Straight 8........
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Community Lounge, Introductions and General Discussion Discussion, Straight 8........ in General Discussion; I've always liked those 1930's-40's buicks, especially with the dual spare tires that are fender mounted, there's one for sale ...
  1. #1
    creeker is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Straight 8........

    I've always liked those 1930's-40's buicks, especially with the dual spare tires that are fender mounted, there's one for sale now in my
    area, looks super clean, (1939) my question is, how reliable etc. are those straight 8 engines?, are parts still available?, was the straight 8
    around for awhile?, I think I remember them still being produced into the 50's.,what kind of gas mileage could you expect?.

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    orconn is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Re: Straight 8........

    The 1940 Packard 120 Touring Sedan that carried my family back and forth coast to coast four times in ealry and middle W's was a straight eight. The same car climbed and ascended Mt. Wilson (6000 feet) above Los Angeles via the famous (Road And Track Road test run) Angeles Crest Highway daily taking my dad to the TV stations he was overseeing being installed. It also served as our family car from 1940 to 1950 when it was replaced by a 1950 straight eight Packard. My father obviously thought very highly of the Packard straight eight.

    I believe the last American car to have a syraight eight was the 1954 Packard, Pontiac also had a straight eight in their 1954 Star Chief. Buick had switched to a V-8 in 1953.

    many European brands also used a straight eight engine, including Alfa Romeo which was very successful racing with that engine in the '30's and '40's.

    I remember the straight eights being very smooth sounding engines, quite distinctive from a V-8. The smoothness of these engines was why they were used in Packards until just before the company's demise.

    Parts to maintain 1930's and '40's straight eights shouldn't be all that difficult compared to other cars of that era. Packards are considered "real" classics and have numerous clubs and parts suppliers. I would think Buicks would also have a good following, although I don't know much about them.

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    77CDV's Avatar
    77CDV is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Straight 8........

    The Buick straight 8 was a very good engine, very smooth and quite powerful for its day. The drawbacks to a straight 8 were crankshaft flex and physical length. They also tended to be heavier than their V counterparts. If you buy this car, be sure to join the Buick Club of America. They're a great group with lots of knowledge about these older cars.

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    mhamilton is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Straight 8........

    how reliable etc. are those straight 8 engines?, are parts still available?, was the straight 8
    around for awhile?, I think I remember them still being produced into the 50's.,what kind of gas mileage could you expect?.
    Parts are certainly available through specialists, you'd just have to look in a Hemmings Classic Car or Motor News to find those people. Or the Buick Club, as 77CDV mentioned.

    Reliability... hmm.... the engines themselves were certainly stout. I think those 8s were regarded well for their OHV configuration and full pressure lubrication. They may have even had dual carb setups. But it's still an an antique car by any standard, lots of constant maintenance to keep things running right.

    For economy you'd be pressed to get the low-to-mid teens. Those were low compression engines with a long stroke, lots of displacement, and very low axle ratios (also consider that modern highway cruise speeds are not practical with those gear ratios). They were only rated at about 100hp and were 350ci or more. Plus they all consumed oil even when new. Ring technology was not there yet, and low compression didn't help any. Not to mention you'd need hardened valve seats if you planed to do continuous driving on no-lead fuel.

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    creeker is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Straight 8........

    Thanks for replies, good info..

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    dkozloski is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Re: Straight 8........

    Buick 8s were notorious for the rear cylinders running hot.
    Don't mess with Binky Bear!


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