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Hot Rods Spending the money building vintage engines

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Roothawg, Jun 18, 2020.

  1. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 19,898


    I have been slowly collecting parts for my 390 Cadillac.

    The other day we were talking on the Cadillac thread about the extensive port work that another member did to his Caddy heads. After all the work they flow about the same as a stock, untouched SBC head. This started me to thinking, which is never good, about the rationale I use to justify the $$ for the cool factor.

    I am always drawn to weird engines, Caddys, Chevy 265's, Y blocks, Nailheads etc. They always cost way more to get any kind of performance. I always start drifting towards the HP vs. $ formula.

    I will have a ton of money in this Cadillac before I am done, but it's cool right? Tell me I'm not alone here.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
    Joined: Sep 5, 2007
    Posts: 1,703


    You are not alone. My Chevy 235 Stovebolt inline six, currently in mockup with a 471 blower hanging off the side. Is waiting for attention while I freshen up my Jimmy 302 in my '37 pickup. Waiting in the wings is a 322 Nailhead rebuild with a Latham supercharger.

    It's not about ultimate horsepower for me. It's about the first burst of postwar tech from the early fifties to early sixties that I grew up around when my Dad was a machinist and engine builder.

    So, yeah, it's cool in my world.
  3. 51box
    Joined: Aug 31, 2005
    Posts: 912

    from MA

    A Chevy engine will make way more power for your dollar and looks great doing it. A caddy, buick, olds etc in a car just adds a little uniqueness and it’s still a lot of fun even though they are considerably down on power with a similar $ investment, compared to the chevy. I like them all and am collecting parts to build a stout 365 caddy for my next project.
  4. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 5,032

    from Oregon

    What he said ^^^^:cool:
    Rickybop and Roothawg like this.
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  5. fordflambe
    Joined: Apr 9, 2007
    Posts: 497


    I'm building a 64' 389 Pontiac. They now make lip seal to replace original rope main seal. Also will be using hardened seats in the exhaust valves to enable me to run the crappy gas we have now, without adders. Also going to tweak the compression from 10.5 to 9.5 as I am going to be using a non-traditional fuel system with updated ignition. Should produce more HP than original, be more reliable, and still have the traditional look. Yep, I too am spending a ton of money on an engine some would consider a "boat anchor".
  6. The part I never get is the guys who spend a ton of money on building a "unique"motor and then use the excuse of "it costs too much" when it comes to nice paint or interior.
  7. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 19,898


    Yep. Mine will be 100% finished out. Lotsa chrome on this version.
  8. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 6,663

    Bandit Billy

    Someone I can relate to!
  9. Yes, it is worth building...if we did what made the most sense both from a financial and hp perspective and could care less about being traditional, we would all be putting supercharged LS motors in everything. But, we also wouldn't be hanging out here on a traditional forum...

    Oh, and on a personal note...I wouldn't be trying to use an old set of ported power pack heads on my latest SBC build for my pickup if I just wanted to go fast. I would just use the aluminum ones I have but don't want to use since I don't like the way they look. ;)
  10. Tow Truck Tom
    Joined: Jul 3, 2018
    Posts: 22

    Tow Truck Tom
    from Clayton DE

    Agreed the comfort and eye appeal are in play constantly. The brute power is only useful now and then.

  11. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,253

    Rusty O'Toole

    The Caddy is a higher quality motor than the Chev and this is reflected in the price of parts. If you build it right it should handily outlast a typical Chevy.
  12. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,257

    from Alabama

    There’s attributes the Cadillac has that the Chevrolet does not nor will ever have. That goes both ways.

    There’s something about a Flathead Ford. The way it makes power. The way such a low “HP” engine performs. There’s nothing like it.

    The quest for HP has been solved. It’s been solved in the past 3 decades. Starting with Fuel injection and continuing with computer everything. Now a Honda has more HP than most muscle cars.

    A fuel injected computer gizmo turbo charged Honda will never ever be a vintage Cadillac.

