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Technical Flat Head or early Chevy??

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by mikec4193, Jul 4, 2019.

  1. Hi Hamb folks

    I am rebuilding a 1940 Ford coupe that in its last lifetime was an oval track appears to have been run in the mid to late 1950's and then parked and someone started to do some upgrades and then for some reason it got parked (the last owner says it sat in a warehouse for 40 years too) still has running boards and working doors (with chains of course to hold them safely shut)....we are at this point trying to figure out what to do with it...I have the body off...I replaced the hodge podge rear suspension system and we are going thru the front end as well...they (former owners) also cut the heck out of the firewall as it might have been getting it ready for an engine era I am looking for is 1958 to 1962...I have been studying old black and white photos from that era...I have seen small blocks in the early 1960's and flatheads in the late 1950's pictures...
    pancaked firewall...
    engine bay area seems untouched from the frame rail areas...
    Flatheads as we all know are kinda pricey and early small block Chevy are not as much money....I have a Chevy 3 speed already... DSCN5174.JPG
    So I am not sure which way would be a better fit for this seems to have been caught between the stock Jalopy and the Modified Sportsman era of that time...
    Any insight would be an awesome thing...

  2. I'll be the first to say "make it yours and do what you want to do". My friend took a sbc and added '67 or older parts on the outside, but all 350 on the inside. He did a build on here for his '32 roadster.
    I'm having a flathead built for my next A-V8, a '29 with a shortened woodie body. I'll have as much in motor-wise as John with less than 1/2 the hp.
    Kan Kustom likes this.
  3. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 6,815


    In 1963 I had a 40 ford with a 265 Chevy in it. People were replacing flat heads with overheads.
    In my opinion there's nothing wrong with using a nice 283 or 327 Chevy in an early 60's build. 50 years later nostalgia made the flatty popular again.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  4. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,168

    Rusty O'Toole

    Guys were putting OHV V8s in 40 Fords as soon as they became available. Chev swaps were common. The idea of using a later Chev V8 and making it look older with the appropriate intake, valve covers, and ram's horn exhaust manifolds is a good one.
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  5. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,136


    that's a hell of a front bumper!

    The trans you have isn't 58-62 in any way (although it is indeed a three speed), I would not base a build on it.

    But yeah, figure out what you want to do with the car, and do it. I probably woulda considered leaving lots of circle track hokery and finding a way to get it driving, so I could show folks a bit of history. I expect the car was too incomplete/hacked up to do that, though.
  6. Ron Plumlee
    Joined: Feb 12, 2012
    Posts: 112

    Ron Plumlee

    Late fifties a lot of us were running Olds, Cadillac, Chrysler OHV. And for sure Chevy OHV. The rule seems to be spend around 7-8 grand for 185HP flattie, or less than half that for a dressed Chevy small block with twice the power. Your choice, have fun.
  7. It depends on what era you are looking to emulate late 40s-early 50s, mid 50s, or the late 50s early 60s.
    Also, what type of car, Sportsman, or Modified?

    The Don Rounds in the early 50s Flathead powered.
    upload_2019-7-6_7-51-53.png upload_2019-7-6_7-50-47.png upload_2019-7-6_7-49-43.png upload_2019-7-6_7-52-44.png

    The Don Rounds N.A.S.C.A.R Sportsman built in the late 50s early 60s S.B.C. powered
    Owned by Mel Ogden of Franklin N.Y. upload_2019-7-6_7-44-19.png upload_2019-7-6_7-41-50.png upload_2019-7-6_7-38-7.png upload_2019-7-6_7-41-19.png upload_2019-7-6_7-42-26.png upload_2019-7-6_7-38-43.png

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
    Deuces and GreenMonster48 like this.
  8. lake_harley
    Joined: Jun 4, 2017
    Posts: 950


    I'm 66 and have a friend who is 81 who still owns a '40 Ford with a 301 Chevy. I can't remember a time when he didn't own the '40, so that would probably put it in the late 50's to early 60's. It was cool then and it's still cool now.

    I had a similar bit of indecision with a '48 Ford Coupe I bought recently. The flathead in it still turns over and it has twin 97's on a Weiand intake, but bought an adapter to use a SBC with the rest of the original driveline. It won't have any bling but I hope to make it a reliable driver.

