6 July 2017

Why I stopped the swap: Falling in love with the inline-6

Tuco, the clown villain (or “the ugly”) in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” was right. There are two kinds of people in this world. And in the classic car world, there are those who leave classic cars stock and those who—woo hoo!—want to make them go faster, my friend.

In which category do you belong? I am, for better or worse, solidly among the latter. I can’t help myself. While I can concede that the automotive engineers from Detroit or Tokyo or wherever knew what they were doing (most of them anyway), I still feel compelled to second guess and improve upon their work. You see, the thought that design compromises were made in the interest of lowering cost and increasing sales volume is a constant source of upheaval for me.

“Come on,” says my internal voice as it pulls the strings that cause me to squirm, figure, and, ultimately, spend money on foolhardy projects. “Those guys were a bunch of bean counters. They didn’t really have your best interests at heart. You can unlock this car’s potential!”

While this prodding feeling may or may not reveal any actual truth, it’s there nonetheless, so I—like so many others like me—feel compelled to make “improvements” to the cars I buy. Therefore it stands to reason that when I bought a ’65 Chevy Malibu sedan last year, the idea that I’d swap the engine for something more powerful existed before I’d even clicked “Buy It Now” on the eBay listing. Rip out the inline-six and pop in a souped-up small block V-8; that’s the ticket.

When I retrieved the car from a quiet corner of rural Wisconsin (I’d gone with the shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach, buying it sight-unseen, flying there with a bag of basic tools, and driving it back to the East Coast)—I had already formulated a plan as to how I was going to turn the four-door sedan into the last word in ’60s sleeper muscle sedans. This Malibu was going to be a roaring V-8 monster worthy of a Beach Boys song.

But then I drove it. Its 230-cubic-inch inline-six engine—the original, as far as I could tell—was smooth and torquey. I liked the sound it made, so friendly and so unlike a V-8. It seemed natural in a car with bench seats, a column shifter, and four doors. Then I began to consider all the things I would have to change if I wanted to go the high-horsepower V-8 route. Manual, single-circuit drum brakes (front and rear) were a potential recipe for disaster. The steering was too slow. The tires too thin. The seatbelts were, well, non-existent. The car’s rear axle—General Motors’ mediocre corporate 10-bolt—was a little small for the manual transmission swap I had in mind, too.

On top of all that, I simply enjoyed floating along on my wheeled couch, one finger resting on the thin rim of the car’s huge steering wheel to keep it pointed in the right direction. All I needed was a trilby, a checked blazer, and a pack of Viceroys to complete the feeling that I’d somehow transformed into a midcentury bureaucrat who would never have thrown down the extra scratch for the V-8 option.

Once I had resolved to do a service to “inline-sixdom” and keep the skinny mill, my mind drifted naturally into the realm of potential mechanical improvements. After all, the Malibu was built at a time when high gearing and non-overdrive transmissions were the norm. I intended to take advantage of lower gearing and a modern overdrive transmission.

There were engine upgrades to be made, too. Rather than scrapping a smooth, pleasant engine like the 230, I decided to pep it up a little bit with technical help from Tom Langdon, America’s inline-six guru. He told me that a slightly larger camshaft, a four-barrel intake manifold, cast-iron exhaust headers, and a small Holley carburetor would make better use of the engine than did the stock setup. That and 3.73:1 rear-end gears. Best of all, I could improve power and efficiency without the annoyance of changing what I like to call powertrain infrastructure. Having done a V-8 swap before, I knew that while it’s not all that complicated, changing from one type of engine to another is not without its persistent list of annoyances and setbacks.

I haven’t finished the build yet, but the result is going to be a car that performs better than it did new, without the overpowering effect that so often turns lovely old cars like the Malibu into pretzels, courtesy of wet weather and some roadside tree. When it’s done, it will look more or less like it did when it rolled off the dealer’s lot and into the original faceless bureaucrat’s suburban garage: no chrome, no billet high performance parts, no problems.

There’s yet another advantage. An inline-six is no V-8, but when you think about the six’s lack of desirability and the corresponding availability of really cheap cores and parts, it begins to make a lot more sense. Add to that the fact that it can make plenty of usable power. People have been racing them for years, and racers have squeezed a lot of power out of inline-sixes with forced induction setups. Even without all that, the torque these engines produce makes for a very enjoyable street driving experience.

Beyond practicality though, there’s a measure of uniqueness that will appeal to the contrarian. Chances are good that you know someone who’s ripped a straight-six engine out of a car to replace it with a small block V-8, if you haven’t done so yourself. Either way, a lot of people have gone that route, often because scrapping an inline-six in favor of a V-8 has become a Pavlovian response of sorts (a lot like installing a big camshaft into an engine that’s otherwise stock, running big drag slicks on an axle equipped with highway gears, and myriad other bonehead moves). Here’s how it typically goes: Guy (or gal) sees a muscle car-era car or truck equipped with a six. Guy installs V-8. Guy sells running inline-six on Craigslist for $200.

But you don’t have to be like nearly everyone else. You can buck the trend and dare to be different. There are those who would argue that without the distinctive sound of an American small block, a project would fall short of expectations. To that, I counter that nothing sounds quite like an American inline-six. Uniqueness is sublime.

If you do decide to go the hot rod inline-six route, ask a lot of questions, even if the build is a mild one. With stock mills, factory service manuals usually suffice for repair and tuning help. But once you start changing things like the camshaft, carburetor, and exhaust system, you might need to seek technical advice from experts like Langdon, Tom Lowe, or the Inliners International enthusiast club.

While fewer people are involved in the inline hobby than digging into V-8s, they’re out there and they’re passionate. Diving into something that no one else understands has turned them into a tight-knit clan. Do you have what it takes to become an inline-six nut?

