Reader Question: Injecting Old Cars?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Bruce asks: I’m just wondering why you seem opposed to installing a fuel injection system (e.g., the FAST throttle body unit) on an older car for the sake of improved driveability and so on. I’m curious to know your thoughts.

My reply: I’m no opposed to it, per se. I just wouldn’t to do it to my old car. What others do to their old cars is entirely their business. I am, after all, a Libertarian!

But why wouldn’t I do it to my old cars? The reason is simple. Literally. Even “stand alone” units like the FAST rig are much more complicated systems than carbureted systems. Yes, the throttle body itself is a simpler device, with fewer moving parts. But the system that runs it entails a computer, O2 sensor and a new gas tank with an in-tank electric pump – which makes the system more complicated, with more parts – and parts that cannot be rebuilt when they fail but rather must be replaced with expensive electronic components that may not be available in 20 years’ time.

I can still easily get any part I need for my almost 50-year-old carburetor. And it can be tuned to deliver near-FI drivability, if you’re willing to learn how to wrench on one. Which – my opinion now – anyone who owns an older car ought to be not only willing to do but want to do, as it is part of the point of owning an older car.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. I have to disagree with Eric on this one. EFI will have better reliability since it can constantly compensate for changing temperatures, elevations, etc… Since you’re going to be using a tuneable setup, I doubt you won’t be able to find a fuel pump that will work. Even today’s direct injected vehicles have low pressure pumps. The pump inside the assembly is pretty similar to what has been available for decades.

  2. Every so often I start longing for a GMC RV. They run the Olds 440 with the Toronado front wheel drive system. It gets about 7-10 MPG when it is running well. Would EFI and ignition conversion improve the fuel economy? What about all-weather starting and “vapor lock?” As much fun as it sounds to maintain an old vehicle, the idea is to buy a good RV, not keep a classic running.

  3. Another example…people hate on British SU carbs, you gotta mess with them constantly, blah blah blah. Well, once you rebush the throttle shafts at ~150 K miles, they’re good for another ~150 Kmiles, and no, you do NOT have to mess with them constantly. I can go years without even looking at them, and the little thing runs just as good as always. Of course, I do not have a Lucas distributor on the engine any more, that may play into the carbs stability (see below).

    Of course, changing the go-juice from real dino squeezins to 10% corn likker did make me have to change the mixture setting, but that was not the fault of the carbies.

    Also, remember, 95% of all SU carb problems are electrical… Lord Lucas, the Lord of Darkness (and no sparks!).

  4. Never understood the hate towards carbs. It’s not like you had to adjust them everyday. At least with the ones I had in the past, I rarely had to do anything with them outside of basic maintenance.

    I suppose that is the thing, people don’t want to do basic maintenance…….


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