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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. Hemi Joel
    Joined: May 4, 2007
    Posts: 1,254

    Hemi Joel
    from Minnesota

    It all depends on what you want to accomplish. You Caddy with some vintage speed parts will be ultra cool to the real gear heads and lovers of tradition like us. Same goes for Nailheads, Rockets, MELs, etc. But 90% of casual observers will have no clue what it is or what it means to have it. So you build it YOUR way for your own satisfaction.
    As for me, I love all the vintage mills but IMHO the best combination of power, wow factor, and cost of ownership is the 426 based Hemi. It's huge, it's different, many choices of cool intakes, and it's harder to fall out of bed than to make 700 streetable horsepower with a gen 2 Hemi.
  2. bchctybob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2011
    Posts: 3,759


    To me, resurrecting vintage engines and using them is money well spent. Nothing speeds up my heart rate like seeing a cool old style hot rod with a dressed up old engine and I mean the real thing, not a sbc with Olds valve covers. It tells me that the owner is willing to go the extra mile.
    For street use most of the old Olds, Buick, Pontiac, hell even Packards and Studebaker engines have good low end torque so a little work makes them peppy street performers in light weight old Fords.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Roothawg likes this.
  3. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 11,496

    jimmy six

    It’s only money and last time I looked a casket had no pockets. 8EF9F2A9-2D99-4F89-90B2-7E7F838C5116.jpeg
  4. The deal is to buy a car with a good engine, drop it in your car in running condition, put a SBC and trans in the car you pulled the engine from, and sell it, you may have a free Cad, Olds, Nailhead, Pontiac, etc in your car. Just gota work it right. saves 5K in rebuild costs and smokes a little but that's part of the fun.
  5. dan griffin
    Joined: Dec 25, 2009
    Posts: 500

    dan griffin

    Fountain of youth. Been playing with Oldsmobiles since 1953, so when the weather is good a good old two lane highway, the window is down and I can hear the twin pipes the stars are lined up for a few seconds I am 21 years years old again. Worth every 100.00 bill I spent. CSC_0478.JPG CSC_0478.JPG
  6. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,137




    In an era where the Flathead was king for a while, then the v8 Ford and Chevy motors came on the scene, there were others that just stepped away from the norm. Eldon Dye and Don Hampton had many local record runs and trophy winning times/speeds. The Competition Coupe was odd looking for the times and surprised many other competitors with his Cad motor and power. For several years, this cad powered coupe raced against the the top competitors in So Cal. Most of the time, they were successful.

    Your choice of a Cad power for your build is commendable. It not only will surprise others, it will be relatively different from all of the SBC and Flathead powered hot rods. All of the traditional builds were not just Flathead and SBC motors. So, more power to you and your choice.


    Here is a little history that I gathered from our time at the Lions Dragstrip.
    upload_2020-6-22_4-10-58.png 1958-59 upload_2020-6-22_4-11-37.png
    Don Hampton driving the Bantam, getting the jump on Gary Cagle/Herbert Cams record setting, FED at Lions.

    Between 1958 and the end of 1959, the Dye/Hampton Bantam Coupe went through a metamorphosis. The big Cad motor with Strombergs was exchanged for a bigger 671- Hilborn injected Hemi in the same chassis. This, along with bigger M&H slicks made it go much faster.
    1959 Lions Dragstrip

    The most unusual coupe from Eldon Dye went through some transformation in the succeeding early years from 59-60. We caught him at three different tracks in So Cal. His (brown or maroon) Bantam bodied coupe with the Cad motor at 1959 Lions, then repainted a dark blue with a racing stripe and the 671/ Hemi with what looked like one of Howard Cam’s Chain Drives at the 1959 Riverside and 1960 Bakersfield meets. It was always a hard driving, fast race car. But it was most unusual as it was mentioned (@296ardun) that the Bantam Body was a pickup cab made into a coupe. Great looking car and it was fast.

    The final race in 1960 was against an Olds powered Competition Coupe from the Albertson Oldsmobile camp.

