I'd vote EFI 302. But that's only because I can get a complete engine and transmission for under $100 at my local pick and save. They have at least 15 of them there that haven't been touched. Last time I was there I saw a nice LTD that had the rear end smashed all to hell with a really nice looking 302 just waiting to be yanked.
And my experience with the EFI 302 has been that they are an extremely rugged engine. In my '85 Lincoln Continental, I got over 400k miles before it started to wear out. With proper 3k mile oil changes, who knows how far it would have gone!
With the AOD transmission in my '85 Lincoln Continental, I was able to get in the low 20s for MPG pretty consistantly.
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Looks like the highest 2007-adjusted EPA ratings for a 302/AOD powered vehicle are a tie between:
1986-1987 Lincoln Continental (sedan, RWD)
1987-1988 Ford Thunderbird (coupe, RWD)
1987-1988 Mercury Cougar (coupe, RWD)
16 city, 24 highway, 19 combined
So that works for me as the standard output 302 with speed density is probably the cheapest and least desireable 302 out there. Most other 302/AOD combos seemed to deliver 15 city, 22 highway on the 2007 estimated cycle.
Original estimates for these vehicles (vs the 16/24 modern rating) are 18/27 for the coupes and either 17/27 or 18/26 for that sedan. Exactly where I want to be with this rig. If I can drive moderately and average 22-24mpg in mixed driving (but again, mostly highway since I live in the sticks), I'll be very happy and won't have to buy something else to drive to keep the miles off my monstrous gas guzzling 70s intermediate behemoth.
That impound auction in Waco seems to have 87-88 Birds and Cats about every third auction. I'll keep watch for one with a 302 and major side or rear body damage as a sign that it was likely running before the wreck. That or a DUI/DWI impound is always good for a runner! I don't think I'll get lucky enough to find a Continental from that era, not like it matters, I'd rather not deal with excessive electronic garbage. The T-Birds and Cougars don't have digi-dashes as often as the Lincolns. The ones that haven't been crushed yet and still work are generally garage queens anyway.
I've got a question for you folks, and it involves exhaust and welding.
If I move to an EFI or even a 83-85 TBI setup, I'm going to need to change up the exhaust system. For example, the 1985 Thunderbird uses 3 cats, 2 pre-cats feeding into a Y-pipe and then into a main cat. And that requires oxygen sensors. Upstream and downstream so I'd think at least 3 sensors. 1988 models are the same way (for the EFI 302) but also have an air tube on top of that. How the heck am I gonna put all that stuff in my Torino? The computer is expecting x number of signals, and I'm not so sure the precats will fit well, unless I put them further back, then they'll be heating up the footwells. Can one converter work, because I'm pretty sure my cat is good and I suppose I can have an exhaust shop weld in 2 bungs, but wouldn't I then need 3?
I'm seriously considering using a 1980-1982 302 with a 2-barrel carburetor and a non-electronic AOD. I'm pretty confident in my ability to lean it out to the point where level ground highway cruising can get me close to 25mpg. This would be easier if I were using a GM motor, I'm much more experienced with Olds 307s and Chevy 267-305-350 engines. Even the Pontiac 301 in my last Delta 88 had no trouble getting me 20mpg with a 3-speed auto and no lockup. I can only imagine what that car could do with a 200-4R behind it.
Anyway, back to this swap, I found a 1986 302 from a Grand Marquis with an AOD behind it and the seller is more than happy to sell it to me with no intake. I need to hop over to a Ford board and see how hard it'll be to put my 2150 carb on a 79-82 2-barrel 302 intake and put that on the '86 engine. Ford used carbs on the 302 engines through at least 1986 in trucks, so I think it ought to work.
For the running of the 3 O2 sensors just put them in close to the factory locations. One cat should be perfectly fine. I would still go with the FI swap for best economy/power. With that 2 bbl carb as long as it mounts to the intake manifold , the intake manifold will line up to the heads alright and you should have a decent runner. As I said I still think you should go with the full FI setup and roll with it like that, as long as you get the whole doner car as you were planning you will be alright and not have any issues with the swap.
The more I drive this car with the 351M in it, the more I think it's going to need the torque to move well. But. And this is a big but. 1972 and 1973 Torinos were offered with a straight six. This particular six was a 250cid unit and had the Windsor bellhousing pattern, which would allow use of an AOD automatic. I could also use the 240cid truck six which also has the Windsor pattern for the transmission. The 240cid sixes used no timing belts or timing chains. They had gears. Last forever, too. It's the same as the 300cid six in the 80s vans and trucks and all sorts of industrial applications. What's more interesting is I found a 240cid six in running condition for $200. If it had the power to move half ton pickups, base Torinos, full-size sedan, and Econoline vans back in the day, then it'll have enough power to move my car. As much as I love a V8 sound, I like the eccentricity of a straight six MORE. So with that update, I'm off to find out more about the engine mounts and ignition systems to see how difficult it would be to put a 240 or 250 in my car.