SOS!!! Easy Engine Question by a clueless guy! Help me spend my money!
Print Topic | Close Window

By FP Jones - 2 Years Ago
Hi Everyone,
I just purchased a '73 Ford F100 (V8, 360cc). I absolutely love it. I'm not a "car guy" per se, but have always wanted a pickup truck for the practicality of being able to haul stuff. I could never bring myself to buy a "new" truck (anything made after 85') because i always felt the newer trucks on the road suffer from a lack of character. This truck popped up on Craig's list a few months ago and i was able to buy it for $2,000. I am a "do-it-your-selfer" by nature (love wood working and welding) but i know ZERO about cars/trucks/engines. I took it upon myself to do some cosmetic upgrades (new dash pad cover, new radio, new steering wheel, re-upholstered the bench, repaired a few window chips, installed all new door seals and window scrapers, installed a new headliner, new door sills, and also got new visors.
I absolutely love this truck but the hard reality I am facing is that the engine is not reliable and the transmission also has a slow leak. The engine backfires a lot, is very difficult to get started after sitting cold, and occasionally just "dies" on me when i try to accelerate from a stop (usually occurs in the first 15 minutes of driving after it has sat cold for a few hours/days). The engine is original and while i know there are literally thousands of purists out there who are going to shudder at what I am proposing, I really want to put in a new crate engine and new transmission to make this truck ultra-reliable so i can use it as my daily driver. I have saved a pile of money but I am clueless about what type of engine and transmission to purchase.

I have a guy in my town who restores old cars/trucks and is very comfortable/capable of putting in a new transmission and crate engine, but when i asked him what I should buy he didn't really give me a straight answer. Instead, he handed me a summit catalog and said "look through this and pick something out and when you have it bring it here and I will install it." I asked a few other people around town that I know and no one really wants to give me a clear, specific recommendation.  I even postd on the ford truck forum and nothing--just one guy who said "keep it stock."  ....w

This is why I joined this forum. I would really, really, really appreciate someone giving me some specific guidance here. My goals for this truck are simple: make it a quiet and reliable. I have zero interest in making this truck a hot rod and don't own a boat or an RV (and never will) so i don't plan on towing heavy stuff). I quite honestly don't want a loud engine either--I know some guys think its cool, but I want something quiet. I just want to drive this truck everyday and be confident it will start and won't leave me stranded when i am half way to work.

So in a nutshell, I'd like you to help me spend my money. I need a specific recommendation (a website link would be ideal) for a crate engine with the following:
  • Fuel injection
  • Something quiet
  • Under $3,000
  • Brand doesn't matter (I don't care about having a "ford" branded engine)
  • I don't really care about "high performance"--I favor reliability over power
I also need a recommendation on a compatible transmission.

I realize the vast majority of people who read this post are probably cringing at my plan and may think I am an idiot with more money than sense, but if there is anyone out there who could provide me with some specific recommendations I would really appreciate it. feel free to email me directly at


Sorry the photo ended up upside down...not sure what happened there.

By Eddy Lucast - 2 Years Ago
From the sound of your requirements, I'd fix what you have and save a few bucks.
By John R. Thomas - 2 Years Ago
I own a 75 F-150 Viking Edition.  390, C-6, factory a.c. and a Ford cap
I sold the fat tires on spoked rims. Gave away the chrome air cleaner.
The muffler shop replaced the Smitties w/ straight pipes and installed a pair of mufflers & pipes.
The tires & rims bought used.  Wheel covers & stock steering wheel bought a local swap meet T $60.
I'm having trouble attaching the pictures.
By Wolfcreek_Steve - 2 Years Ago
Being a hot rodder, but hearing your needs/desires, I would go to a late model salvage yard, explain what you want to do and see if they will sell you a complete low mileage engine and trans along with all the computers and wiring harnesses to make it run in an older vehicle. (f-150 would be my first choice, but any 1/2 ton pick-up could be the donor) Yes, the engine won't be new, but by the time you buy a crate engine and all the do-dads to make it run (crate engines don't usually come with a complete fuel injection, computer, etc) you will avoid bunches of headaches and be money ahead (especially if you are paying someone to troubleshoot the final result.
I have not done this using  late model donors, (post 2000) but I've had good luck with 90s ford drivetrains swapped into other vehicles. Be aware that the tough part is wiring up a computer where one didn't exist originally.
By Aaron - 2 Years Ago
You didn't say if the engine knocks,burns oil or wheezes thru the head gaskets, it sounds like it needs a good tune up and rebuild the carburator, not an off the shelf rebuilt, the 360 in its day was a very reliable engine, thats what we had and drove the crap outa them, now if the 360 is a leaky mess and burns oil then thats another story.
By hayseed - 2 Years Ago
FP Jones (10/7/2019)
 the engine is not reliable and the transmission also has a slow leak. The engine backfires a lot, is very difficult to get started after sitting cold, and occasionally just "dies" on me when i try to accelerate from a stop (usually occurs in the first 15 minutes of driving after it has sat cold for a few hours/days). The engine is original 