92 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Mark St Amour Fall River, MA July 7, 2017 at 22:00
    I have a stock 235 in my '57 Chevy 210 and I like it just fine. Pop the hood at a car show and there's always some admirers waxing poetically about their own sixes of the past. It doesn't rumble, but it sounds pretty sweet just the same!
  • 2
    Steve Litchfield, CT July 8, 2017 at 18:44
    Great column! Years ago I was a mech in a Porsche+Audi dealership. Somebody traded in a 1969 Dodge Dart with 225 slant 6 and 3 on the tree with engine noise. I bought it from Used Car Dept for $400. Adjust the valve fixed the noise . Oil change and tune-up and it was one of the best car i've ever had. I would buy it again in a second!
  • 3
    Charles Grand Prairie, TX July 10, 2017 at 13:37
    My first car that I owned (not a parents hand-me-down) was a 4 door "58 Chevy Biscayne with a High Thrift 235 Inline Six and Powerglide Trany. I managed to destroy both the ending and Transmission reveling too high in low gear. I rebuilt the engine based on some racing specs that I purchased from McGurk Engineering in California where I purchased a log type intake manifold and added three Stromberg '91 Carbs. Had Spit exhaust, three cylinders per side, Mallory Elecronic ignition (Photo Electric Pickups), bored 40 thousands over size high dome pop-up pistons, Shortened connection rods so I could surface 50 thousands off of engine and milled the heads to the extreme, enlarged the exhaust valves and recessed all valves with shortened valve stems. Switched to solid lifters, and double sprung the valves so they would not float at high RPM. Custom Cam Grind with Crank and Cam journals ground and chrome plated. Cam was a little over 3/4 race grind, don't remember the exact degrees of duration. Whole engine was blueprinted and balanced. It was an extremely high reving, very torquey engine. I could light the tires on the car and eventually steered the crappy Powerglide off and wound up replacing it with an adapter and an beaffed up Oldsmobile Hydramatic. I could take everything in my class at the local drag strip. It would easily smoke the long stroking V-8's of the era simply because it would rev so fast and had the exceptional low end torque which the V-8's lacked. Their torque did not really kick in till about half way down the track and I had already beat them by then. The speedometer only went to 120 and I could easily bury the needle. All in all pretty low tech, but one heck of. Fun car to drive. With the fixed swing arms mounted rear end, I also did not experience any of the typical wheel hop.
  • 4
    james johnson MI July 12, 2017 at 15:59
    Great article. My first car was my grandmother's 1965 Chevy two-door Impala...with a 230 straight six and automatic transmission. On a warm humid day, you sometimes could not even hear it running.
  • 5
    Milton Chamberlain Manassas, Va. 20110 July 12, 2017 at 16:33
    I bought a 1949 Ford with a 226 CI flat head 6 cylinder and it has more torque than the 235 CI V-8 Ford. I spent over $4000.00 to have the six banger rebuilt and I am glad I did instead of putting another engine in the car. So many individuals are putting the Chevy Small block into everything that has wheels and I believe if it is a Ford keep it a Ford, If it is a Dodge then keep it as a Dodge. I would not be afraid to drive from Virginia to California in my 49 Ford as it sits today.
  • 6
    Larry Ontario Canada July 12, 2017 at 16:35
    I had a '62 Chevy impala with a big inline six. Ssssweet motor. You could stand beside it while idling and NOT hear the engine!!!
  • 7
    David Crossley Charlestown, Rhode Island July 12, 2017 at 16:59
    I had a '70 Chevy short bed step-side that had been a NJ forestry truck. It had 6 lug 16" rims, the spare mounted on the side behind the driver and the big 292 six. I put in a Hurst floor shift, pulled the engine, had the head rebuilt and generally cleaned everything under the hood but otherwise everything was stock. That was the greatest engine. Lots of low-end and was great on the highway. My dog and I made it from Atlanta to Hightstown, NJ on a labor Day weekend and even had a flat tire on the way but got there in 8 hours. Damn I miss that truck!
  • 8
    Herb Roblin Adolphustown, Ontario July 12, 2017 at 17:11
    Last year I did a complete nut and bolt restoration of a 1968 Mustang Coupe and because we are the second owners and it is a numbers matching car I decided to rebuild the 200cu in 6. This car the least optioned example that I have ever seen right down to the dog dish hubcaps. It draws a lot of interest at shows because it is so rare to see a totally restored Mustang that still has the six.
  • 9
    Charles Krause Phoenix, AZ July 12, 2017 at 17:14
    Back in '58 #5 piston disintegrated in my '54 Corvette. Thought about a V8 but like the author, for similar reasons replaced it with a 260 truck block.Everything I had fitted except pistons, which came with the block new from Chevrolet. Line bored and balanced it would turn 5500 and scared several milder 8's. Also replaced Powerglide with a 3 speed. The 6, with 3 sidedrafts look like an engine that wants to go. I still have it.
  • 10
    Rick Uxbridge, ON, Canada July 12, 2017 at 17:44
    You can do a lot with an inline six. We have a weekly cruise-in near here and I was surprised to see a (I believe) 1938 Plymouth Business Coupe. Under the hood, he had replaced the engine but not with a V8. He stayed "Plymouth" and put a Mopar Slant Six in there with lots of obvious goodies and modifications. I could see a 3-2-1 header, "Aussiespeed" "Hurricane" intake manifold with a Holley carb, etc. Most of the bits that could be identified had "Aussiespeed" in the castings. I didn't get a chance to ask the owner about internal mods but I'm sure there were plenty. You can do a lot with a six if you put your mind to it. http://i.imgur.com/zC2n113.jpg http://i.imgur.com/jCtypRq.jpg http://i.imgur.com/KWjJTfj.jpg http://i.imgur.com/AupK30X.jpg
  • 11
    Eddy Robinson Connecticut July 12, 2017 at 18:05
    My 65 Chevelle is a 194 cu.in. 2dr.sedan with 52,000 org. miles, we have driven it from NC. to Ohio many times, won't swap it for a V8. Motor or trany have never been apart, I am the 2nd owner.
  • 12
    Storm Washington State July 12, 2017 at 18:10
    I'm a believer in stock configurations, because I've had to live with the results of my "improvements" that didn't work out as I planned on vehicles that I've owned in the past. My current vehicle in this category is an odd one anyway, and in some circles, not very socially acceptable. It is a restored 1952 Dodge military M-42 Battalion Radio Command Truck which is a variant of the Dodge military M37 Power Wagon. It not only has a straight 6 engine, it is a flat head straight 6 engine. It produces a whopping claimed 50 to 94 horsepower depending on how gullible you are. If I keep everything stock, my manuals never lie to me, and I don't have to record (or try to remember) all the "improvements" I've made over the years. You learn to appreciate a "design envelope", and in my case learn to enjoy a much slower pace. You also gain an appreciation for off road abilities to get anywhere, even if it is slow. It will for example, go through water to a depth of 8 feet (completely submerging the vehicle). It is the littlest military truck Dodge made, only 15 feet long and just a 3/4 ton pick-up. It is the only pick up truck I've ever owned; it doesn't go fast, but it does go anywhere with any load I need, or want, to carry. Keeping it stock has served me well.
