Old 06-08-2022, 06:11 PM
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BDH79TA BDH79TA is offline
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Springfield MO
Posts: 59
Default Low buck engines and cars

So I read a thread today talking about cobbled together engines and it reminded me of a time in my life. Mid 90s. I saw a 1978 Solar Gold TA parked in the back of a rinky dink buy here pay here lot. I passed that car going to work for several weeks. I finally decided to stop and check it out. It was rough and had been through a lot. After messing with vacuum lines and plug wire routing I was able to get it to fire up. That knock I heard ended up NOT being a cracked flex plate. Spun rod bearing. Anyway, I traded a 1980 Olds Omega straight across and limped it home.

Once I found out it was actually a spun rod I yanked the engine and sent it to the machine shop. Unfortunately the car soon had to fill the position of DD and with a wife and 2 kids money was limited. I found a 400 in the paper...no real internet yet. It was sitting on a tire in the back yard covered with some heavy plastic. The guy had pulled it complete by cutting the starter wires, etc. To show it wasn't locked up he pulled the battery out of his truck, grounded a wire, touched the hot to the battery and it shot water out of the exhaust! Well......it's not locked up. He had a P4B intake, a couple of carbs and for the $200 he wanted I figured I could recoup most of it if it was shot.

I brought that engine home and tore it down. As I said, money was tight. I did a light hone, reused the gmm400 stamped bearings, pistons, rings, oil pump and timing chain. It got a new cam and lifters and a full gasket set. That's pretty much it. It was only going to be a temporary engine anyway. Right? 2 months later I'm going through a divorce and couldn't afford to pay for the engine in the machine shop. I drove that car for more than 4 years. The only issue I ever had was that I'd have to remove the number 1 plug once or twice a year and clean off the oil fouled build up.

I've been working on my current project for 15 years now and not driven it down the driveway. I got a lot of joy out of that pieced together POS and sometimes wonder if it's really worth all the money and effort. I'm sure once I turn the key and take that first drive those doubts will disappear. Anyway, that's just a fond memory of a time with one of my Pontiacs.


Two marriages and one long term relationship later and it's the T/A that's always still there.

When referencing gas, "regular" used to have an entirely different meaning.
Old 06-20-2022, 08:11 PM
1965gp 1965gp is offline
Chief Ponti-yacker
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 758

I totally get that. I always wanted a GTO growing up with my Ratty LeMans and now that LeMans is one of my most priced possessions.

Old 06-20-2022, 08:18 PM
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BDH79TA BDH79TA is offline
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Springfield MO
Posts: 59

My first car was a 67 LeMans. I rolled that car doing 120 and have NEVER been able to replace it. I'm sure the fact it was my first has a lot to do with it, but in many ways I think I like the LeMans over a GTO. With all the clones now it's more rare to find a nice LeMans than a GTO.


Two marriages and one long term relationship later and it's the T/A that's always still there.

When referencing gas, "regular" used to have an entirely different meaning.
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Old 06-20-2022, 11:30 PM
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Sirrotica Sirrotica is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Catawba Ohio
Posts: 6,527

When I graduated from high school, a friend had a 64 GTO convertible that he bought with a bad engine. All of us had almost no money, so here is what he did to get an engine for his 64.

Another guy had bought a 67 SS Chevelle that someone had put a 66 GTO engine in it, but never finished the swap. He of course wanted a chevy BB in it so the GTO engine was yanked out, tossed in a ditch, and sat there from late summer, until next spring. He asks about the discarded GTO engine, and the guy told him if he wanted it, come , and get it, no charge.

He took that engine apart, and it was full of mud, but the bearings were all still intact. The cylinders were rusty, but the pistons weren't stuck in the bores. He sandpapered the cylinders, where they were rusted, and painstakingly cleaned everything in a bucket of kerosene, bought a gasket set, and put it back together, put it in the GTO and fired it. He did find a used hydraulic cam and lifters that was better than stock for next to nothing that went in it.

No one in our group of friends expected much from this lo buck effort, but it actually ran well, and didn't burn oil. He wrecked the GTO, and took the engine out and put it in a 63 tempest coupe, that he removed the transaxle from, and put the GTO rear axle and transmission in. I lost track of what happened to that 389 after he put it in the Tempest, but he sure got a lot of use from an engine that he paid nothing for........

Same guy used to have a 62 Belair 4 door W/ a 283, that somewhere he got a set of double hump SBC heads, and didn't have enough money for head gaskets. So he re used the gaskets and covered them in Permatex aviation cement. That didn't work out for him.....LOL.

Being in the auto repair business for over 50 years I've seen some really sketchy lo buck repairs. Some they got away with, some didn't.......

Brad Yost
1973 T/A (SOLD)
2005 GTO
1984 Grand Prix

100% Pontiacs in my driveway!!! What's in your driveway?

If you don't take some of the RACETRACK home with you, Ya got cheated

Last edited by Sirrotica; 06-20-2022 at 11:43 PM.
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