Let's Build a Hot Rod, part III
One of the hardest part of planning out my vintage Deuce coupe project so far has been figuring out what drive train to employ. Before I picked up the project I already had a couple of engines laying around (350 small block Chevy and a '56 Pontiac 316), and the deuce deal include a '53 241" Dodge Red Ram "baby Hemi." Each has its own characteristic pros and cons:
316 Poncho -- pros: cool looking, matches the mill in my A coupe. Cons: hard to find speed goodies.
241 Red Ram -- pros: hemi kicks ass visually, sonically. Stock 7.5:1 compression is blower-ready. Cons: $$$ parts, 140 stock hp doesn't even measure up to a flathead.
350 SBC -- pros: bulletproof, cheap, tons of speed equipment, can get parts from any NAPA. Cons: bellybutton and bo-ring.
In the midst of trying to decide between those three, I happened upon another option: a junkyard '49 Cadillac coupe containing a 331 --the first production overhead valve V8, the first
true modern engine. As you know, my colleague Mr. Noteboom is very fond of the war-tested Caddy flathead, but I've always been partial to the 331. It was the
powerplant that propelled the Allard J2 to third place in the 1950 24 Hours of Le Mans and a stock Caddy to third place in the wildest road race / tequila party ever, the Carrera Panamericana. And if you know what to look for the Cad 331 shares a good number of internals with the SBC (not to mention the Studebaker V8). My Wisconsin friend Cadillac Kid, for instance, rebuilt his Cad motor with a slew of 327 Chevy stuff.
For 120 bucks, what's not to like? I dedicated a Saturday last year to harvesting cast iron organs with the help of my friends Andy, Dave, and Cratedigger. Here's a brief play-by-play of the automotive ghoulishness.
1949 Cadillac Series 61 Club Coupe. Standard of the World. $120 toe tag special. Lookie there momma, I got me a Cadillac car!
Our quarry: the first year Caddy 331.
Looks like a job for blue speed wrench.
Thar she blows!
Mmmm, come to poppa.
Despite external crustiness, actually pretty clean under the ginchy script valve covers; but seized solid.
After a few weeks soaking the cylinders in Marvel Mystery Oil and coaxing with a breaker bar we got it to turn over (barely). Unknown as yet whether it's rebuildable; only the magnaflux man knows for sure.