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Projects 350 Chevy or 351w into a 50 merc coupe?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Sickboys50, Sep 19, 2022.

  1. 350 chevy

    129 vote(s)
  2. 351 Windsor or Cleveland

    77 vote(s)
  1. Sickboys50
    Joined: Sep 11, 2022
    Posts: 16


    Just wanted to get some feedback as to which engine would be better suited in the HAMB opinions. my son is 16 and its his first build. he is wanting to drive it regularly(daily)

    Thanks for the opinions guys!
  2. Johnny Gee
    Joined: Dec 3, 2009
    Posts: 10,773

    Johnny Gee
    from Downey, Ca

    “I’m easy like a Sunday morning”.
    studebaker46 and Sickboys50 like this.
  3. What transmission is in the car? Or will you be using?
    The Chevy is smaller, probably cheaper, there's tons of tech info available for him to study, and there are more stock and aftermarket parts available, especially used parts on ebay, craigslist, FB, etc.
    Rand Man, Special Ed, D-Russ and 2 others like this.
  4. 0NE BAD 51 MERC
    Joined: Nov 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,652

    0NE BAD 51 MERC

    I am a Ford in a Ford/Merc kind of guy. Biggest issue would be oil pan clearance, Chevys are rear sump which cleard the steering really well. Most 351s are front sump except the F150 4x4s and Broncos. If you can source the motor from one of them. Otherwise, stock replacement Bronco pans and pickup tubes are available aftermarket. There used to be a number of companies that offer motor and trans kits for both engines. but the only one still around that I know of that might still carry them is Jamco. My 51 had a 327 in it when I got it. She is set up for a 1967 390 cobra jet now, but I grafted a 1964 Marauder front clip to mine, and it was literally a bolt in.

  5. Sickboys50
    Joined: Sep 11, 2022
    Posts: 16


    Thanks a ton for this insight! I am going to pass this answer along
  6. arse_sidewards
    Joined: Oct 12, 2021
    Posts: 97


    Truck and Bronco 351s make up the overwhelming majority of 351s available in 2022. You'd have to go looking if you want a front sump car engine.

    Since your son is 16 it doesn't really matter. Everyone's first build comes out crappy.
    Sickboys50 likes this.
  7. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 2,310

    from Napa

    You will always get the "Put a Chebbie in it" from the cheap n easy folks, most haven't done it any other way and do a boring bellybutton three fiddy with a potato cam and Speedway doodads. There are several sources for rear-sump 351W pans, which don't all fit the same way. The pickup/Bronco stuff, Ford Performance, Crown Vic, and aftermarket stuff, so that oil pan argument amounts to bupkus. One can also build a very inexpensive 393 stroker engine, using an aftermarket 3.85 crank, 351W rods which are pretty beefy, and stock 302 pistons. Power outputs these days from SBF stuff is pretty impressive, a buddy has a single 4V 440 ci W in his Fairlane drag car, making 1065 hp and running 9.0's
  8. which ever one runs best, Is the flathead in it toast? Are you looking for easiest to install? or easiest on the budget? Its all personal preference. If it was me id go looking for a good 324 olds and a side shift lasalle trans, but its not mine. Over all, a small chevy will be easier to put in that the 351, it just is. It also has a multitude of trans options, for both auto and stick with or with out overdrive. The 351 has those too, but not quite as easily and a little more expensive. I would decide on what motor you want small chevy, 351 Windsor, slant six, what ever it may be and go hunting for an entire car that has that drivetrain in it that runs decent. A rusted out chevy truck or smashed up F100 from the 80's would be good. The reason for this is, buying the whole vehicle gives you all the little BS parts that nitpick and make a budget go out of control quick. Yeah maybe you can get a motor for $500 bucks, but you need every single part that bolts too it to make it work. You'll have another $500 bucks into those parts before you blink an eye, and you havent even gotten to the trans, plus all the other parts that could be salvaged for use on the project, seat belts wiring, maybe even a power brake setup. You might pay 1500 bucks for a parts vehicle like that, but you will be out way ahead if you get a good on that you can rob stuff off of during the entire build. Find a parts car, make it run good, then rip it apart for the Merc, and when you're done, take the carcass to the scrap metal yard and get a 100 bucks for it. Cost effective recycling.
    verde742, Hamtown Al, D-Russ and 6 others like this.
  9. arse_sidewards
    Joined: Oct 12, 2021
    Posts: 97


    You can easily find a random 300-400 cubic inch ohv v8 + 3/4spd takeout complete with accessories if you look. The problem with that is you can't be picky about what you get because odds are whatever you find won't be a cookie cutter 351 or tree-fiddy.
    Sickboys50 likes this.
  10. Sickboys50
    Joined: Sep 11, 2022
    Posts: 16


    The flattie is complete but toast. the car has been outside for the better part of 30 years. so, with this being our first build....we want to make it as easy as possible....its not going to be in shows or anything...this is the car he fell in love with. so we are looking for easiest to install, easiest on the budget, easiest to maintain. not necessarily in that order ;)
  11. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,577


    " easiest to install, easiest on the budget." That would be the Chevy, but then you'd be just 1 of tens of thousands with the bellybutton engine in it.
  12. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 5,257


    Plan out your build.
    Are you keeping and rebuilding stock front suspension, or swapping to aftermarket, or planning front clip swap.
    This will determine major clearance items for engine fit.

