Register now to get rid of these ads!

Just how fuel efficient can an old truck be?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by STIFF, Jan 27, 2007.

  1. STIFF
    Joined: Aug 17, 2005
    Posts: 397

    from Rat Town


    Thanks everyone for the information, I didn't expect so much response!

    Having gone over some of my options, I'm thinking I'd better stick with a truck, since jobsites are often muddy, snowy, rocky and rutted, etc...and although I love the el caminos and the wagons I think I need more ground clearance than they have. 4x4 wouldn't be bad either, I've gotten used to never getting stuck with the Dodge I drive now.

    So, to add a wrinkle to this discussion, what late 50's and early 60's trucks had factory 4x4? What does this do to the mileage?
  2. Svenny
    Joined: Jun 24, 2006
    Posts: 129


    4WD? My buddy's Dad used to have an old Dodge Power Wagon.

    I think he got about 6mph, but it could pull tree stumps!

    And rattle your fillings loose!
  3. 53dodgekustom
    Joined: Jun 18, 2006
    Posts: 880


    Don't forget about the gear ratio 45mph at 3600RPM redline! In to gear of coarse:D
  4. moparvetern
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 89


    by the mid 60's i belive the big three all had 1/2 and 3/4 to 4x4's. if you like dodges, find a late 60's 1/2 ton with 318 and auto. most of these came with reasonable gearing and could be made to get 15-20 mpg. the 318 is a torque monster for such a little motor and the small 2bbl allows good gas milage. my 79 2wd consistantly gets over 25 mpg with 318 2bbl, 727 auto, and 3.55 gears.

    just my .002 cents worth
  5. THOM
    Joined: Jul 2, 2002
    Posts: 98


    my 1965 elcamino has a 230 with a s-10 5 spd...
    gets 23 mpg with little tires and a 373 posi...

    i think taller tires and a 3.08 might get it past 25 highway...

    *shameless plug*
    it's also for sale/trade....
  6. draggin'GTO
    Joined: Jul 7, 2003
    Posts: 1,762


    I can't imagine that any 4X4 truck from the '50s or '60s could manage much more than 15 MPG no matter what gas engine was powering it. The added weight of the extra drivetrain pieces along with the horrible aero drag of the older truck body is a highway mileage killer. A diesel engine conversion is possible, but that won't easily be within the budget you're talking about.

    You'll need to decide on a 15 MPG 4X4 or a 20 to 25 MPG car-based truck. Taller tires with truck tread, a posi rear end (properly geared to compensate for the tall tires) and a slightly raised suspension could work pretty well on a 2-wheel drive wagon or car-based pickup to get you around the job sites.
  7. AZAV8
    Joined: May 3, 2005
    Posts: 997

    from Tucson, AZ

    Follow this link to an article in Diesel Power Mag about a guy who improved his F-350 from 20 mpg to 26 mpg.

    Yes, its a diesel, but some of the same things he did will apply to whatever gas-engined truck you pick up. I saw that some of the other guys suggested a diesel. Diesels are inherently more efficient than the gasoline (Otto) cycle engines.

    This guy has a 5-speed manual overdrive transmission and changed the rear end gear down to a 3.08 to keep the 70 mph rpms down below 2000. The other thing is the fairing on the bed. This thing acts to smooth out the air flow over the truck. Check it out and seriously think about it for your truck. Good stuff here that will apply to a gas motored truck.

    Oh yes, one more thing. A set of full Moon disc hub caps will smooth out the air flow over the wheels. They run them at Bonneville for a reason. Also a front air dam will keep the air out from under the truck and reduce turbulence.

    Need more ideas?
  8. STIFF
    Joined: Aug 17, 2005
    Posts: 397

    from Rat Town

    More ideas? Sure! Why not?:D

    What about a 60's chevy pickup with a GM diesel 350?
  9. stealthcruiser
    Joined: Dec 24, 2002
    Posts: 3,748


    You mean an "Olds 350 diesel"?

    Don't do it,you will hate yourself in the morning!

    And everybody else!
  10. I've seen Merc 300 Turbodiesel swaps into trucks and Jeeps, better power and much better fuel mileage.
    You can get a rusty Merc diesel for cheap, but figure on glow plugs and injectors right off the bat.
    240D's regularly get 30-35 mpg, the five cylinder diesels rather less (22-25).
    Later 190D Turbos are fast AND economical (30+), but extremely rare.
    Yes, diesels are the answer to most economy and power questions. Remember, diesel fuel has 11% more BTU by volume than gasoline. And Diesel engines run lean all the time.

    Still, a small 6 with a stick in an early truck won't do badly. Upgrade with FI and you can get a few better mpgs.

