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SBC vs Flathead

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Strong-arm, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. OK just wondering. You said the merc has always been your dream car since you were really young.. I was wondering what started that? What mercs did you see that made that car your dream car? Was it just the looks of it? Was it the whole car outside, the flathead etc....? How did you always think you would have your car when you finally got one? Did you dream of having the perfect merc the way you wanted it with a flathead? Or with a different engine? You finally did get the car you always wanted but why cheap out now and swap out the flathead? Flatheads are exspensive no doubt... But if you always envisioned your dream merc with a flathead then keep it.. If you dreamed of it with a sbc then swap it out like everybody else does and take the cheap and easy way out...I dont care how traditional people say a sbc is or it can look... Why do what everybody else does... sbc have been used all the time... Why? Cause they cost a fraction of what other engines cost to build...Also everybody and there brother builds them...
    So you got your dream car! Why cheap out now?
  2. Tell you what, I wouldn't want less power than I have right now with my belly button SBC + headers. If a Flathead makes 2/3's the power of my current mill that would suck.
  3. 1950ChevySuburban
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,188

    Member Emeritus
    from Tucson AZ

    We're no further along than when you first posted, huh? Both sides bring good points to the table.
  4. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 1,626

    from Napa

    Bingo. It's not a Chebbie. It's your dream car. If your dream car was a '50 Chebbie, by all means put a justanudderChebbie in it. If a good flattie will do, you know there are options there. But there's no good reason to bastardize your dream car to go OHV when any number of good Ford engines will work- like the inexpensive, dependable, easy to work on and any-power-level-you-want sbf you mentioned. Just a thought, but I saw a '50 at our car show a couple years ago that had a dressed-up DOHC Modular engine/OD auto in it, and it looked saweeet- and had a crowd around it all day- a lot of folks thought it was an old Hemi LOL
    And a buddy of mine has a gorgeous bright orange '56 F100 with a 5.0 HO in it, and had every bit of aluminum on it polished- and there's a lot- and it really jumps when you open the hood. 289/302 w/ 2x4 intake? 3x2? Old Cobra or Edel high-rise and a Holley? Anything but a frikken' elcheapo Chebbie in that cool 'ol dream car
  5. Truckedup
    Joined: Jul 25, 2006
    Posts: 3,981


    MeanGene427 You're a Ford guy so you would want a Ford engine.But some guys are more interested in the style of the car and the make of the engine is not as important.Lets say I had an old Ford,I would like a Ford engine.But I do know I can get a Chevy small or big block in about 15 minutes for not a whole lot of money.I just don't know anyone or any place near me to get a Ford engine as easily.So for me,and maybe can be a matter of what fits by needs and budget. And I rarely go to shows so I'm not aware of the rows of cars with Chevy engines :D
  6. Gene Phttttt:p

    Sorry I just wanted to do that to someone and you were available. ;)

    I really like the little ford myself but if you really want cruse and bang for th dollar you cannot beat an FE. They are still plentiful and if you are not looking for a 427 you usually find a good runner cheap. By my way of thinking one engine that didn't come in a car isn't any harder to put in than another.

    Find yourself a running 390 and dress it like a 352 no one will know the difference. Or if you decide to go the full on custom route dress it to the hilt with every bit of chrome you can find to go on it. real customs were not mope around town with some old wheezer motor under the hood and never let any one see it, they got points for under the hood as well as the trunk, interior and custom mods to the out side.

    Either way it won't cost any more than anything else and it would be cool to the bone, or if you prefer old school it will be as smooth as silk, it'll have it in spades.

    Now you may have noticed that I have changed directions several times on this thread, that is because there are several ways to go and I want to make sure that Strong Arm recognizes all his options.

    well that and I wanted to give gene a rasberry. :D
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
  7. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,545


    The part you left out is the torque numbers at what rpm... I havent looked up the 394 but I'll guess it is down around 2500 rpm and that the sbc is in the 5000 rpm range. Not so 'usable' in a daily driver/cruizer. There is a logical reason for the lower rpm higher torque engines from Cad, Buick, Olds and yes, even Mopar. They will work hard all day long and not complain while dragging around a land yacht. Yes, the sbc will do the same job but will tire more easily.
    You also get kudos for the FE suggestion. Plenty of grunt, dead reliable, but for some reason a bit thirsty.

