Here is the latest reader Question, along with my reply:
Chuck asks: I just read your article about older cars and loved it. I have a “vision” of buying 1980s vintage Civics and rebuilding them from the ground up . . . and have a fleet of 50+mpg cars for not a ton of money or expensive batteries. Also, had a ’74 Alfa Romeo spyder and it was wonderful . . . added electronic ignition (CDI from moto days) and it came with mechanical fuel injection . . . ran like a champ with little work until I used Slick50 and killed the mechanical injectors and eventually sold it for junk when I didn’t have time to fix it. What are some good old sports cars with electronic and fuel injection you would suggest?
My reply: Almost any older car that originally came with a carburetor can easily (and fairly inexpensively) be retrofitted with a stand-alone throttle body (TBI) fuel injection system. Many of these aftermarket TBI units are capable of self-adjusting to the particular engine they’re installed on; meaning, you don’t have to dial them in, adjusting mixture and so on.
Personally, I’d stick with the carburetor – because it is simpler and much less expensive. Assuming the carburetor isn’t physically damaged, a rebuild kit usually costs less than $75 and – properly installed – will return the unit to as-new condition. Many carburetors can be tuned to perform as well as EFI, in terms of cold start performance, throttle response and so on.
In my opinion – and your mileage may vary – the most meaningful old car upgrades are: Replacing points with transistorized ignition and replacing an older car’s non-overdrive transmission with a later-model transmission that does have overdrive.
The ignition upgrade is easy – and cheap. Pertronix is one company (there are several) that makes “drop in” points replacement kits that let you use the stock/factory distributor body. Once installed, you have a much more reliable and far less maintenance-needy ignition system.
The OD transmission swap is also usually very easy – and makes the car drive so much like a modern car it’s almost unreal. Much improved mileage – and less wear and tear. Engine RPMs on the highway will usually be reduced by 800-1,000 RPM.
It’s an immediately noticeable and significant difference!
. . .
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
If you like what you’ve found here, please consider supporting EPautos.
We depend on you to keep the wheels turning!
Our donate button is here.
If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:
721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079
PS: EPautos stickers are free to those who send in $20 or more to support the site. Also, the eBook – free! – is available. Click here. Just enter you email in the box on the top of the main page and we’ll email you a copy instantly!
I’d recommend an older Datsun Z car, 70-78. The inline six in very tough. The fuel injection never gave me a problem, although you can stick with 70-74 if you want a carb (well, dual carbs). Simple to work on. And if you can find a wrecked/rusted 79-83, the engine and transmission plops right in; I put an ’83 engine + 5 speed transmission into a ’78 – best combo I ever drove for the older Zs.
Beware, though, they are VERY prone to rust. The body may look passable but there were several frame/unibody spots that will cost many-o-$$$ to repair. If you buy one, don’t drive it on salted roads, even though it’s balanced quite well enough to handle snow with proper tires.
Now you have me wanting one – I saw one in a used car lot on the way to work….