Freedom of choice is still a fundamental part of the car hobby because ownership has its privileges, to paraphrase an ancient marketing campaign from the nice people at American Express. 

However, one car guy’s choices for his vintage ride may well be another car guy’s nightmare if he owned the old car because taste is a subjective concept with every person on the planet.

The choices extend to the power under the hood and becomes a critical component of the vehicle in question.

Jim Sutherland

Some car guys like to stay original and decide to keep the stock engine in their vehicles. Their dogged pursuit of originality means these cats will even avoid an engine rebuild to maintain the old ride’s factory status. The vintage vehicles must be kept in completely factory condition, give or take an oil and/or filter change when necessary, an issue that is avoided by not actually driving the old war pony in question.

This kind of approach is an extreme version of survivor car obsession-even though these owners do preserve automotive history at a high level by not driving their possessions, but they cancel the enjoyment factor along the way.

The second approach to engines is a rebuild that mimics the factory standards, give or take a line bore or two. The owners may have driven (or bought) a vintage vehicle with plenty of digits on its odometer, a grim circumstance that wore out the engine on its long and winding road.

Consequently, the engine needs a major rebuild to save it and allow the owner to continue driving it without fear of a piston jailbreaking a cylinder. The beauty of a rebuild is an owner likely intends to continue driving his vintage ride after the process.

The third direction for some car guys is a massive upgrade under the hood, possibly with the vehicle’s original engine as a foundation for their game plan. Owners may tinker with the internal components such as angrier cranks and cams mated to more muscular pistons, along with major changes to the old ride’s fuel delivery system by adding fuel injection, turbo (or supercharging)- and possibly even nitrous to enhance tire-melting performance in the original engine.

Throw in a fiery ignition system along with free-breathing headers and the old engine’s factory performance is a small dot in the rear-view mirror compared to its new steroid version.

Or else the owner takes a fourth route and simply does a major transplant by removing his old car’s original 98 lb. weakling engine and replacing it with a George Atlas version. Older car guys should remember ancient comic book ads that featured Skinny George getting sand kicked in his face before George bulked up and dropped his seaside bully, presumably without benefit of actual steroids along the way.   

A swap to an engine that produces otherworldly power well beyond a stock engine is an option that many car guys pursue when it comes to their beloved old vehicles. Mainly because they want a wolf in cool clothing.   

The fifth final option is one that flies in the face of every belief in our world here at MyStarCollectorCar, namely an electric motor transplant. We at MyStarCollectorCar do not endorse an electric motor swap in an old vehicle- in fact we don’t even like them in new vehicles.

Our advice is to sell the old vehicle, run it over a nearby cliff-or have it squashed at a wrecker yard before you put an electric motor in it. Vintage vehicles do not deserve this kind of indignity, but their owners may deserve the electric chair if they commit this kind of heinous automotive crime. 

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.