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Hot Rods The next trend in "traditional" hot rod builds?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Michael Ottavi, Mar 27, 2022.

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  1. Michael Ottavi
    Joined: Dec 3, 2008
    Posts: 249

    Michael Ottavi

    With the monster in the closet not going away (4$+ east coast-6$+ west coast gas prices), being around to suffer thru the gas supply disaster of the 70's, I wonder if a new build hot rod with an early 60's four cylinder engine would be labeled traditional here on the HAMB? There were a few builds during the 60's and early 70's with this combination that were very cool. Sadly, I have no photos of them for proof of that short lived trend. However as soon as gas started flowing again from the middle east, that trend died very quickly and we returned to too much is not enough horsepower again. Would a well built hot rod with the correct year guideline parts be pulled from a build thread? I hope not, as that type of new build may be here already?
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2022
    Cyclone Kevin and Tman like this.
  2. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,939


    So here's my opinion, this being an opinion thread:
    4-bangers are all fine and good, can be a lot of fun, but a real hot rod needs real power.

    My analogy would be the dirt track races. The Pony class 4-bangers are fun but they are just the warm-up act for the real deal, the Bombers and the Late Models. Having said that, a 4-banger T or A would still be better than 90% of the cars on the road, they just couldn't scratch this city boy's hot rod itch like it needs to be scratched.
  3. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 11,321

    from Tampa, FL

    Tempest slant 4 (the half-GTO)? Small displacement Buick / Rover V-8 variants. SBF and SBC, early Hemi that are less than 300 cubes? Regardless, you can make a more fuel efficient engine out of just about anything that would be better cruising or long hauls than 500 hp motors. I like the Colin Chapman / Lotus approach, light cars are faster (and may get better MPG?) with the same given HP.
  4. boozoo
    Joined: Jul 3, 2006
    Posts: 556


    I did see a page on a Tesla motor that drops right into SBC mounts. Pretty sure that's a "bridge too far". har har
    Flathead Dave and hotrodjack33 like this.

  5. adam401
    Joined: Dec 27, 2007
    Posts: 2,849


    Theres nothing more underwhelming than an econobox engine in an early car. Its not a hot rod. When gas is 10 bucks a gallon I'll be buying and burning it. For a hobby as expensive as hotrodding 20 bucks here and there extra is not even a drop in the bucket.
    Xman, Driver50x, kadillackid and 19 others like this.
  6. 2935ford
    Joined: Jan 6, 2006
    Posts: 3,829


    Yup, regardless what gas prices do......I'm still driving my cars!
  7. Anderson
    Joined: Jan 27, 2003
    Posts: 7,155


    I have dreams of building an early ‘60’s T-bucket with a Pontiac 4-cylinder. Maybe with a little blower on it. Probably will never happen…and I don’t think it would really get any better mileage because of it, but it would be a very light car.
    Squablow and Tman like this.
  8. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 9,298

    from Michigan


    And btw, the words "traditional" and "trend" don't belong in the same sentence.
  9. People have asked me occasionally what kind of gas mileage some of my hot rods got, to which I reply: "don't really give a damn, gas is evil and I'm destroying it one gallon at a time "...
  10. I don't think anyone is into early/period correct hot hots because they are after peck fuel economy or horsepower.

    We do it for the history!
    I didn't build a 261 Chevy six and all period correct parts (modern safety) for my vintage stock car build because they I want to turn 18 second laps at Fonda Speedway.

    The same for fuel economy.
    Yes, you have afford to drive your car but if the higher price of gasoline makes you stop driving your car you aren't very serious about old cars or hot rodding.
    You can go to more local events, have small get togethers, or just go out for a drive.

    Who cares if it has a four cylinder a V8 or the speed of the cars of the cars on the track?

    I go to the races for competition not speed! I would much rather watch a good close race with a full field of four cylinder support division cars then a high speed follow the leader top division class with only a handful of cars.

    Where does this idea that you can make power or win unless you have a V8 come from?

    Danish ran 261 Chevy truck engines into the early 60 and was still winning against Small Block Chevys!


    Note Chev 6 engine and the Falcon racecar in the background.

    Parker Bohn (The Grandfather of bowler Parker Bohn the third) 302 GMC bored out to 323 cubic inches with a Wayne head. Won races well into the 60's
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2022
  11. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,648

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    Nope. For Street Rods maybe, but not Hot Rods. I remember when Street Rodders were installing V6 Buicks and Capri's to save gas. You'd see a really nice car, then look under the hood and see a V6-ughh what a let down! It was like discovering a stuffed bra.

    Big by huge OHV V-8's spell Hot Rod. Power, nastiness. Most Hot Rods don't rack up enough miles to make a huge difference in operating cost. Gas is pretty much our sole overhead as 90+% of us do all of our own maintenance so it's overall cheaper to drive than many folks' daily's.

