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Comparing Older Domestic Engines

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    I'm wondering whether that would be the case if modern synthetic oil and unleaded gas were used.

    Synthetic oil and unleaded gasoline will definitely help, but so will many other factors. Just about ANY fluid used in a car today is much improved over years ago. The oiling systems on cars are better, as well. Many cars back in the old days didn't even have an oil filter! On some, it was an extra-cost option. Then, there was that "oil bath" thing that I never really understood.

    Air intake systems are also better these days, and are better at filtering contaminants and keeping them out of the engine. And, the simple fact that most of America is paved these days, and as much as we might gripe about the roads, they're a VAST improvement over what they were in the old days. With everything being paved, it keeps a lot of dust out of the air, and out of the crank case.

    If you could go back in time and transport a 30's or 40's car to today, it would be much more reliable than it it was back in those days, simply because of the improved roads, fluids, etc. Similarly, if you took a modern car back in time, and subjected it to the roads, fluids, and conditions of the era, it wouldn't stand a chance.

    Another thing about those days, is that 40,000 miles, 80,000 miles, or whatever, was totally different from that kind of mileage today. Case in point...when my grandmother was a kid, she lived in Harrisburg PA, and would come down here to Maryland to visit relatives. She remembers it being an all-day drive. The road went through every blessed town between here and there, and I think they had to cut through downtown Baltimore, even. Lots of traffic lights, or even stop signs. And no doubt the grades going up and down the hills and mountains were much more strenuous.

    Fast forward to today, and I can make the same trip, roughly 110 miles, in less than two hours without even trying. And there are all of 9 traffic lights on the route...all of them in the ~5.5 miles between my house and where I get on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway!

    Needless to say, those 110 miles of almost pure highway driving are a lot gentler on the car, any car, than 110 or so miles of constant city-type and back-road driving.

    By the same token though, I don't know that I'd want to make the same trip in, say, a Model A! I've seen people do it though, especially when I go up for the Hershey show. It's actually a bit scary seeing those old Model A's and such puttering around at 40-45 mph, or less, on I-83!
  • wevkwevk Posts: 179
    "But the McMeekin Brothers are running in the XO/GALT class, a category for naturally aspirated vintage engines , so at first glance what looks to be and L-28 from an old Datsun turns out to be a classic Buick Straight 8, figures for these blue oval" boys.

    http://www.topspeed.com/cars/car-news/the-world-s-fastest-s13-ar78281.html
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,750
    The oil wouldn't even have to be synthetic. All modern oils are so much better now than in the old days. Modern cars run hotter now and warm up much quicker.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    I owned both a '56 Chevy with a 283 and a '55 Dodge Royal Lancer with the Hemi, and the Chevy was quite a bit faster and more responsive. Besides which, you could do more to it, and more easily.

    I didn't think the 283 came out until 1957? Anyway, there are other factors at play here. For one thing, a '55 Dodge probably weighs around 300-400 lb more than a '56 Chevy. And, which Hemi did you have? Dodge offered two of them in 1955, 270 CID units that put out 183 hp standard, 193 optional. And which 283 did you have?

    Back when I was in college I worked part time as a waiter at Denny's. I started talking cars with the store manager, and mentioned that I wanted to get a '57 DeSoto. He said that he had one back in 1965. It was his first car as a teenager. He paid $500 for it. Fireflite 4-door hardtop, pink and white, with the 341 4-bbl. 295 hp. People made fun of him because he drove an orphan, but he said that orphan used to embarrass many much cooler cars!

    He sold the DeSoto and bought a '57 Bel Air convertible with a 283. However, I don't know WHICH 283. But, he said it was a total dog compared to the DeSoto. But, being a 1957 Chevy, and especially a convertible, the coolness factor more than made up for the fact that it was a dog.

    Now, okay, maybe in this example, it's not fair to compare a 341 to a 283, because of the extra torque. But when you consider a '57 DeSoto is a LOT heavier than a '57 Chevy, that should also even things out.

    The one road test I've found of a 1957 DeSoto was of a Firedome convertible, which used the weaker 341-2bbl, rated at 270 hp. 0-60 in around 9.7 seconds, with the Torqueflite automatic. I remember Consumer Reports testing a 1957 Chevy with the 220 hp 283, and I think they got 0-60 in around 11.5 seconds. However, I can't remember if it had the Powerglide or Turboglide. While at Mopar, the 3-speed Torqueflite improved acceleration over the 2-speed, I think with Chevy, the Turboglide actually hurt performance a bit?