    Nor will a crate motor from Jegs/Summit with trick heads stroked bla-bla-bla.......
    Old-Soul, RmK57, 31hotrodguy and 8 others like this.
  13. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 25,077

    Jalopy Joker

    build it right - but if you decide to table Caddy idea try this 20200618_100013.jpg 20200618_095353.jpg
  14. Hellfish
    Joined: Jun 19, 2002
    Posts: 6,443


    It comes down to 2 questions
    1. Are you building for speed/performance, looks, or reliability/safety (warranty, availability of parts, etc)?
    2. How much money do you have?
  15. fordflambe
    Joined: Apr 9, 2007
    Posts: 497


    If you look good, you don't have to go fast........!
    If you go fast, you don't have to look good......!
  16. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,405


    you should see how much money/work I'm putting into just trying to get the original 20 hp out of a T banger right now....
    1927graham, scott27, G Baese and 27 others like this.
  17. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,292

    from kansas

    I agree, build the caddy. Go to any car show and find a sea of sbc, why? Most say they're cheap. Horse power don't mean much as 70 % of these are never pushed to their limit anyway.

    On the expense side , thats what always got me, 10,000 paint job, 8000 interior and then put a 2000 sbc crate motor in it because it was cheap.

    If I had a really nice old ford coupe etc and spending money, it'd be a nice jack Roush ford motor sitting in it.
  18. dreracecar
    Joined: Aug 27, 2009
    Posts: 3,032

    from so-cal

    How much POWER do you really need???
  19. When it comes to Big Boy's toys common sense never comes into play. If you can buy it over the counter it isn't gonna get's us excited. Show me that Caddy in anything but Stock Body and I'll get all kind of curious. Put a SBC in the same car and I'll walk right past it.
  20. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 19,898


    The 390 is slated for my 36 pickup. It will have the Gene Winfield shop truck vibe to it. It will have a manual transmission as well.

    Oh and I'm not asking if I should build it.....just trying to convince myself that I am not crazy for doing it.. I already have a bellhousing, new custom cam ground and a 2x4 intake.
  21. If you want to play with that Ratio on the extreme- Do a Chevy 307 with 305 HO heads, 262 cam, SP2 manifold and small primary headers. The key is a short block that doesn’t need pistons and machine work, still easy to do. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU’RE NEEDING PISTONS AND MACHINE WORK.
    The parts are stupid cheap Because NOBODY wants them. The power level is well over 300 hp and torque. The 262 cam has most power under the curve where you’re driving and highest averages. A bigger cam will make more peak power but not as fun to drive and not enough power to win trophies at the strip.
    The last one I did was about $600 plus my time and 315 Hp. So 1 + hp for every $2.00 is kinda fun from misfits and unwanted junk.
  22. BadgeZ28
    Joined: Oct 28, 2009
    Posts: 1,055

    from Oregon

    Seems to come down to looks and not being cookie cutter versus cost. Look at all the money it takes to make a flattie put out power over 150 hp. A low compression junkyard 350 Chevy will only cost a couple hundred dollars and have more power and be a simple ready to go setup.
    dirty old man and Roothawg like this.
  23. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,578

    from PNW

    Because the motor was cheap they could afford the paint and interior....
    Budget36 and Roothawg like this.
  24. After helping Tim chase records at Bonneville with the Yblock for a few years my attitude for the street has changed. I LOVE vintage engines but really dont see myself getting crazy on one from here on out. Just a good reliable rebuild scoots most early rods around just fine. I have had enough projects put in storage these last few years. It is time to get a couple on the road to play.
  25. Wait, there's OTHER engines out there besides old ones?!?!?!?!?!
    Rickybop, waxhead, Ned Ludd and 5 others like this.
  26. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 19,898


    I keep telling myself I will dump the HP money into the Fly and not build any power on the street, but I can never drive a bone stocker. Just not in my DNA.
  27. Lil'Alb
    Joined: Sep 22, 2013
    Posts: 183

    from brier, wa

    ^^LOL This is me^^
  28. Blasphemy ! ,,,,,,,,,, Lol .

  29. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,778

    from California

    sure. that must be why the stopped using the early Cad motors in 1963.
    TagMan and Truckdoctor Andy like this.
  30. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,262


    To me building an engine is the easiest part of putting a car together. Lots of neat choices out there. Nail Heads are my first choice. Just something about the way their valve covers look and they are torque monsters.
    Roothawg likes this.

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