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Old 02/10/2012, 03:31 PM   #1
brandosme
 

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Cali Special Poss Engine Replacement - Questions?

Hey guys. I am new to this board but I have owned my California Special for 9 years now, I first bought it when I was 16. I am not an expert on cars, but I love this car to death. Its a 4 speed 302. I bought it from a lady from Washington for about $5K and brought it down to Southern California to enjoy the sun again. I drove this car for 9 years without doing much engine work and one day I had the radiator fluid replaced but not refilled all the way apparently and it over heated and blew what looks to be a head gasket (at minimum). The car is not 100% original, the engine was a 1970's 302 I believe and there are some minor mods including: Grille, Steering wheel, CD player, Hood scoop, etc. Since I have had this car since I was 16, I plan on keeping this car for the rest of my life barring any major unforseen money issues.

My dilemma, what should I do about the engine? I see it as a perfect time for an upgrade to add some horsepower and get a different engine since the one that was in it wasn't the original. I have an offer from one of my friends who is a classic mustang mechanic and he said he recommends putting a 1991 5.0 engine in the car, new 5 speed transmission, heads, cam, carb, new everything basically and quotes me around $6,500. (It's been explained to me in great detail but I am not too keen on the lingo). Mechanic is saying around 370 HP when finished. I would rather not put the broken engine back in there after it has to be pulled/repaired to the tune of around $2,500. Keep in mind its sitting in my driveway and I can't drive it and it needs to be repaired, which is a major bummer.

I just had concerns about making major mods to such a special car. I can see doing the 5.0 conversion to a lesser '66 coupe or something.

What should I do? What new/old engine would you guys recommend? How badly would it hurt value / or would it improve value to have a more modern/reliable engine? Any good links to the conversion he is speaking of? Reasonable price?

I plan on keeping the car forever but I would obviously like to keep resale value up and not ruin the car. Responses are greatly appreciated as I am going to talk to my buddy in person soon.
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Old 02/10/2012, 06:51 PM   #2
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Welcome to the site brandosme, you will find everyone here very helpful with your project.
My first thought is, do you have the vin# and Marti report to verify that it is an actual California Special? As you have stated there are many modifications to the car, which shows from your photo's. That will make a hugh difference with the suggestions from the member / experts here.

Ralph
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Old 02/10/2012, 07:12 PM   #3
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The first thing I would do is pull the heads and see if it is just a head gasket or if there is more to it. You can probably have your heads rebuilt and install new head gaskets for $500, if you want to save some cash. If you do want or need an engine overhaul, I would go with the later engine because of the roller rockers. You'll get a little more power and economy, plus you don't have to worry about adding zinc during break-in to avoid wiping a cam lobe. For $6500, I would imagine you're also getting forged pistons and a forged, stroker crank, so later you can add a supercharged fuel injection intake. A 5 speed is also a nice upgrade to make the car more driveable. I would save the old 4 speed in a box somewhere just to keep as much original stuff with the car as possible. As far as value, I think that once the original engine is gone, it doesn't matter if you have a '68 style 302 or a built up '91 302. The purist will look at it the same. Everyone else will appreciate the increased driveability and "fun factor" of the new drivetrain. Right now, "restomods" seem to be going for as much, or more, than originals. Finally, hopefully, my "son" Joe and my "brother" Rob will post pics of their engines so you can see what you really want to shoot for. Guys? Oh, welcome to the site.

Steve

PS. Think about a 3 or 4 core aluminum radiator at the same time. A plugged radiator might have been your real problem, and with additional horsepower, you definately want it to be able to keep the temps down.

The wannabe formerly known as an owner.
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Old 02/10/2012, 07:33 PM   #4
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I have a friend on Facebook with a setup like your talking about in an early 68 GT/CS.
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Old 02/10/2012, 08:30 PM   #5
robert campbell
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Brandosme,
I have been out and about tonight. Do not do anything until Steve, Neil, and I get to weigh in more. Steve is right on for a smart repair until you can afford more. This sounds like an easy fix to get you back and running again. You can explore the world of "big fun" later when dollars are more available. Or if your pockets are deep, I can spend them in the right direection for fun at a low cost!!

Rob
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Old 02/11/2012, 01:35 AM   #6
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First question would be what do you want it to be? A Cal Special or a restomod?

Is the car origianlly a J code?

Me, I'd rebuild it with stock block, internal upgrades, leave the 4 speed (assuming original). It will be more than enough for the street.