  • 13
    Sixer NC July 12, 2017 at 18:11
    I used to look down my nose at I-6 engines but then ran across this site which gave me a different perspective. I'm now a fan! http://www.autozine.org/technical_school/engine/Smoothness2.html#L6
  • 14
    Chad OK July 12, 2017 at 18:16
    My first car was a '60 Falcon 2 door sedan with a 144 inline 6 and Holley 1bbl carburetor with a GLASS float bowl. HOW COOL IS THAT?? Anyhow....loved that car with its "3 on the tree".
  • 15
    Mark Columbus, Ohio July 12, 2017 at 18:25
    Sixes are great and have inhabited by garage in many forms: a couple of 1960's Suburbans, E-Type Jaguar, Toyota Supra, a 1961 Bel Air and new to the fleet a 1927 Buick cut down into an open wheel race car. (Buick have ALWAYS been OHV, even back in 1907, one of America's first OHV makers.) They have a great sound, are simple to service with great access on either side.
  • 16
    Nick Baton Rouge, LA July 12, 2017 at 18:25
    My first foray into classic cars was a 1965 Mustang with a 200 L6. I fell in love. I'm a Ford man and 7.3 owner as well I can't argue the dependability of the Dodge Cummins. It amazes people when I get on my inline 6 talk and inform them that a Dodge Cummins is an inline 6. I WISH FORD HAD A INLINE DIESEL. I'm now the proud owner of a 1966 Mustang with a 200 L6. She's currently been rebuilt with upgrades for dependability, economy, and a little pep; header, DUI electronic ignition. I appreciate the note about their availability and cost of these gems. 289 V-8, fair condition, drivable=12-15k 200 L6, same to better condition 4-7k. It's a no brainer!
  • 17
    Rick Chem Palm Beach County, Florida July 12, 2017 at 19:05
    Great inline 6 article. Thank you. Just overhauled my 2005 Tuarus 4 Dr sedan at 100,000 miles. Has the Vulcan 3.0 liter V-6 which Napoleon used. New transmission, tires, new a/c, wires and plugs and one window regulator all for $3500. It runs better than when it was new and improved torgue is a joy. I am the original owner.
  • 18
    Rick Chem Palm Beach County, Florida July 12, 2017 at 19:06
    Great inline 6 article. Thank you. Just overhauled my 2005 Tuarus 4 Dr sedan at 100,000 miles. Has the Vulcan 3.0 liter V-6 which Napoleon used. New transmission, tires, new a/c, wires and plugs and one window regulator all for $3500. It runs better than when it was new and improved torgue is a joy. I am the original owner.
  • 19
    tom moore Texas(TX) July 12, 2017 at 19:10
    I've been a six inline person for years .V-8's are great..in their on way(hot rod duces ,flat head ofcourse)but I-sixes,versital so easy to work on,from the top and quick,cheeper,more fun..
  • 20
    Gary Platz Colonial Heights,Va. July 12, 2017 at 19:18
    I'm a slant six enthusiast and love owning and wording on them. I bought my slant six Duster new 46 years ago and it's super reliable. The Duster has a fiberglass hood and fenders among many other modifications. When people walk by the propped up hood, they think there's a 340 in it and then express their dismay like the car has the plague. I've converted to electronic ignition and a ported factory two barrel and a low restriction muffler with 2 1/2 inch exhaust. We also own a slant six Cordoba that has been modified. There's a slant six club out of New Jersey with a lot of passionate members who are always willing to help other /6 owners. For us /6 folks, Doug Dutra is our guru and he races the leaning tower of power in a early sixties Valiant wagon. As mentioned earlier in the article, you can perform the same engine modifications and get respectable horsepower.
  • 21
    ROBERT FOUTS . July 12, 2017 at 19:29
    2 years ago we bought a stock 1950 Ply Special Deluxe 2 Door w/37.000 miles. Great chrome, like new inter & faded paint. Put new brakes, plugs & changed the fluids. And now we love driving it. My wife & I learned how to drive on one just like it.
  • 22
    Martin Marshfield, MA July 12, 2017 at 19:43
    My second car was a 67 Camaro with a 250 in line 6, it had so much pep I could easily beat a 289 Mustang off the line. The car was well balanced for cornering and went to over 240,000mi.
  • 23
    Gene Bartholomew CT July 12, 2017 at 19:45
    I had a 67 Chevy custom van with an in line 6, I built it up with parts from 6=8, it flew, most v8 cars couldn't catch me and I got over 20 mpg in the 70's, I was used to big v8's so when I first got it going I thought the gas gauge was broken, one of the best engines ever and I just might build another, I know where I can get one.
  • 24
    Mike Davenport, Iowa July 12, 2017 at 19:47
    This story is perfect timing and could've been written by me. 35 years ago I too had the "bigger is better" mindset and sixes were for weinies. Now I'm in my middle 50's and just bought a '67 Mustang with the 200 6 cylinder. I was gonna do a V-8 swap but after putting a bunch of miles on she's staying stock! It purrs like a kitten and I'm getting almost 30 mpg too.
  • 25
    Jim Jerzycke SoCal / Long Beach July 12, 2017 at 19:54
    A friend of mine had a 1967 Camaro with the 250 six and a four speed. He installed a Clifford header, a "small" cam, and a two-barrel intake. It was amazingly quick, and after a tiny bit of suspension work, it handled extremely well. He definitely surprised a LOT of people stop-light-to-stop-light!
  • 26
    Dominic san Giovanni North Haven, Ct. July 12, 2017 at 19:56
    My 52 Bel Air has been running a hot rodded 54 235 that was bored .060 over and had the later 56 "848" head slightly shaved. It's breathing through a vintage Tattersfield intake with a pair of Carter one barrel Pontiac carbs. It also has a mild 3/4 cam and exhales through a pair of original Fenton headers. Her fire lights from an S-10 HEI ignition and shifts through the 5 speeds of an S- 10 T-5 tranny. It's an early Nova rear with 373s and the classic and obligatory Chevy 6 rap snaps from a short pair of resonators. She is a blast to drive. Sounds exactly as She should and runs low and slow. We especially like making her sing when passing under the highway bridges. Anything else in a 50s Chevy is very wrong.
  • 27
    Rich Nepon NaplesFlorida July 12, 2017 at 19:59
    '58 delray my first. Swapped the tree for a CheapO floor shifter Removed muffler. Painted corvette blue with white race stripes. Eventually traded for Am radio in my new 68 VW.
  • 28
    Charlie Minden, NV July 12, 2017 at 20:06
    The deficiency of most American car in-line 6 cylinder engines is the cylinder head design which puts the exhaust on the same side as the intake. The 3.8 liter (230 cubic inch) Jaguar in-line 6 puts out 265 horsepower, and all of the magic happens in the cylinder head. The 6 cylinder block is just antiquated cast iron displacement. The magic starts with 3 two inch carburetors feeding air/fuel into the right side of six in-line reasonable 9 to 1 compression ratio hemispherical combustion chambers built into the alloy cylinder head allowing quite large valves breathing in the mixture and exhausting the burn in the same direction out the left side in a cross-flow manner through cast iron headers. All of this is facilitated by dual overhead camshafts, and the design is from the 1930s