  11. greasel
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 325

    from Fresno, CA

    whatever you do, do not use the non-turbo chevy diesel to swap into the truck.
    if you're just looking to commute, the turbo 6.5L chevy diesel gets great mileage, OEM injector pumps caused some problems for people but as far as I know 'they' have found solutions to whatever the problem was. my gramps is a 'chevy truck guy' for pulling his 5th wheel. For towing he ended up liking his '98 gas Vortec better than the diesel...both got poor mileage towing because of the lower power; but now he's got a Dmax/Allison. downside to the old 6.5L turbo is they don't make much power, so IMO it wouldn't be worth the work of the swap. the turbo 6.5L chevy diesels make good trucks to just buy and drive.

    a rotary style injection pump 4bt cummins is the easiest to find of any of the diesels to swap and it was in a lot of the mid 80's - late 90's bread vans and delivery vans in front of a chevy TH-400, 5 speed or 4L80e. that injection pump and the inline injection pump are dang near bulletproof; also, the rotary style typically gets better mileage. and 500 ft-lb of torque is with very minor upgrades, under $1k.

    there are plenty of forums available for doing diesel and cummins swaps. most of the diesel swap forums are focused on swapping a cummins into anything because they're typically the most desirable for mileage, power, durability and overall cost. since the cummins is used in so many commercial applications, parts are very readily available.

    4x4 drivetrains typically get blamed for poor mileage but it's usually that there are wider aggressive tires used; that combined with usually being mismatched to the gearing, which gets mismatched to the engines powerband kills it. taller tires aren't the main thing that kill mileage, either, it's the width that adds a lot of weight and wind resistance, especially over 50 mph. if you get some tall sidewall, relatively skinny A/T tires that would be ideal.
    plus, for the drivetrain for a commuter 4x4, manual locking hubs are a must, which rules out any 'drivetrain loss'. 70's and later ford or chevy axles would be the best route, dodge did a lot of bastardization and one-off stuff with the Dana fronts. and parts are pretty easy to find for the other two. there are a lot of 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton factory axles in good condition available because the serious offroading guys usually swap in 1 ton axles or something custom/aftermarket to hold up.
  12. Silhouettes 57
    Joined: Dec 9, 2006
    Posts: 2,791

    Silhouettes 57

    I'm no help with your problem I just wanted to show you the truck I used way back when I was self unemployed (owned my own business) as a garage door mechanic (carpenter), build and install overhead garage doors and openers.
    This was my shop truck, '56 IH (Cornbinder) it ran a plymouth 318 with push button Torque/Flite... and yes I wish I still had it! :rolleyes:
    P.S. Ford came out with a 4x4 in 1959.

    Attached Files:

    • MyIH.JPG
      File size:
      29.3 KB
  13. HeyMang
    Joined: Oct 17, 2006
    Posts: 124


    A 56 Ford F-100 with 223 I-6 and 3 speed manual and stock Holley 1904 carb will get your mid-20's easy.
  14. surfer1316
    Joined: Aug 8, 2006
    Posts: 97


    I am a big fan of jeeps, if you get yourself a comanche, you can have plenty of torque, 4wd, bed, and with stick they're capable of 23-25 mpg highway, not exactly an old truck, but something I've always found enjoyable, relaible and a great "beater" cause lets be honest for a work truck you don't wanna be worryng about a scratch or dent

    if I have to make another suggestion, seems the 235+S10 5 speed combos on here seem to get pretty good numbers
  15. rayjon
    Joined: Aug 15, 2006
    Posts: 127

    from Reno Nv..

    I have a 92 dodge 4x4 with a 5.9 cummins 5sp and 4.10 gears, advanced timing, injectors, big turbo and a 4" strait pipe... If I stay under 70, with hubs unlocked.. I can get over 20mpg no problem, If you can find one, they made alot of early cummins dodge with 5spd overdrives and 3.08 gears in 2wd. Most of these I have seen (brother had one).. got mid 20's even arround town.. great truck but kind of gutless at 160hp.. more hp is easy but burns more fuel..

    another option is the 94-97 trucks with 3.54 gears in 2wd they also get great mileage with a few tweeks

    the other good thing is the motor will outlast the truck, cummins suggested rebuild interval is 300k...
  16. greasel
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 325

    from Fresno, CA

    never really thought about the S10 5 speed. it's a great trans as far as I know and waaaaay readily available from the boneyards.
  17. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,661

    Larry T

    My 78 short stepside with a mild 350, Turbo 400 and 3.08 gears gets around 14 mpg on the road. My 90 model extended cab with throttle body injection and overdrive gets about 16 or 17 mpg on the highway. My 96 extended cab with a Vortec and overdrive gets close to 20. Talking to customers(I've run a shop since 1978), these are pretty close to average. You might get your pickup to do better, but then again you might not. Don't count on great gas milage from a full sized pickup and you won't be disappointed.
    Larry T
  18. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,555

    from Garner, NC

    '59 GMC/Chevy pickup.
    Mid to high teens in town with a saginaw 4 speed and caprice rear end.
    High teens to low 20's on the highway.


    Here she is at the HAMB Drags 1200 miles from home....