I'd disagree that a replacement era-correct 302 would be seen the same as a 90's 5.0 (efi, vs carb, very different look under the hood). Its "correct", and most except the concours types pick apart date codes, and would look true to the original and most folks understand understand engines wear out... after 45 years!

If you want to impress people with HP/torque numbers and "go fast" then do the 5.0 and new trans to match...

That would obviously be a good performer, but a tweaked era correct looking 302 and 4 speed has the "old school" look, and will still put a grin on your face (my C code does!)

Keep it what it was, buy a cheap coupe if you want a restomod!
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Old 02/11/2012, 10:28 AM   #7
robert campbell
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Brandosme,
Steve (rvrtrash)was right on in everything he said! No surprise he has been to this rodeo before. Dalorzo_F is right on also!! Let’s discuss you current motor first.

First look at the VIN number at the bottom right side of your windshield from the outside. If it is an original “J” code engine, it should start with 8R01J and then six numbers after that. Tell us what the number VIN number is. Now take any air cleaner off and put a blanket over the left front fender. Get a flash light, small wire brush, and a bit of WD-40 to use as cleaner. Lay over the top of fender and work yourself to the back of the engine on the driver side. Right behind where the intake manifold there is a small “shelf” area on the engine block. Clean this block area right behind the manifold and look for any stamped in numbers. If it is the original block to the car it normally will have an abbreviated VIN stamping. 8R and then the six numbers. If you are lucky it will be the same six numbers as your plate in the windshield. Very valuable engine for you and makes your car more valuable to the right buyer.

Now get this puppy in the air somehow to look at the transmission. The transmission is made of two large cast iron cases. If you clean the area at the back of the front case, just where the back case bolts to it, you will notice a small area that is somewhat flat. It is located at the very bottom where the bottom rear case bolt goes into the front case. Clean and scrub and look for another abbreviated vin number. starting with 8R. Now if you are really really lucky, this matches the other two and you have a numbers match tranny!!! Mo value to your car!!

If the above stuff is true, then we will go farther. I do not know how deep you pockets are or how fast you want to go! Maybe you just want a simple fix for now? Then plan to pull all this stuff and either make it better faster, or just put it in a corner. Steve’s suggestions are spot on if you want more power, more fun, and better drivability!

By the way if you already have some parts such as an aluminum intake and different carb let us know. Respond to all of the above and we will start a dialog of where to go from here. A bet your current engine is very fixable!

By the way, I like the hood scoop!!!

Rob
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Old 02/11/2012, 12:38 PM   #8
brandosme
 

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Hey guys thanks for the responses I'm stoked I got some great input right off the bat. Ok, I grabbed some old papers I got with the car and the GT/CS recognition guide & owners manual and took down the VIN# from the car. I have the registry member sticker one of 4025.

Vin # 8501J156617

Its a J Code.

I took the air cleaner off and poked around but couldn't find the VIN # on the engine, but we looked before and determined the engine was not original and I am short of me getting under the car at the moment to look at the tranny I would assume the tranny COULD BE original. Probably is, and would ultimately be worth saving.

I DO have the money for an engine restoration at the moment. I just want it done once, and done right so I can drive the car for years to come. I am very interested in hearing any advice in spending my money in the right direction. I would rather not just give a mechanic a blank check to run up the bill.

Thanks,

Brandon

By the pics you can probably see why I want to do some work under the hood.
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Old 02/11/2012, 01:33 PM   #9
robert campbell
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Brandon,
Ok I see we are already a bit modified under the hood. Aluminum intake. Can you take the air cleaner off. Looks like an old school 302 with a possible newer distributor or just the Cap-Adapt cap and rotor to match the spark plug wires.

I am a “package” builder. Everything for one goal. Certainly you can go step by step in some cases. First question is power. To make any small Ford make power it is better head, heads, heads! First question is if you stay with the stock exhaust manifolds, the stock heads are fine. The exhaust port of a stock 302 is the limiting factor. Ported iron heads work just as good as aluminum heads. You can liven up a stock set of heads with bigger valves and exhaust port work. But they then must matched to a set of mid length shorty headers or the best, long tube headers. You have power steering so we would want to avoid needing to drop the ram. I know which ones will work best for you.

Now you have to get the heads off and see what the bore is of this engine. If it is already .030 or .040 over, it is time to look for a newer block. I can step you through that.

The above thoughts with a mild cam and the right carb will easily net you nearly 100 hp. And still great drivability. Your 4 speed can be used and if you upgrade to a 5 speed later, all the better.

