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Technical Traditional Engines for Traditional Customs?

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Blues4U, Oct 23, 2016.

  1. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,867

    Blues4U
    Member
    from So Cal

    Please forgive the newb question here, but this is something that I'm trying to get figured out. I've always been a performance car guy, muscle cars and hot rods, and am pretty ignorant about Customs. Never really cared much for them before, but that seems to be changing. My wife is pushing back whenever I want to take the hot rod on a long drive. After a knee replacement she never really gained back full range of movement, so it's a little hard getting it, but worse is that it hurts her leg to stay sitting in it for long periods (and she has more leg room than me, no pedals to have to deal with on her side of the cab). So I figure if we can't take the hot rod on a good long drive, then I need to get something that we can, and while considering my options I've been looking at a lot of Customs (I've been looking at a lot of things, but it seems like my eye keeps getting drawn back to Custom's, particularly from the late 40's - early 50's era, where inline 6's or 8's were common. But something I noticed is that most I've looked at seem to keep the original powerplant and column shift trans. Is it frowned on in Custom circles to swap engines? If I'm going to use the car for long drives, I'd like to have some power. I'm not talking about big block tire shredding power, but a small V8 so I can get up over Cajon Pass or the Grapevine without fighting trucks for the slow lane would be nice. So what's the deal? Tri-power 283's, or 348's or Nailhead or ? That's not a traditional Custom thing? Not looking to start a sh#t storm or anything, it's an honest question.
     
    chopndrop likes this.
  2. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    Depends on how you define "traditional custom". Theres the current definition, and there was what was done at the time when the styles we are now sort of copying were current. The two are very different, ESPECIALLY as far as what was happening under the hood on customs.
    I will say the same thing I always say, look at the old magazines, and let that guide you. I have lost interest in participating in having these discussions play out on forum, I just WILL NOT do it any more.
     
    19Eddy30 and Blues4U like this.
  3. Lots of early customs had engine upgrades. Gil Ayala use to race his '40 Merc, Bob Hirohata had a Cadillac put into his Merc and there are numerous other examples. No issues at all with putting a souped up engine in a Period Custom.

    Sent from my HTC One_M8 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
    brad2v, Squablow and Blues4U like this.
  4. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 19,152

    Moriarity
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

    My 55 Chev custom that was built in 1961 has a 364 nailhead Buick [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     

  5. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 19,152

    Moriarity
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

    Mona, brad2v, NashRodMan and 9 others like this.
  6. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 19,152

    Moriarity
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

    My mild custom 61 vette has a solid lifter small block with a Man a Fre[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
    brad2v, NashRodMan, 41 coupe and 7 others like this.
  7. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,867

    Blues4U
    Member
    from So Cal

    I'd like to know what was common back in the day, when the style was created.
    Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Of course, a 55 could've came originally with a V8.
     
  8. desotot
    Joined: Jan 29, 2008
    Posts: 1,809

    desotot
    Member

    My merc has a nailhead.








    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
     
    Tim, 40FORDPU, tb33anda3rd and 4 others like this.
  9. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    I am just rounding up some stuff to scan and pm to you. I am moving a little slow, I have a ugly flu.
     
    Blues4U likes this.
  10. cretin
    Joined: Oct 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,867

    cretin
    Member

    I think that customs went both ways. There were some guys that swapped engines and some that didn't. Some guys were just worried about aesthetics, and din't worry about hopping up or dressing up the engine.
    I like to have some decent power as well, so I'll install the engine I want to, but I'll dress it up so it looks nice as well. In my personal opinion, a custom should be made to look good everywhere, including under the hood. (even though few will see it)
    Put in the engine that gives you the power you require, and if you show the car, nobody will be the wiser anyway because a custom should be shown all closed up. :D
     
    504640 likes this.
  11. 504640
    Joined: Aug 8, 2011
    Posts: 514

    504640
    Member

    The HAMB's favorite 'vette:

     
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  12. my uncles '49. 348 3 speed.....march 1960 no1.jpg
     
    steinauge, Quintin, Squablow and 5 others like this.
  13. flamedabone
    Joined: Aug 3, 2001
    Posts: 4,808

    flamedabone
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    My old Merc.

    [​IMG]

    389 Pontiac. 2X4 ported iron heads, bumpy cam.

    [​IMG]

    The usual guidelines of a traditional engine also apply to Kustoms, but there is no need for them to be slow.

    -Abone.
     