    Damn I miss that truck... with a little bit of work (electronic ignition, carb rebuild, exhaust) I know it would have done better....
  19. raven
    Joined: Aug 19, 2002
    Posts: 4,614


    I had a combo that worked for a while, in my '54 Chevy pickup.
    Rebuilt (newly) 235 backed by an S-10 5-spd and the stock 3.90 rear gear and 16" tires (didn't measure how tall). Mostly in town driving I got just less than 21 mpg.
    Now I am looking to put together something closer to what Porknbeaner is running. mild (350hp) 350 backed by a 5-sp and I have also changed my rear gear to a 3.27 posi. I should be in the twenties and have more hauling/pulling power to boot.
    I'll tell you about Porknbeaner's truck. It's an old farm truck he got from Rocky in Nebraska. We put PnBnr's mild 355 in it and it's got all the pull you would want in a full sized truck and still get good mileage.

    If you want an old truck and 4wd. try putting a 50's Chevy cab and bed on a 4wd S-10 chassis. Add a small v8 or use the 4.3 vortech and you are in like Flint.
  20. arkracing
    Joined: Feb 7, 2005
    Posts: 891


    I vote for a '62-'72 Chevy Truck. 4x4's are a little more expensive. If you really want a 4x4 look for a '71-'72 as these were the first 4x4s with factory front disc brakes - you can put later model D44's and 10b front axles in them - the bolt right in up to '87.
    2x4's are good too - I had a '69 with a 250 six and a 4 speed with 3.73 rear gears and got around 20 with it, I then proceded to put a 305/700R4 in it and got around the same milage with it.

    This is my '72 1/2t 4x4 - it got around 12mpg with a Healthy 327cid/TH350/NP205 and 3.08 Gears, the motor leaked everywhere - so it has been de-tuned to a 250 six. With stock style 15" wheels and skinnys I'm hoping for 17mpg

  21. bassnsx
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 11

    from NY

    my dad's 2wd '68 f100 360 3 spd short bed gets about 6 mpg.
  22. greasel
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 325

    from Fresno, CA

    good thread there, in addition to it...the vortec truck 305 heads and the world products S/R Torquer305 heads are great street/daily driver performance heads. stock heads will do well enough for a driver but some heads will make it a little stump pulling monster. depending on your tires you could use a 3.23 to 3.08 rear gears behind a 700r-4. you could putt down the highway at 1,400 rpm :)
    nice thing about the two R4 trannies is they've got a pretty steep first gear so you can get away from a stop pretty good without having to hammer down and the O/D is pretty tall, too. I'm a big fan. I had a 200-4r in my 93 s10 in addition to the r-4 already mentioned in my '56.
  23. nexxussian
    Joined: Mar 14, 2007
    Posts: 3,240


    I know it isn't a direct comparison, and I know it isn't a truck. But our Anglia averages 25 MPG on the highway. That's with the wrong gears in the rear w/ 24 inch tall drivers and turning 3400 @ 70MPH. I realise it has some advantage because it is lighter and has less frontal area. I would expect to get 4-5 MPG better when we get a better rear ratio (shooting for 2K @ 70).

    My point is the Anglia has the 4.0L SOHC V6 out of a 2001 Ranger with the 5 speed OD automatic (5R55E). If you were willing (I know you said you didn't want a project) you could drop an older body on a 'munched' ranger and put easy rolling (narrower) tires on it. It should get decent mileage maybe 20? Maybe not.

    The Aero mods mentioned earlier in the thread would help as well. The wiring would be the hardest part. If you do decide on a late model swap of some sort, make sure you get the Ignition key. Most new ones have a transponder chip in them and the engine won't start without it (so get the key and the antenna too, its usually a ring around the ign key tumbler with wires hooked to it, zip tie the two together, hide them somewhere in the truck).

    FWIW that's probably what I would do if I were looking for 'economy' in a truck. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention, we bought the ranger hulk at a salvage auction for $1200 (included having it delivered home by the salvage company).

    Of course if you can find a 6 cyl truck in good enough shape to use that's bound to be quicker and cheaper. All the ones of that vintage here are either rods in progress or clapped out.
  24. On that note, I drive an '89 suburban as a daily, and it only gets around 15.. the best it ever got was 17.. with a 2.73 rear. Factory rating was 19 at 55 mph. I have a lot of crap in it, but just as much of it has rotted away, and it got 17 crusing at 75 on a 4 hour trip while loaded with stuff for a car show.

    A Chevy 235/T5 combo can pull 25 MPG in a 3000-lb or so vehicle. The key to making good milage is your torque, and setting the vehicle up to cruise at the RPM range it puts out the most torque. My '60 Pontiac was a 4000-lb car and it got 18 or so on the highway cruising at 65-70. It had manual steering and an automatic trans.

    I would think if you can find a truck in the 2800-3400 lb range, put it together with a torquey motor and a manual trans, and gear it for your highway cruising speed, 25 is definately attainable and perhaps even 30 depending on the choice of motor.
  25. funguynstc
    Joined: May 11, 2007
    Posts: 108


    i drove a 77 f150 4x4 4 spd,with a 300 six which was a 75 model engine for years and got just over 20 mile per gallon,i had 30x9.50 tires on it,3.55 gears,so 20 to 25 miles per gallon is not to far fetched

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!


Copyright © 1995-2021 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.