454SS Custom Plug Wires

           Go open the hood of your truck.  Go ahead, and check out those sickly looking plug wires and looms.  Not what you would associate with the pinnacle of coolness.  I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I decided to dress up the motor compartment with a new set of “high-performance” wires, and fit them in preparation for a set of headers.  While this modification will not guarantee tons more torque from your iron beast, it does look trick, helps to avoid melted wires, and might give a very slight performance boost.  Here’s what you need:


ü      One set of V-8 custom wires.  I used Taylor wires.  They appeared to be a good deal for the money, don’t interfere with any of the on-board electronics, and they come in all sorts of trick, outrageous colors (I think they have 8 or 10 choices, I recommend the red color:).  

ü      Vaseline. 

ü      Knife or razor for stripping the rubber wire casing. 

ü      Wire cutter (side cutters, dykes, whatever you call them).

ü      Thin flathead screwdriver (for popping apart the stock looms)

ü      Plug wire stripper/crimper.  A Craftsman multi-purpose wire stripper/crimper works well, and even provides a crimp for 7-8mm plug wires.  

ü      Patience and about 1 hour of time.

ü      New looms to complete the upgraded appearance.  Bob Hauk recommends GMPP# 12495502, which I have not installed yet as they are on order, and which he says are cheap yet sexy at about $10 a piece.  Thanks Bob!


First begin by opening the box of wires and laying out all 8 wires lengthwise, so you can see at a glance what you have, instead of fish through wires as you do the swap. 

Now you want to free up some room on the passenger side of the motor, so remove that snorkel from the resonator box and the manifold-to-air cleaner aluminum pipe.  You might find it easier to work if you remove the whole air cleaner, if you are so inclined, as this will also free up space near the distributor for you to swap the wires. 

Remove all of the wires from the stock looms.  These are not intended to be operated on a regular basis, so you want to exercise caution on removing them if you intend to keep them.  The basic design is a two-piece plastic unit, wherein the top half clips into the base half, much like the wire connectors found throughout our trucks.  Pry them apart with the screwdriver.  There are two 4-wire harnesses, one 3-wire, one-two wire, and one single-wire harness one each side of the motor. 

Now that the wires are free, you may begin to swap wires.  In this Taylor kit, even the shortest wire was about the same length as the longest stock wire, so I didn’t need to worry about matching the longest stock wire to the longest custom wire.   I found myself more organized if I simply replaced all the wires on one side of the motor and then the other, replacing ONLY one at a time, so as to keep organized and keep the correct firing order.  If you are simply replacing the old wire with the new wire, pull #1 wire, lay against the best match, and cut the custom wire to fit, leaving ½” to 5/8” extra to permit stripping.  If you have headers or desire a different routing path, you will need to remove the old wire, route the new wire in a position you are satisfied with, and then cut it to fit. 

Before stripping, grease up the end of the wire with Vaseline, and slip on one of the supplied boots.  Then strip down about ½” of the rubber casing, being careful not to damage the conductor.  Bend the conductor wire over top of the rubber case, and slip one of the supplied connectors on.  Crimp the connector on, and be careful not to cut through the rubber casing when doing so.  More Vaseline is in order to slip the boot down the wire and over the connector.  Apply some Vaseline or the supplied “di-electric grease” into both connectors, and install on the respective spark plug and distributor terminal.  This helps prevent corrosion from building, and eases removal of the wires. 

Repeat the process for the other 7 wires.  When you are finished, pop the wires back in the looms.  GM builders were apparently very utilitarian in running these wires, so if you are using the stock looms, there is definitely room for appearance improvement when routing the wires.  Install them in the looms such that you are satisfied.  Fairly self-explanatory. 

Lastly, address the coil-to-distributor wire.  Just use a cut-off piece of wire and crimp a connector and boot on each end, and snap in place.  Reassemble your intake system. 

Now, doesn’t that look much better?  You will be blessed with many coolness-points when you show up to the local cruise and pop the hood.