    TBirdGirl26, warbird1 and Roothawg like this.
  7. railcarmover
    Joined: Apr 30, 2017
    Posts: 699


    Ever notice most old pictures are cats working on their cars? I run a banger with an a trans and overdrive..wipe it down after a hard run,check for leaks(other than shit like rope seal drool) and loose shit. Life of a Ford..fancy? Depends on how you do it,hustle scrape and barter and it aint bad.Fancy show car bragging rights? Not a chance.
    waxhead, iwanaflattie and Roothawg like this.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,673


    The late Jerry J.Moore said, "You'll never see a Brinks truck in a funeral procession."

    Sorta goes along with Sinatra's "You only live once, but if you live like me once is enough."

    Now tell me those 2 quotes don't apply to this topic, I dare ya ;)
    williebill, rod1 and Roothawg like this.
  9. You shouldn't have to justify spending lots of money on a Caddy, if it's important to you. The driving force behind our hobby is self-expression. If we were in a hobby where we are all striving to get the best fuel mileage or HP per dollar, then yeah. As long as you're paying your bills and the kids aren't starving, have at it. Car shows would be more boring than they already are if every car was the same.

    As for me, it is HP per dollar, because I don't have many of either. So I'll stick with my SBCs because that's all I can afford. I'd love to do a Caddy someday, but not likely. When it comes to hot rodding, I'm really just happy to be here.
  10. 49coupe
    Joined: Nov 4, 2005
    Posts: 567


    It depends on the car. In period car, it just works and the $$ somewhat justifies the investment. I put a rebuilt, balanced 1960 401 Buick with a 4 spd and chrome goodies in my '49 Ford coupe. I love it and it drives well. The time and money involved was too much though, custom motor and transmission mounts, headers, custom linkages for a 4 spd on column + reverse, rad, moving battery to trunk, modifying heater blower, 425 oil pan with custom pickup, modified oil filter housing, etc. etc. etc. Would I ever do it again ….HELL NO. When installing my motor, my buddy was under the car and said...."other than the fact nothing clears it fits great". Famous last words. I would buy a motor that suits the car AND fits. There is a reason you don't see nailheads in shoeboxes. I had to find out for myself why not... In other cars it doesn't matter in my opinion. If you running aluminum wheels, an ididit tilt column, a modern steering wheel and new bucket seats, just put an LS motor in it.
    57JoeFoMoPar and coupe33 like this.
  11. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 11,496

    jimmy six

    Since this engine was designed in 1952-3 and finally brought to the masses in 1955, it’s a vintage engine to me. In its current configuration it still very closely resembles its great grandfather and 75% of it can actually bolt on or fit in its 1955 counterpart. It didn’t come in a crate and parts were individually purchased making it expensive. It could easily be placed in a HAMB friendly vehicle and perform admirably but this one was chosen to seek fun for its owner and especially for the owners father a HAMB member. 2F7E6162-E1D1-429A-89C1-9479D5F43946.jpeg
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
    scott27, Roothawg, Just Gary and 4 others like this.
  12. If you were a rapper JD, that would be a mic drop.
    Sent from my SM-J337V using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    High test 63 and jimmy six like this.
  13. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 6,148


    "Roothawg" - Aren't you just "Preaching to the choir" here? Of course build the Caddy; it's what we do.

    I love old engines too, and would love to have a bunch of cars, but I don't have the space (much less the money) to have more than I have now. I am building my last (probably) car; a flathead powered "T" touring. It's roller status now, and the fresh dressed flathead that's going in it is all ready to go. The problem is that in the interim, I have acquired a freshly rebuilt '51 Olds Rocket with a bunch of speed goodies and a excellent running '56 Chrysler hemi. Both were good deals and I couldn't pass them up, so now they're sitting under the steps at my shop after being run on my test stand. What to do? When I built the frame, I set it up with the standard '40-48' Ford Front mounts.and the rear mount to pick up the rear transmission mount on a '50 Ford overdrive transmission. I also threw a tape on the Olds and hemi, and made sure that I didn't do anything to the frame that would be a major problem down the line. In the meantime, I have acquired adapters to mate both engines to the Ford transmission, as well as a couple of sets of Hurst mounts for the front of each (I also found a starter "switchover" for the Olds).

