Swapping the Northstar into the Catera
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Cadillac Catera and Cimarron Forum Discussion, Swapping the Northstar into the Catera in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; First post here and I'm glad to see there is actually a Cadillac forum dedicated to exchanging info about Caddies. ...
  1. #1
    scourge Guest

    Swapping the Northstar into the Catera

    First post here and I'm glad to see there is actually a Cadillac forum dedicated to exchanging info about Caddies. Right now, I'm still in the gathering info stage. I think its important to have a definate POA before starting any project. I have seen many projects both here and back in the USA get abandoned, sidetracked, or wind up costing much more than expected due to poor planning.

    The idea is to swap a Northstar engine into a Catera and use a Vette 6-speed mission. I know Holden Commodores utilize a 5.7 liter engine down in Australia, so I know the Northstar will fit. Of course, I would want to have the Northstar engine tweaked some before installation. I know the Vette engine can make more power, but I want to keep the Cadillac theme. Its the Catera that GM should have made for the US market from the beginning. But, I know expecting GM to do the logical thing from the start is asking too much.

    So, does anyone know if this swap has been done? It seems like a natural especially with the new Monaro/GTO going to America. Thoughts?

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    Brett's Avatar
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    the main problem your gonna have is that the Northstar is a fwd engine, so you are gonna have to fabricate just about everything. a vette six speed definitely wont work. the new rwd northstar that is in the SRX and XLR is 80% different from the current engine, so using those parts is out also. to me sounds like this swap would be a HUGE headache. putting in a LS1 would probably be a pain, but infinitely easier than putting in a North*

  4. #3
    scourge Guest
    Actually, according to Commodore owners in Australia, installing an LS1 is a very easy swap as a version of the Commodore comes with the LS1 from the factory.

    And, making the Northstar engine work in a RWD setup isn't that hard at all.* http://www.chrfab.com has made a business of selling Northstar engines setup for sandrunners or even hotrods. I've seen the Northstar in hotrods back at car shows in Tennessee. The owners never said it was a hard swap. Now, motormounts may be an issue, but I expected this to start with. But, I know the Catera (which is a Holden and Opel underneath after doing research) will accomodate the Northstar.

    According to the above website, they use an S10 manual transmission but I was thinking that a Vette 6-speed would be stronger and better. GM people I have corresponded with online all have told me the Vette mission will bolt on. Even if they are mistaken, the S10 mission will work fine. You can find Northstar engines for sale on EBAY fairly cheap these days (often under $2500). A used 1997-98 Catera can be found for under $6000. I know shops back home that I can trust to do a good job, so for $10,000, I think a V8 powered Catera would make a damn fine car.

    *Its been done here in Japan and seems to be getting more popular due to the weight savings. Swap an MR2 mid-engine configuration into a MarkIV Supra which is a RWD configuration. 500hp+ and a much much smaller engine that sits behind the front axle and is lighter than the standard MarkIV inline 6 engine.

    I'm not saying a Northstar in the Catera will be a cakewalk, but in all my research, I see no reason why its either impossible or cost prohibitive either. Since the Northstar will fit into streetrods and work RWD, there is no reason to think it can't in a Catera. It will be awhile, but I can't wait to find out. I would love to see someone else do this swap even if I'm not the first.

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    Brett's Avatar
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    Go for it...just make sure you keep us posted

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    elwesso's Avatar
    elwesso is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Obviously you have done your research, and go for it!!! That would make a hell of a car!!!

  7. #6
    scourge Guest
    Yeah, I have seen too many projects either die, cost too much, or have to be sold off due to poor planning. I want to get ALL the information FIRST before even turning a wrench. That way, all the parts can be bought at one time, take it to a shop, rip out the old stuff and then drop in the new. Should take less than a week to get it all installed and fine tuned.

    I can't do this project right now, but its on my "To do list." I would like to be the first in the US with such a swap, but it won't break my heart if someone does it first. There is already a guy in New York swapping an RB20DET and a 5-speed into an Infiniti M30. I wanted to be the first, but now I just can't wait to see how it turns out. At least SOMEONE did it.

