Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

81 Ford Crown Victoria LTD Carbuerator

I started having trouble that the mechanic identified as the carbuerator not working (it was pouring gas into itself). He said that this carbuerator was a ‘dinosaur’ and never worked right from the factory. They told me that they never heard of anyone who had successfully worked on this car’s carbuerator, after it started having problems. They recommended getting rid of that carbuerator & putting on a rebuilt Holley carbuerator, which continued to give me problems. Were they just giving me a line so they could charge me more money? Or telling me right?
I have another mechanic who after he saw what they did, that the Holley will never work right on this car because this car has a computer module & there is nowhere to plug in that module on the new carbuerator. I’m confused. Who is right?

Assuming that the car has the 302 V8 with the Ford Variable Venturi carburetor, both mechanics are correct to a great degree but practically speaking the holley 2 bbl is the least expensive, simplest and most practical choice. When operating correctly the OE carburetor was excellent but few mechanics were ever able to deal with it 30 years ago and it is doubtful any can be found today. The last time I dealt with a failing VV carburetor I replaced it with a Ford 2100 2 bbl.

+1 for @RodKnox. Most of these VV carbs were replaced after repair attempts were made.

OK. So, the new carburetor not being plugged into the computer module doesn’t make any difference?

Ehh, six of one or half-dozen of the others. There are still some carburetor specialists who can successfully repair a Variable Venturi carburetor–and the associated electronic control system which surely has some issues as well.

You can replace the carburetor with a conventional one and do away with the electronic controls, but that will also require replacing the distributor, ignition module and modifying the wiring. The distributor on the VV system had no vacuum advance system, it was all electronic. So replacing the carb will mean modifying the ignition system as well for proper performance.

Either way, it’s going to cost you $1000 or more.

It sounds like they didn’t install a “direct replacement” for the VV carb. I found this at a website that sells Holley carbs:

“Late models 81 and newer Holley replacement for OE Variable Venturi makes for a perfect conversion. Remove the VV carb which most shops wont touch and replace it with a Holley 2 barrel carburetor that any shop can rebuild or work on in the future. It has all the hookups for the original feedback system.”

Sounds like you need to go back to the shop that installed the Holley and ask them to get a direct replacement Holley for your vehicle.

It’s been quite a few years since I last dealt with a Ford VV, @asemaster. And I guess that when dealing with them I had an accumulation of Ford distributors, modules, intermediate harnesses and miscellaneous pieces to deal with. That Ford carburetor and the 4-6-8 Cadillac engine were common problems that were dealt with by retrofitting to pre-electronic carburetors and distributors. By the mid 80s the Ford and Cadillac dealerships discouraged repairing those cars and referred the owners to independent shops. I am surprised that the OP’s was actually driveable after all these years. The vacuum diaphragms were prone to fail with good gasoline and I would have thought that ethanol would have worsened that problem.

My father-in-law had a car like that, and he replaced the carburetor with something more reliable. I would forget about trying to get the existing one to perform well. This was not one of “Ford’s Better Ideas”, as they advertised in those days.

@Rod Knox, if I remember the thing would run ok with just the carb swap, but timing was fixed, so you either had to change distributors or grind off the index tab on the original distributor to allow some timing advance. Run the thing at 25* and hope for a happy medium as long as it didn’t kick back the starter. But where I live when these cars were still on the road they were subject to emissions testing, so they had to run clean as well. That was the hard part.

Let’s not forget the early 80s Imperials with a primitive EFI that dealers were converting back to 2 barrel carbs.

The automobile manufacturers were struggling to somehow build an emissions legal engine without paying Bosch royalties, @asemaster. And the nightmare of black spaghetti, plumbing and non diagnosable drivability problems left some of us seeing the best solution to be retrofitting. Luckily there was no emissions testing here at that time.

See if you can find someone who still knows how to rebuild a carburetor and have them install this.


If the OP had the carb replaced, chances are good the mechanic who did the switch pitched the original. The rebuild kit may be a moot point.

I appreciate all the information. It helps. This car only has 70,000 miles on it. I asked to take the original with me, so I have it. Since they were calling it a ‘dinosaur’, I thought it might be valuable to someone.
The 2nd mechanic says he knows how to rebuild & adjust the old carb. The mechanics who replaced the carb took the car with back to the shop who rebuilt the holley & found that it had a bad gasket & they replaced it. The car/carb is running better now. I’m thinking it might be best just to leave it as it is & see if other problems present before I do anything else. No one does anything for free.

Ah, so it’s running better now? that’s always a good sign! Thanks for checking back in.

It’s running fine now. Until there’s no feed-back from the carb to control the fuel mixture.

That’s when both cat’s take a crap.


We took the cats off after the carb was replaced. One was bad & getting hot. Mechanic said we don’t have fuel emission laws anymore. Oklahoma