  9. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,411


    Don't forget the 302 Jimmy.
    tractorguy, winduptoy and Frankie47 like this.
  10. wheeldog57
    Joined: Dec 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,703


    With the flathead you may need some luck. If you find one that turns over and doesn't have cracks, you can build it fairly cheaply.
  11. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 18,567

    from Michigan

    Save some $$$ and go the sbc route....;)
    I don't charge for passing on some good advice... :cool:
  12. Kan Kustom
    Joined: Jul 20, 2009
    Posts: 2,553

    Kan Kustom

    Build it however you want and share pictures here with us. Welcome to the 40 club !
    loudbang likes this.
  13. RustyDogg
    Joined: Oct 8, 2014
    Posts: 134


    Make it yours. It's a '40 Ford, gotta work pretty hard to screw one of those up.
  14. they fit so well, you would think they were meant to have a small block chevy........
  15. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,514


    upload_2019-7-8_2-38-22.png 1940 Ford Sedan Delivery, Flathead powered, purchased in 1960

    Having owned and driven two 1940 Ford Sedan Deliveries, one with a Flathead and one with a 327, both fit fine. The 40 with a Flathead once had a Chevy 348 in it. That filled up the motor compartment to no end. But, people still do that build. The transmission was a simple LaSalle 3 speed stick in the first 40, so the owner took out the 348 and sold it to me with the Flathead installed. After thousands of miles of fun driving the Flathead Sedan Delivery all over So Cal and Mexico, I sold it to another surfer for his first car, 5 years later.

    When we were a couple of 20 somethings, we decided that a sedan delivery was the ultimate photography business hot rod. It had plenty of room for all things photography, plus suitcases, food, sleeping bags, and even a small ladder. Who wouldn’t like a photographer driving up to a photo shoot in a 327 SBC powered hot rod with the amenities for comfort included? It did go over big in those old days.

    The SBC did not take up much more room than the flathead. The extra power was handy for the long, uphill coastal highways and through the local mountain ranges.(Highway 154, 101 Conejo, I-5 Grapevine, I-15, 18 to Big Bear, even PCH to Laguna Beach and the SD Torrey Pines Hills.)

    With the Flathead, a fast approach was always necessary to make those tough long grades up the slopes/mountains. Sometimes while all loaded down, (2 longboards, camping stuff, food cooler, clothes and beach stuff) downshifting definitely was necessary to make those peaks. The same roads with the 327 were simple and fast.
    But, with the 327, there was never a problem with the fit and finish and extra climbing power.
    With all of the companies offering different mounts and adapters, it fit perfectly in the engine compartment. The look and fit of any SBC was as if it came from the factory that way.


    So, if we were to build another sedan delivery, today, there is no doubt which engine would go into the build. The build in any 1940 Ford Coupe, Sedan or Sedan Delivery is always enhanced with an SBC.

    In our teenage heydays, there was a friend with his 1940 Ford Sedan and a Buick motor/LaSalle combo, that was well done and fast. He was the only hot rod guy with something other than an SBC. Well, I take that back, my 40 Sedan Delivery had a 348 before I bought it with a Flathead, so it was not a small block Chevy. This time period was 1960 and later.
    Mtn Goat likes this.
  16. robracer1
    Joined: Aug 3, 2015
    Posts: 488


    Go with a SBC, just sold a 1950 Ford with a Flathead and all I did was worry the engine would crap out also its getting harder to fine someone who wants to work on it or can.
    OFT likes this.
  17. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 6,552

    Bandit Billy

    Yes, put a SBC in it and make sure it is out of a corvette, that will make it unique.
  18. Flathead or bust.
  19. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,224


