The "Buy" Button Struggle
As a long time automotive enthusiast and owner of several different vehicles I've grown accustomed to the fact that they require me to spend my money on them regularly. Just to keep them in good running order (yes as the moment all of my vehicles run) requires a fairly substantial budget: tires, fluids, tuneups, licensing and registration, fuel, insurance, misc. odds and ends, etc. it adds up quickly when you're doing these things on 7 cars/trucks. Now that's all fine and dandy for the average "enthusiast" but I'm not your average "car guy", I'm a Gearhead, a Hot Rodder, a "Lets push this bitch to the limit" kind of guy and let me tell you what, that mentality takes things to a whole different level financially (whether you can afford it or not).
At the moment I make slightly more than the average income for my area and that's a great thing, unless you want to be a hot rodder then it's just flat out not enough money to have the kind of fun you wanna have. What's the solution? You figure out how to be a cheap ass and maximize every single dollar you spend, buy used parts, and learn how to do as much of the work as you can on your own. Is this optimal? Not even close. Does it work? Yes, and you get to learn a few things along the way!
Disclaimer: a LOT of the work you try to do yourself will get screwed up and cost you more money in the end than it would have if you'd done it right the first time.
Now that you've established a mental image of my situation let's move forward onto my current project: a 460 swap into my 1978 Ford Bronco.
If you've read the previous blog posts you know that I've already secured a 460 for the project and begun the tear down process. Since the last blog post on the Ford Big Block engine I've gotten the motor completely pulled apart, everything inspected, a mile long list of parts I "need" for the rebuild and I've even started to do some port work on the heads! When I started this engine swap project I had one goal in mind: DO IT CHEAP! This is where the problem comes in, I'm not the kind of guy who can just go running around dropping a stock motor into something, that's against my religion! I'll be damned if I'm going to go to all of the work of doing an engine swap (this one is actually pretty simple) and end up with something stock. NOPE! Not this guy!!
Let the struggle begin!!!!
How in the hell am I going to build a dirt cheap, reliable engine with plenty of power that still gets "cool" points for my bronco? I've spent countless hours scouring the internet to see what other bronco owners have done and always end up feeling like I need to choose between cool and cheap, well I want BOTH! Obviously this one's going to take some creativity but here's the logic I've come up with thus far: I want the bronco to be an "all around" driver, something that can go just about anywhere (on or off road) and not cost an arm and a leg to get there, I want it to have enough power to be fun but not so much that it's always breaking things (you've seen how I drive!). From what my research suggests the factory 4 barrel 460 I have is adequate to meet most of my criteria..... but it isn't cool. My hot rodder instincts say throw caution to the wind and just drop it off at the Thunder Racing Engines shop with a credit card and wait for a phone call, but the cheap ass in me says to just freshen it up and run it the way it is. I've spent the last few weeks on Summit's website driving myself crazy adding and subtracting things from my shopping cart. I think "ok I've made up my mind, I'm going to do it this way" then I look at the total cost at the bottom of the page and start having shortness of breath and uncontrolled shaking as I try to type in my card number. Then I stop and say "No, lets just do it like this, remove this and this and this", while the total cost at the bottom of the page is MUCH more bearable it's now moved further and further away from the minimum cool factor I require. In all honesty I've probably spent more than 7 hours just adding and subtracting things from my shopping cart over the last few weeks trying to get the perfect balance of cool factor/cost and I still haven't pushed that "Buy" button yet.
Here are the things I'm afraid of:
- Spending a bunch of money and being unhappy with the performance because I decided to "delete" too many cool guy parts from my shopping cart.
- Getting in over my head with a project that I'm not qualified to be doing and having a total loss on an engine that blows up the first time I start it. (rings, bearings, etc.)
- Going for it and building the engine that I know I'll be happy with but having to take money away from much more important things because I went over budget.
To keep everyone up to speed the budget is $2,500. The "must haves" are:
- Rear Sump Oil Pan Conversion
- Swap Motor Mounts
- Tuneup Stuff (plugs, wires, belts, hoses etc.)
- Swap Headers (could go with manifolds but nowhere near as appealing)
- Aluminum Intake Manifold (the stocker is OK but it's heavy and UGLY)
- Carb (I have a Holley 600 but that's not enough if I go much beyond stock)
- One of the valve guides needs replaced and the heads could REALLY use a rebuild.
- Radiator (apparently the factory radiator isn't adequate for the 460)
Here's where it gets tricky, the engine has 70,000 original miles and it looks pretty good but I want to replace the rings and bearings while the engine is torn down just for some piece of mind. The camshaft is also a little worn and a few of the lifters have been hot and show signs of greater than average wear making me want to look at a cam upgrade and new lifters as well (this will add to the cool factor). The only problem with this is that according to Summits website all of the available camshafts for my 460 require new valve springs, so now we're over our budget and well into the "uncomfortable zone". Beyond that I'll be the guy with the "built" 460 running factory low compression pistons. Why in the world would I want a badass cam, ported heads, headers, aftermarket intake manifold and carb not upgrade my compression to take advantage of it all? It makes no sense to leave so much on the table but doing so pushes me way outside of my budget into an area that this project (and my wallet) isn't ready for.
So here's the question for you; what would you do?
Comment below in the Comments Section.
- Do the minimum and run it as is with new gaskets and stock manifolds.
- Do the heads, headers and Intake manifold and don't touch the rest.
- Do the heads, headers, Intake manifold, cam, rings, bearings, valve springs, carb, rebuild the heads and deal with knowing you're giving away lots of power with low compression.
- Something else.
Thank you for reading this weeks blog post.
Clint J. Grover