I'm with Aaron, Find an Old school mechanic to give It a Good thorough Service. Before Spending Big Bucks on a crate Engine..
By wayne graham - 2 Years Ago
Good advice partner. A crate motor will cost you what you have budgeted and then you still need ECM, wiring harnesses, sensors and exhaust system which is all costly. If you are doing shop labor you will need another infusion of cash. The best deal is a donor vehicle. Personally I agree with Aaron. If it was mine and I really wanted a nice driver I would look for a 390 and build it. Carbs,distributors and all parts are still available and a freshened up one would last a long time if properly cared for. Besides it is a direct bolt in.

By Freightrain - 2 Years Ago
You could do a ton of things to upgrade things, but that engine will get you around for decades(if it is overall sound right now).

Yes, it is finicky because it is carb'd, unlike all the new fuel injected stuff that is carefree and very easy to drive.  You need to give it a moment to warm up when cold and it will be a bit touchy at times until them.   Back then it was "normal".
Sounds like the carb might need a simple rebuild.  Also sounds like the accel pump is lagging a bit and causing the stumble or stalling.  Nothing catastrophic, but again just needs some attention.  I really hate those old Autolite 2bbls, but they came on everything back then.  If you keep it tuned up properly, it should last a long time.

Yes, you can buy a bolt on fuel injection set up these days.  Completely stand alone.  Though they are around $1000-2000 and take some skill to install and get running.  I wouldn't waste the time.
Here is one option just to show you:

My guess is the transmission needs a few seals(front pump and output shaft) and maybe a pan gasket.  Nothing horrible, just need a mechanic with a lift and a few hours.

If you want to replace the engine with something else, you'll need a transmission also since nothing new will bolt to that old C6 that only fits that model engine(360 which is in the "FE" engine line).  Nothing else will bolt to your factory frame perches, so if you want a 302 or 351, you'll need perches to fit that truck.  Then you can find a fuel injected small block and something like an AOD(cable operated, non electric) and have OD to make long trips easier.  I'd likely say you have 3.25 gears out back?  Unless someone spec'd something a bit steeper, that was a common gear for that kind of truck.

In all, if the engine runs well overall, have a competent mechanic that still works on carbureted engines do a basic tune up(like carb rebuild, new points, plugs, wires, etc).   Finding someone like that is hard to do anymore.  Many places won't even talk to you, or may screw it up worse then it is now.  Sad, but true.

Watch the exhaust manifolds.  Very typical they crack.  Sometimes they just erode around the port and leak.  Once they start there is no good fix.  They don't use a gasket, but some try to use gaskets and they just don't last.  The upper bolts in the manifolds will break off if you try to remove them.  The holes are open in the back and allow moisture and rust.  The lower holes are blind(not open) and come out easily even after all these years.

Here is your truck, right side up.   Using a IPad or such will unfortunately rotate pictures for some dumb reason.  Typical.

Good luck with it.  Looks like a pretty nice truck.

I've had my '69 F100 for 31 yrs now.  It came with a 360 also.  I replaced that many decades go.  It is one of my hot rods.
By W921 - 2 Years Ago
If your not worried about fuel mileage then I would just repair what you have. I have two 79 fords. One is a 400 and the other is a 460. Both trucks are very reliable and I love them both. If fuel mileage is a concern then what about a 6.9 navistar or a 4 BT conversion? The 6.9 would be easy if you could find a good newer donner truck complete with transmission. The 4 BT could be done to but it would be harder to get it matched up to a transmission. I think the 6.9 navistar rpm range is high enough to work with a stock c6 or np435.
I'm not sold on the idea of these newer plastic,electronic engines being better after they get some years on them.