Carburetor-Based Cars -- Avoid?

I enjoy older cars and have only models that are fuel injected. I had been considering a 67 or 68 model Cadillac Eldorado for a weekend car, but my local GM mechanic advised that I stay away from carburetor-based models. Any thought? Since I don’t own any cars with carburetors, I don’t have this insight/experience. Thanks for your input.

I only suggest that if you own a carburated engine vehicle that you also find a mechanic that’s over fifty years old. It’s mostly the old crusty mechanics that still know how to rebuild a carb.

Right now I have a 1967 Mustang convertible in for service. What a joy to work on.


It is a joy to work on a car where all is up front and not hidden behind smoke and mirrors.

If you want to learn about older cars, get one. You’ll end up working on it yourself. buy a factory service manual, some tools and learn about the joys of the old american V8

Assuming an old car, getting a carbureted car is going to be MUCH better in terms of servicability and parts avaliability than some obsolete fuel injection system. Any crusty old timer (and a lot of younger enthusiasts) can work on a carbureted car, but you’ll generally have to find a specialized old-timer to work on most pre-1984 or so fuel injected cars.

Do you want to work on the car or do you want to drive it?

Some Honda motorcycles are still made with carburetors, and their carburetors are quite reliable, but if you buy this car, you will either need to find an old crusty mechanic or learn to rebuild the carburetor yourself.

If you want a low maintenance car to drive, get something fuel injected. If you enjoy working on your cars, get the Eldorado.

I sure would avoid anything made 1981 and newer with a carburetor. They have lame “computerized” mixture controls. But a 67 (or whatever) Quadrajet are pretty trouble free once they have been properly rebuilt by someone who knows what they are doing. It’s not really difficult or magic. You just have to understand how a carburetor works. MILLIONS of cars came with Rockchester Quadrajet cerburetors. Most of them ran just fine…Properly set up, they are a reliable, trouble-fee unit…

I agree with not getting a car with a computerized carb, I would want one old enough to have brass floats , The plastic floats absorb gas with time and get too heavy, worse with ethanol in the gas.

It’s refreshing to see somebody who knows what ethanol can do to older fuel systems.


Now if we could only get gas without ethanol for cars with old fuel systems…

I had a 1988 Impala with a 4 barrel carb which was non-electronic, and very easy to adjust. My father-in-law, on the other hand, had an early 80s Mercury Grand Marquis with the variable ventury “feedback carb” which was a nightmare to work with. Many owners simply took them off and replaced them with older mechanical types.

My 1988 Caprice had an electronic carb, the year before they went to TBI. It was a pain to adjust as well.

Since it’s intended as a weekend fun car I say “go for it”. But realize that it’ll take a lot more TLC than a modern car. There’ll be much more frequent oil changes, lube jobs, tuneups (complete with the beloved task of setting the dwell of the points), possible occasional vapor lock, and some other fun things.

If a carb is properly adjusted (rebuilt if necessary) it’ll run fine. Differently, and not as perfect as modern fuel injected systems, but fine. The first few dacades of my driving life were spent with carburated cars, and I survived fine.

If you were planning to use it as a family car I’d feel differently.

The problem with gas-logged floats in Quadrajets existed long before Ethanol came along.
It was always recommended that the float be replaced whenever the carburetor was rebuilt.

Back in the late 70/early 80s I lived in OK City and owned a 2 year old Camaro RS, 305 with the QJ. The store where I bought my gasoline started carrying Gasohol back then and I used it for quite a while with never any carburetor problems at all.
This leads me to the opinion that a carburetor suffering problems may have suffered them anyway, alcohol or not.
At the current time, I’ve got 3 carbureted vehicles around here and none of them have had any carburetor problems due to Ethanol.

Around here anyway, most of the stations have quit carrying Ethanol so if one wants Ethanol it will require a side trip somewhere.
If I have a complaint about Ethanol, it’s because it seems to have a comparatively short shelf life; which is one of the main reasons that local stations have given for doing away with Ethanol.

One more point: while I support the uprchase as a weekend fun car, realize that you’re nowhere near as safe as if you were in a modern car and drive carefully. Not only will the car not handle or brake as well as a modern Caddy, crash protection will be nowhere near as good. The technology that’s required in al cars now to protect the driver was really in its infancy back in the '60s.

Drive carefully.

E10 used to wreak havoc on my 1984 Mercury Marquis. I had to get a carb rebuild every few months.

I wonder if fuel stabilizer would have helped.

Agree on finding a mechanic who knows what they’re doing with the older cars. Starting them up is also different than modern fuel injected cars, so read up on that before you buy as well(not really sure of your age/experience with carb’d cars)

Find a classic car club, join, go to some meets/shows/meetings, I’m sure there will be folks that can connect you to a good carb mechanic. Once you find one, you might be better off than dealing with the half-baked carbs/electronics of the late 70s/early 80s.


Like they said no carbs with electronics. I had an 89 Corolla that was a nightmare to fix. The only local mechanic that was willing to work on it wanted to charge me by the hour, but open end hours- as many as he took. I did not feel comfortable spending that kind of money. So I used this and some other sites and got by for 4 years until the car was not good for much any more.

Who sez you cant replace a electromechanical nightmare carb,with say a Q-Jet?.My brother did it on a neighbors Buick or something GM station wagon and it ran great(the Ford VV was awful in my opinion)-Kevin