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Thread: Brand X motor swaps in Studebaker 53-61 C-K bodies

  1. #1
    Commander Member powerhawkeye's Avatar
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    Brand X motor swaps in Studebaker 53-61 C-K bodies

    I wondering how many guys have installed brand X motor and transmissions in 53 to 61 Studebaker coupe and hardtops what you did & what you wouldn't do again

    Was the motor & trans combo a fairly easy swap
    how the car preformed with the swap as expected any overheating problems
    or computer problem if it applied

    Since my stock 53 Commander coupe has no drive train just the stock rear end
    I want to go with a newer brand X motor
    this way i'm not taking away a stock Studebaker V8 that could be used for a stock restoration

    This option is about price & a no problem drive train
    so if i want to jump in the car and drive to Bonneville to be a spectator and back home i can do that
    I'm not interested in building a race car just something to cruise in and a long haul if i choose

    pro and cons welcome Thanks

    The Bonneville Studebaker C - K history has had more Chevy Ford V8 & flathead and Chrysler V8 motors in them the Studebaker's
    Last edited by powerhawkeye; 02-04-2011 at 03:58 PM.

  2. #2
    President Member starliner62's Avatar
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    I am debating on putting a Mustang Cobra/Mark VIII 4.6 DOHC engine in a Stude. I have also considered a 5.4 blown Lightning engine.
    Jamie McLeod
    Hope Mills, NC

    1963 Lark "Ugly Betty"
    1958 Commander "Christine"

  3. #3
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    Since I got my 53K in 1958 it has had at least 10 different engines in it, with a mi rad of transmissions. You tell me what you want to work with and I will tell you how to install it.

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    President Member Nelsen Motorsports's Avatar
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    a Chrysler big block fits well with great modification in between a C/K with a Nova sub-frame with the exception of the oil filter (needs cutting of a crossmember), finding a solution for headers that will clear the frame rail, and the steering column/box (fenderwells play a great role!). I also had to run a truck (rear sump) oil pan. We are using a radiator from a 64 Cobra that is 6 inches thick and has many, many fins per inch so overheating isn't a problem, but involves modification of the original mount. With custom motor mounts hood clearance isn't an issue with a regular dual plane intake and carb. The cost of a BB MoPar is minimal (, but parts are a little more expensive than any type of Chevy. They say that early Hemis drop right in stock frames and I know of a good many studes with SBC engines of all types, but I have the only BB MoPar powered C/K that I know of that still exists and there may be a reason for that... The only other one I know of was a dirt track car in the 70s...
    Alex Nelsen; Georgia Southern student and Studebaker nut.
    Daily Driver 1954 Champion Coupe (Marilyn) powered by a MoPar 383!
    Lizella/Statesboro, GA

    Check this out!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6xqYdaih0c
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PJOx...9eAUAAAAAAAAAA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at3iDilHBZ8

  5. #5
    President Member Nelsen Motorsports's Avatar
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    this shows you the Nova stub
    http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot..._4436982_n.jpg

    When we got the car. The engine now sits 2" lower and 4" farther back.
    http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot...5_175291_n.jpg

    How the engine sits now.
    http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot..._7264641_n.jpg
    Alex Nelsen; Georgia Southern student and Studebaker nut.
    Daily Driver 1954 Champion Coupe (Marilyn) powered by a MoPar 383!
    Lizella/Statesboro, GA

    Check this out!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6xqYdaih0c
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PJOx...9eAUAAAAAAAAAA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at3iDilHBZ8

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    I have a 2000 LS1 from a Pontiac TransAm in my 53, it had a 350 Chevy in it before that. You can follow my engine swap from the 350 to the LS1 in the link in my signature. A very similar swap could be done with a 5.3 Chevy truck motor for less money than the all aluminum LS1, LS2, LS3, LS6 etc. Performance would be nearly as good. My car is totally dependable, starts and runs instantly, just like a modern car. It gets 27+ mpg on the freeway at 65 mph with the AC on. The swap was not simple, but not that bad either and well worth the cost and effort. I'd be happy to answer questions or give more details.

