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1953 Packard Patrician 327 9 main upgrades or engine swap?
#1
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Rusty_1999
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I am the owner of a 1953 Packard Patrician.

I want to make it clear this post is about keeping the original engine but doing modifications to modernize it.

From the factory my '53 came out with the rare 327 nine main Flathead straight eight. It has the Ultramatic 2-speed transmission, and what i believe to be a 3.54 geared rear end. The engine needs significant machining work due to the head being left off for years, and missing all of the valve train and lifters but it is very savable, just very expensive......



What i would like to do will be one of two things:



Either swap in place of the old engine a 3.7 liter v6 engine and 6 speed auto out of a 2011 mustang I have for parts for another car.

Or Rebuild the original engine and trans and probably spend thousands.



Now, I understand many will hearken me to swap engines or not; but hear me out. As rare and unique as Packards are, as well as the high quality of craftsmanship put into them, especially a Flathead straight 8 with 9 main bearings, it almost seems wrong to swap the engine out. Plus there is the added headache of doing the engine swap due to mounting the engine in the engine bay(Packard mounted the 327 at the very front and the engine is 4 feet long), and the wiring mess the car may become especially since very few people do 3.7 swaps as of yet.



And before someone says it. YES, i could do an LS swap, but... I got the 3.7 for free, I bought the car it is in for 900 dollars and got 1500 dollars in parts from it to fix my 2010 mustang so the motor is basically free and has 90k miles or less. Plus there has been an LS swap done already on a 53 clipper sedan. It looked great, but I'm in the mood to do something different.



Plus most LS motors factory make 270hp and 320lbs vs the 3.7 v6 which makes 315hp, and 300lbs of torque, and weighs 200 pounds less and has a 6-speed vs the majority of LS engine with a 4l60 4 speed. It weighes less, is smaller and makes the same-ish power.



(Keep in mind the factory engine and trans weigh 1100 pounds on their own so swapping would make the car weigh around 3500lbs vs 4200lbs and really scoot down the road.)



Alright enough with the preliminaries, lets get onto the point of my post here.



If I do decide to keep the ORIGINAL ENGINE and rebuild it there are various things I would like to do to modernize it and I am open to suggestions or any useful information about these engines. Especially anything from the old guys who use to race these engines back in the day. What were the tricks?



Firstly I would like to put a modern automatic transmission up against the engine. Maybe a th400 with a gear vendors overdrive to make it a 6 speed? Or maybe the 700R4 or a Ford AOD. I would rebuild the 2 speed but its incredibly expensive, meticulous, and I want more than the factory estimated 15 mpg highway. I plan to drive my car everywhere and take it over 100k miles at least.



Second, I figure part of the issue with the car only getting 15 mpg factory is the 3.54 rear end. They did this because of the 2 speed trans I assume. The motor factory makes 180 hp, 300 lbs of torque and the car only weighs 4200 lbs, it doesn't struggle to move like other cars of its time.



I have a ford 9-inch laying around but if anyone knows anything about these old Packard rear ends and where I might come across a lower gears set for one such as a 3.23 i would really appreciate it. If not i appreciate any recommendations on what to do with the 9-inch instead.



I really only want to hit the 20 mpg mark. But if it gets better then HECK YEA!



Third and MOST IMPORTANT. If i am not able to change the above two that will be fine in the end, but i would like to change this one.

I would like to do multiple things to the engine itself. I would like to hire a shop to polish and potentially port the engine to really free up some mileage and power, and I would like to commission a custom intake and exhaust manifold for it as well. Does anyone have any suggestions on who to call? I do not care for price, I don't have much money but I will save and spend it if I choose this route. Money is no object, only a means to an end.



On the topic of the intake and exhaust, I would like to either do a dual 2 barrel or another single 4 barrel setup like factory. But I will be using an EFI system like Sniper from Holley or Fast.

I want to use EFI because I would like to turbo charge the engine. Nothing major, i just want to hit either the 300 hp. mark or make 400 lbs of torque.I'm sure it can make that power!!! The engine has a light compression ratio of 8.7:1 and I feel like even the factory rods and pistons should be able to handle 5-8 lbs of boost. I'll probably only try to run about 6 at most. I've seen many supercharged but I'm just a bit different in my methods.