    To the OP:
    You can bolt up a 289 to the stock 3-speed and little else changes. No, it will not be a powerhouse but it will be simple install and parts are available everywhere. If you want something a little more 'daring', then look at some of the other 50's engines. Any will be traditional if that is your goal. Yes, there will be some work involved in swapping anything other than another flathead.

  8. Actually my small block starts crawling up on the cam in the 2800-3000 range and my torque curve is pretty Flat to abut 5500, peak is at 4800. I am not sure what I did on this particular engineI just got lucky I think.

    My last 390 was in a galaxie and it got around 14-16 less if I rode it hard.

    I like 'em, they sond healthy even when they are not and even wre slap out they pull good and hard.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
  9. I'd have to have a BBC or a BBF in my dream sled so when you get done cruising you can hammer down and it's a hot rod too.

    You won't have to worry about this with a Flathead or a SBC - check this bad ass Merc
  10. mtflat
    Joined: Jan 28, 2003
    Posts: 422


    I think an sbc would be great in a Vega... but why mess up another Ford car. You want chevy, buy chevy

    and my opinion cost exactly what you paid for it - grins
  11. For the same reason that our fore fathers did, take granny's grocery getter and make it better. :D:D:D
  12. Gerrys
    Joined: May 1, 2009
    Posts: 327


    It is simple. Show(flathead), Go(OHV).
  13. Truckedup
    Joined: Jul 25, 2006
    Posts: 3,981


    Very few if none of those 400 cubic inch older engines will make anywhere near the gross power ratings advertised back then.For instance ,the typical Muscle Car engine rated at around 330 hp makes about 280 flywheel hp.Torque will be down the same amount.Usually it took a lot of tuning and open headers just to get the factory power ratings.
  14. Actually the late model engines are about the same. Ford actually got caught with its finger in the pie a couple of years back on the 4.6 as I recall.

    I have not had a 394 on a dyno yet and when it does happen it will not be a stock one I am afraid. So I won't be able to give anyone any real numbers. I have owned a couple fo 394s and one in a delta and one a cop car motor and they were pretty impressive. I would have to guess that they made lumps but neither was a revver like say a built short stroke motor.
  15. Use a YBlock for the leadslead and put a trailer hitch on it to tow a Flathead FED behind it(since you already have the flathead), there, you have the best of both worlds......a Ford in a Ford and one of Henry's best in a digger......

    course I'm certifiable........
  16. Strong-arm
    Joined: Jul 14, 2011
    Posts: 31


    Yep, opened a can of worms. I didn't think so many people would take it so personal. All this stuff is new to me.

    I don't now...It make perfect sense to me asking guys who's been doing this stuff for a while...
  17. Strong-arm
    Joined: Jul 14, 2011
    Posts: 31


    Well to tell you the truth it all started from the old Tex Avery cartoon called "one cabs family"... a family of cars has a baby and as the baby car gets older he wants to be a hotrod. I know it wasn't a merc but it's that kinda style. A teacher at the elementry school had a chopped merc, primered gray. I ould see him drive it everyday. I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Then I also liked the Merc in American Graffiti and Stallones in cobra. I always liked the look...never even thought of the engine it had in it.

    But being from So Cal, not many Mercs (except for that one) and hot rods in my neighborhood. Mainly lowriders which alot of them were cadillacs, buicks and chevys. That's what I was into for a very long time. But owning a merc was always on my mind.
  18. Strong-arm
    Joined: Jul 14, 2011
    Posts: 31


  19. Russco
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 4,167

    from Central IL

    Its ultimately your decision, you have to be the one happy with it. Its funny cause Im a pretty die hard SBC guy. I have a hot rod with a blown 327 right now. I also have a coupe with a built flatty and a shoebox with a stock flatty, lately I like driving the stock flatty quite a bit more. Its quiet smooth & comfy, after years of loud exhaust and high performance Im enjoying the hell out of just cruising. It keeps up just fine with normal traffic I seldom find the need for more power just cruising in it, I have driven it with the 3.73 gear and no OD 200 miles round trip with a gear change that Im about to do I wouldnt hesitate to drive it much further. Good luck really its a win win either way you are gonna have your dream car Im still trying to figure out what mine is.
  20. Strong-arm
    Joined: Jul 14, 2011
    Posts: 31


    Thanks for your in put. I'll keepyou posted on my progress
  21. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,545


    GREAT CARtoo!!

    Whatever you decide to do, don't get wishy-washy as soon as the first nay-sayer starts bleating. It is your car, your money and your time. Just be damn sure it is safe.

    Sua Sponte.
  22. 32Gnu
    Joined: May 20, 2010
    Posts: 538


    Chocolate... Definately chocolate....

    Or vanilla....
  23. greaseguns
    Joined: Dec 24, 2006
    Posts: 135


    Geez somebody need a friggin nap

    Yep, if you ask the question here,
    your are ultimately fukking cheap.

    grow a set of balls and
    get over the lying to you piss pour 350 cheap ass oil burning low grade cylinder wall
    cam lob disappearing planned obsolescence
    transmission breakdown 5 times at 12 times the cost
    10 bolt worn out blues.

  24. seventhirteen
    Joined: Sep 21, 2009
    Posts: 721

    from dago, ca

    you probably won't be that happy with a flathead in a merc, big car little motor situation.

    I rebuilt and put a 350/350 chevy in my wife's 50 merc 13 years ago, I've had to change the oil and tires in that time, no regrets, as far as all the belly button comments you'll notice mostly those folks don't have 50 mercs, when you get yours on the road you'll also notice you'll probably hardly ever even see one driving around other than at car shows. my wife has daily driven in san diego to work in her merc and has never seen another one just driving around. so it's true you might not have put a ground breaking motor in your car but it will hardly be common either way

    i'll be putting a flathead in a 34 coupe where they belong, in small cars...course just my opinion but you did ask.
  25. xxzzy999
    Joined: Apr 8, 2011
    Posts: 143



    If it were me, I'd be focused on the driving experience, not what brand/vintage of engine is under the hood. Basically, to move 3600 to 3800 pounds with a 100 hp flatty, will be like driving your grandmother's old station wagon. Which is perfectly fine, hell it worked for granny all those years.

    On the other hand, if you go with say a mild very streetable 350 sbc stroked to 383 (not really much more cost than a 350), you'll have, let's say 350 hp and 420 lbs torque. The 383s are well known for their torque and are great engines for lowend and crusing. It's the torque that will get the 3600 to 3800 pounds moving. This driving experience will be more like driving a stock 60's or 70's big block msucle car, as a comparison... say a "stock" Chevelle 396 or a stock" GTO 400. These were also heavy cars at around 3700+ pounds.

    Bottom line is you are going to have to move a lot of weight with the car you've chosen.

    So, what kind of driving experience do you want???

    Bring on the haters! :)

  26. well if you wanna be hassled by any decent hot rodder then put in the sbc. if you want to have a dead reliable motor with no hassling get a sbf. keep a ford in a ford.
  27. bulletproof1
    Joined: Feb 23, 2004
    Posts: 2,080

    from tulsa okla

    build it the way you see fit...i tried the ford in a ford and it didnt matter much i tried to embrace the ford motor/trans..i dropped in a stroked sbc and never looked back..ive had a blast with the car ,and to me its priceless..
  28. xxzzy999
    Joined: Apr 8, 2011
    Posts: 143


    Why do we praise a Merc with a Cadillac bumper/grill but criticize a Merc with a GM engine? Kind of ridiculous don't you think?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
  29. 296 V8
    Joined: Sep 17, 2003
    Posts: 4,666

    296 V8
    from Nor~Cal

    Didn’t this one get a new cad when it was a nearly new car?

    Attached Files:

  30. ford power
    Joined: Jun 10, 2011
    Posts: 8

    ford power

    there are lots of 390 FE motors in the junkyards, and they are alot cheaper to rebuild than a flathead. you get the best of both worlds, power, reliablity and a you keep a ford in a ford. :D

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