  • 29
    Bluegrass Bob Kentucky July 12, 2017 at 20:08
    Not trying to offend , but I've often wondered at the lengths some folks will go to expending huge sums of money adding enormous HP to a car so they can park it under a tree, sit in a lawn chair and tell everyone how fast it is. Then they snort and snicker when they see someone in a car with an engine like these. Who's the real sucker? I really appreciate this article because it represents some of the positive attitude changes happening in the car hobby. A four door Malibu with a 6 that somebody appreciates for what it is? Awesome.
  • 30
    Schmidt Uwe B.C. July 12, 2017 at 20:15
    Hurray for inline 6 engines I recently sold my ferrari 308 to buy a 1948 Ddge deluxe coupe with a 256 CID T120 engine and Borg warner overdrive Split exhaust for unique sound this car does not need improving power to burn and luxury in spades
  • 31
    Alister Annapolis, MD July 12, 2017 at 20:23
    If I want to go fast, I drive a 2012 VW GTi, but for cruising, nothing beats an old American car with a straight six. Our such machine is a 76 Valiant with 225 slant six and Torqueflite trans. The PS is so light, the car is effortless to drive. Guys with V8 muscle cars mostly drive about the same speed, so what's not to love about a simple, easy to work on and inexpensive-to-own 6 cyl.?
  • 32
    Papa Dave Napa CA July 12, 2017 at 20:26
    In line 6 in a 56 ford 2 dr customline!0
  • 33
    Larry California July 12, 2017 at 20:30
    There's another saying about the two kinds of people in the world: some tend to create and some tend to destroy. Not saying that swapping in a V8 would necessarily "destroy" this car. But consider the fact that it has survived over a half-century in its “as-built” state and has apparently never fallen into the hands of someone who would “have their way” with it. At this point in its life it has become a piece of American automotive history just as it sits. There are better candidates for engine swaps; I think you made the right decision to keep the six.
  • 34
    Howard J Nielsen Alpine, Ca July 12, 2017 at 20:40
    We run a 1958 261 out of a school bus in our 1950 With a Howard Cam, duel Carter two barrel carbartors. Saginaw four speed transmission, 1972 GMC 3/4 ton 4:07 rear ended
  • 35
    Howard J Nielsen Alpine, Ca July 12, 2017 at 20:42
    We run a 1958 261 out of a school bus in our 1950 With a Howard Cam, duel Carter two barrel carbartors. Saginaw four speed transmission, 1972 GMC 3/4 ton 4:07 rear ended
  • 36
    Ron Dame North Carolina July 12, 2017 at 20:44
    I'm with this. My Studebaker truck came with a170 CI OHV 6, no overdrive and a 4:27 diff. It's no powerhouse by any means, but first thing, I installed an overdrive trans so I could run at 60 or 65. I was wanting a bit more power and could have easily swapped for a Studie V8, but no, i like a 6. So i built a similar OHV engine, but used an earlier 185 crank, which besides displacement, increased the compression ratio. I love it! Its no racer, but i can comfortably cruise at 75. My next project is a split exhaust (for sound) and better breathing on the intake. Sure, i still only have the power of a worn 259, and it cost more than a swap, but its unique and makes me happy.
  • 37
    Bryan Shrader MS July 12, 2017 at 20:46
    I had a 1969 ford bronco with the factory inline 6. It had 4:11 gears and 3 speed columnshift. Anything faster than 55 was asking alot! Really get nostalgic when thinking about this truck. Was not terribly practicle on the interstate but it was whisper quiet and had tons torque.. I grew up on the missippi gulf coast. The memmories of driving down hwy90 from Ocean Springs to Bay Saint Louis, entire trip overlooking a sandy beach and the missippi sound in this truck always brings a smile to my face.. :-)
  • 38
    tex new river, az July 12, 2017 at 20:50
    have my parent's 1968 Nova 4-cyl. working to restore it to factory specs. love the car.
  • 39
    John MA July 12, 2017 at 20:54
    I bought a 1970 Chevy C10 two years ago. It's a basic, bone stock, "no-power-anything" long bed truck with a 250 inline six and column shift manual 3spd. The six is super smooth, starts instantly, has tons of torque and doesn't drip or use a drop of oil between changes. Driving it is best described as deliberate - nothing's happening in a hurry, but there's absolutely no doubt it's going to get you where you need to be. The only thing non-stock is the HEI ignition and that's the way it's staying. An inline six was a small engine in its day, but not in today's world (250 cu in = 4.1 liter).
  • 40
    rob stonehouse on July 12, 2017 at 20:54
    I believe that the inline 6 could be one of the finest configurations ever made. Think about it.... Some of the finest engines of out time, made by BMW, Datsun, the big 3, Austin Healey etc, were equipped by 6s that were torquey with legendary reliability. The last of the mainstream 6s that I can recall, was the 300cu in ford, that was placed in the 1996 pickup/van line. That engine is responsible for the unusual popularity of that era of truck, making fine examples difficult to find.
  • 41
    Billy Bob Cox Texas July 12, 2017 at 20:58
    My dad came home with a brand new 300 Deluxe Chevelle in 1966 with the in-line 6 and 3 on the tree. He drove the car until 1972 when my younger brother bought it with 138,463 miles on it. The shifter used to get stuck and you would have to get out and fiddle with the arms under the hood, so he moved the shift to the floor with a Hurst shifter kit. It was a great car for "rat racing" through neighborhoods because of the low end torque. We had a great time with it. My brother drove the car for several years while in the Navy and while out at sea a "friend" park in a no parking zone and when it was towed left it in impound. It was a great little car.
  • 42
    Rob Portland OR. July 12, 2017 at 21:04
    The writer mentions design compromises made in the name of increased sales or cost budgets etc. as justification for improving some aspect of the car. True enough, but lately I have really taken an appreciation for the designs that seem to strike a good balance for an intended application, or the expression of a clear design intent. It can be pretty satisfying to learn the "sweet spot" of a car's personality and then just focus on making that be as good as it can be. I'm about to start a rebuild of a lotus 907 engine and had debated over the issue of making "improvements" to the engine to get more torque or increase the compression ratio. After researching the engine design and intent, I'm more interested in just improving the balance and engine tolerances and driving the rev happy engine the way it was intended, enjoying the howl at 70 mph. If I need to feel torque at low rpms I'll get out the old Buick and enjoy the burble as I float across town. I'm drawing the line at early '70's emissions control devices though. Nothing to celebrate there.
  • 43
    Aaron IL July 12, 2017 at 21:21
