Opinion: Len’s Top Five Engines That Don’t Get No Respect

One of the things that gets in my craw about vintage cars is how every Chevelle was a Big Block and every Coronet had a 426 Hemi. Coming from someone who had a garage background, I always saw this as totally lame. For me, it’s the history of the car that matters. The motors that I saw when these cars were still on the road where much more mundane appliances.  Just a short disclaimer: this is meant to be fun. It is not scientific and it is a product of my experience and biases. On top of that, I spent at least half an hour thinking about it. So, let’s get the party started!

Chrysler Spitfire Six

We hear all about the Ford flathead V-8 and the Chevrolet competition but rarely if ever the Chrysler Spitfire Six. My exposure to it was my Dad’s 1949 Chrysler Windsor with Fluid Drive. It was so smooth you couldn’t feel it run at its like 450 RPM idle. The Spitfire never had the kind of oil burning problems for which the Ford flattie was known. The rings would last the life of the car, unheard of in a Stovebolt. The Spitfire was so good five of them were arrayed around a common crankcase to make the Chrysler A57 Multibank, a true Frankenstenian device.

Small Block Chevrolet

The SBC gets too little respect. Yes, it leaked like crazy but it revved like crazy, too. Circa 2010, GM made it’s one hundred millionth SBC. They are still making them. The SBC introduced millions of kids like myself into the world of easy to wrench on go fast. Why anyone would crap on such a proven and successful design is beyond me.

Volkswagen EA827

So, how many bazillion of these did VW produce? The EA827 is not really known for romper-stomperism like the EA888 but it was a lovely motor. It, like all VW motors, is smooth, flexible and has a huge aftermarket. It just go overshadowed by later stuff like the VR6 and turbocharged motors.

Chrysler 318 2BBL LA

Note the exact description. The good old 2BBL 318 was in millions of Moparmobiles. It was about as reliable as a stump. The I never saw one that wouldn’t run. I used to rebuild them while they were still in their M body chassis. This was only necessary at huge kms and I only ever did two. On one, I pulled the heads and saw it needed a valve job, so I did just that. The other needed rings at 750,000 km.

Ford 302 2V

The Boss or K-code is famous but I never saw one. I did see a gazillon 289s and 302s with 2V carb as Ford called it. I was never a big Ford fan but the low power 302 was a good, reliable motor for Ford. The same could be said for the FE. Then Ford did wonderful stuff like the Triton three valve.

Please have fun in the comments. Please also remember this is not serious. It’s just about having fun, sharing some ideas and looking at some pictures.