Do I want a straight 8?

Discussion in 'The Bench' started by brandotheamazin, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. brandotheamazin

    brandotheamazin Well-Known Member

    So I'm looking for a nailhead, to have something to build and find a car later. But I found a straight 8. Do I go for it? I'm not looking for a cheap easy or huge power project, just something to do for me. Engine was supposedly running, isn't locked up and looks complete carb to pan.
    ilikebmx999 likes this.
  2. 1972Mach1

    1972Mach1 Just some guy.....

    I've always wanted to build a straight 8 myself. I just find them cool, and I imagine they're smooth as glass when running.
  3. ilikebmx999

    ilikebmx999 Well-Known Member

    My uncle had some old 40’s Buick’s with straight 8’s. All I remember is them looking cool and sounding amazing. Unfortunately they sat for a long long time outside in Midwest winters and haven’t moved/been used in 25 years +.

    I think it would sure be cool to use one in a more modern car.
  4. gsx455-4ever

    gsx455-4ever Gold Level Contributor

    I had a 54 Packard with their flathead straight 8 engine . Smooth running . Also Chrysler Flathead straight 8's too . They both were very smooth and idled at 400 RPM with no problems . Old timer I knew would stand a nickel on its edge on the head while it was running to show how smooth it was
    1972Mach1 and Nailhead Ronnie like this.
  5. 66electrafied

    66electrafied Just tossing in my nickel's worth

    I used to have one in a 1946 Super. The one I had was a 248, the smaller of the two. It was also a bit more primitive, it still had slush-cast bearings, mechanical lifters and a 6.5 to 1 compression ratio. It'd burn just about anything. They are a nice smooth engine, they sound different from a straight 6, and yes, this thing had torque. It was virtually bullet-proof, it would always start and run in two cranks and never iced over or gave me any trouble. It would keep up with modern traffic, but was a bit sedate and just wouldn't spool up very fast when you hammered the gas.
    They are a bear to rebuild; you'll need a good machine shop to do the work. They can be hopped up, but with the stroke as long as your forearm, why bother. They redline stock at 3800 RPM and are good for about 80 on the highway. (4.10 axle in those cars)
    It screams like a banshee at highway speeds, and at 60 there isn't much left in the tank but I was able to pull away from the odd minivan or subcompact. So passing on the highway has to be planned. The biggest issue with them is the intake and exhaust manifolds and gaskets, they burn through quite regularly. The water pump is barely adequate, and the engine develops a lot of heat. It's also close to a 1000 lbs, there's a lot of steel there.
    They were good in their heyday, which was about 1935-1948. That they still built them into 1953, well, the later ones were more modern with full pressure lubrication and higher compression, but they were no where near as good as the 322 V-8 that replaced them.
    Aaron65 likes this.
  6. gsjohnny1

    gsjohnny1 Well-Known Member

    story for you.
    about 6 yrs ago, I was approached by a family on the left coast regarding their father's(past away) straight 8 project. from what I was told he was retired and was wanting to build a twin st-8 car. they sent me pictures of the engines that were modified. the dizzy(now chevy) was moved from the side to the front and also used a sbc w/pump. he made a bunch of changes to the st-8. also told he did resto's for the pebble beech cars. I did and still give it some thought. would be built kind of like a dusey coupe. I had talked to a chassis guy about it. 'are you nuts'. yeah, sometimes. imagine....2 st-8's, that's 9' long, a trans, another 3', space for rad and d/shaft, add another 3'. 16' and still need other stuff. WOOF! be a cool Bonneville project.
    the price was for 2 engines, numerous parts and all his writings and pics for this project. the price was a little beyond my means. if it was 10-15 yrs earlier in my life, I would probably gone for it. btw, it is still for sale. still might have the pics.
    1972Mach1 likes this.
  7. Nailhead Ronnie

    Nailhead Ronnie Do the right thing.

    For what car?
  8. 1972Mach1

    1972Mach1 Just some guy.....

    Although I would like to take that on, I'm quite sure it's out of my budget. Even so, would you please share the pics if you have time. I'm sure a lot of guys like my self would love to see it.
  9. Aaron65

    Aaron65 Well-Known Member

    As the owner of a straight 8 Buick that I love, I can attest that every thing Marc said above is correct. It sounds super cool and it's a neat artifact from a bygone era, but as a mode of propulsion, one can do a lot better. If you like the highway, going fast, or getting decent fuel mileage, find something else. Fortunately, I have other cars to do those things, so I can enjoy my car for what it is. Of course, there are diehards in every walk of life and people have made these engines do great things, but as a stockish piece of machinery, it is what it is.

    If you're just looking for a mechanical project, the only downside is the straight 8's unwieldy size compared to a V8. Engine parts are available for both the straight 8 and the Nailhead from several vendors.
  10. gsjohnny1

    gsjohnny1 Well-Known Member

    found the pics. since I don't know how to load here or want to know, email me and I will send them to you
    gsjohnny at
  11. Nailhead Ronnie

    Nailhead Ronnie Do the right thing.

    Click on "upload a file) down below buy the post reply, then go to documents
    Then click on thepic
  12. bhambulldog

    bhambulldog 1955 76-RoadmasterRiviera

    Flixble buses used the same Buick straight eight as Buick cars flxible bus.jpg
    Nailhead Ronnie likes this.
  13. gsjohnny1

    gsjohnny1 Well-Known Member

    as I stated before, email me and I will send.
    you will find I have no interest in learning more computer stuff
  14. telriv

    telriv Well-Known Member

    The 320 st.8's were used in the Blue Bird school buses until 1960. IF you want to do some reading on building them go to team The most Modern of the st.8's were the 263's but most like using the 320's for the cubes. We used to run a 320 in roundy-round. It would pass the flathead (Ford) in the back stretch with a hole in the piston. That 8 held the track record for three yrs. after the overheads came out. That was 1973. It was fun beating up on SBC with a st.8 Buick using only a 2bbl. carb.
    FUN DAYS!!!!!
  15. brandotheamazin

    brandotheamazin Well-Known Member

    I have to wait until next week, but the guy says it's a 263, and wants around 800 for it.
  16. John Codman

    John Codman Platinum Level Contributor

    The only reason why I would rebuild a straight eight (and the OHV Buick is the only one that I would consider) would be that I wanted a straight eight. In the right car (think as low on weight as possible), it would give good performance and would be a real conversation piece. You also won't be one of 10 virtually identical cars at a cruise night.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018
    bhambulldog likes this.
  17. 1972Mach1

    1972Mach1 Just some guy.....

    I couldn't agree more. When this orange T-bucket was for sale, I posted it in the leads. I wanted it soooooo bad. Still do.
    tbucket.jpg tbucket1.jpg
    bhambulldog and Nailhead Ronnie like this.
  18. 1972Mach1

    1972Mach1 Just some guy.....

    e-mail sent. You will be getting one from lucas@ a car dealership name, so it probably will go to your junk mail (I don't want to put my e-mail out here, so just so you know). Thanks, looking forward to seeing them!
  19. 1972Mach1

    1972Mach1 Just some guy.....

    Here are the pics gsjohnny sent to me (thank you :) ). Looks like some really cool and good work waiting to be finished.

    straight8.png straight81.png
    Nailhead Ronnie likes this.
  20. yachtsmanbill

    yachtsmanbill Well-Known Member

    Give that shoe to the eight and dont be late! ws




Share This Page