    Pat
    Pat Dilling
    Olivehurst, CA
    Custom '53 Starlight aka STU COOL
    '54 Conestoga Current Project aka STU KOOL


    Conestoga Project Journal: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9729183...7623379200673/
    LS1 Engine Swap Journal: http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/jour...ournalid=33611

  7. #7
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    Time for true confessions here. I have had a Stude powered 54 Coupe for as long as I've owned the car. 259 to 259 hi perf to 289 to 289 Avanti power. Transmissions have been Automatic to 3spd od, to 3 spd od T85,to T10 4 speed. I have loved all of them for different reasons through the last 40 years. All through those decdades I have hated with great passion, the belly button SBC conversion. For the one reason that it had been done so many times, and it had simply become "the thing to do". I have to admit that now I am beginning to waver on the engine swap idea. I have a 5.3 LS engine and auto trans which was given to me. I could sell the Avanti 289 and 4 speed for 3 times what it would cost me to install the 5.3. The only question remaining is.... could I live with myself ??? As a hot rodder, I say "yes", but as a Stude power lover, I think my head may explode from the turmoil.
    sals54

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    I have a 1990 vette TPI in my 54K. The one thing that no one has mentioned is the conversion to a one piece driveshaft. That will require the tunnel to be enlarged somewhat when you use the GM tranny.

    I'm quite happy with the outcome as I used the TPI motor, 700R4 and 8 3/4 GM posi narrowed with 3:42 gears. That gave me a GM bolt pattern to match the front disc brake conversion I made.

    Since that conversion, I've also made some changes to my 83 Avanti with a well built SBC, 200R4 tranny and 4:10 posi Dana 44.

    The reason I bring it up is just the experience factor. Now Then! If I were to start the build in the Stude from scratch I'd do exactly what Pat suggested. Get an LS1 in your favorite flavor with the matching transmission including all of the computer and wiring and bolt it in. If you read the right books it will take four connections to make the assembly think it's at home.

    Now, the rear end. Don't do what I did, keep the Studebaker bolt pattern with choice of rear end, Dana, Ford 9" or Mopar. Then buy a set of front brakes or a complete set from Jim Turner. This thing needs to stop as well as it goes. Mine stops fine but I did it before I knew about Turner brakes and it would have saved me a ton of effort and planning.

    Just read the articles about the new LS1's in any rod magazine and the choice is obvious unless you are going for a traditional look. It solves another issue. Hood clearance and no problem with the distributor close to the firewall. Just be sure to see that the accessories are mounted for clearance.

    JMO

    Bob
    , ,

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    Speedster Member
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    I have done a few sbc conversions to 50 studes , that is tight , the 53 and up is much roomier, any engine will fit in any car , within reason, really all revolves around your abilities with tools and fabrication, and the check book. None are snap and lock, with the engine and tranny in place , that is only the beginning, much more to do to make it all work. LOts of great fun in the process of doing and learning, enjoy, Allen

  10. #10
    President Member Flashback's Avatar
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    I will repeat what has already been said. "Please yourself". It makes sense to go modern, and
    the sbc is the easiest and the cheapest. It's a very simple swap. I put a 327 in a 53 coupe
    a lot of years ago and drove it a good while,trouble free. I put a early 90's Mustang 4-cyl
    and auto, in a M-5 and drove it 12 years. However, when opening the hoods, there was
    always something missing. It was the "WOW' appeal of having a Studebaker V/8. I know
    the feeling Sal has. But for me, I love the look and feeling of Studebaker power.

    I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A DREAMER

  11. #11
    President Member Nelsen Motorsports's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetolbob View Post
    I have a 1990 vette TPI in my 54K. The one thing that no one has mentioned is the conversion to a one piece driveshaft. That will require the tunnel to be enlarged somewhat when you use the GM tranny.


    Now, the rear end. Don't do what I did, keep the Studebaker bolt pattern with choice of rear end, Dana, Ford 9" or Mopar. Then buy a set of front brakes or a complete set from Jim Turner. This thing needs to stop as well as it goes. Mine stops fine but I did it before I knew about Turner brakes and it would have saved me a ton of effort and planning.

    Just read the articles about the new LS1's in any rod magazine and the choice is obvious unless you are going for a traditional look. It solves another issue. Hood clearance and no problem with the distributor close to the firewall. Just be sure to see that the accessories are mounted for clearance.

    JMO

    Bob
    Since the entire drivetrain of my car is 67 MoPar B-body we have converted to a one piece drive shaft and our transmission tunnel is that from a GM 2nd gen F-body automatic car. Since it has a Nova front stub and rotors for a 1st gen Camaro/68-74 Nova are impossible to find with a Ford pattern, we had custom axles made. Also I forgot to add that we had to run our fuel line through the motor mount. There was a tie we considered parting out our 89 Range Rover to use the injected 3.9 liter rover engine or my grandmother's 91 Lincoln Continental for the detuned Windsor engine. I liked the retro, torque monster, gas guzzling of a big block MoPar which was already in the car!
    Alex Nelsen; Georgia Southern student and Studebaker nut.
    Daily Driver 1954 Champion Coupe (Marilyn) powered by a MoPar 383!
    Lizella/Statesboro, GA

    Check this out!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6xqYdaih0c
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PJOx...9eAUAAAAAAAAAA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at3iDilHBZ8

  12. #12
    Silver Hawk Member Studedude's Avatar
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    My '54 C now has a 350 GM engine, 700R4 transmission, Dodge 8 3/4 rear end, with a Mustang II front clip.

    I don’t understand Sweetolbob's comment about having to enlarge the tunnel, but I'm sure he is 100% correct... there must be some difference between my 350 and his 1990 vette TPI that I don't know about.

    When I purchased my car, it was partially because it already had the 350 engine in it. I later replaced the existing 350 tranny with the 700R4, and added the Mustang II sub frame.

    I DID NOT WANT a 350, but I DID WANT a car that I could modify in other ways (with a clear conscience,) and I chose not to do what I wanted to do to an original car.
    I did not know at that time that a 700R4, or similar transmission could have been matched to a Stude engine. I’m not sure that knowledge would have made all that much difference, as I would have felt compelled to have at least a 259 or 289 engine, anyway… in a ’54… so, an engine swap of some kind or another would have taken place, regardless.

    I actually planned to scrap the 350 engine, and go with something more, “different,” because, like Sals54, I had (still have) a dislike for the Belly Button engines, simply because most everybody goes that route. During the build process on the car, common sense came into play, and it was decided to keep the BB engine, ‘cause there was, otherwise, absolutely nothing wrong with it, it was already in the car, and like it or not, there are many practical reasons for using it.

    But, back to the point of answering your question, powerhawkeye... most any manufacturer's engine... INCLUDING STUDEBAKER(!) will allow you to,... "jump in the car and drive to Bonneville to be a spectator and (get you) back home,..."

    "This option is about price & a no problem drive train."

    "No problem drive lines," can only be had at a relative price, regardless of who designed the drive line... you get what you pay for, whether newer, more modern, or well (re)built older.

    If I were building my car today, I would be hard pressed to decide between a Studebaker engine, backed by a more modern overdrive transmission and drive line, or anything other than a GM engine.

    If the engine in my car were to crater tomorrow, I would likely look for a (modern) Chrysler Hemi engine/drive line, simply because it's not a GM thing, and so many folks would choose to go another route. <G>

    (6 cylinder Hemis are available, and would be something both different, and practical!)

    You? All you have to do is figure out what YOU want to do, and DO IT!
    Last edited by Studedude; 02-04-2011 at 09:14 PM.

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    Posted by studedude
    I don’t understand Sweetolbob's comment about having to enlarge the tunnel, but I'm sure he is 100% correct... there must be some difference between my 350 and his 1990 vette TPI that I don't know about.
    I should have been more clear in my explanation. The tunnel area I'm talking about is not the large tunnel section from the firewall to the rear of the 700R4 but the smaller section from the larger section to the rear seat. There just did not appear to be enough room for the 65 Impala drive shaft I installed so I raised that small section about an inch or so.

    The area in yellow is what I replaced. Your results may vary.



    Bob
    , ,

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    Silver Hawk Member Studedude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetolbob View Post
    Your results may vary.
    See? I knew you were right!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Studedude View Post
    See? I knew you were right!
    Thanks Dave, but as most know, my correctness is closer to Jim McCuan's tag of "Never in doubt but seldom right"

    Bob
    , ,

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    President Member bezhawk's Avatar
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    I like the idea of the DOHC Cobra/MarkVIII swap. How about a Cadillac Northstar(after the head bolts have been fixed)? Viper V-10.....Mercedes of BMW V-12....get creative and have fun! If you have to stoop to a chevy , customize it with Stude valve covers....keep 'em guessing!
    Bez Auto Alchemy
    573-318-8948
    http://bezautoalchemy.com

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    If I was to do my car over again, I would have to agree with Pat Dilling,and go with the LS series Chevy engine. Tops in the performance/value/weight/and mileage dept. This engine, without a doubt, is about to be as popular as the SBC....for something completely different, I have thought about the DOHC in line six that was available in the Trail Blazer for the past 10years. That would keep my Champion a Champion, is all aluminum, has decent power (290hp IIRC) and is a modern domestic design that is tight/compact/non-leaking/and has EFI. and would give off that lovely inline 6 sound. Junior


    54 Champ C5 Hamilton car.

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    Silver Hawk Member Studedude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by junior View Post
    <snip> and would give off that lovely inline 6 sound. Junior
    I have owned a LOT of cars over the years, and I still think the nicest sounding one I have ever owned was a '54 C**vy straight 6, with a split exhaust manifold and glass packs.

  19. #19
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    As has been said well earlier, the only logical swap today is the best GM LS engine you can afford. They are light, compact, and make more horsepower than any of the older designs.

    However, no one in his right mind does an engine swap, especially in an old Stude. The logical thing to do is buy a new car.

    If I were doing another C/K and didn't want a Studebaker V8, then I'd use a Packard V8. If not either, then a 500" Cadillac V8.

    jack vines
    PackardV8

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    I have them all a 57 Golden hawk and supercharger, a full package 64GT R-2 with power shift, a 53 chop top coupe with R-3 clone and 4 speed, a 63 Standard with R-1 and 4 speed, a 67 Avanti with 300 hp 327 and a 62 GT custom with 300 Hp 327 and 4 speed, so what one do I like the most? 67 Avanti and the 64 GT, so I guess it is the best of both worlds.
    Candbstudebakers
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    California




  21. #21
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    My first choice for a C & K is the 392 hemi. The smaller 50s hemi's as second choice, then the 331-390 Caddy, 371-394 Olds, 364-425 Nailhead...ect. or even the good 'ol Studebaker V-8.
    I look at it this way, a C & K Stude is a classic with a heritage tradition all of its own. There is nothing (within reason) that is ever going to make it perform on the par with a 'modern' vehicle.
    Certainly you can swap the latest LS or Mod or whatever into it, but that same engine in the vehicle it was pulled from would likely be able circles around your 50+ yr old long wheel based flexi-framed hot rod. If you want a late Camaro you might as well just buy a late Camaro - or Mustang.

    Yes, I'm aware of those builds that have been done utilizing custom frames and Vette suspensions, and very few of us have the skills, the time, the endurance, or the $$,$$$ to go there. And if you do, it is highly unlikely that you would ever use such a custom fabricated vehicle in such manner as to garner benifit from all that time, money, and fabrication. Very, very few do. And I submit you can just as much fun, and get just as much admiration (if not more) by sticking with the far simpler 'traditional' engine swaps.

    Just me, but I always prefer those ones built in the recognised classic style of the 50s and 60s as being appropriate to this particular vehicle.
    If I bought any Stude with an LS or other late smog-mobile engine already installed, I'd be out searching for one of those older engines for a swap.
    Last edited by Jessie J.; 02-05-2011 at 02:50 AM.

  22. #22
    Golden Hawk Member
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    I have owned several 1953 Starliners with a variety of V8s, mostly Studebaker. I have had stock 232 (233), 259, supercharged 289 and Chevrolet 350. Locally, I have known of 1953 Starliners with an early hemi and with an Oldsmobile V8.

    To build one today, I would recommend going modern and not transplant something that is already an antique itself. I think that a fuel injected V6 with overdrive AT would be a good combination. I would want to stay away from a carb. due to today's 10-15% alcohol fuels.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Powerhawkeye
    The Bonneville Studebaker C - K history has had more Chevy Ford V8 & flathead and Chrysler V8 motors in them the Studebaker's
    Well as you can see there are some highly divergent opinions when it comes to engine swapping. Really, you are the only one that can decide what it will be that will give you the most satisfaction.
    Best wishes with whatever it might be that you decide on.

  24. #24
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    Another thing to consider, during the 50s-60s-70s swapping in engines that we consider "traditional" now, was likely considered "radical" at the time. People were swapping in the most modern or most powerful motors available. Putting in a modern fuel injected motor these days follows that element of the hot rod tradition, at least in my opinion.