  14. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,867

    Blues4U
    Member
    from So Cal

    Thanks! So this brings up another question. Was the 3 speed the standard trans? Are the trans/diff's up to the job with a mildly tuned V8? Or does a V8 engine swap necessitate a trans/diff swap too? I realize that's sort of a loaded question, and would depend on the make model of car and engine. But let's say an early 50's Chevy with an L6, & column shifted standard trans, or for that matter even a cast iron PG. Would they take a mildly tuned 265/283?
     
  15. he used the later 3 speed with an open drive shaft.
    there are guys out there that can break the strongest stuff made...........my uncles car was known as the fastest around.......he told the best street/strip race stories...........wish he was still around to tell them.
     
  16. note these photos were from a trip he took to Florida from Connecticut...........the old stuff held up. no3.jpg
     
  17. DougO68
    Joined: Dec 13, 2008
    Posts: 185

    DougO68
    Member

    One thing to keep in mind is that when a custom shows up on the scene the hood usually stays down unlike the muscle car guys. My 50 Merc runs a SBC, 700R and a 9" rear end. I converted the three on the tree to shift the 700r and most have no idea as they peak inside. Do want you want not what " they" want you to do!


    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  18. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,534

    Squablow
    Member

    The '51 Mercury I'm working on was reworked at one time to take a 327/automatic with a Hurst front mount and I'll be putting that combination back into it, already have a '62 date coded 327 engine for it.

    If you're going for a 40's or early 50's period, it was more likely the builder would put hop up parts on the original engine, or swap in a larger version of the original engine (lots of early Ford customs got Mercury motors, and Chevys got big GMC engines, ect). The mid 50's seems to be the start of "inter-species" engine swaps from what I've read, being that OHV V8's were becoming more commonly available.

    No problem swapping engines into a custom. Best to either keep your engine swap true to the period of your build, or just keep your hood closed all the time. I think a lot of custom guys are like me, I don't really give a shit what's in the car for an engine if I don't have to look at it. If your hood is up though, come correct.
     
  19. Okie Pete
    Joined: Oct 29, 2008
    Posts: 3,249

    Okie Pete
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    This is my .02 a Kustom is built with flowing body lines so when showed the hood is shut to show off the flow of the body . So stuff what ever you want under the hood and go. After all with a Kustom its about the look .
     
  20. i agree, nothing ruins the lines of a car when the hood is up.
    a row of cars with the hoods up looks like feeding time at the alligator park.
     
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  21. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,867

    Blues4U
    Member
    from So Cal

    Good point about considering the build era. Thanks.
     
  22. The real show customs chromed the snot out of everything under the hood.... ;)
     
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  23. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,367

    manyolcars

    Most customs built in the 50s kept the hood closed, many were very ugly under the hood. Show cars were different,of course. Like the difference between a street driven hotrod and a race car
     
  24. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 8,215

    mgtstumpy
    Member

    This Merc has a hemi :D
    20160719_164247.jpg 20160719_163742.jpg
     
    Blues4U likes this.
  25. 19Eddy30
    Joined: Mar 27, 2011
    Posts: 1,007

    19Eddy30
    Member
    from VA


    XX-2
    I have ,I think every issue from 1948 - 72 HRM
    Even yearly annual 's
    Helps to date style & trends
    Help to date part's
    &
    """""""""" History """""""""""""""
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
    falcongeorge likes this.
  26. Don't worry so much about the engine. It is what is behind the engine that will make it much more enjoyably to drive. Nobody sees what transmission is in the car or what gear set it has in the rear. A more modern 4, 5, or 6 speed trans and the right rear axle ratio will help extract much better performance out of an early motor, even a small displacement 6 or 8.

    AS an aside, I replaced the 3.0 rear and dual range Cruis-O-matic in my custom Merc with a 3.6 center chunk and a 4 speed AOD. Gets going out of the hole much quicker and cruises down the highway at 75 mph all day long with out spinning the engine to death and causing more hearing loss.
     
  27. Weird, I've started feeling this way too. I've got a nice Flathead under the hood, but every time I see a picture of the hood up, it looks like the truck is broke down. #firstworldproblems I guess.
     
  28. I'm using a L31 crate SBC, back dated as much as I can.
    I'd much rather be passed by a sweet Custom on the freeway, than peek at a spiffy mill in some parking lot.
    Build it economical/reliable/comfortable and drive the wheels off……(always makes me think of BobK)
     
    chopper99 likes this.

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