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JOgo 10-04-2002 01:36 PM

How do I pick out an engine for my '54 packard clipper?
I just bought my first car. A '54 Packard clipper. It is 100% original, straight 8, weighs in at a burly 3850 lbs. I know nothing about engines, where do I start in trying to figure out what kind/size engine i would need to get? There are lot of numbers with associated with engines (ci, hp, tourque, etc) how do they manifest themselves in the actual car? What type of number should I look for if I want to give the packard some get up and GO! I am a student and have a small budget, what options are there for me? Any and all sugestions/advice would be appreciated.

Maverick 10-04-2002 01:43 PM

What kind of suspension and braking do you have? Going quicker means havings to stop qucker! Putting in a larger drive train i.e. engine, transmission, also means its heaver then orginal and may need a little beefer suspension. On the engine size matters. I have been looking at some 472/500 big block Caddie engines they weight about as much at a small block and have more torque then you can shake a fat stick at! Just a suggestion you can learn more about them here. <a href="" target="_blank"></a> Keep us updateed on whatcha do. And post some pics of her not to sure what a '57 Packerd Clipper looks like.

JOgo 10-04-2002 01:53 PM

The car is still stock. I have no clue as to what kind of suspension to stick in, I was told I should go with a '70-'81 camero front end and a 9" ford rear end. Honestly I don't exactly know what those are but... How would I post a picture, i just registered today and don't know how this works. I have one to put up though.

Maverick 10-04-2002 02:08 PM

A "clip" means cutting the frame off :eek: at about the fire wall and welding in a front end from anther car to get indepandent front suspension. You dont want to do that. They do make kits that weld to the orginal frame to get the same thing. I dont know it may already be a stock IFS. Man, If its that orginal you may want to keep it that way. Packards are some what rare and in the end it will be worth a lot more. Just anther thought!

Centerline 10-04-2002 02:42 PM

[ October 04, 2002: Message edited by: Centerline ]</p>

Centerline 10-04-2002 02:52 PM

I wouldn't worry too much about the beefiness of your suspension. That thing was designed to handle a lot of weight in the first place. All you'll probably need to do is rebuild the suspension with new ball joints, bushings, tie-rod ends and a new set of springs. Any new V-8 you stick in there won't weigh much more than the stock straight 8 anyway.

Your rear end will need to be replaced along with a new set of springs. A Ford 9" would be a good choice but so would a GM 10 or 12 bolt. What you need to know there is the mounting flange to mounting flange width of your stock rear end. (The mounting flange is the outside of the brake drum where the lug bolts are.) Once you know this measurement you can make a selection for a good rear that will fit well.

At a minimum I would go to a good dual reservoir master cylinder and power brake system. This is a safety issue and should be one of your first priorities.

As for your engine selection you can really go almost any direction. A small block Chevy is the choice for most people cause its cheap to build but to get really good power out of them you will compromise some of its inherent reliability. The Caddy is a good choice as would be any of the big block Mopars (383-440) or Fords (390-428). It all depends on you. If you go with the small block Chevy your car will probably perform OK but it won't be a real mover because of its weight. Plus it'll be just another "cookie cutter" small block powered car. With a car that heavy I would go for one of the big blocks I've mentioned. They will have the torque to move that beast and demand respect. And you'll show that you're an individualist by not following the crowd.

Finally, I would not suggest you do a clip. The road to success for any novice is to keep it simple. Your frame is plenty strong enough and since the car is stock its very unlikely that some previous owner has hacked away at it. When doing a clip you will need the services of a professional welder. (This is a safety issue. You don't want the car falling in half while you're driving down the road now do you.) Also proper alignment of the clip is crutial for safety, overall ride comfort and steering alignment. A mistake there can make the car a real pain to drive. It won't save you any money either. You'll still have to rebuild the suspension and brakes even with a clip. You will also have a lot of extra work to remount your front sheet metal. A new front frame will not have the proper mounting for fenders, radiator support etc and all that stuff will have to be fabricated. Although you could probably do all this I would not recommend it. The classifieds are full of half finished project cars that people just gave up on because they bit off more than they could chew. Don't be one of those guys. Stay away from a clip.

Good luck and keep us informed.

<a href="" target="_blank"></A>

JOgo 10-04-2002 04:34 PM

Thanks a lot! I am defeniatly not going to do a clip. I think the guy above mistook the model of the car (clipper) for the term clip. NO WAY am i thinking of chopping up this baby yet. THis is my first time, my first everything. Taking it slow. The advice that I got was since she runs, work on the interior and minor body issues (small rust patches and the one quarter (25 cent) sized hole by the brake pedal now. Come winter update the front and rear end, engine, and trans. Then think about paint and body work then. I agree 100% that brakes and safety are key! I am just trying to learn about what it is going to take to fix her up ($). I don't want to start the big engine trans drive train extraveganza till I have enough $ to do it right, hence my question. Thank you so much for your reply it has been very helpful. Some one told me an economical solution is to put a chevy v8 in her. (this may sound nieve) but what did they mean?

pasadenahotrod 10-04-2002 05:14 PM

An interesting choice for a first car...since you've got a nice runner/driver now, just make sure the safety issues with the original systems are good, and enjoy the driving. Believe me, if you tear that sweet puppy apart and then run out of dough, and you will, Springtime will not find you a happy guy!
Keep the car stock, you can probably afford to do that. Drive it every day, enjoy it! Pack the bank account with coins for the future rebuild/modification and keep on driving. You'll learn plenty keeping that car alive until you can really afford to do it right!

JOgo 10-05-2002 11:57 AM


78 monte 10-05-2002 12:18 PM

How to pick an engine.
First spot the richest guys car that runs the best.Then ait till he goes on vacation then rent a cherry picker from U-hual then around midnight start plucken bolts back up the pickup truck and put it in the back.
Or you could just look in the paper for a motor you can hear run.SBC are the cheapest to hotrod.

78 monte 10-05-2002 12:24 PM

Syracuse ay???Ever go to Esta???

slider 10-05-2002 04:59 PM





Every time someone comes up with an extravaganza for your nice new first car, close your eyes and repeat your new mantra...........


And no. I do not think you are really stupid.

Trust me. Everyone in sight or earshot or available on the web or telephone will have really great ideas for your car, money, sanity etc.

If the puppy runs well now get her winterized, check the exhaust so you're still alive in the spring to play and enjoy your ride. After the new wears off and you have a chance to read and educate yourself it may be time to think about changing things.

:cool: Peace

[ October 05, 2002: Message edited by: slider ]</p>

woodz428 10-06-2002 03:26 PM

If you are keeping the original trans, Offenhauser use to make adapters for most popular motors to bolt up to it. They may still have some in stock or be able to direct you to where the inventory/tooling went. If you are planning on swapping in a complete engine /trans anything will clear in the enormous area you have. There was a 455 Olds/turbo swap done in Hot Rod about 30 years ago and it looked fairly straight forward with minimal fabrication.The old Hot Rod engine swapping guide gives the details as well as the Offy part #'s.

Kevin45 10-06-2002 04:06 PM

A '54 Clipper

helrazr3 10-06-2002 04:22 PM

congrats on the new ride and welcome to the board. i'm with phr and slider, just enjoy it for now and make sure what you have is working right.when the time is right you can do almost any swap or upgrade you want. surf the web, get some repair manuals and check out some rod runs. keep asking questions and you'll get the hang of it good luck. :D :cool:

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