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1927 Roadster truck 390FE or Buick V6 HELP!!!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Kustom Fabricator, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. Kustom Fabricator
    Joined: Jul 4, 2010
    Posts: 87

    Kustom Fabricator

    Building a 1927 Roadster truck. Because I want to drive this car A LOT when I am finished I need to have pretty good gas mileage, so I am torn between my engine choice

    First option is a 390FE out of an 63 bird with low miles. The car is about 4.5 inches from the ground and I have a Model A frame. The body is channeled all 4 inches over the frame. The 390 in that frame/body combo is AWESOME looking!!! Valve covers are higher and wider then the cowl. Looks like a cartoon car but man it looks cool. I just know MPG will not be that great. Looked on the hamb in articles and it seams if I build it with a RV cam, small runner intake, 650 carb or smaller, electronic egnition with a re-curved spark, 3.00 gears and such a little/light car maybe I could squeeze 20MPG on the freeway. If I could get a realistic 20MPG on the freeway I would run the 390 hands down but what REALLY is the MPGs these engines can get.

    Second option I have a Buick 231 Oddfire V6. Cool little motor that I can still get all the Offy finnned valve covers and intake still. All parts are pretty cheap and of course gas mileage would be way better! maybe 25 or better.

    Overall I will have A LOT more interior room with the Buick since right now with the 390 it leaves me just enough room to put my feet inside the cowl area because the bellhousing is so huge on that thing. Buick is way easier to cool since I have to use a small radiator to keep the grill shell the same height as the cowl. I think the driving expierience will be better with the buick V6 but the coolness factor goes down. FOR ONCE I would like to have a Hot Rod/Custom that I can drive and not worry about dumping in the gas money. Still those Buick V6's are cool, I can get pretty decent power out of it and still get MPG's. Just dont know if the trade-off is worth it.

    Does anybody have any comments and wisdom on this. How many guys out there are using the Buick as there engine, I would hate to build the whole thing in paint and find out the 390 was a bad choice.

  2. 4 pedals
    Joined: Oct 8, 2009
    Posts: 758

    4 pedals
    from Nor Cal

    My experience with even well tuned FE's is that they are thirsty, primarily due to the head design as I understand it. I wouldn't expect better than 15 mpg, even in a light hot rod. Especially if you have a heavy foot.


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  3. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,792


    I'm a V8 guy, so the V6 wouldn't even cross my mind. But if I were you, I'd sell the 390 and get a SBF or SBC.

    I wanted a BBC in my T and I'd have one, if I could have found one on the budget I had. Why? Because of the cool factor. My SBC gets good mileage now, so I'd never switch. But deep inside....... I'd like to see a huge engine sitting in it. MPG's be damned!
  4. Dakota
    Joined: Jan 21, 2004
    Posts: 1,535

    from Beulah, ND

    I have 16-20 MPG with a warmed up 390 in a 4000 pund station wagon, whoever told you milage is not possible with an FE is full of BS.

    The FE is a great choice. Fairly unique, huge torque.. With an aluminum intake and stuff they are just about as light as a SBC.

  5. falconsprint63
    Joined: May 17, 2007
    Posts: 2,359

    from Mayberry

    while I like 390's, I have to say I like the 231option. I ran one in my truck when I orginally built it--I don't remember the mileage (that was 2 decades ago) but it was a fun little motor--plenty of umpf for the roadster. I presume you can swap the 2 speed powerglide for a 700r4 or other OD option for some really good mileage.
  6. JEM
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 1,040


    As far as I'm concerned oddfire Buick V6s have many uses - mostly having to do with anchoring boats or contributing to a landfill somewhere. One of the worst engines GM ever did. The later motors with decent heads are much better but it might take some work to make one look 'period'.

    In a car as light as that I'd think you can go a lot taller than 3.00 with an FE and a mild cam,, maybe 3.00 but with a 5-speed TKO with a .68 top gear, or no shorter than 2.40 with a 4-speed..

    I'd think the biggest enemy of freeway mileage won't be the engine but the outhouse aerodynamics of a T and think about tire rolling resistance too.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2013
  7. JonF
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 169


    Just take 1/2 of the pistons out of the 390?
  8. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,677

    from Woburn, MA

    Have you considered an inline 6?

    But if you're going for oddball & mileage, choosing between just the two, I'd go for the Oddfire with all the Offy goodies.
  9. zibo
    Joined: Mar 17, 2002
    Posts: 2,346

    from dago ca

    Bummer about the 390 is there is probably a front sump oil pan.
    Makes it trickier to make a clean install,
    unless you like really long nosed cars or a good engine set back.
  10. 31Apickup
    Joined: Nov 8, 2005
    Posts: 2,588


    The 390 would give the car the Hot Rod cool factor. The Buick V-6 is a good engine, I've run a 75 odd-fire in my Model A the last 27 years. At times I wouldn't mind a V-8, but it does great just cruising around town, and gives you maximum interior space. The odd-fires were the 225 (in the Jeeps) and the 231 up to mid 77. 79 and up had the high port improved heads. Distributors and flywheels are unique to odd-fire vs even-fire.
  11. 77powerwagon
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 44


    Since you mentioned Buick how about finding a 215 aluminum V8. I believe it weighs in right around 315 lbs. fully dressed and with a properly jetted carb not bad fuel efficiency
  12. Kustom Fabricator
    Joined: Jul 4, 2010
    Posts: 87

    Kustom Fabricator

    I have already set the car up for the 390 so going to a straight six would be a lot more fab! I can really only go shorter but thanks for the comment.
  13. Kustom Fabricator
    Joined: Jul 4, 2010
    Posts: 87

    Kustom Fabricator

    The bed is not shortened on this truck so having a longer nose does not make it look weird...its really long and low. Top of the bed is 22 inches from the ground. Once I get the pictures off of my old phone I will start the build thread.
  14. Kustom Fabricator
    Joined: Jul 4, 2010
    Posts: 87

    Kustom Fabricator

  15. blyndgesser
    Joined: Jan 2, 2011
    Posts: 167

    from Georgia

    How about a Mercruiser 3.0?
  16. Run a full solid roller motor with a toploader, 3;89 rear ,tri power and 31 inch tires and get 6 miles per gallon in my 34 chev.
    Run a 390 with 427-425hp cam and tri power with 5 speed ,350 gear 29 inch tire and get 15 miles per gallon driving with my slippers on.
    They can be thirsty engines but what a kick!!!!