If you end up with a total rebuild to your current block or a newer “doner” then you can consider a stroker kit. It adds a bit to the rebuild, but not that much. You can now take your 302 or 289 block out to 363 cubic inches. Again, to realize the power you need good heads and in this case long tube headers should be considered. And do not rule out a complete motor from a reliable builder. You get a warranty to boot. Unless you want to build it yourself. Hard to beat turn key kits and I can help you there also.

First couple decisions. Want a bit more power without get out of hand? Are you willing to give up the exhaust manifolds?

Rob
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Old 02/12/2012, 09:34 AM   #10
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I think I was misinterpreted a little, so a bit of clarification first. I suggested the newer block because of the roller rockers. You can still run a carb on that, which is what I assumed you were going to do from your first post. I suggested upgrading the internals in case later you wanted to add a supercharger, and you have more options with an EFI supercharger. Sorry for the confusion. I was probably a little brief. The only visible difference in the roller motor would be taller valve covers. Most wouldn't notice that. The newer engines are also set up for a water pump that runs the opposite direction and use a serpentine belt, but that's not a requirement. Rob is right on the heads and exhaust manifolds. There is a lot of power that can be freed up by a good top end, as Ford really restricted the air flow. A less expensive replacement would be GT40 (I hear GT40P are the really hot ticket) heads and factory headers, or you can go aftermarket alum heads and long tube headers. With that being said, my block was numbers matching, and at the time I wanted to leave the car original, so I used it with stock heads and manifolds, increased the compression a little, put in a Comp Cams 268H for a bit more power and am getting about 275 horse, which isn't to bad. There are times that I wish I'd have left it on an engine stand and installed a 400 hp replacement, but that's just because I don't think there's any such thing as too much power.

Steve

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Old 02/12/2012, 10:59 PM   #11
brandosme
 

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I removed the air cleaner and snapped a few pictures.

I am definitely interested in a full new package. I am too impatient to go part by part upgrading the engine.

One concern I had about this engine was in the last year and a half of driving her I remember the exhaust smoking quite a bit when I really stepped on the gas. It was a whiteish smoke.

The car has dual exhaust, I'm not sure if its original. It was not super loud or anything but I can't recall if its aftermarket.

I am currently working with my mechanic to get a list of all his "Recommended" repairs/mods/upgrades and I'll post it as soon as I get it from him so we can compare it to everybody's ideas.
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Old 02/13/2012, 04:30 AM   #12
dalorzo_f
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White smoke is "generally" coolant leaking into the combustion cycle, head gasket or cracks in the system. Not definative, but the most common cause.

As there were very few J codes made (only 200 w/4 speed, statistic courtesy Marti Auto Works and copyrighted), me, I'd try to find a period correct block, upgrade the internals, and keep the rest near stock. Keep it close to what it was, not just another restomod/stroker (dime a dozen and in a few years just another old incorrect engine). It would still be a fun car...

JMHO
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Old 02/13/2012, 06:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalorzo_f View Post
White smoke is "generally" coolant leaking into the combustion cycle, head gasket or cracks in the system. Not definative, but the most common cause.

As there were very few J codes made (only 200 w/4 speed, statistic courtesy Marti Auto Works and copyrighted), me, I'd try to find a period correct block, upgrade the internals, and keep the rest near stock. Keep it close to what it was, not just another restomod/stroker (dime a dozen and in a few years just another old incorrect engine). It would still be a fun car...

JMHO
+1
The Elenor mustangs were all the craze a few years back and now you hear little about them. I am sure they are fun to drive. In the end you have to do what is right for You not what we think. Marty 67-68 MCA concours judge (so what would you expect from me!)

Follow HCS restoration at http://68hcs.weebly.com
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Old 02/13/2012, 07:56 AM   #14
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If the engine isn't numbers-matching does it being period correct really do any good?

Brandon, for the amount of money you're spending have you considered installing a Ford Racing crate motor?
http://www.fordracingparts.com/parts...KeyField=11752

Last edited by Mosesatm; 02/13/2012 at 12:19 PM..
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Old 02/13/2012, 12:04 PM   #15
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What do you plan to do with the car? If you plan to take it to the track on weekends then get the Ford racing engine. Do you plan to take it on road trips? Then a new EFI engine would make sense. If you're looking to take it to shows and cruise nights and sit around with the hood up talking to other car folks then I would look for a period correct engine and return the engine compartment to as close to stock as possible. If as you say you plan to keep it forever then get the period correct engine because in years to come they will be worth more as they become scarcer.
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