    I think you see where I am going here. I think if I am careful enough and keep my eye on the future, I should be able to have a car in which I can run any of my engines. I plan on building "Lake Headers" for each engine, and think I can make the under-car exhaust outlet be in the proper place and a little planning with the wiring harness should make that workable (with maybe a "plug-in" engine wiring harness). I believe I can figure how the radiator should connect, so I think it's possible. You've heard of Quick-Change" rear-ends? What about "Quick-Change" engines?

    I can see a couple of problem areas here, the first is the transmission and the second is the front suspension. For the first, I am actively looking for an OD equipped T85, and for the second, I may have to run a front spring that's a little stiff for the flathead, or maybe have two different springs. It will be interesting to see how far I get with this hare-brained idea.

    Oh yeah, I have an adapter and mounts for an SBC. I don't have an engine though.:oops:
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
    rod1, Roothawg, Desoto291Hemi and 3 others like this.
  14. TBirdGirl26
    Joined: Jun 21, 2020
    Posts: 209


    My brother wanted an early olds and got Tony @ Ross Racing to build this 56 Olds 324 engine for his 31 Model A. It was more expensive than a comparable sbc, but I thinks its cool. IMG_8506.jpg thumbnail_IMG_7269.jpg thumbnail_IMG_7775.jpg thumbnail_IMG_1410.jpg thumbnail_IMG_9057.jpg IMG_2566.JPG
  15. Jimmy, you are my hero! I’m completely with you on that there vintage engine. I have nothing against any of the other engines that everyone else has mentioned, but the one you mentioned is my all time forever favorite. Everyone else is entitled to their opinions and viewpoints, but I agree with yours.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    High test 63 and Roothawg like this.
  16. Fitnessguy
    Joined: Sep 28, 2015
    Posts: 1,739


    For a hot rod build it’s gotta be a vintage mill. Aaaaand it’s only money. Spent more than double what a SBC would have been to build buying and doing a full rebuild on my 409. Worth every penny

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  17. GeeRam
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 466


    A guy here in the UK has a 409 in his '32 5w and a 409 or Olds Rocket was my initial choice for my '32, but my timing was real bad, and the massive change in the pound to dollar exchange rate after the UK vote to leave the EU has meant a 20-25% hike in costs of bringing stuff in from the USA.......and so something had to give to try and keep the budget vaguely close to the planned the vintage engine plan was one of the items that got kicked into touch, and a boring crate sbc was bought to replace the terminally broken '67 283 truck motor that came with the chassis and box of bits.
    Fitnessguy and Roothawg like this.
  18. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 23,011


    I have only built sbc's, 265's, 283's, 301's, 327's, 350's. Never built one of the new long stroke sbc, which is on my list.
    My Caddy motor is for a daily driver hot rod, not really a boulevard bruiser. It's interesting, but sometimes I wonder if I should save the Caddy for an open hood roadster. 427 inches of sbc on pump gas, making 600 hp kinda makes my pee pee feel funny. The Caddy will definitely get built and I hear brother...I am cut from the same cloth. My dad shakes his head asking me why I like to do things the hard way. He tells me I might as well build a flathead, if I wanna maker it tough on myself. He's a died in the wool wee block guy....
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  19. This dang HAMB forum is costing me $$$, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Started with the Flathead Ford stuff, then a 4-Banger Ford, now I've furthered the downward spiral with a Desoto 291 build-up. One day there may be a Nailhead, Olds, Inline 8 Buick, Packard, etc... for me it's about diversifying my experience, and being able to argue for interesting options. I also accept that going the vintage engine route comes at a higher monetary outlay. No regrets, no complaints.
  20. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,617

    Rusty O'Toole

    I can see building a 390 Cadillac, nailhead Buick, early Olds etc for a hot rod but I don't see getting carried away. A basically stock rebuild with a cam, intake, 4 barrel or 3 2's sure. A big $$$$$ job bored and stroked, with billet crank and rods, ported heads, all kinds of custom parts - no way.