    If you want to be able to build your engine, "fairly easily and cheaply", then use the early SBC. The flathead V-8 would be cool, but's going to cost you more, be harder to find parts for both new and used, and you'll have no where near the power and reliability of the SBC (JMO). Now, I've never owned a flathead, and have only driven one ONCE in all my years, so keep that in mind; I want to say it was in a 52 Ford 4 door sedan, with a column shift 3 speed. It was the Chevron Station's pick-up-and-leave-car that I worked at in high school. Go to the customers home to get their car for service, and leave the old Ford there until their car was returned. I don't think a lot of those customers liked having that old Ford parked in front of their homes; it was pretty beat up, smoked, and the exhaust was loud. The transmission you have is a Saginaw; much stronger than the earlier Muncie 318 or 319 transmissions, and fully synchronized; I'd use it before an earlier 3 speed or something that required an "adapter" to run. Maybe even leave that front bumper; a street driven, old circle track/dirt track car, with lights and window glass.
    I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
    OFT and Deuces like this.
  20. Bill Nabors
    Joined: Jul 24, 2011
    Posts: 279

    Bill Nabors

    I have a good firewall unless you are wanting some to stop heavy ammo.
    GreenMonster48 likes this.
  21. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 6,552

    Bandit Billy

    "Yeah, it's got a small block" - no one.
    Put a Hemi in it.
  22. lake_harley
    Joined: Jun 4, 2017
    Posts: 950


    I have a question for those who have a SBC and are using the early Ford transmission since I'm doing this combo in my '48 Ford Coupe.

    Using an adapter like a Wilcap or Offy, are you using a front "saddle" mount on the SBC, or did you use the side 3-bolt engine mounts? Somebody makes a kit (maybe Chassis Engineering?) that uses the side mounts. It seems there would be less stress on the adapter using side mounts but it looks like a bit more work to install. Are there any problems of breaking/cracking things (like the adapter) when mounting the engine at the front with the "saddle" style, or is it nothing to worry about? One downside I've heard mentioned is not being able to use a mechanical fuel pump with the saddle, or is that perhaps just some brands of mounts?

    Sorry for butting in on your thread mikec4193.

    Thanks, in advance.

  23. indcontrols
    Joined: May 29, 2013
    Posts: 88


    How about a Y block ?
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  24. Corn Fed
    Joined: May 16, 2002
    Posts: 2,733

    Corn Fed

    Since you aren't staying totally true to what woulda been done to a stock car back then, just put in whatever you want. Ya got the GM trans, might as well go with a 350.
    Deuces likes this.
  25. Not the 1940 Ford Coupe that I have but a close older brother a 1937 Ford Coupe...looks like the guy swapped out the flat head for a OHV type motor.... Car53_ESExpo_HAMB.jpg
    So for that era the late 1950's and into the early 1960's this swap did this era of roundy round cars....reminds me of when I was a kid...

    Robert J. Palmer and Deuces like this.
  26. tractorguy
    Joined: Jan 5, 2008
    Posts: 642


    Bandit......I was around dirt track stuff in my small town in the late 50's/early 60's. Watched quite a few good flathead cars be converted to OHV stuff......mostly Chev, but also some Buicks.
    But.....back to your point....quite a few of the OHV Chev engines actually were "Corvette" engines. Corvettes in the late 50's early 60's were being wrecked by rich college kids on a regular basis and the engines quickly found their way into Ford race cars.
    I remember like it was was time for the August county fair "big races" I spent 3 days watching a local used car dealer take a red "street rod" 33 Ford 3 window coupe......weld in a water pipe roll cage.....install a 3/4ton Ford rear end.......and.....bring a wrecked 58 Corvette into the bay next to the coupe.....pull out the 283 with the dual Rochestor 4bbls and little air cleaners ......and "install" it in the coupe.

    The rookie driver on Sat. got involved in a huge pile up on the dry dusty 1/2 mi. fairgrounds track.....went airborne in a barrel roll.....the Corvette engine came out of the car and went airborne separately, hitting a large tree about 12ft. up the trunk !!......the good ole days.
  27. Flatheads are the engine equivalent of “nice place to visit, but I sure wouldn’t want to live there”. Ive had two in the last ten years. You can’t beat the look or the sound, but you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you on the car, and if you’re not careful a Flathead could easily bury you. I’d stay away unless you’re willing to front cash for a good runner.

    Fun fact, before the internet when you couldn’t easily reference casting numbers, all small block chevys were corvette motors :rolleyes:
    Jibs and Deuces like this.

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