  8. #7
    Chuck C's Avatar
    Chuck C is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    we're all rooting for you scourge...it's like the Monster Garage (discovery channel) good luck!

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    DeVillish's Avatar
    DeVillish is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    that would be really cool, i love cats and always thought they should have at least had a V8 option. either a N* or ls1 would be one hell of a car. Do it first so i can find out the bad stuff ahead of time

    PS check out this site for some cool Cat stuff, but its a germany i think. http://www.pvdnet.co.uk/steinmetz/omega_bodystyling.asp

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    HotRodSaint's Avatar
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    Originally posted by scourge

    According to the above website, they use an S10 manual transmission but I was thinking that a Vette 6-speed would be stronger and better. GM people I have corresponded with online all have told me the Vette mission will bolt on. Even if they are mistaken, the S10 mission will work fine.
    GM people should know that the Corvette tranny is mounted in the rear. You might want to think about using a Camaro 6speed tranny instead. In fact, it would be easier and cheaper to buy a Camaro/Trans Am drive train. Since the Catera was never made at a Cadillac factory anyway, you'd be keeping real buy using parts bin stuff just like GM did.

  11. #10
    scourge Guest

    Re: Swapping the Northstar into the Catera

    HA! Two threads here at one time. Its an explosion of new activity.

  12. #11
    DeVillish's Avatar
    DeVillish is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    so any updates on this??

  13. #12
    scourge Guest

    Re: Swapping the Northstar into the Catera

    Quote Originally Posted by DeVillish
    so any updates on this??

    Yes, Cadillac Hot Rod Fabricators told me that they can work the heads and get a new cam for a lot more power and a 5-speed will easily mate up for a RWD configuration. They did say the stock Catera drive shaft may/may not bolt right in. They didn't know the length of the drive shaft, so they couldn't say if it would work or if one would need a donor driveshaft from another car. I know a guy who can make custom aluminum drive shafts but why pay for custom work when a cheaper alternative will work just as well?

    If anyone wants more info, you can email CHRFab at:


    http://www.chrfab.com/


    As for me doing this anytime soon, I can't. I am selling my Skyline becasue I am trying to move to the Japanese mainland. $1200USD just to ship the car to Osaka - not gonna pay that. And, if I do return to the USA this December to go to Graduate School, I'll get an Infiniti M30 and swap in an SR20 and 5 speed from over here - simply because its cheaper for me as I have access to the parts and people who can do the swap. Now, if I were staying long term in the USA and had the money, then I'd go with the Catera/Northstar.

  14. #13
    Ls1 Catera project is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Talking

    I am so into this just got to run to work again

    Getting bored working at Mercedes so much even doe AMG's are fun to drive trough the car wash. . .

  15. #14
    blkchrry92dvl is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    I remember an article in gm hightech perf mag a while back about a catera with an ls6 swap done by Lingenfelter, complete with t56 trans. I have the mag at home, but couldn't find the link on its website. From what I remember, they said the motor and trans made it in fine, but the headers were a nightmare to fabricate, due to the fact that the US spec Cateras are about 2 inches narrower in the front than Aus Commodores. Later the ownder decided to upgrade the ls6 to 427 package, as if it weren't enough already They also menitoned that wiring was hell, as well as making all the gauges work properly and stuff. So I guess ls1/ls6 swap can be done, although with some inevitable headaches; I say contact Lingenfelter for more info.

    Also, I'll bet Northstar swap will be more difficult, due to its DOHC heads (the narrow front body work may not accomodate the larger exterior dimension of the Northstar compared to ls1/ls6). Like others have said, the trans issue would remain, as well as motor mounts, etc. I say keep pushing for ls1/ls6 conversion.

  16. #15
    scourge Guest

    Re: Swapping the Northstar into the Catera

    Scan the article and post it here! CHRF has assured me that the swap isn't as difficult as an LS1 as they have expert knowledge with the Northstar and making trannies and the engine fit.

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