the ’79 Malibu station wagon out of the way and over to the other side of the yard, we still had the Golf, the Monte, and the Vanagon to go. Andy has plenty of inventory, and it’s all for sale!

There it is! It’s a shame to crush a running van conversion in nice shape, but the scrap value is higher than the real-world resale value these days; those who once wanted these vans now insist on giant SUVs.

Hmmm… that intake isn’t coming out from this side!

That’s better! Once the doghouse came off, access to just about all the fasteners was quite easy.

Rodents had been nesting on the engine, so I had to brush away lots of hantavirus-saturated mouse poop and nest material to get to the intake bolts.

The only real hassle was removing the AC compressor brackets, which attach to the front of the intake manifold. That part had to be done from the front, with every socket extension and swivel in my toolbox. Adding to the fun was the mixup of metric and SAE fasteners used by Dodge during the late 1980s (this concept served as the inspiration for a great 24 Hours of LeMons penalty.)

Success! Then it was time to admire some of the great machinery in Andy’s yard.

Like, say, this refrigerator-white big-block Satellite! I’ll share some more of my photos of Andy’s inventory in the near future, so check in later.

Intake, throttle body, air cleaner, distributor, various sensors, pretty much 85% of the parts I’ll need to go to a Megasquirt EFI system in the A100, all tossed in the back of my increasingly beat ’92 Civic. The intake should bolt right on to my 318, and the throttle body is more or less self-contained, with built-in fuel-pressure regulator, most of the needed sensors, and the correct downshift linkage attachments. Since I’m not trying to go fast, the power limitations of this throttle body won’t matter to me; I just want the van to start in all weather, idle smoothly, and crack the two-digit fuel-economy barrier.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Omnifan Omnifan on Apr 04, 2011

    I'm curious to see how the Megasquirt controller works out. I looked at using it on my K-car convertible, but instead opted for a TBI from an old Omni due to cost. I scarfed out the entire wiring harness and am in the process of customizing it. Only concern is the fuel tank. Every one in the pick n pull has been stabbed with a screwdriver to get the fuel out, so a new tank is a must.

  • The CHZA The CHZA on Jul 01, 2011

    My 1967 Coronet wagon has a Carter BBD on its 318 and it couldn't be easier to work on. I retuned the idle and idle mixtures in about ten minutes yesterday. Someone previously installed a Mopar electronic distributor and orange box controller, and it always starts and runs perfectly fine. Though based on my Googlings, apparently once emissions controls and electronics got tacked onto these things for Dodges and Jeeps, they became quite terrible. Swapping downwards to a new purely mechanical carb (Holley sells remanufactured/replica late 60s BBDs for about $190) would probably net a similar gain in economy (a friend got 14-18 mpg in his 2 barrel 67 Charger 318 when new) and reliability, and be a lot easier than figuring out Megasquirt.

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