    FWIW, in 1957 Consumer Reports bitched about the DeSoto Hemi for being TOO powerful! Damn whiners! :P I think they picked on them because that year's Firedome and Fireflite had the best combination of hp-CID-overall weight in their respective classes, and the Torqueflite probably put that power to the ground better than the DynaFlow, or GM's 4-speed Hydramatic, or whatever automatic that Mercury was using that year.

    But yeah, the Chevy smallblock is great for hopping up. It's small, so it can fit in a lot of places a Hemi or Caddy V-8 can't. And while it's heavy for a smallblock (it outweighs the Ford smallblock and the Mopar smallblock...even the older poly-head Mopar smallblock), it's still lighter than those other engines.

    And the low reciprocating mass is good...great for hopping up. As long as you beef up the block accordingly. And the best thing about the Chevy smallblock? It's cheap! That's the reason it lasted so long; it was a lot cheaper to build than the Buick, Olds, or Pontiac engines. That's probably also the reason there's such an aftermarket for it...since it was cheap, it was common, and since it was common, there was a huge market for performance mods.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,750
    When I was in high school, I had a buddy who had his heart set on buying a 55-57 Bel Air. Instead he saved a ton of money when he bought a 1957 Dodge. It was a 4 door and it was gold and white.

    It had a little D-500 emblem on the back that we didn't know anything about.

    It would seriously make a 283 Chevy look like a Mo Ped. This Dodge would lay rubber for as long as you held the gas pedel down!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    It had a little D-500 emblem on the back that we didn't know anything about.

    And that wasn't even the most brutal of the engines! The '57 D-500 used a 325 that was converted to Hemi-heads, and depending on configuration, put out either 285 or 310 hp. The regular 325 poly-head, for comparison, only put out 245 hp with a 2-bbl, 260 with a 4-bbl.

    The REALLY serious engine that year in a package known as the D-501. They took a Chrysler 354 and put a Hemi head on it, and got 340 hp out of it! That year, I think the only Chrysler Hemi was the 392, as the 354 had gone to poly-head, with 285 hp in the Windsor, 295 hp in the Saratoga. Chrysler did that for a couple of years, where they'd take the previous year's New Yorker Hemi, turn it into a poly-head, give it to the Windsor, and then the New Yorker would get a bigger Hemi.

    There's a guy who lives about a mile away, who has a '59 Coronet with the D-500 package. I forget though, if he has the 320 hp 383-4bbl, or the 345 hp 383-dual quad?

    Speaking of which, that same year, the 383-4bbl that the DeSoto Fireflite used was rated at 325 hp, while the Adventurer's 383-4bbl was rated at 350 hp. I wonder if there really was any difference in the engines versus Dodge, or if the marketing department just "gave" the DeSoto engines 5 more hp to make them look better. Not that 5 hp makes much difference.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    to show just how bad cars got in the late 70's/early 80's. Consumer Reports did a test of a 1955 DeSoto Fireflite. 200 hp gross (probably 150 net), 291 4-bbl Hemi, and a car that weighed about two tons, and relied on a 2-speed automatic. 0-60 came up in around 13 seconds. I remember they also tested an Olds 98 and got 0-60 in around 11.5 seconds, and they also tested a big Nash in that episode with a big 6-cyl, and it came in around 15.4.

    In 1980, Motortrend did a domestic luxury car test, and Mopar's entry was a New Yorker 5th Ave, with a 318-2bbl. All of 120 hp net. Still probably weighed around two tons, but at least was aided by a 3-speed, rather than a 2-speed automatic. And it did have the benefit of about 9% greater displacement, so torque might've been a bit better. 0-60? 14.1 seconds.

    Progress, huh? The main reason, I guess, that this test pops into my mind is that it's a comparison of two cars that are very close in weight and displacement, and look what 25 years of supposed progress gets you! I guess I can cut the 1980 engine some slack though, as it had to contend with emissions restrictions.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,750
    The 501's were extremely rare.

    I'm not sure what H.P. my buddy's 57 Dodge had but it sure surprised a lot of people. It didn't handle or stop well at all but could it ever blast off the line!

    When driven agressively it got about 7 MPG as I recall.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    Yeah, I think the 501 was mainly a race engine. Y'know, 7 mpg, when driven aggressively, really doesn't sound that bad, given the performance and the fun you can have getting aggressive with it. I've managed to get the 360 in my '79 5th Ave down into the high 8's. :blush:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    edited September 2010
    When we were street racing in the 60s, I never, ever saw a Mopar beat a Chevy in a race, given stock engines and street cars. It simply never occurred to us that this was even possible. The 265/283/327 absolutely dominated the street scene. One BIG reason is that few Mopars came with stickshifts!!