    Just this spring I talked the VP of my car club (he and president build rats normally) out of a 6.0l swap in his newly acquired 61 biscane. For the first 2 months of owning it he was dead set on an LS swap with all the modern touches of the doner van. He loves "Hector" because it's a good old surviver. I think he's a bit jealous of my 64 Galexie 500 (no its a FE car) that I am it's the 3rd owner and all of us are related. We'll low and behold at our May club meeting I was informed the he had acquired a 4 barrel sprint intake and carb and was working on getting headers for the old mileage master. Some people just take a bit longer than the drive home to come around.
  • 44
    Robert White House, Tennessee July 12, 2017 at 21:28
    I purchased a 1981 Dodge D150 Ram pick up. It has a 225 Slant Six. When I got it it was tired but a threw a little money at it to get it running good enough for the time being. Eventually the wear and tear made it too difficult to keep driving so I parked it for a while. I then got the urge to pull the engine and go through it. One thing led to another and after converting it from a one barrel carb with factory computer spark ignition to 2bbl Super Six with GM ignition module swap. Comp cams RV grind and lifters.and on and on. So from 110 factory hp I feel conservatively It's now making 140+ and it runs like a champ.
  • 45
    David Crossley Charlestown, Rhode Island July 12, 2017 at 21:29
    I had a '70 Chevy short bed step-side that had been a NJ forestry truck. It had 6 lug 16" rims, the spare mounted on the side behind the driver and the big 292 six. I put in a Hurst floor shift, pulled the engine, had the head rebuilt and generally cleaned everything under the hood but otherwise everything was stock. That was the greatest engine. Lots of low-end and was great on the highway. My dog and I made it from Atlanta to Hightstown, NJ on a labor Day weekend and even had a flat tire on the way but got there in 8 hours. Damn I miss that truck!
  • 46
    Bob Lake City, FL July 12, 2017 at 21:48
    Shortly after I married in the late 60's my father-in-law got a newer car and gave me his 55 Chevy 2 dr. sedan. I acquired a GMC 292 c.i. six-shooter that had been pulled from a dirt-track stock car. It came with 3 deuces and dual headers and Mallory dual-point distributor. Who knows what the cam was and whether it had been bored? Anyhow, that 292 with a 3 speed and stock rear would come out of the hole faster than my buddy's hypo 56 with 283 bored to 301, 4 bbl., 4 speed and lower rear. By the mid-80's I had acquired an old C-10 pickup that I needed to help my maintain my 1-man trucking company--there's another 6 to love--the Cummins big cam "shiny 290" which I turned into a Big Cam III/IV 400, but I digress. The C-10 had a 250 c.i. straight 6 and 3 on the tree. Money was tight, but for $100 in parts I did a nice overhaul with rod & main bearings, rings, gaskets etc and had smooth and strong engine. I was in love with that engine. Incredibly smooth performance. Years later, my youngest son, about to get his license, acquired a Nova from the last year with the chrome bumpers and the 250 six. We overhauled that motor. Finding an un-cracked head with the integral exhaust was difficult enough to encourage us to with an older head, add headers and 4-bbl intake system. Sweet, smooth and strong. Somebody decided they needed the long-bed C-10 and traded me 318 powered van for it. They loaded a big compressor in the back of the pick-up and tools for a mobile truck tire repair business. He ran that truck for many years on that $100 rebuilt 6. Then came the old F-150 Ford with the 300 c.i. straight 6 and 4-spd. transmission with granny low. No muffler, just the catalytic converter and long tail pipe. Not offensively loud, just a politely strong exhaust note. In addition to commuting to work, I cleared property with that truck pulling stumps. Cut the tree at about 10 feet, dig some dirt from the roots, put a 3/8" chain about 8 ft. up the tree, fasten it to the heavy rectangular-tube bumper and keep slamming it until I won. How that motor never launched through the radiator and front grill I will never know! Anyhow, I sold that truck to some farm hands in the next county to the south. About 10 years later, I have now moved to the next county to the north and am having a new sewer line installed along with some plumbing on a 100-year old house. On day 3, a Friday, the plumber's son comes from an out-of-town job to help his dad finish my place. I looked out the front door and saw a black short-bed F150 and it brought back memories. Darned if it didn't have white spoke "wagon" wheels on it too. Lights started going off and I looked at the rear bumper and could see the angled cap plates on the rectangular tube and knew without doubt it was my old truck. It still had the same 300-6. 3 or 4 years later I saw that now nearly 30-year old truck running around town loaded with a sizeable portable welder, cables and other associated equipment. My last 2 trucks had hemi-V8's but I still have a soft place for the straight sixes!
  • 47
    Scott Allred California July 13, 2017 at 13:34
    I owned a '70 Dodge Challenger for 7 years, selling it in October, 1987. It had a 225 slant-six with an A230 3-speed transmission - floor shift. For all those years I wanted to transplant a V8 into it but never did. If I had that car today the "Leaning Tower of Power" would STAY!!! Why would I want to take something that is fairly rare, a 6-cylinder E Body, and turn it into something you see at any given car show? I would also build that motor using a 4bbl intake and split exhaust manifolds and have fun! I feel the same about 318 E Bodies being turned into big block cars. No!!!
  • 48
    Matty Brown North Attleboro, MA July 13, 2017 at 03:11
    This article describes exactly why I drive behind a Slant 6 year round!
  • 49
    Gandolf DE July 13, 2017 at 04:41
    I used to drive the old stovebolt sixes. My first car was a F*** but my second, a two door '53 Chevy with a 6 cylinder automatic. It had the full pressure crankshaft, the exact same engine they used through 1960 except for the valve cover hold down bolts. I converted it to standard 3 on the tree and my local machinist bored it .187" over to bring it to 261 c.i. It blew the #5 cylinder wall the first time I really stood on it at 500 miles after break-in. He sleeved that cylinder, and I drove it all over the U.S. for a couple of years until I had to sell it in Abilene Texas in 1965. Anyhow, there is nothing in the world that sounds exactly a straight line GM six with dual exhausts. If you were lucky back then you scored a set of used Corvette exhaust manifolds for your head pipes. I destroyed a lot of 6's and disappointed a lot of small block V-8's with that old car.
  • 50
    Dave NY July 13, 2017 at 05:31
    I hopped up a 250 six years ago in a nova, Clifford intake, cam, 390 Holley, split headers, etc..parts cost 2x what they would for a Chevy 350, and in the end a 350 would of ran circles around it for less money. I would do the 350 swap, the 8.2 rear will be fine with street tires and the dual master brake upgrade should be done regardless.
  • 51
    Pete Southern Md July 13, 2017 at 18:04
    Don't forget the inline 4. Looking under the hood of my '66 122 Volvo the only thing you will see " non-stock" is the generator was replaced with an alternator. Displacement went from 1.8L to 2.2L ,electronic ignition, Iskie cam, headers (yes you can see that) custom exhaust, etc.. It went from 89hp to about 155hp. With a weight of only about 2800 lbs it can do the 1/4 in the 13s on street tires. ( not what I built it for ) Add the M41 trans w/ overdrive and she gives you 36 mpg. With the suspension upgrades it is a joy to drive and a head turner. My son has a 400+hp small block he wants to put in it and I keep turning him down.
  • 52
    Tim Featherston Michigan July 13, 2017 at 06:16
    I had a 1970 Chevelle with an in line 235 that ran great. Thanks to parts from Clifford Research 6 = * it added more pep tot he 6 and it was a great car to drive. I wish I had never sold it.
  • 53
    Joe san mateo ca. July 13, 2017 at 07:45
    I owned a 62 Valiant with a super 225, 3 speed floor shifter and 4 doors. That little plymouth sure was a runner. My other 6 was a 67 Chevy truck with a 292, 3 on tree drove that for 10 years. I replaced the water pump once. what I drive now a flat 4, a I4 aV8. aV6, aV8.
  • 54
    NovaResource.org Cyberspace July 13, 2017 at 07:55
    My '76 Nova originally came with a 250 inline 6. I replaced the integral head/intake with a head from a 1965 230 and added an Offenhauser aluminum intake, Hooker headers, a Holley 390-cfm 4BBL and a larger cam. Not the fasted car in the world but those mods made a huge difference.
  • 55
    Vern New Orleans July 13, 2017 at 08:35
    We restored a 1953 Chevy 210 with a straight blue flame six 235. Since it was numbers matching, we left the engine alone, no swap. Once we got the it running we discovered that it had no problem accelerating and driving on the interstate. There are no "enhancements" as it still has the standard cam and points, no electronic conversion. At 238k miles it also still running on the standard cylinder bore, albeit with some taper in the walls. However, we also purchased a 1950 Ford F1 but it did not have an engine or trans at all, nor driveshaft, nor differential. So that gave us permission to put something a bit more modern than the original 100hp flat head v8, which I never saw. Of all things we used a non-interference 3.0 liter v6 rated at 140hp. Part of your story is about the nostalgia of a straight-six but the unwritten part of the story is about being content without the largest monster under the hood you can find.
  • 56
    Philip Lohr Virginia July 13, 2017 at 08:50
    I hopped up a 250 6 in my 68 camaro with offenhauser 4 barrel manifold,carter high performance 500 cfm 4 barrel,mallory dual point dist.,hooker headers,bored engine 30,shaved head,balanced, 10.5 high performance pistons,2.02 chrome valves,special valve springs and lifters,3.73 rear,2.54 muncie 4 speed.Outran most small 8s at strip.Owned for 47 years. Just sold 2 years ago. Hope new owner kept engine.
  • 57
    Rick Uxbridge, ON, Canada July 13, 2017 at 09:07
    Something else about this... when I was in high school a lot of friends had small British cars, all of them with 4 cylinder engines in them. We did a LOT (within our budgets) to improve the performance on those. At one point I commented that eventually 4 = 6 = 8 saying that sooner or later, it will be possible to get the same power from a 4 as a 6 and eventually even an 8. And there are now 4 cylinder engines out there (mostly in Nissan's) producing over 300 HP. No reason not to expect the same of a 6 cylinder with the right mods.
  • 58
    Terry Duncan, Okieland July 13, 2017 at 09:12
    As a member of a six cylinder Mustang club, I see at shows the attention the straight sixes get, whether it's a modified or if it's still stock. One member of my club has to stand by his engine bay and answer questions most of the day, much more attention than the Shelby's, Roush's and other V-8's receive. So for the show scene, a six is unique and a fun alternative. I myself have a 50 Dodge with a 6 flathead that everyone say to put a hemi in, I plan on putting together the speed parts I can find and rebuild the flathead, again for the unique factor. Now if you're planning on racing, that is another story, but for show, a six is a go.
  • 59
    Howard Philadelphia, PA July 13, 2017 at 09:14
    I wish more people could wrap their heads around the idea of keeping these stock straight sixes. I would love to get hold of a Pontiac Tempest with a straight 6, manual trans. It is a car that has gone to GTOs every one, and for what reason? The GTO was and is a powerful iconic machine, and a whole lot of fun to drive, but so was the base Tempest in a different way. Sure it took by today's standards a million years to get up to speed, but when you did the lighter front end made that car more fun to run through the turns. I always liked it. Half built GTO clones not so much. I wouldn't want a 389 in a car that has four wheel drum brakes, and the base suspension, yet I see them over and over again for sale. Some day I might see another Tempest with its original straight 6 motor, but they have become rare as hen's teeth.
  • 60
    Rodger New Jersey July 13, 2017 at 09:16
    Nice memory! 1964 4 door Malibu with the 230 six cylinder dressed up with a factory chrome kit was one of the best cars I have had. Super reliable and easily kept up with modern traffic.
  • 61
    Jack Fort Payne, Al. July 13, 2017 at 09:50
    Great post, I have a 1963 Ford Falcon passed from my Grandfather to my Dad to me. It had a 170 cid inline 6 with a 2 speed auto. When it came time to restore the car, everyone said "get rid of the six". I liked the six and wanted to keep it, but the 100 hp just wasn't doing it for me. So I swapped 170 inline for 250 inline with a lot of performances goodies and with 3.55 gears, AOD transmission. I added over 100 more horses and 2 more gears. I build a nice little cruiser with plenty of power and it gets a lot of attention at car shows and cruise inn's . Granddaddy always told me to " stay inline" glad I did.
  • 62
    Juan Ramon Rodriguez chicago July 13, 2017 at 09:55
    I have an inline six on my 61 chevy Impala 4 door hardtop love the ride and the torque I will consider beefing it up after this article
  • 63
    Warren Prouty Fresno July 13, 2017 at 09:58
    When it came time to replace the tired old original I-6 in my Toyota Landcruiser I bucked the V8 trend and decided to go inline. when I was a kid we had an old Nova and my dad split the manifold with a plate to make a dual exhaust system. I was hooked on that sound in the first 5 minutes. Everybody told me I was nuts to go with the 6 for the Toyota but I ignored the noise. Took a 292, bored it 60 thou over. added a Clifford intake with a stock Edelbrock 4 barrel. Stuck in an Isky RV cam and a Langdon 3 into 1 cast iron exhaust manifold. That thing is a torque monster. It'll idle up a tree if the traction's there. Best automotive decision I've ever made.
  • 64
    Richard Ia July 13, 2017 at 22:08
    In 1962 I bought my first car a 1937 Dodge business coupe from my neighbor’s grandmother. Of course it had a 217 cu in flat head 6 in the engine bay. In 1964 I replaced that engine with a 1956 230 cu in flat head 6 motor. Drove the car to Pueblo, Colorado to see my buddy who was in the service at that time. In 1971 I parked the car until I decided to put it back on the road in 2015. After 14 months I upgraded to Disc brakes, dual master cylinder,T5 transmission, Ford 8.8 rear end and lastly the engine. NO not a SBC but the 1956 flat head 6 with some upgrades. Edgy reground camshaft, Edgy aluminum cylinder head and a 2 two barrel intake. Also Langton HEI ignition cast iron header and 2 Carter Weber carburetors. When I attend car show with my car I am often asked why not a SBC. My answer; who needs one!!!!!