    Remember, Hot Rods for the most part are not "practical". Big, needy engines, ride comfort, chopped tops in many ways make us "fashion slaves".
  12. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 4,279


    You have a valid point. I may be building a car that will be staying in the garage because of gas prices.
  13. @Robert J. Palmer nailed as did a bunch more . When I built my 261 I could of dropped a modern v8 under the hood for a 3rd the cost . No way man I want that triple carb split exhaust inline thunder !!

    when my dad retired one of my uncles retired at the same time , my dad bought a new Lincoln town car “Cartier edition “ my uncle bought a base model 5sp Honda Civic. This was 2000 or so.
    My uncle kept telling my dad your wasting your money , you don’t need this boat of a car yadda yadda .
    Finally one day my dad said “ Benny let’s do the math on our fuel spending “
    My dad was spending 20 bucks more a week then my uncle Benny . Dad looks him in the eye and tells him “ Benny if $20 bucks is going to change your life style , then give me a gun and I’ll put you out of your misery “ !!!!!!

    it’s all relative , yes if your commuting long distances then a fuel efficient car is your best choice , for a hobby ? Who cares !
    Do the bar flys care ?
    Do the gamblers care ?
    They guys who play sports ?
    Motor cross ?

    I have seem some cool dragsters with old forklift electric motors do some insane ( albeit very quite ) passes in the 1/4 mile !
  14. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 9,298

    from Michigan

    I'm bidin' my time.
    theHIGHLANDER likes this.
  15. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,936

    Ned Ludd

    I can think of two additional approaches:

    1. There are a number of seriously sexy European fours from the "traditional" era. There are two which shouldn't be any harder to get hold of than many of the obscurer American engines of the '50s, namely the Alfa-Romeo Twin-Cam of 1954-on and the BMW M10 of 1962-on. Both stayed in production for a long time, and later versions can be kitted out like earlier ones.
    BMW M10.jpg
    Lotus-Ford engine.jpg mg-mga-twin-cam-1959-black-13-867ae9bd.jpg

    2. Knocking the modern off much more recent fours opens up all kinds of possibilities: strip a newish engine down to its essential castings and internals; fill, grind off, or otherwise disguise stuff like die-cast textures; obliterate modern "engine styling"; make cast or shaped-sheetmetal alternatives to plastic bits; rig a distributor if there isn't one already; fit carburettor(s), perhaps on fabricated manifold; add engine-driven fan, generator, etc.; and dress up like a '40s/'50s/'60s engine: painted block, head, covers, etc. I'd done some research into building a Subaru EJ22 that way, running a Ford CVH distributor off the back of the RH cam, and mounting a pair of SU HIF44s to a fabricated VW-like manifold to accommodate a hidden turbocharger. I never did get to build it. A lot of modern engines derive their entire look from a "styled" EFI intake manifold: ditch that and people don't know what they're looking at. The VW VR6 is an example of that.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2022
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  16. IMO The price of gas is not a big factor in our hobby. I've done this for a long time now 74, grew up in car hobby. The money tied up in a hobby car considering little driving it gets for most, the gas price is a minor factor, our daily drivers are a different story. This gas price BS has been here before in past years, it will straighten out in time as history repeats itself, so don't panic, inflation/recession comes and goes, it's just another cycle of life, we are in the greatest place in the world to be. If you like a 4 banger, build it, If a ground pounder V8 floats your boat, build it. Bob Marley advice, No Worries, Be Happy. Everyone have a great day !
  17. Rand Man
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 4,826

    Rand Man

    Invest in some old magazines. There were lots of great articles about eco-performance. It’s all about power to weight ratio. They used the Chevy II four in midget sprint cars, so there is performance potential. Parts availability can be a problem. A little 4-cyl T modified could be a blast to drive. My daily driver is killing me to fill up lately, so the idea of an eco-rod is intriguing.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2022
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  18. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,936

    Ned Ludd

    I'm inclined to agree with you: if you can't afford the fuel, just drive less.

    I'd prefer not to have a daily at all, just a hot rod or three, and not to have to drive unless it's fun.

    But interesting fours open up possibilities. As for sound, a big-cammed Audi 5-cylinder starts to rival the traditional V8.
    wicarnut and VANDENPLAS like this.
  19. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 4,279


    Here's how to get mileage and that traditional hot rod motor look. From the December 1974 issue of Rod Action. I don't think that Bruce Crower's idea ever took off though. If you are a machinist/tinkerer type, you could do it. Scan-220327-0001.jpg
    tractorguy likes this.
  20. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 11,321

    from Tampa, FL

    How about a re-designed approach? Your rod doesn't handle well on a curvy road, you say? All that HP is only good for the drag strip or land speed attempts? But it corners like the proverbial dump truck. Perhaps stops even worse? Rather than Z-ing both ends of the frame, why not just build one with a fully underslung chassis, like a mid-50's English sports car? This gets the weight down a lot lower AND you won't have to channel the body. You'd pretty much get the same look AND will still be able to see your 32 rails. Want it even lower, do the channel over the underslung rails.