But on that subject, does anyone have any recommendations? How to go about it? Any good fabricators who like the challenge of an older engine with modern parts?



If possible i would also want to do a cam upgrade but no one is going to machine me an almost 4ft long camshaft. Besides, I don't believe these engines had very large cam profile. Correct me if I am wrong here.



I still want this engine to run whisper quite as it did factory, but with more whoosh and to give it a competitive edge on today's roads. I feel like it would be a marvel and a really fun challenge as well as quite the spectacle.



Yes I understand a flat head is not the most efficient engine, but I want to see what it has left in it, give it a bit of a modern edge and see how it performs with a few modern twists.



On a side note, I do remember that at one time someone had converted a 5-main variation of this engine to OHV by machining two 4.7 dodge heads together. Does anyone know who they are? It was on an old forum and I could not get any replies, but in their defense the forum was significantly antiquated. If anyone could contact them I would like to ask a lot of questions, who knows maybe I'll do it too?



Also i do know that the next year with the 359 engines they offered an aluminum head. They were prone to cracking and are rare but they do fit, and I wouldn't mind finding one.



All comments are welcome, but please be respectful of others and if correcting someone please do not be rude.



This post assumes entirely that i keep the original engine in place but modernize it!



Attached is a photo of my car taken with a Black & White DSLR.



I will be going with the patina look and just clear coat the original paint for those who may be wondering!

Attach file:



jpg  (348.71 KB)
224326_5fe4bde40c178.jpg 1920X1440 px

Posted on: 12/24 10:12
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Re: 1953 Packard Patrician 327 9 main upgrades or engine swap?
#2
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JWL
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I recommend you sell the 1953 Packard Patrician to someone who will keep it original and enjoy the automobile as it was intended to be driven.

Posted on: 12/24 11:45
We move toward
And make happen
What occupies our mind... (W. Scherer)
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Re: 1953 Packard Patrician 327 9 main upgrades or engine swap?
#3
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PackardDon
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Yes, that or rebuild the original engine or get a replacement. The 9-main 327 isn't that rare and was used on all 1951-1953 Patricians and as a dealer replacement for earlier 356 engines. I have several engines available including a 9-main but the only one already rebuilt is a 5-main.

Posted on: 12/24 13:32
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Re: 1953 Packard Patrician 327 9 main upgrades or engine swap?
#4
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Rusty_1999
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I am afraid I will not be doing that. There comes a time when only so many automobiles can be kept original. There will come a point when one day you will not be able to drive them anymore as they were originally designed. One day, there will be no OEM original parts, one day there will be no aftermarket to support a niche car group. People of my age have no interest keeping a car original if it means we cannot drive it as we intend. Whether that be across the country or down a drag strip, or even on a circuit track, or just to car shows. When this car was bought by its original owners, they had no intention of worrying about that, they drove it every day. I want to drive it every day too.

Why do you think engine swaps are so common, the original drive train cannot keep up. Maybe a car from later in the 50's with a 3 speed and a more powerful and efficient engine.

How many Packard owners will take their car across country and daily drive it? I bet only a select few and i am willing to bet 75% of them have done engine swaps.

Sheesh, i would have at least thought that me wanting to keep the original engine but modify it to be THE BEST VERSION of itself possible would at least garner some respect.

And to do that it must be brought into the 21st century. No amount of work done to it to factory specs will allow it to keep up, that was fine for back in the day, especially considering the national speed limit.

But it's abysmal gas mileage, and antiquated 2 speed transmission cannot keep up.

You can only keep so many cars original.

AND OF THOSE ORIGINAL CARS HOW MANY CAN BE DRIVEN WITHOUT WORRY OR BE COMFORTABLY BE TAKEN CROSS COUNTRY.

Original sucks in every way possible if it means i cannot enjoy driving my car.

I want to enjoy driving my Packard in the 21st century and i want to enjoy it to the fullest.

Why do you think engine swaps are so common, the original drive trains cannot keep up. Maybe a car from later in the 50's with a 3 speed and a more powerful and efficient engine.

How many Packard owners will take their car across country and daily drive it? I bet only a select few and i am willing to bet 75% of them have done engine swaps, or have at least changed something about the drive train

Sheesh, i would have at least thought, that me wanting to keep the original engine but modify it to be THE BEST VERSION of itself possible would at least garner some respect.