  • 65
    Effarm Chicago July 13, 2017 at 22:15
    44 years ago I did a stint as a test engineer in the Dyno lab at Ford.I generally dealt with V8's: 351W, 351M, 400M and 460 engines. Never saw a single V8 ever last more than 100 hours in our 80/20 durability test. The six banger guys had a 250 straight six hogging a dyno cell for months. It would not fail. It only put out around 85 net hp so it wasn't stressed but it could not be killed. I've owed several V8's from a solid lifter SBC to DOHC imports. They're fun. They rumble. But the sixes are just smooth and sweet. In my twisted youth I had a '60 Plymouth two door post with a slant six and a typewriter Torqueflight. That thing was butter. I thrashed that thing all over the back roads of SD and it never quit. Back in 1978 I had a 1978 Datsun 280z with a SOHC six. Very nice motor but could have used a little more torque. I just bought a new car with a modern DOHC inline six. It has three times the power of the old Ford 250 and the same basic smoothness of the Plymouth. Still I miss the raw power of the V8. But the six is smoother for sure. Bill is right, you want a fast six, BMW will show you a few.
  • 66
    Matty Brown North Attleboro, MA July 13, 2017 at 10:48
    This article describes exactly why I drive behind a Slant 6 year round!
  • 67
    Dan Kimberlin South Carolina July 13, 2017 at 10:55
    The Jimmy (GMC) big 6 dominated the dirt track for years and was a knowledgeable hot rodders choice also. I don't think you can find a block any more. The inline 6 is an inherently balanced engine that has almost no red line if put together right. Remember, the first Corvette had an in line six, three side drafts and was no dog.
  • 68
    Leaning Tower of Power America's Dairyland July 13, 2017 at 10:58
    My entree into the classic car hobby was a Dart Swinger with the 225 ci Slant Six. Slower than maple syrup in January, but dead-nuts reliable and simple enough to work on that a beginner such as myself could tinker without real fear of screwing something up. Better gearing is all you need to change to make 'em quick enough to keep up with traffic.
  • 69
    Gene B CT July 13, 2017 at 11:10
    I had a 67 chevy custom van with a straight 6, the 292, I put headers on it and a cam from 6=8 and an Offenhauser 4 barrel intake and ported the heads with a hi output ignition, it screamed, I blew off most V8's and I got over 20mpg, I actually thought the gas gauge was broken when I first got it on the road, I really miss that van, any inline 6 is a great engine like the Cummins diesel, etc, they have less internal friction, fewer moving parts, just a great engine and lots of torque.
  • 70
    Ken MI July 13, 2017 at 11:12
    I have a 300 straight six in a 79 F150 4x4 I use for plowing snow and truly love that engine. It runs so smoooooth and the low end torque just loves shoving the nasty white stuff out of the way!
  • 71
    Mike Texas July 13, 2017 at 12:04
    Back in the day................. on dirt tracks, when wet & sloppy, the six's ruled. You haven't lived right until you hear a 6 with a split manifold. I lived in a river town with hills. The v-8's would rumble going downhill in second gear, but the 6's were fantastic going uphill with the split manifold.
  • 72
    Brian Helms Austin, TX July 13, 2017 at 12:13
    My first project back in the day was a 1970 Rally Sport Camaro with the 250 cu in six and no air conditioning ( I lived in PA at the time). I replaced the powerglide with a turbo 350 transmission. I moved the battery to the trunk for weight distribution. I added a Clifford Research camshaft and dual 3 into 1 headers with twin turbo mufflers. Also an Offy 4 bbl intake and Holley 390. It ran and sounded real good. For handling I put on a Trans Am steering box, large front and rear sway bars and air shocks. Also American Racing Hurricane wheels and BFG Radial TA tires 255-60-15. With a light front end and near 50/50 weight distribution it was an outstanding autocross car and everyone would ask why is a Camaro in class H.
  • 73
    Bill MI July 13, 2017 at 00:20
    I have a straight six in my BMW M3--absolutely no complaints. One of the sweetest engines I have ever owned. Proof of what a straight six can be.
  • 74
    Vince Calgary July 14, 2017 at 01:10
    I bought my 64 Rambler with 196 OHV cast iron engine to get me through a year of school. It served me well to 145,000 miles and as 64 was the transition year to the 232, that is what is in my Rambler today. I really like this engine. The latest version of it is the efi 4.0 as found in Jeeps.1964 to 2006 I believe, not a bad run
  • 75
    John OH July 14, 2017 at 17:17
    Original owner Datsun 240Z with 2393cc straight six. Original engine, sweet sounds! Don't LS it, keep the L6.
  • 76
    Mike Paso Robles CA July 14, 2017 at 18:41
    49 Chevy coupe was the first engine I ever messed with. As it was my Dad's car I limited my 14 year old exuberance to painting the valve cover and otherwise keeping it clean. Did get him to get a $49 Earl Scheib paint job in 1960 and used that car until I reversed the shackles and was grounded for a while. Next great little inline was a 60 or so Falcon station wagon with the cowboy upholstery. The KISS principle sure makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
  • 77
    Mike Seattle, WA July 14, 2017 at 20:19
    Great article - sixes are, indeed, seductive!! I've had the parts to build a 425hp 409 Chevy and a few Borg Warner T-10s laying around for years. So when a buddy of mine had decided to sell his '59 Chevy Biscayne two door, I jumped at the opportunity and bought it with the idea of dropping in the dual quad 409 and having a really cool early sixties style hot rod. I went and picked up the car and had so much fun driving the 35 miles from his place to mine, that I decided that the 235 inch six and three in the tree were going to stay right where they were. It's now six years later, and I'm still loving the purr of that ol' six banger. If anyone is looking for some great 409 parts, let me know (ha,ha,ha!).
  • 78
    jerry FL July 14, 2017 at 09:40
    My 1950 Bentley Mk6 41/4 liter 6 cyl. all original must have close to half a million miles on it and it still pulls strong. About 40 years ago it severely overheated and I thought about putting a 8 cyl in it but glad I didn't. It blew the head gasket but was easily replaced. Going to a car show tomorrow.
  • 79
    Bob Carr North Carolina July 14, 2017 at 10:01
    Nice to hear that I'm not the only guys that loves the old inline six. When it came time to put my 36 Chev. P/U together I opted for an inline six to keep her like she came. So my truck how has a 292 30 over and 2 mono jets pushing through a T-5 trans setting in an S-10 frame using the 3.42 rear end. Very pleased and really enjoy the look I get from folks when they see that inline 6 and not a V8 under the hood.
  • 80
    Brian NORTH CAROLINA July 14, 2017 at 11:44