    Yes, sure, there may have been certain lopsided theoretical matches one could make up---a Chrysler 300 vs. a Chevy powerglide station wagon? Absolutely, no contest. But in the "real world", the only kids who raced Mopars were the ones who got stuck with them for one reason or another. Drag racing with push-buttons or tiny levers sticking out of the dash? Oh, man.

    Oh wait, I take that back. I DID see a '53 Dodge Cranbrook with fluid drive beat a Mercedes 190 at Rockaway Beach....barely.....

    But more to your point---yes, the Chevy short block was cheap, small, light and for a couple hundred bucks you could build a giant-killer. Modifying a Hemi of the time (not the legendary "Hemi") was a PITA. Nobody made any *serious* aftermarket goodies for them, so only the pros could modify them for drags or those crazy road races in Mexico. (Chrysler did well in those long distance events).

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,750
    Few people have as much respect than I do for small block Chevy engines but I saw a couple of instances when a Mopar just blew a Chevy away.

    I saw a Belevedere with the 383 "B" engine literally blow the doors off a VERY fast 327/300HP 4 speed Impala one time. I was the guy driving the Chevy. It took a LOT to whip my Chevy but he did it in grand fashion!

    Another time I watched a 426 Super Stock Dodge make a 409 Impala look like it had a 6 cylinder.

    With a Torqueflight, you didn't need to be punching any of those buttons either. You just stood on the gas and held on tight! a Torqueflight didn't take back seat to a stick, really. They were a tremendous transmission!

    Having said this, I will always be a GM fan especially when it comes to Chevys and I'll take a Chevy over anythin Mopar.

    They do deserve a lot of respect however for building some damm fast and powerful cars.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    Few people have as much respect than I do for small block Chevy engines but I saw a couple of instances when a Mopar just blew a Chevy away.

    I have an old Mopar police car book that has Michigan State Police car tests from 1979-1989, although it does make mention, here and there, of older cars and newer cars.

    In the earlier years, the Mopars were always in the lead with performance. Now in 1980, the Dodge St. Regis got ragged on by the CHP, but that's because California banned the 360, so they were forced to use 318-4bbls, and a lot of the cops were suffering "big block withdrawal", as these 1980 models were replacing models that were several years old, sporting ~250 hp 440's that could still break 130 mph.

    But the 360-4bbl pretty much embarrassed the Chevy 350-4bbl in police cars in 1979-80. It was canned for 1981, but even the 318-4bbl was comparable, sometimes quicker, than the 350-4bbl. And Ford back then was pretty much a non-contender, as the 302 was a dog, and even the 351 wasn't so hot.

    Chevy really didn't start to regain on Mopar until 1985 in police car tests. And ironically, 1985 was the year that the 318 went from a Carter 4-bbl to a Rochester Quadraflood. It was sabotage, I tell you! :P

    By 1989, the Caprice, thanks to a TBI 350 that put out around 200 hp and a 4-speed automatic and 3.42:1 axle ratio, managed to offer about the same performance as a 1979 St. Regis with a 195 hp 360-4bbl, 195 hp, and somewhat tame 2.94:1 axle.

    I don't think they'd surpass the 1978 Fury/Monaco, though, until they started putting the LT-1 350 in the cars for 1994. But by then, they surpassed it by a long shot.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    Oh you guys are talking about 60s Mopars. Entirely different animals.

    We were talking about 50s engines.

    Everyone knows Mopar ruled the streets in the mid to late 60s.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    Everyone knows Mopar ruled the streets in the mid to late 60s.

    I'd expand this to include the 1970's as well. Once it got to the point that the fastest Big-Three car was a Duster with a 360, and it would beat a Corvette, you KNOW it was over for GM!

    Of course, performance was a bit of a salty word after 1971, and became downright dirty after 1973, so while Mopars (with the right engine of course) might have ruled the streets, GM ruled the showrooms.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,750
    Yes, somehow we drifited from the 50's to the 60's.

    I totally agree with you. The small block Chevies dominated in the mid-fifties.

    Ford's 292 and 312 engines were OK but a 265 Chevy could whip either one.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    Some engines get it "right"-- right out of the box (Chevy small block, for one)

    Some need tweaking and development (Ford 260-289-302) to achieve full potential and overcome some weaknesses.

    Some need DECADES of tweaking and development (Buick V-8 later used by Rover) to achieve mediocrity at best.

