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Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Alpine History - Intro to V6 Conversion

You can ignore my history and go straight to the V6 Conversion pages:

My Dad purchased his Alpine from the first owner in about 1967, and sold it in 1976.  He doesn't recall the car well, and I was too young to know any of the particulars of the Series Alpines. Knowing what I know today however, I believe it was a Series IV due to the soft top compartment and the vertical tail fins.  The original Midnight Blue paint gave way to a metallic medium blue paint job at some point prior to 1972.

As a family we'd both loved and hated that car.  Frigid cold winter in northern Minnesota, when vehicles would fail to start, somehow Dad always got the Alpine started before the other vehicles. Being a very technically minded and self sufficient individual, he would then use the Alpine to get the other cars started.
  • For those that have not had the experience; The heater in the Alpine Series was nowhere near adequate for northern Minnesota winter.  Frequently, we had to take blankets with us, not to keep warm, rather in an attempt to keep from freezing to death!

Summer time was s different matter altogether.  My Dad would take me and my two friends for ice cream with the top down and the three of us sitting on the boot with our feet on the bench.  Of course you can't do that today with the government protecting us from ourselves.

 Soon after my parents moved us to southwestern Iowa and took over a business in 1972, there was no time for the little car and it sat in the driveway intact.  Having grown up with that car, approaching driving age, I anxiously waited for the day when it would be mine to drive.  Unfortunately my dreams were mine alone.  Just before I was old enough to drive, due to financial reasons Dad sold the Alpine in 1975-76. 

 I've looked at Alpines over the years and wished I could afford one and a place to work on it, but it wasn't until 2008-2009 that I finally decided to go for it.

Today, several years and a few thousand dollars later, my Series V has a 2.8L V6 utilizing a Jose kit with most of the off the basic performance mods. Jose has been a great help by providing insight from his many years of racing this configuration and helping to build many other V6 Alpine conversions.  Mine was one of the first V6 conversions in my immediate area, but others have seen what the V6 can do and have gone forward with their own conversions. I'm aware of and have assisted at various levels at least six other 2.8 conversions within a 50 mile radius of me.

The pages on this blog are here for general use.  I receive no compensation or commissions for any advertisements from this blog unless noted.  Have fun and enjoy your Alpine, respect that others may have different ideas, and if you want to learn from the mistakes of others, listen to people that have "Done it before".  

Beware the advise of those that have never completed this conversion.  It is relatively simple conversion if you follow knowledgeable advice.

More background on the conversion:

I've made two round trips half way across the country a couple of times in my series V.

The first was with a stock (or semi-stock) 1725cc four cylinder.  I have to say that it was a bit of a scary trip.  I discovered along the way that I had one of the porous intake gaskets so it was running lean all the way.  The buzz of this motor running at highway speeds for three days each way was frazzling my nerves.  When I finally got to my destination I took the time to resolve several issues before the trip home.  Fixing a brake clip that came loose, sealing the intake gasket with copper spray, changing the transmission, and bleeding the brakes (again) helped make the return trip a little less unnerving.

Driving around town with the 4 cylinder was fun, however the insecurity of longer trips had me investigating an easy and inexpensive way to beef up the performance and dramatically reduce the potential of a major breakdown.

I began reading about the 2.8L V6 Conversion on the SAOCA site, and learned of V6 Jose's conversion kit.  Jose and others that had accomplished the conversion spoke highly of the performance and ease of installation.  My resources were light...  single car garage, no room to work and limited funds.

As I followed the threads on the SAOCA site regarding this conversion it became apparent that there were a few individuals which seemed to have extreme opinions regarding this V6 and maybe more specifically, Jose.  Two or three specific and very opinionated members would consistently make negative posts directed at either the V6 conversion kit or Jose personally.

Undaunted by the online bickering, I continued with the V6 investigation and finally decided to make the leap to the V6 world.  Learning about the V6, Jose's kit, the T5 transmission and the modifications necessary was a little daunting because I'd never taken on a project such as this.  My experience was industrial, not automotive, so it was to be a learning experience for me, but with my engineering background and hands on skills I was confident it would work out in the end. 

Jose assured me that he'd help with information and advise.  I find Jose to be extremely knowledgeable about this motor and how to reap performance out of it, and he knows his kit parts and how to make it easily fit in the Alpine frame.

I accomplished the V6 installation easily with basically a "stock" configuration and decided to take the Alpine on the same trip as before.  The trip was much easier and I was happy with the reliability, however the performance with the original carburetor (a stock progressive two barrel in my case) was poor.  I continued to drive the Alpine with this configuration for a couple of years, but to be honest it lacked the excitement that I'd previously known.  It felt more like a heavy slug... and with good reason.   The stock configuration of my motor with the progressive two barrel carb was choked down for 1974 fuel crisis and didn't perform much better than the original 4 cylinder due to the additional weight.

After saving some cash, found and bought a second engine with good heads for $40.  Took the heads down to a local shop and had them thoroughly pressure tested, checked for cracks, ported and polished, 2.9 intake valves, new springs and locks - $800.  Installing these new heads along with an Offenhauser intake - $100, and a very low mileage four barrel from eBay - $75, were now added to my conversion.

Wow.  This package is an amazing improvement to the Alpine.

The facts are that no one else produces anything close to this kit for standardizing the installation of a different power plant in an Alpine.  I've put these pages together to compile some of the information which I've come across while helping assemble six V6 conversions.  This is not to say that there aren't other great conversions being done, but it's all in what you want in your car.  Maybe you're the type of guy that wants to try something new with a completely custom installation or perhaps a science project which could have great potential. Why would anyone hold that against you?

If you like what you see, or have comments, additions, or corrections, please take the time to leave me a message.

Continue to the Conversion pages: