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Hot Rods Should I swap the 283 in my pickup for a known flattie?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Skobie, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Skobie
    Joined: Jul 28, 2006
    Posts: 38

    from Philly

    I have a 283 / Saginaw in my 34 pickup. A close friend (totally trust him) is thinking of selling a flattie setup (engine, 42 truck trans, radiator, starter, battery) that he has owned for years, housed in a rig he built that allows him to run the engine on the stand, and he does that periodically. He was saving it for a ground-up build but already has an A roadster and A coupe and, getting older, just wants to drive and enjoy them now.
    He wants 1500 for it.

    I’d love your help thinking through a few things:

    1) is it a good deal? Looking at flattie prices in the last few days since he’s told me about it, it looks like it is…

    2) Should I swap a SBC for a flattie? I use the truck for cruising and for general running around and don’t drag it (but love to run it through the gears when I drive it).
  2. The Flattie is cooler, but goes a lot slower. What style Flatty is it (8BA, 59A, etc?) Stock or modified motor?
  3. chrisntx
    Joined: Jan 20, 2006
    Posts: 1,790

    from Texas .

    the chevy is the traditional way to hotrod, its dependable and cheap and easy for parts
    and you want to use an expensive underpowered poorly designed engine with overheating problems??? not me! I have driven flathead V8s for years and will not again
  4. tb33anda3rd
    Joined: Oct 8, 2010
    Posts: 15,162

    1. Connecticut HAMB'ers

    do can always change it back.
    Register now to get rid of these ads!

  5. arkiehotrods
    Joined: Mar 9, 2006
    Posts: 5,487


    I have one SBC and one flathead. They both do what they're designed to do. I like them both.

    I have an acquaintance who removed a 283 from a '40 Ford and put in a flathead. After driving it awhile, he took the flathead out and put the 283 back in. He likes it better with the 283.

    My '47 Ford is a pleasure to drive with the stock flathead. It is smooth and quiet, and will pull up pretty steep hills in third gear, which is amazing to me.

    If you try the flathead and like it, great! If you try the flathead and don't care for it, you can swap the 283 back in and sell the flathead. A good running flathead usually sells quickly, so you won't be out anything but labor.
  6. Deuce Daddy Don
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 4,854

    Deuce Daddy Don

    Only if you don't want to drive it much!
  7. Its a step backwards, especially if she's running and driving.
  8. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,378

    from California

    I think flatheads are cool in other peoples cars so I think you should swap. if it were my car I'd keep the 283.
  9. bgaro
    Joined: Sep 3, 2010
    Posts: 1,189


    buy it and build another car around it. let it hang out in your garage and look at it.
  10. 2935ford
    Joined: Jan 6, 2006
    Posts: 3,168


    That 283 is a good motor for that truck and as said inexpensive to maintain.
    I have had a flattie that ran really nice (when it was first installed) for awhile then gave me grief from then on.....lots of adjustable liter issues. For me, wasn't worth the money I put into it. I know lots of folks have good luck with the flathead but I didn't.

    I'm building my '32 pickup with a '55 265 SBC. To me, just as traditional as any flathead.
  11. no55mad
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,807

    from nipomo, ca

    For local runs, the flathead is great for me. But, I've seen the 60+yr old crowd that really know the flatheads, take them on cross country runs with no complaints. Proper gearing for the flathead is important. The flattie in my 40 w/3.78 rear gears and 15" tires is not happy on the freeway.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
  12. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,802

    Atwater Mike

    I've built, driven, broken, and loved, hated, and tolerated flatheads since 1955.
    Big, small, extreme, mild, etc. Replaced some with Cads, Oldses, Chryslers, and Chev V8s

    Giant difference in smooth torque, reliability, and overall peace of mind.

    Building another '47 Merc flathead as we speak...but I have a large collection of SBC, BBC, Chrys Hemi, Desoto Hemi, Olds, and some others...just in case. LOL
  13. scrap metal 48
    Joined: Sep 6, 2009
    Posts: 5,672

    scrap metal 48

    If this was the late 50's and you asked this question, I think you friends would say you're crazy to go back to a flathead.. But since it's 60 years later I will say, You're crazy to go back to a flathead....
  14. Speed Gems
    Joined: Jul 17, 2012
    Posts: 2,381

    Speed Gems

    Darn, for a minute I thought it said BLOWN flathead.:D
  15. Skobie
    Joined: Jul 28, 2006
    Posts: 38

    from Philly

    FWIW, I've got fairly tall rear gears....
  16. big bad john
    Joined: Aug 11, 2010
    Posts: 4,727

    big bad john

    Just do it.......Looking cool is everything
  17. bobwop
    Joined: Jan 13, 2008
    Posts: 6,079


    buy it now, that is a great deal.

    take some time and decide.
  18. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 599


    I have a similar dilemma. To resolve it, I bought a second 36 Ford pickup to put the flathead in. Problem would be solved if I ever could get around to starting the project.
  19. Baumi
    Joined: Jan 28, 2003
    Posts: 2,190


    I love the sound and look of a flatty. I once drove a friends A truck with a 160 hp flatty and it was quick and healthy. But not really reliable and he broke more transmissions than the block sprung cracks. I still want a flatty someday but for now I have 2 nailheads, 3 283s and 4 327 s stored away for future projects... I´d stay with the 283.
  20. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 5,650


    Looking cool doesn't do it for me. I'd rather have the performance of an SBC. I've had flatheads before and was not satisfied with their sluggish performance.
  21. bfinch56
    Joined: Aug 18, 2011
    Posts: 121


    I'd have bought it already at that price. Definetely since its a package. It would be cool to have the stand too. Like others have said just get it home then you can take your sweet ass time deciding what to do with it. Hell i'd like to have it even though right now I got no use for it.
  22. mashed
    Joined: Oct 15, 2011
    Posts: 1,474

    from 4077th

    This sure didn't go the way I thought it would.
  23. maybe it's just me , but i have always had a hard time tearing apart a running/driving car when there is basically nothing wrong with it. keep the 283 in it , use the Flathead for the next project
  24. Skobie
    Joined: Jul 28, 2006
    Posts: 38

    from Philly

    OP here. Thanks everyone for their opinions so far - very helpful!

    This is kinda what I've been thinking to do:

    1) Buy now, since it sounds like you guys think it's a good deal, too.
    2) Tuck it into the corner of the garage and run it on the stand occasionally.
    3) Stick with the 283 in my pickup for the forseeable future.
    4) Use the flattie someday, or not, for the pickup or another project.
    5) Can always sell it at some point.
  25. bobwop
    Joined: Jan 13, 2008
    Posts: 6,079


  26. steel rebel
    Joined: Jun 14, 2006
    Posts: 3,604

    steel rebel
    Member Emeritus

    If you have to ask you already know the answer. You only run a flathead if you just have to have a flathead. Same goes for a generator instead of an alternator.
  27. Fedman
    Joined: Dec 17, 2005
    Posts: 1,164


    Yup! :D

    I think you have this figured out just right!

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