    And some of course are evolutionary dead-ends. They did their job but do not develop (Ford V-8s from the 50s, for instance).

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,750
    You are talking about the "Y" blocks and I think you picked a great example.

    They weren't really "bad" engines but they weren't great either.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    I totally agree with you. The small block Chevies dominated in the mid-fifties.

    I remember in the old Consumer Reports tests where they'd pit a Chevy, Ford, and Plymouth against each other as the "low priced three", the Chevy V-8 would always win...from 1955-57, at least. In 1958 though, things definitely changed. Plymouth quit messing around with those little V-8's and went to the 318 as the standard V-8, with 225 hp for the 2-bbl setup, 250 for the 4-bbl. There was a dual quad with 290 hp, but it was Fury-only. And, from what I recall, the Chevy 348 that came out that year was nothing to brag about. torquey yes, but heavy and not the most sophisticated thing in the world. It would go on to be quite powerful in some forms, especially with the 409. But in base form, it was pretty lame. 250 hp, and that's with a 4-bbl carb! And at that point, the cars were really getting too big and heavy for the 283.

    I always wondered why Mopar never bothered to do much with the 318, as far as performance goes. The had the dual quads for the Fury for a couple years, but then pretty much devoted performance to the big-blocks. Even the mild 318-4bbl went away after 1961 or so, when it was up to 260 hp, leaving just the 230 hp 2-bbl. Mopar did mess around with a hot little 273 wedge from 1964 to around 1967, which put out 235 hp, and there was the famous 340 that put out 270 hp with a 4-bbl, and was under-rated enough that in the gross-to-net transition, it only lost about 10%, while many other engines dropped 25% or more. The 6-pack put out 290. And in the 1970's, the 360 could be had in some comparatively hot versions.

    But overall, it just seems like Mopar never put the performance effort into the smallblock that Chevy and Ford did. If you're comparing the everyday cars that most people bought back then, then a Fury with a 230 hp 318 would usually have no trouble taking on an Impala with the 250 hp 327, or the later 255 hp 350. But, if you wanted more performance, Chevy would just let you get a more powerful 327 or 350. Mopar would force you to go big-block.

    The 318-4bbl did continue in export markets though, and it did come back in the US around 1978 or so, mainly as a California option where the 318-2bbl wouldn't cut it, and then, eventually, as a copcar-only motor.

    If the 318-4bbl was putting out 260 hp in an era when the 361's and 383's were often starting at only 265-270, maybe that was part of it...they just didn't want to step on the big-block's toes?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    The 318 was the "bread and butter" engine---the workhorse, the willing slave for the entry-level V8 market. It also served in many variations of the good ol' Dodge pickup.

    A Mopar V-8 from the 60s mated to a Torqueflite 8 transmission is about the most indestructible engine/trans combination of that era. The only real downside was their weight and their desire for gasoline, which was prodigious. With AC on, and in traffic, you'd be lucky to get 8 to 10 mpg in a Chrysler 300 with a 383.

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  • berriberri Posts: 4,203
    My dad was a Mopar man. He always said that Ford's nickle and dimed you to death and if you held a GM more than a few years it would catch up with the Ford maintenance cost due to some kind of major failure. I don't know though, I remember as a kid he had some good, and some not very good Mopars.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,750
    Before my time but Packard and Hudson made some tough flatheads.

    I helped a guy pull a Packard 8 cyl head off an engine one time and almost broke my back!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,205
    I you opinion, how did the independent's straight eights compare with the Pontiac, Oldsmobile and OHV Buick straight eights? Criteria would be power, fuel economy,reliability, cost of maintenance, smoothness and driving characteristics?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    edited September 2010
    My dad was a Mopar man. He always said that Ford's nickle and dimed you to death and if you held a GM more than a few years it would catch up with the Ford maintenance cost due to some kind of major failure. I don't know though, I remember as a kid he had some good, and some not very good Mopars.

    The way I've often heard it was that a Mopar would probably start giving you troubles sooner than a Ford or GM car, and would usually start rusting sooner, leaking sooner, leave you stranded over some minor electrical problem have minor things break off, etc, but then after a few years, the GM or Ford would start racking up major repairs and would eventually catch up.