    I have the original 394 2bbl in my 31800 mile '64 Olds Dynamic. It's the big cast iron rocket. Somewhere in my ownership experience I listened to the tire spinners who said I should change the carb to a 4bbl Rochester or Edelbrock. Of course that would require a 4 bbl intake manifold. For a 394 no less. I stuck with stock and wouldn't change it for anything. I still get tire spin out of my 4080 lbs!
  • 81
    jk salser jr garland, tx July 14, 2017 at 12:10
    In 1957, my father bought a brand new Chevy 4 door 210 with the Blue Flame Corvette engine. Far from being a sloth, this engine had plenty of pep and would run like a scalded ape. I was 16 years old and the Chevy was a blast to drive in town or on the highway. Remember--Chevrolet had been perfecting their Sixes for "centuries". They knew what they had! jk
  • 82
    Glenn NJ July 14, 2017 at 12:12
    I have a 68 Cutlass S convertible, 1 of 410 made as a 2 door convertible with the inline 6. Besides being shiny red with a black interior and top, the 6 gets all the attention. Most people have not seen one in a Cutlass. On top of that, I'm one of the "keep it close to original" guys and enjoy the cruiser mode , top down, drum brakes experience. People almost always comment that "you're going to keep it this way, right?". I am. The 6 does have a certain sound that just compliments the ride. The buzz it creates, is the other joy of owning a rare model.
  • 83
    Sandor Hamilton Ontario July 15, 2017 at 12:23
    Had a 65 Acadian with a 250cui,huge cam,headers,valves,ported and polished head,4spd and believe it or not a 700 double pump carb and 4:10s..beat a lot of sml blocks back then(30yrs ago)..always had to pop the hood cause nobody believed it was a six,ran mid 14s,lots of fun,still have but rotted,maybe one day it'll live again.
  • 84
    John Long Island July 16, 2017 at 20:49
    All my cars are inline. '68 Mustang Fastback 200 ci stock, 67 Ranchero 200 ci with two barrel and hei distributor, 62 Falcon 2 door wagon with Aussie Ford 250 ci, three dueces, roller rockers, cammed and headers.
  • 85
    Mark Miller Iowa July 17, 2017 at 08:46
    Everyone here should look up Bruce Sizemore to see what you can do with a six cylinder engine!
  • 86
    Brad Barham Vancouver, WA July 19, 2017 at 13:55
    My 58 GMC has a 248 from a 55 GMC. An old Jimmy deserves a true GMC engine. I did add a Pertronix, but other than that, it's old school original.
  • 87
    Jeff Hamlin Virginia (VA) July 21, 2017 at 18:15
    Nothing wrong with a 6 my first car was a '66 4DR Lemans with a straight 6. Turned out it was a 215 and not the correct OHC. That was when I turned 17, now 54 I have a 1966 Pontiac Lemans 2DRHT w/Correct OHC SPRINT 6. besides GTO's are over rated ;-)
  • 88
    Steve Z. Minneola FL July 22, 2017 at 12:41
    I love big sixes. Always have. They are usually overlooked many collectors which is fine by me! There are some sweet drivers out there with smaller motors that are a lot of fun. Station wagons, four-door sedans, all kinds of cool old classics that you don't need a second mortgage to enjoy...yet.
  • 89
    David Lemmon Roland, Iowa July 23, 2017 at 15:47
    I recently purchased a 56 Chevy stepside on ebay to replace the 56 Cameo I had in high school that I did not take care of and had to sell for cheap to pay legal bills at 21 yrs. old. That was some 30 years ago. Yes, I know. I kick myself weekly. The Cameo had a 283 to replace the 265 v8, that I later replaced with a 350 and could spin the tires at will due to the fiberglass bed. Anyhow, the stepside was located in Montana and the wife and I flew up and drove it back to Iowa over 3 days.(about 1400 miles) It has a 235 inline 6 and s-10 5 speed. The engine can't pull 5th gear unless conditions are just right. (strong Iowa tailwind on level smooth pavement.) I have thought of putting a small v-8 in, but have grown fond of the 235. 65/70 mph in 4th gear is not so bad. Can anyone tell me if I should be concerned about changing the valve seats due to non-leaded gas these days. PS. We did run out of gas only 1 time on the trip. I thought we were getting great mpg till we coasted into the only gas station within 50 miles and discovered the aftermarket 16 gallon fuel cell sending unit did not work with original gauge. (always shows FULL) Good times./great trip.
  • 90
    David Lemmon Roland, Iowa July 23, 2017 at 15:52
    I recently purchased a 56 Chevy stepside on ebay to replace the 56 Cameo I had in high school that I did not take care of and had to sell for cheap to pay legal bills at 21 yrs. old. That was some 30 years ago. Yes, I know. I kick myself weekly. The Cameo had a 283 to replace the 265 v8, that I later replaced with a 350 and could spin the tires at will due to the fiberglass bed. Anyhow, the stepside was located in Montana and the wife and I flew up and drove it back to Iowa over 3 days.(about 1400 miles) It has a 235 inline 6 and s-10 5 speed. The engine can't pull 5th gear unless conditions are just right. (strong Iowa tailwind on level smooth pavement.) I have thought of putting a small v-8 in, but have grown fond of the 235. 65/70 mph in 4th gear is not so bad. Can anyone tell me if I should be concerned about changing the valve seats due to non-leaded gas these days. PS. We did run out of gas only 1 time on the trip. I thought we were getting great mpg till we coasted into the only gas station within 50 miles and discovered the aftermarket 16 gallon fuel cell sending unit did not work with original gauge. (always shows FULL) Good times./great trip.
  • 91
    Mike Del Duca Colorado July 24, 2017 at 00:33
    My first car was a 65 Chevelle 230 with a powerglide. Bought the car from my mom after her and Dad bought a new 73 impala. I was nine years old when they bought that car . It was the car my mom would drive to school every day as she was a 3 grade teacher in our town. This car was very unique. A 2dr sedan cameo beige with red interior. I have owned many Chevys since then and still have three original big block full size 66s. Have never seen another 65 Chevelle 2dr sedan with red interior. Only in pictures. If I could only find another 65 with red interior I could re create that car. It would be just like Moms original. Love those inline 6s .
  • 92
    Grant San Antonio July 25, 2017 at 03:04
    Ah, yes... the mighty inline sixes. I've had 3 Dodge D100s in my life. A '64, and 2 '66s. All shortbed stepsides, The '64 had an excellent 170 in it, the other 2 had the venerable 225, all with manual trans behind them. Smooth and easy with TONS of low-end torque and virtually indestructible. And almost everything on the truck was made of steel and iron. The hoods would open up to a complete vertical position, making it even easier for a total mechanical novice like me to tinker with them. While I truly love my bone-stock '69 Roadrunner, with it's 383 and four-on-the-floor, man, I MISS those old D100s with those sweet slant sixes. They rode like a tank when the bed was empty and rode like an Imperial when hauling a 1/2 ton of cargo. Thoses sixes would haul cargo like it wasn't even there and make those trucks climb like mountain goats! Great article! Never had a sliver of shame for having those under the hood!

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