    Attached Files:

  17. Kustom Fabricator
    Joined: Jul 4, 2010
    Posts: 87

    Kustom Fabricator

    Well 15 with slippers on I would be happy with. Smaller car, lower to the ground, skinny tires, lower gears, Im good for 20mpgs!!!
  18. ssimpala
    Joined: Jan 25, 2011
    Posts: 121


    How often are you going to drive it? If you drive it a lot, then fuel mileage becomes more important.....but that 390 would sure be cool.
  19. Kustom Fabricator
    Joined: Jul 4, 2010
    Posts: 87

    Kustom Fabricator

    back and forth to work which is about 30 miles per day. I would like to drive it as much as I can with weather permitting. My ranger that I drive right now gets 22mpgs so if I can replace that vehicle with a Hotrod that gets close to the same mileage I'm cool with that!
  20. WillyNilly
    Joined: Apr 7, 2013
    Posts: 239

    from NorCal

    My Willys pickup is running a later 231 and it's a good motor. Pulls pretty well with the T90/D18 setup and stock gearing. Needs an overdrive for better mileage, not sure what I'm getting since I've only recently gotten it running. I'm sure my truck is heavier than your T.
  21. drunkandgreasy
    Joined: May 20, 2010
    Posts: 100

    from nunya

    My Fairlane, with a bored and stroked 390, to a 406, with a 770cfm holley, 389 posi, and a four speed side loader gets 12 mpg.

    I would bet a steak dinner, that your 390 with a good cam, and an HEI dizzy would get 16-18 all day long if gramma drove it...

    Hot rods don't have v6's in them, oh wait, the PROWLERS did! Yeah, that went over!

    Your a hot rodder, don't let gas mileage or responsibility be a factor man, it's a Hot Rod.

    Build the fuck out of it! Then get. Moped for gas mileage...

    That hotrod will make you smile, lots, and that's worth more Han any amount you'll save on gas mileage....

    Good luck bro,
  22. Kustom Fabricator
    Joined: Jul 4, 2010
    Posts: 87

    Kustom Fabricator

    Like I said in an earlier quote I would be fine with 18 on the free way. Thats most my driving anyway. I just read the horror stories on websites of gas guzzlin FE motors. Thanks forthe reply
  23. hoop98
    Joined: Jan 23, 2013
    Posts: 1,363

    from Texas

    If you are careful you can build an efficient 390, but it takes planning and a few dollars.

    The lower end needs to be .030 and run 1/16-1/16-3/16 rings.

    There are several sources for updated chamber FE heads, the Survival FE is an example of fast burn heart shaped chamber with high velocity ports. Blue Thunder too


    Compression around 9.6 to 1. Nice tight squish maybe 9.8 - 10

    Of course a hydraulic roller like a HR-214/319-2S-12 Crane.

    An Edelbrock Performer 390.

    Well tuned Mechanical and vacuum and primary jetting on a chassis dyno.

    A plus would be a FAST EFI or similar.

    Unreal torque, good HP, good Fuel economy, great looks!!!
  24. tjm73
    Joined: Feb 17, 2006
    Posts: 3,386


    390. End thread/
  25. dan marx
    Joined: Mar 8, 2008
    Posts: 33

    dan marx
    from Rembert SC

    Heer is my 28 essex with a '79 231 V-6 Turbo that I am just finishing. Would stay away from mthe odd fire engines. These '78-83 engines are plentiful. Go to the Turbo Buick Before black web site for great info.

    Attached Files:

  26. drunkandgreasy
    Joined: May 20, 2010
    Posts: 100

    from nunya

    Also, aside from the insane torque, and cool ass looks an FE provides, it's also way more expensive for cool goodies than pretty much any other motor out there that I have come across.

    That's why you rarely see them in a hotrod.

    Another reason to go FE. Because every other turkey and his pal has a SBC....cuz they're cheap....

    Good luck man!
  27. Fairlane Mike
    Joined: Sep 21, 2010
    Posts: 389

    Fairlane Mike

    Here's something else to consider; an FE, with decent exhaust, has one of the best sounds! Nice and mellow, like a Tom-Cat purring! Can't say that about a V-Sucks! My '70 F-100 with a 360 is getting 15 on the highway! I know a light weight street rod will do better! End of thread! ; )
  28. My 27 has a 327/350 with two fours and gets 9-15 mpg...I have no less than four F.E.s and would love to put one in that car but its just not gonna fit.and the 327 is too much fun .Use the 390 and a 600 ,it will get decent milage ,if you have to commute every day in it.Please no v6.
  29. Perrorojo
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 357


    I drive a 64 T-Bird 29 miles of back roads each way to work every day. It's stock except for a Holley 650 and an electronic ignition kit in the dizzy. I average 12.5 and I don't baby it. My car weighs 4500+ so your 2000lb lightweight should get 20. With all that torque, you won't need much throttle to get up to speed.

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  30. triumph 1
    Joined: Feb 9, 2011
    Posts: 563

    triumph 1

    FE all the way! I would never put a v6 in a traditional rod.

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