    But then, it's always interesting to go to these classic car events at Carlisle PA, and at the Ford show, everybody talks about how much better Fords are, at the GM show, everybody loves their GM, and then two weeks later at the Mopar show, it's like Mopar can do no wrong. I've learned, for the most part, to keep my mouth shut, and not mention to the Mopar crowd that I put a GM car in the show, and vice versa. I did get outed in 2009 though, when a guy in one of my Mopar clubs saw me and my Catalina at the GM show!
  • armesarmes Posts: 32
    edited September 2010
    Chrysler had a lot of problems with rusty cooling systems in the 50's, 60's and some of the 70's. Chrysler used to " cure " their castings outside in the weather. The hidden/unknown advantage of this was that the rust that developed in the casting would seal little porosity/sand pinhole leaks and imperfections inside and outside the casting. This would help reduce their scrap and product warranty problems. Everyone should know that it is next to impossible to stop rust in cast iron once it has started. Chryslers were prone to overheating and cooling system failures due to this rust growing and taking over the cooling systems.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    Chrysler also used a lot of nickle in their blocks to make them stronger without having to make them heavier (Oldsmobile did this as well, and others as well, no doubt). Unfortunately, the nickle made them more prone to rusting if you went too long between coolant changes, or ran straight water through the system.

    Now that I think about it, I've had three Mopar 318's, a '68 Dart, '79 Newport, and '89 Gran Fury, and the water pump went out on every single one. Well, the Dart might've been a 273....I never did find out the truth about that (originally a 273 car, but the seller told me it had a rebuilt 318). My two '79 New Yorkers, which have 360's, haven't had any issues...yet! I have heard that the 360 can have cooling problems though, because the water jackets between the cylinders are too narrow. Supposedly in copcars, they were often done by 80-90,000 miles. Hopefully the civvy models last longer! I'm currently at 95,000 miles on one, and around 65,000 on the other
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    edited September 2010
    Oh c'mon, everyone knows that GM ruled the world in the 1950s and early 60s and Mopar ruled in the mid to late 1960s. Without the Mustang, would anyone even care about Ford products of that era? What's left? The 55-57 T-Birds, and a few NASCAR knock-offs. Not much to say for Ford really.

    In the prestige market, it was GM all the way up to the Dismal 80s and the Great Undoing. Neither Ford nor Mopar put up credible challenges in the luxury market IMO.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,205
    edited September 2010
    My parents owned 5 Mopars ('51and '56 Plymouths, '57 Chrysler New Yorker, '60 Valiant and '69 Dodge Dart with the Slant 6) with ~65,000-110,000 miles on them before they were traded. None overheated, ever. I think they replaced a couple of water pumps, but never a radiator. Maybe these were the exception, but all were running well, though worn, when they were traded.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,007
    Now that I think about it, I replaced the water pump on my '69 Dart, which had a slant six, as well. I think the worst was my '89 Gran Fury. I had to replace the radiator and a couple freeze plugs in 2000, and I think it was 2003 that the water pump finally went south.

    And looking back, I was wrong about my '68 Dart's water pump. It was actually the starter I was thinking of, as that was one thing in common that the Dart, Newport, and Gran Fury all needed replacing on. The Dart had a seam that kept blowing though, where the top of the radiator was soldered to the tank. A friend of mine tried to fix it twice, but it kept leaking. Had the repair shop fix it, but it came back again after a few months. Finally, I took it out, took it to a radiator specialist, they fixed it, and I never had another problem.

    I was really disappointed in that Gran Fury, considering it was the youngest Mopar I'd ever had up to that point. I thought going from a 19 year old Newport with over 250,000 miles, to a 9 year old Gran Fury with only 73,000 miles, would give me a big boost in reliability, but in retrospect, I should've held onto that Newport!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,750
    Water pump replacements used to be very common in ALL cars. If you got 40,000 miles out of your water pump that was about par.

    Same thing with alternators and starters. We replaced these constantly and thought nothing of it.

    Now, when something fails on a car with 120,000 miles it's a MAJOR problem and the people run to the "problems" boards and whine about how they have been wronged and how it must have been a "defective design"!

    Epecially if it's a Honda.
  • oldcemoldcem Posts: 309
    I actually own a 1948 Chevy with its original 216 engine. The old "Stovebolt" does use dippers on its con rods for low speed lubrication. However at higher RPM, it uses a set of 6 nozzles to spray oil at the dippers, and, create an oil mist to lube the other engine internals. Mine is rebuilt, and, runs 15 PSI oil pressure at speed. The car retains its stock 4:11 rear end, so, about 65 MPH is about its top comfortable cruising speed. While its only rated at 90 HP, it makes almost 200 Ft-Lbs of torque, and, moves my big 2 door Town Sedan reasonably well.

    Regards:
    OldCEM
    1948 Chevy Fleetmaster 2 Dr. Town Sedan
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