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430 to 390 swap

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  • 430 to 390 swap

    It has come down to engine rebuild time. My Builder has been gently trying to talk me into a 390. He posed a couple of good questions...one being "what is your intention with the car". To be honest i had to answer just to drive around and hang out with the local car guys at burger joints and in the near future, a Route 66 tour. He has built many 430's. He quoted me $5600 for parts and labor. Both of which are higher than the Fe engines due to parts being less and an easier engine to bore and machine. If i wanted era correct pistons, I can add $800 to that making it $6400. He said for $4600 he can build a nice medium performance 390 adapted to my cruisamatic and installed on modified mounts in the car. He stated nothing changes from the trans back to the wheels. To my understanding just a different bell housing, flywheel and torque-converter.
    He said for him it would be a small job to re-vamp the engine mount, that he has done it before. Does anyone have any input?
    It is making more sense to me to do this as I am not into a totally era-correct car. I would much rather have the options of the FE performance parts such as aluminum manifolds, Aluminum finned valve covers, chromed oil pans and so on. Now I know if I'm ever on the side of the road, you will pull over and kick dirt in my face but I want to build other projects and not sink piles of money into this...please forgive me!
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow - what a ride!"

  • #2
    Makes perfect sense to me. So do a lot of other options, but it all boils down to, "what do you really want?"

    If you want 'inexpensive', you could put a 5.0 or 351W in there with an AOD (or AODElectronic). Thank God for Crown Vic's and Mustangs... they gave us performance parts and great packages (without breaking the bank), ranging from carburetion to EFI systems. Edelbrock makes aluminum heads, manifolds, etc., and so do a lot of other companies. No problem getting parts, anywhere.

    You can store your 430 and COM if you really want to keep them. Or, you could sell your parts. Modifying the engine mounts is insignificant and can be reversed by any good fab shop.
    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

    From: Royal Oak, Michigan

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    • #3
      Thanx Dave...that's comforting to know. I think I will use the COM trans. Do you know if I can use the same bell housing? Probably not the same flywheel or torque convertor.
      "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow - what a ride!"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by 60 T-Bird View Post
        . He quoted me $5600 for parts and labor. Both of which are higher than the Fe engines due to parts being less and an easier engine to bore and machine. If i wanted era correct pistons, I can add $800 to that making it $6400.
        WOW! I had my 430 completely rebuilt two years ago for $4200 including new pistons, etc. We usually pay a hefty premium over US prices. Have you tried shopping around?
        sigpic "Old Betsy" - my '59 convertible J9YJ116209 Thunderbird Registry #33341

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        • #5
          Hey Martin,
          Just checked out Ebay. Item # 200539912328 for $1,699.99 early '60 430 rebuild kit. Or item #200539912457 for $1,699.99 late '60 430 rebuild kit! This looks like to me everything you need to rebuild your 430! Dave can probably look at this and tell you more about it than me! Looks like your engine rebuilder is going to stick it to ya!
          Richard D. Hord

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          • #6
            Thanx for the heads-up. With the kits available, the pistons are flat tops not the original step down pistons. Like I said, the original quote of $5600 was without the step pistons. Given the recession, prices are up a little. You got a good deal at $4200 Howard. My builder will build a new 390 for $4600 with performance parts...and all American parts with brass freeze plugs. This guys rebuilds are show quality. He even custom paints the castings.
            Please remember the other reason is to give me unlimited options in the future for performance parts that a MEL just does not offer.
            Has anyone done the 430 to 390 change?
            I have advertised it under our for sale thread section. For those into T-bird correctness, this is an opportunity to get some hard to find spares...Martin
            Last edited by 60 T-Bird; November 7th, 2010, 04:02 PM.
            "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow - what a ride!"

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            • #7
              If his FE conversion is $4600, have your work-order state it's a turn-key price, any additional cost covered by the shop.

              I'm suspect of his claims, I see many changes he will have to deal with and that can amount to back-charges not in the original estimate. I'd hate to see the bill get run up with extras and you're stuck with the charges or face towing the car home incomplete out of frustration. In the end, sticking to with the 430 may have been a cost effective option depending on extra charges, by then, it's too late.
              Ken
              1959 J Convertible
              1960 J Hardtop

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