    Sure the mild version will cost more than a 350 crate motor but not to the point of being ridiculous. And it will get a light hot rod down the road just fine with a top speed well over 100 MPH.

    If you really 'need' 800HP don't be a chump, just buy a big block and be done with it.

    800HP = 300HP for the car + 500HP for the ego.
  21. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 11,496

    jimmy six

    It’s not that I don’t build vintage engines that meet the HAMB requirements; it’s really that I like them all. 3EA3240D-ADC8-478E-AB80-CD5C13930B35.jpeg 84ADEBCA-075A-4064-9D47-D2081AAA09B4.jpeg F0354261-418D-4B8D-9882-1F486B193896.jpeg
  22. Roothawg likes this.
  23. Casual 6
    Joined: May 25, 2008
    Posts: 262

    Casual 6
    from Great NW

    Then you might like this one too:

    Anglia 1.jpg
    Anglia 2.jpg
    typo41, FlatJan, Tman and 5 others like this.
  24. B Ramsey
    Joined: Mar 29, 2009
    Posts: 646

    B Ramsey

    I have a Chrys. 265 flathead 6 at the machine shop yeah, I like old engines.
    Desoto291Hemi likes this.
  25. lonejacklarry
    Joined: Sep 11, 2013
    Posts: 1,471


    I'm in way over the budget with my inline 6 230 c.i. Dodge flathead in my '54 Dodge truck. As it stands I'm looking for 120 hp and a 450 hp crate engine would have been cheaper.

    To my credit it has a Fenton finned aluminum head, twin 2 barrel carbs, and a split manifold in addition to a manual transmission with an extra gear. Fast? Only in comparison to an old woman pushing a grocery cart. Cool? I think so.
  26. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 2,782

    from Brooks Ky

    The latest issue of Hot Rod Magazine has an article on building a vintage Cad engine.
    Roothawg likes this.
  27. The FE first appeared in 1958 and the 390 in '61, so it's got the vintage lineage and was the 'go to' swap for '55-57 Fords in the '60s. It's a bolt-in too, much easier to install compared to a SBF. With an aluminum intake, it weighs less than a Y-block.

    Availability? Well, Ford quit building them in '76 so they're not so common anymore, but not impossible to find either. A truck 360 can be a good base; it has the 390 bore, and the addition of a 390 crank (or stroker) is all it takes. Even the 360 can be made to run, just get the compression up. Ford didn't really make any bad heads for these motors, even the vanilla ones will respond well with some porting and larger valves. They're also pretty tough, for a street motor stock innards will be fine.

    Costs? You can spend a ton of money on one, but you don't have to. Intakes are expensive (and always have been) but there is a large variety of types available. Exhaust used to be the limiting factor, as only the early 'log' exhaust manifolds would fit the '55-57 cars, but swap headers are now available from Ford Powertrain Solutions.

    'Back in the day' I had a built '59 352 in a '58 ford wagon with a '65 full-syncro FE three-speed. Assembled on a low budget in my high school autoshop (lots of second-hand parts), I beat the hell out of that car and never broke anything on the motor (driveline parts was another story...LOL) and it had enough poop to run with the then-new SS 350 Camaros and Hi-po Mustangs, not a bad showing given my weight disadvantage. In a lighter '55 sedan, it'll be a fun car.

    The one bit of advice I'd give is stay away from the C6; while nearly bulletproof, this trans has high internal drag and consumes a lot of power and will seriously damage fuel economy.
  28. Cleat
    Joined: Jul 10, 2018
    Posts: 29

    from Gifford WA

    When my friend said his dad was selling his high school hot rod. And that it had a rebuild 303 olds that had never been ran. I couldn't hold back. A time capsule sitting in a shed since 1970. Its .60 over w/ 3/4 racing cam and some brand of adjustable rockers. I had to have it. Its only money. IMG_20200617_191839_220.jpeg 20200619_172000.jpeg

    Sent from my SM-A205G using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
    Rickybop, camcrusher, Paul and 5 others like this.
  29. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 23,011


    Neat find!
    triumph 1 and Cleat like this.

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