9-Second Bird: Calvin Nelson’s Vortec 4200 Powered Studebaker Lark

The LS engine finds its way into about every vehicle imaginable thanks to the size, cost, and availability of parts for the platform, but not everyone wants to carry the “LS swap the world” flag. Calvin Nelson has created a truly unique vehicle by swapping a 4.2 liter Vortec 4200 mill into a 1962 Studebaker Lark and adding boost for good measure.

The Vortec 4200 is an inline six-cylinder engine under GM’s Atlas platform and could be found in a variety of smaller SUVs. The 4200 produced 275 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque in stock form, so it wasn’t a powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination. This engine was mass-produced in great quantities, so Nelson didn’t have any issues finding specimens for his various swap projects, including the Lark.

Nelson’s Lark is a funky mixture of parts, but you can’t argue with the results. The Vortec 4200 is fed boost via a small frame turbocharger and is controlled by a Megasquirt ECU. A custom intake and exhaust manifold were created to connect the turbo to the engine. A TH400 transmission shoves all the Vortec’s horsepower back to an 8.5-inch rearend out of an S-10 pickup truck.

The Studebaker’s journey to a high-performance machine has been an interesting one and Nelson has documented every step on his YouTube channel. In this particular video, Nelson is working to dial the car in more on its way to a 9-second pass. The 9.99-second pass at 132 mph was a huge accomplishment for Nelson and his wild homebuilt hot rod.

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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