    Is this a daily driver or does it need some power? 472 / 500 caddy, any of the 455's, ford 460, Buick 430 is often overlooked for 455. Would all be cool, but your sons wallet will he empty if he daily drives it.

    351 and AOD is a great combo, readily available parts. I'm a small block chevy guy, but I wouldn't put one in a Merc.
    73RR, Rand Man and Bill Whitehurst like this.
  13. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 3,285


    If its been sitting for 30 years, you need to replace the brake and fuel lines and maybe the fuel tank first. The Chevy will be the easiest and the cheapest. Use either a 4 speed automatic or some type of 5 speed manual transmission for good driveability.
    Rand Man likes this.
  14. All boils down to money. Just don't put no damn LS in it.
    Woogeroo and 49ratfink like this.
  15. I'm a Ford guy and bleed Blue blood when I get hurt. That said I also have a 50 Merc as well as the 51 Ford in my avatar. That said you would think I would support the Ford Motor. No Way, not on his first build. Along with that I did custom chassis stuff all my working life. I'm now retired and 70+ years Old. If you're starting with a complete together car and minimal shop tools (Welder, Milling machine and Fab experience) Go with the S.B.C. So you know both my Merc and 51 are S.B.C. powered because I didn't have time to do things for myself the hard way during my working days. I had to keep things simple and get them done. The S.B.C. is a simple Nutz-n-Bolts motor swap. No fab work needed. If you make this project difficult and drag it out your Son will lose interest and move on to his life. Bolt the small block to the Stock 50 Trans with an adapter and the front in with a Hurst saddle mount to the Stock Merc biscuits. The motor is in in a single day and you're moving on to exhaust and wiring. It can't get any simpler. There is no reason to make a project complicated for your first go around. Always think K.I.S.S. when you're trying to steer a youngster. Their attention span is short. They need to see good progress, not a complected mess going nowhere.
  16. williebill
    Joined: Mar 1, 2004
    Posts: 3,079


    Excellent advice from Pist-n-Broke.
    Blues4U, Baumi, firstinsteele and 6 others like this.
  17. Do you have your eye on a good running 350? 351W? Cleveland? If so, buy the one that is the best combination of least expensive, the most complete and runs the best. Do you have a transmission? Do any of the engines you're considering come with working transmissions? Don't overlook the Chevy 305 or Ford 302. Does the car already have a clutch pedal? If not, an auto will be easier.

    Are you planning to build/rebuild the engine? If so, the Chevy will be the least expensive, the Windsor in the middle and the Cleveland will be the most expensive.
  18. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 32,120


    Ford engines in a stock 49/51 Merc chassis would be a real pain in the butt to deal with because along with the pan (even with a rear sump) the oil filter setup is all in the wrong place for the Merc chassis. Plus from what one of my buddys went though a year or so back, The Ford in a Ford guys are all mouth and no money when it comes to buying a Ford product with a 351 in it. If his car would have had a 327 or 350 in it it would probably have sold the first week, He had it for sale for over a year with the 351 and it was a pretty nice old school car and very Hamb friendly.
    500 Cads are out for pretty well the same reason, Most are front sump unless you put and Eldorodo pan on them plus having one in my 71 GMC 3/4 ton they take up a hell of a lot of space. Non nailhead Buick engines had the oil pump and filter up front where you have to notch the Merc crossmember to clear (been there, done that with a 350) .

    Small block Chevy engines are cheap and plentiful and easy to install but you get the bad mouth nonsense all the time.

    My son and I stuck a 350 Olds and turbo 350 that had started life in a 72 Olds in my 51 Merc in the back yard under the big tree with the big branch. Literally lifting the engine out of the early 60's truck it was in and dropping it in the Merc and fabbing some simple and crude mounts. A couple of hours of extra work could have produced far nicer mounts. I subframed it a year or two later after finding more cracks in the front crossmember and having a totally worn out front suspenson using a rear steer Camaro/Nova subframe with the back legs running to the Merc X member.
    I drove the Merc daily for a long time and drove it to Texas and Bonneville in 1988. The only trouble I had with the engine in probably 80 K of driving was loosing the plastic timing gear on a road trip up at Mt Rainier and having to be towed home. The engines aren't too spendy in good shape, easy to find parts for and are dead nuts reliable.
  19. He is only 16 for so long. Go the easiest, fastest route to getting it on the road so he can enjoy it. More than likely that answer will be SBC unless everything for the Ford swap suddenly appeaars.
    ottoman, Rand Man, Mopar Tony and 2 others like this.
  20. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 5,630


    People are too busy shitting on Chevy small-blocks to realize that there's literally nothing more mid-late 50s-early 60s traditional than removing some low-compression, underpowered, boat anchor and putting a Chevy small block in. It's 100% HAMB approved, so the traditional police can screw off. Every old-timer I know talks about how the SBC was the game changer that everyone wanted back in the day. It's only young people now that bitch about it.

