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1970 Ford Torino - Front Man

Answer Douglas R. Glad's question about his engine hobby

The Engine Collection
I've become an engine collector. Unlike the majority of my ticks, the engine-collection thing has a clear and defined timeline that culminates in my owning exactly 10 different engines and only three motor vehicles. It's not that I don't have the propensity to collect cars. You've likely seen the column where I either counted them up to amuse myself or suffered adding or subtracting a car from the herd.

The engine thing is different. It is really an unhealthy quest to know each engine family intimately after attempting to build a running specimen from each one. There is also the sad fact that when I go to the wrecking yard, it's full of trucks, imports (lots and lots of imports), and fullsize cars that no one wants. That leaves me with the engine as the last outlet for creative and affordable junkyarding. A complete 460 Ford can still be had for $135 or as little as $65 on half-price day. There are FE 390s dropping from crossmembers all over the place, and the Ford 302, Chevy 350, and AMC 360 can still be had from Jeeps, pickups, and abandoned land yachts. I've even stumbled on three Chrysler RB 440s resting in a row of motorhomes. It reminds me of the days when there were real musclecars in the yard, and a four-speed or Camaro hood could be loaded in a rusty shopping cart and pushed to the checkout lane.

It also reminds me that making power is easier than ever because the basic V-8 refuses to change. Take the Ford 302 and 351, for example. These are the staples for the 347 and 408 stroker combos. Both are buildable with easy-to-fit cranks, roller cams, and simple, inexpensive aluminum heads. Those engines haven't changed much since 1970, so the yards are overflowing with Power by Ford valve covers. Collecting also relieves the anxiety of knowing I'll never see a '57 Chevy or a '70 Torino in the yard ever again because I know I own the engine that drives them. It's a small consolation.

I can't help it. The 302 H.O. smashed between a set of 5.0 Mustang fenders makes me try to convince myself that I could pull the thing right there in the junkyard with my standard shorty wrench set and 31/48-inch socket rail. It doesn't matter that it is only still there because the last guy caught the front end on fire trying to torch the engine out of its tomb. I'll stand there forever trying to figure out a way to get it out.

So why do you care? There is no way I could build every make and model of musclecar in the magazine, even if I won the lottery tomorrow, so putting every engine in the mag is the next best thing. My great and mostly impossible plan is to build every engine from the ground up. I'd start by hosing off the grease and adding a ring and bearing kit, then I'd run it to see what it does. Then maybe I'd add a cam, then heads, then an oiling system, and so on . . . until the thing became too stupid to manage, then I'd move on to the next one. It would kind of be a shootout against every other engine for price and power, one engine at a time.

So, I'm nuts and hoping the wife doesn't notice that there is an extra $200 hole in every other paycheck, but it's for your own good. What do you think? Should I try to get the 428 FE out of the S55 Merc that is parked down the street? Should I pull any of the dozen 460 Fords that I have walked by in the last two months? Should I try to get some power out of the 302 I just snatched from that '73 Ranchero? Let me know! R. Glad

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