My Packard was Intended to be enjoyed by whomever owns it and wishes to drive it.

It was never Intended to be stuck in time with antiquated equipment. It was Intended to be DRIVEN! And being Intended to be DRIVEN has nothing to do with originality.

The past was cool and should be honored, but there does come a time when we must move on.

This is my prerogative- Should new Packard owners be shunned out of the community for wanting to upgrade their car? Should they be shunned for wanting to drive their car more? And in doing so they do some upgrades so they can, should they then be banned from owning a Packard simply because they desire to drive theirs?

Posted on: 12/24 13:48
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Re: 1953 Packard Patrician 327 9 main upgrades or engine swap?
#5
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Rusty_1999
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If i may inquire about that 9 main engine you have, what condition is it in?

Posted on: 12/24 13:49
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Re: 1953 Packard Patrician 327 9 main upgrades or engine swap?
#6
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PackardDon
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Was that directed to me? If so, you can read all about it and see photos in the Classified Ads of my Packard / IMPERIAL page linked below.

Posted on: 12/24 16:25
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Re: 1953 Packard Patrician 327 9 main upgrades or engine swap?
#7
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58L8134
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Welcome Rusty-1999

You'll find good advice and help with your '53 Patrician here, much as you have on the AACA Forum. Ultimately, you'll have to decide what is right for you and enjoyment of the car. Simply weight the pros and cons already posted there, decide your course and see it through. Good luck with your project, whatever you decide.

Steve

Posted on: 12/24 17:21
.....epigram time.....
Proud 1953 Clipper Deluxe owner.
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Re: 1953 Packard Patrician 327 9 main upgrades or engine swap?
#8
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George
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An original car can be driven reliably if in good shape. I drove my car (an unrestored 1954 Cavalier) with a 327 engine to the 2016 Nationals in Travese City with no issues. Each way was over 500 miles in 90+ degree heat. Drove home in ten hours including stops for fuel and food. Reliability should not be an excuse for swapping the engine, but good luck in what ever you decide.

Posted on: 12/24 17:48
1954 Cavalier (export model)
1953 Clipper Deluxe (sold)
1941 Clipper

George
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Re: 1953 Packard Patrician 327 9 main upgrades or engine swap?
#9
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PackardDon
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Same with my over-3-ton 1952 Henney-Packard which I drove from California to Freeport, IL and back for a Professional Car Society meet. They are very dependable.

Posted on: 12/24 18:15
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Re: 1953 Packard Patrician 327 9 main upgrades or engine swap?
#10
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Ross
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Well, let's see. If you want high power and some economy ditch the high friction 9 main and use a readily available 5 mainer. I believe the cranks are actually more torsionally rigid in that they did not require the whomper-stomper vibration damper they installed on the niners.

Port and relieve the block yourself. Send the cam out to Crane Cams and see what they can do with it. They did several for me over the years. Change over to solid lifters. Find some better pistons to take the strain. If you are going to turbocharge it just use the stock manifolds and save the hassle. The 359 head on a 327 will hardly change the compression and buying a good one will leave you behind on your mortgage.

Your biggest challenge on mileage is the "side of a barn" aerodynamics.

Easiest and most versatile--and the most fun--option for the trans is factory 3 speed with overdrive. You can run that with the existing 3.54 axle. And everything just bolts in.

I am using a 53 with 327 and overdrive as a shop truck. We put something like 4000 miles on it in a year. It gets about 17 mpg utterly stock with the 2 bbl. I hardly ever drive it faster than 75. In contemporary roadtests the 4 bbls did better but I don't care for their slow tip-in. Cold weather short trips use a lot of gas because of the warmup.

I don't worry about modifying these cars as they are not hand built works of art like some of the prewars. They were built with moderate care on an assembly line like a Maytag wringer washer. There are plenty of original or authentic examples to represent the marque to an indifferent public. A little hint of the near future is to go to the Packard page on ebay and then click on "completed listings".

I do honor them as they were very good at being cars. A 53 Packard is far more pleasant to drive than a 53 Buick for example--especially if the road has curves.

Posted on: 12/24 19:00
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