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302 into a 1961?

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  • 302 into a 1961?

    I recently picked up a 66 Fairlane GTA and well now Im going to rob the TBIRD of its '69 S code 390, I wont feel so bad because its not original anyway, but I do not have a Tbird 390, but do have a 302 roller, I am looking for some input on whether to try to put the 302 with an AOD in the 1961 Tbird or Should I find another 390? I guess what im looking for is some TECH advice on a small block Swap.


  • #2
    Originally posted by Geo61bird View Post
    I recently picked up a 66 Fairlane GTA and well now Im going to rob the TBIRD of its '69 S code 390.... guess what im looking for is some TECH advice on a small block Swap.
    Hi and welcome

    I can't offer you specific tech on the swap as I haven't done it or seen it done, but there's no reason why not - everything's feasible. I have had a 302/C4 '64 Fairlane, a '66 Fairlane h/t with a stock 390 and auto, a '36 Ford with a 302 and T5 five-speed, and a '62 Tbird, stock 390, so have had a little experience with both engines.

    I guess it comes down to whether you're doing the swap for convenience, or performance/driveability.

    If it's ease, go with the 390 for obvious reasons - everything will fit, it's a stock bolt-up that you could do in a weekend.

    It's also nice to have that FE big-block torque in a heavy Tbird.

    On the other hand, if it's performance you're after, the benefits would be less weight over the front axle, and it's easier to source performance parts. I'd like the idea of a high-revving 302 with a five-speed in a nice-handling T-bird, a kind of road racer deal.

    Issues with a 302 swap would be fabricating engine and trans mounts, radiator hoses, throttle and kickdown linkages, shifter linkage (adapt to column, or mount a shifter on the console) wiring (gen to alt) fuel lines, trans cooler lines, speedo drive, possibly even driveshaft length/yokes(?), exhaust mods to adapt existing pipe(s) to the 302's manifolds, and probably a bunch more stuff I haven't thought of.

    Personally, I'd stick with the 390 in the Tbird, and hop up the Fairlane with a 427 and four-speed. You'd have the Tbird as a cruiser, and a hot Fairlane to get your pulse rate going. Good luck either way, please keep us posted.

    Alistair
    Last edited by Petrolhead; April 16th, 2009, 04:02 PM.

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    • #3
      I like the 427 idea or 428. But a nice 351 windsor would get that gta going. Got one in my couger. Been a little tweaked. Go s like He!!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Petrolhead View Post
        Fairlane with a 427 and four-speed.
        its a GTA so im going to stick with an automatic and the 427 im my dreams. but like I said the 390 I have is an S code Correct for the Fairlane so im going to put that in.

        Any info on finding a 61 Tbird 390?

        Plus the hood louvers have 390 on them don't want to take it to the car show pop the hood and have a small block sitting in there

        Yes I do love the torque of the 390 in my Tbird and I do have an FE block and other parts to work with so its going to be a Fun Summer. I was just seeing if anybody has put a small block in a jetbird

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        • #5
          Replace Engine

          I don't recommend a small-block in the 'Bird: too much car for the engine without high rear gears just to get it going up to speed plus the high-revving you'll be getting into isn't very friendly for longevity, economy and sanity. There are plenty of FE's out there to reengine the Fairlane or the '61. Heck, I've got a '64-era 390 that was in my '63 for 20 years sitting in my garage that needs the crank turned and a new set of rod/main bearings, otherwise it's in great shape. Only thing is it's outside of Omaha, Nebraska.
          Alan H. Tast AIA, LEED AP BD+C
          Technical Director/Past President, Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
          Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"

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          • #6
            The Tbird is safe for now, I am going with another 390 for the Fairlane.

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            • #7
              Engine swap

              Hey that's cool
              So Alan you are in Omaha as well!
              I've got a 1958 I am in the middle of trying to know what to do... My 352 is in pieces that I bought like that and I don't know if it will go back together yet
              I am going to be sticking in an aftermarket TBI from affordable-fuel-injection.
              Do you know of any rebuilt 390s (with hardened value seats for unleaded) or any other engine that would fit easily in this that is available?
              Does anyone else know of engines sizes that are easier enough to bolt into place here?
              Like Geo61bird I was debating going to a 302 since supposedly you can find them with simple EFI units on them... but it appears you guys say it would be a lot more work and not recommended any idea as well in this direction would be cool though!
              (or even better yet if someone has a EFI conversion kit they just never got around to installing they would like to sell!)

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              • #8
                Originally posted by 3dpsycho View Post
                ...I was debating going to a 302 since supposedly you can find them with simple EFI units on them... but it appears you guys say it would be a lot more work and not recommended any idea as well in this direction would be cool though!...
                Isn't this what it's all about? If you decide to fabricate your car into something you really want, it IS more work, but the rewards are greater for you. Restoring really means, using original parts that bolt right in. But, if you want more modern (and reliable) parts, go for it.

                5.0Liter and 351Windsor engines are very available. In fact, you could rob an EEC from a doner car and use it right out of the box, injection and all. - Dave
                My latest project:
                CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                --Lee Iacocca

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                • #9
                  One of our club members put a 351C in his TB with an AOD. Nice combo.

                  I agree with the 427 or 428 in the Fairlane !!!
                  John Byers
                  1960 Convertible (Orig owner)
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