    If you go the route of the SBF, it's never going to look 1950s appropriate. Good engine. But not traditional. Call it what it is.

    That speaks nothing of all of the other advantages of the SBC.

    Put the Chevy engine in and get that car out on the road. Let your son feel the joy of firing an engine off for the first time after a swap, and not the boredom of watching a project flounder for long periods of time.
  21. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 3,007

    from norcal

    Awesome first car btw
    arkiehotrods likes this.
  22. The car being a 50 is a stick shift. Auto's were not in them until 1951. You already have the hard to get clutch set up for the S.B.C. swap. I guarantee you nothing else will be easier to get done or easier on your Wallet.

    So for me the answer to those who Bark about what's under the Hood is simple. Leave the Hood Closed. Drive the car and enjoy it. I'd also bet a Frame Graph is just a tad more work than Sickbuy50 should step into at this point. If you keep these types of projects just Nutz-n-Bolt doable they get done. Key here is and I quote "with this being our first build....we want to make it as easy as possible" End of quote. If a first-time builder jumps into Cut here Shave and fold that, Machine shop trips, Heavy hit to the Wallet it isn't long, and the Project is stalled and then the For Sale sign is on it UNFINSHED! There goes your 16-year-old Son's dream. It will also have a long-lasting effect on him about your choices for his dream. It doesn't get any easier than the Chevy motor and it's totally acceptable.
  23. topher5150
    Joined: Feb 10, 2017
    Posts: 3,006


    The one thing that I found out about putting a 351w in my car is that a lot of stuff is not interchangeable with the 289/302, so the intake and oil pan is different. Also, keep in mind the flex plate because that's weighted differently.
  24. So how much money is invested in all the parts and work to get to this point? Would you call that easy on their Wallet?
    Lloyd's paint & glass likes this.
  25. Los_Control
    Joined: Oct 7, 2016
    Posts: 854

    from TX

    My neighbor has a 54 shoebox with a 302/AOD .... Luckily the builder did not butcher the car installing the engine. ...... A lot of fabrication was required.
    Instead of removing the trans tunnel & rebuild the floor they changed the angle of the engine.
    I did a oil change on it, with correct amount of oil it reads 1 quart low because of the angle.

    Like I said, I'm happy they did not butcher the car installing the engine/trans.
    The car functions & works as it should ... great for parades.
    I would be ashamed to open the hood at a local event.
    The engine/trans needs to come out & a lot of fabrication to make it fit right ... possibly a different transmission could correct it .... Ford transmission interchange is a challenge in itself.

    Like @Pist-n-Broke stated, sometimes it is easier to install properly a different engine with lots of options for interchangeable parts.

    Attached Files:

    ekimneirbo likes this.
  26. I will say this about the H.A.M.B. It's mega easy to get in way over your head with what some think is no big deal. Most adding information from there point of view don't really read the questions very well before hitting Post Reply. It may all be good info but for a first-time builder just be a Train Wreck in the end for you. It's really easy to get there and impossible to get out.
  27. SBCs fits where a flathead was very good.
    SBC looks more vintage than a SBF in my worthless opinion.
    I saved an early 60s SBF timing cover with the oil fill tube and generator just in case I used one in my merc.
    both are good choices. The Ford is a little more difficult.
    I never understood the Ford in a Ford deal. Brand loyalty is a myth. No one from Ford or GM wears a T-shirt with my name on it.
    Use the parts you have and/or the ones that fit the best. The brand is irrelevant.
    I’ve got a SBF and 5 speed, my wife asked if I could use it in her 56 Chevy. If I didn’t have a bunch of SBC crap I probably would.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2022
    Toms Dogs, F-ONE, Blues4U and 8 others like this.
  28. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 7,641


    Are you building it to please a bunch of Know-It-All, opinionated keyboard warriors here on the HAMB, or do you want it to be a good learning experience and a project that can be completed for your son? If you let these guys dictate what your son's car is going to be, they should be available weeknights, weekends, and vacation time to help him, and contribute to the expense.

    All this crap about "Ford in a Ford", and the stupid meme "quoting" Henry Ford about Chevy engines are just that, absolute crap. Put an LS in it if you want and can get a Vortec truck engine, leave the hood closed, it'll be faster, easier, and cheaper than just about any alternative. These guys have more rules than judges at a classic concours show...:rolleyes:
    WalkerMD, Paulz, Crafty and 9 others like this.
  29. Doublepumper
    Joined: Jun 26, 2016
    Posts: 1,260

    from WA-OR, USA

    Well...the traditional thing would have been to search high and low for one of those new fangled Chevy motors, stuff it in and build a Hot Rod.
  30. Sickboys50
    Joined: Sep 11, 2022
    Posts: 16


    Thanks everyone for the TON of insight! yes, its our first build and normally i would just buy my way out of all the work but i want to have some fun with him...we have already begun to lean on the SBC choice so that is most likely the route we will take....I dont really want to get into clip swaps and and anything much harder than simply dropping it in and making it fit. We DID manage to hunt up this beautiful dash this past weekend and some perfect that was a happy occasion!

    Attached Files:

    • dash.jpg
      File size:
      298.7 KB

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