    Get the best brakes you can. Sticky tires that still look "correct?" FYI, and not counting fuel or driver weights, an early 427 Cobra weighed around 2500 lbs, and had about 400hp. That's 6.25 lbs / hp. A hot rod at 1800 lbs, with just 250 hp is still 7.2 lbs / hp. At 300 HP the hot rod is essentially equal to that Cobra. Until the first corner, of course.
    Ned Ludd likes this.
  21. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 54,961


    The funny thing is, my wife's late model full size pickup gets better mileage than my stock 53 MG TD, which has a tiny engine.

    The guys who are serious about getting good mileage generally aren't building traditional hot rods. They're building high tech street rods.
    Malcolm, 26 T Ford RPU, Tman and 8 others like this.
    Joined: Jun 6, 2007
    Posts: 5,148


    Most of my hot rods and drag cars have used inline sixes in the 240 to 305 cubic inch range. I feel it is a good compromise between obscenely expensive power and economical cruising. They still can rip the treads off a 10.5 x 31 tire while embarassing most muscle cars stoplite-to-stoplite and still knock down 17 mpg.
    Some are even made up to look like '30s era powerplants.

    tdr25.jpg sr_039_1_8.jpg
  23. I wholeheartedly agree with Rick.

    I seems every time the price of gasoline inched up the conversation about small displacement engines re-enters the picture.

    I am well aware that it will cost more to drive our hot rods due to the economics at the present time and it may get worse in the future but for the most part we adhere to a era & style that is different to other automotive groups like the street rodders that like the body styles we do but the migrate to which way the wind blows at any given time, ie the latest trend.

    For me I will continue to drive my V8 powered hot rods as often as I can and don't intend to change my engine to a 4 or 6 cylinder, in my mind the initial cost would be far more in than any savings in the long run, plus it would absolutely take the joy out of driving my hot rods.

    Some will argue that the small displacement engines with their turbo's are more efficient & faster than the old V8's and in certain circumstances they would be correct but in my opinion they are not traditional.

    In the long run a guy can use whatever he wants but if it get's too new it's best to keep the hood closed. HRP
  24. JimSibley
    Joined: Jan 21, 2004
    Posts: 3,801


    If you drive your hotrod a lot, build a traditional motor with milage in mind. A fuel miser cam, good flowing exhaust ,a 3 carb setup, with progressive linkage and an overdrive. These cars are light, they can easily break 20mpg , and thats good enough for me.
  25. oldiron 440
    Joined: Dec 12, 2018
    Posts: 3,158

    oldiron 440

    My automotive interest can’t be defined by anyone genre of the automotive hobbyTo think a four cylinder can’t be a hotrod engine is ridiculous. In today’s world putting 1100 hp at the tires with a twenty year old 2.0 liter is not uncommon. It truly doesn’t take much effort to over power the flathead v8 with and OHV four cylinder..
    Ned Ludd likes this.
  26. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 3,550

    from norcal

    A buddy of mine had a 29 roadster with a little early Toyota motor in it. Little Toyota looked a lot like an offy motor. It was all good until the parts supply dried up. Now has a little v-6 in it
  27. 41 GMC K-18
    Joined: Jun 27, 2019
    Posts: 3,354

    41 GMC K-18

    I have always been a fan, of any built 6 banger.
    When I would go down to the California Hot Rod Reunion a few years ago, there were a lot of cool cars and trucks and dragsters, custom cars, etc, etc, to see and enjoy !
    But when I would encounter a car with a built 6 banger in it, it always made me smile, because, the owner/builder/racer, decided to try something different !
    I always appreciated that extra special effort, that was required, in doing so.
    Here are a few examples of what I am talking about, the quality and uniqueness is readily apparent.

    IMG_2448 (2).JPG IMG_2449 (2).JPG IMG_2356 (2).JPG IMG_2397 (2).JPG IMG_2379 (2).JPG 6 banger with webers.jpg 01620015.jpg 45540030 (2).jpg 45540031 (3).jpg dh255.jpg IMG_3181 (2).JPG IMG_3185 (2).JPG IMG_3180 (2).JPG
    MCjim, Ned Ludd, williebill and 8 others like this.
  28. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 8,522

    Marty Strode

    In a '40 Pickup I am building, I have a selection of SBC engines, we are assembling a 283, with a 260 Erson cam, and a tri power, with 2GC carbs, for some economy. With the proper rear axle ratio, and the 3 speed Saginaw trans, it should perform well enough.
  29. choptop40
    Joined: Dec 23, 2009
    Posts: 4,822


    Caddy 500 with correct gearing will get you over 20 miles per gallon...easy....injected even more.....
  30. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 7,348

    Member Emeritus

    Instead of hauling your hot rod around behind your crew cab pickup. Try driving it instead. This should help.
    RuleHard, gotmark73, Tman and 13 others like this.
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