    Pat
    Pat Dilling
    Olivehurst, CA
    Custom '53 Starlight aka STU COOL
    '54 Conestoga Current Project aka STU KOOL


    Conestoga Project Journal: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9729183...7623379200673/
    LS1 Engine Swap Journal: http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/jour...ournalid=33611

  25. #25
    Speedster Member ralt12's Avatar
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    I'm with Pat. While this isn't quite done yet (in final wiring stage) the LS fits pretty nicely, though there were times when I wanted to shoot myself. I didn't use the stock frame, so that just complicated matters.
    '53 Commander
    Art Morrison chassis
    LS6 ASA/4L60E

    http://www.nelsonmotorsports.com/Nel...tudebaker.html

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessie J. View Post
    I look at it this way, a C & K Stude is a classic with a heritage tradition all of its own. There is nothing (within reason) that is ever going to make it perform on the par with a 'modern' vehicle.
    Certainly you can swap the latest LS or Mod or whatever into it, but that same engine in the vehicle it was pulled from would likely be able circles around your 50+ yr old long wheel based flexi-framed hot rod. If you want a late Camaro you might as well just buy a late Camaro - or Mustang.
    .
    What you say has merit, however, a lowly 5.3L Chevy motor can be had for a very reasonable price from the salvage yard. The motor is lighter, far more powerful, fuel efficient, and emission friendly than a Stude engine, with the added bonus it can run on today's fuel, easily last 200,000 miles and will not leak. If the C/K one was building had no engine/trans, why not stuff one of these in it? With some creativity, a person could make one of these motors look period/factory correct to a casual observer...wouldn't fool a Studephile for sure, but would be cool anyways. There was a model A Fuurd Tudor that Hot Rod Mag featured a few years back that had a modern high-strung racing/rally in line 4 installed in it that was painted and detailed like a stock A engine...I thought it was a really cool idea. Junior

    http://www.lowered.eu/wp-content/upl...ne-540x405.jpg

    '1929' Style Ford Cosworth BDA engine


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFSGSL3Nrmc

    Couldn't resist this youtube clip...not Stude, but 9500 rpm is 9500 rpm!
    Last edited by junior; 02-05-2011 at 11:41 PM.


    54 Champ C5 Hamilton car.

  27. #27
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    I am for using a modern fuel injected engine of your choice. My finless '60 Hawk came to me with a 305 Chevy engine and transmission. It fit right in the stock frame rails and had Studebaker suspension. It ran and drove fine with no issues. It just did not suit me, I really wanted a '53-54. Instead of selling the car and finding a '53-54, I set about retrofitting the '60 with '53-'54 sheet metal. I bought a 350 short block and spent a fortune in parts building it up to modern day power levels,
    with what will probably be suspect reliability issues. Other than block ,crank and rods, it is all aftermarket. I would have been money ahead with a crate engine. In the wake of my folly, I find myself left with a pile of sheet metal to get rid of, not to mention a '53 K body stuck in a building behind four other Studebakers. Whatever you do, have a good plan before you start. Take it from me, my "dart board" plan does not work well.

  28. #28
    Commander Member powerhawkeye's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the ideas

    Well i looked up my thread today lots of good ideas so far

    When i had my 56 Skyhawk and Powerhawk they both were stock one with a 289/auto the other 259/stick o/d they were a lot of fun running around in

    Now with the 53 Studes Champion & Commander coupes both without drive trains & no hood i spent the past 3 days i've been hiding in the basement from the cold on the keyboard looking at craigslist for motors any thing from a small block Chevy to a Pontiac GTO motor or a Olds 350 and it goes on and on till my eyes were crossing the motors were not just for the 53 coupe but also for my 50 Olds 88 coupe there's something about coupes with me

    On Craigslist i found many "out of the car motors" that are on the floor that you can't hear running
    went that route with a 500 Caddy motor that had 77K he said well i tried turning it at home that's the first mistake just took his word for it, so now hearing one run sounds better to me

    I would like to go with a fuel injection motor but many say go with a carb it's simpler so i'm still not sure what's going in the 53 Commander, the 5.3 sounds good i have a 03 Silverado with a 5.3 and a loaded trailer that went up the mountains out east when i hauled some ebay cars home i just have to have all those cars are sold and i'm down to 9 old cars

    The 53 Stude coupes and the 50 Olds 88 coupe are going to be the keepers
    so the struggle of finding the right motors at a price i can afford, the search goes on

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