Old School

I’ve recently joined and have had the fortunate pleasure of creating and being a part in the discussions here in this forum, and have learned a lot from them. So here’s one more:

Is there any advantage to taking a late model vehicle and removing/replacing components and systems with “older” versions to make the vehicle less “electronic”?

I can set timing, adjust carbs, and even overhaul and engine without the need to go to an auto mechanic, but I can’t correct faults within an ECM. To be honest, I’m not sure I could afford to replace an ECM either.

Any suggestions?

Not worth it, modern cars’ electronics very seldom cause problems, and it would make your car fail any emissions inspections.

Buying an older car is the most economical. It would cost more to change over than recover the money you’d save on DIY. Do you really want a carb and points that are constantly out of adjustment if you had a choice ? It’s like, dump that LCD and give me that old tube TV back.

So then if I want to go “simple” with a vehichle, I should just go find an older model car that has less “electrical” equipment installed? If so, are there any inspections/regulations that can keep me from using it, since it’s original equipment?

Yep, I would like to be more independant, I guess.

I can see this approach as a reason to be more independent, but I can’t see it saving you any money.

You would be fine as far as regs go. Not so fine as far as safety, etc, but that’s your call.

What you are proposing is ILLEGAL in the US. Besides, the car will not meet the applicable emision tests. If you only want to operate the vehicle on private property and not public streets, that’s OK.

Others have pointed out that it’s a lot easier, and more cost-effective, to buy an old car with low mileage and in good conditioon. If it’s a big seller, like a Crown Victoria, or a pickup truck, you will easily be able to get parts for it. Consider that your project car.

I once lived in an areas where emission controls were not enforced, and many people with trailers substituted older, more powerful V8s in their cars to pull these campers. That’s history now.

I assume you are retired and want to have something uselful and productive/creative to do.

You would be better off building a “kit car” from scratch. Buy a frame, put whatever drive line you want and take it from there. Shelby Cobras are one of the more popular examples.

In modern cars, everything is connected to everything else – engine, transmission, brakes, steering, air bags, ECU, climate control, etc. Aside from the legal issues, you would spend way too much money and time trying to create your dream car. Spend that money with independent mechanics and let them do the work you can not.


'Yep, I would like to be more independant, I guess.
My argument would be, “How independent can you be waiting for those special order archaic parts from some specialized producer ?” just so you could install them yourself. Instead of repairing a car, treat it like the throw away item they’re becoming and use your ingenuity and free time to build something, like the kit car mentioned.

Take a volt-ohm meter and a good repair book and learn how to test ECMS,sensors and other stuff.
Use a newer car, friend or family members and read up for a few days then go test parts or take a class for it.
If you polled how many ECMS were replaced that did not need to be I think you would see that not to many go bad its just people throwing parts at car because they do not know how to test them.
This is also a good thing to learn http://www.secondchancegarage.com/public/186.cfm
This or get a pre 1975 car.

Your plan really requires that you live in a area with no emissions testing to be successful. Cars built between 1975 and 1980 had electronic ignition but little else. One of these could be restored and made to last forever if you wanted to…But in a few years, fuel costs will pretty much dictate what you drive…The American Lifestyle is going to change rapidly and not for the better…

Find yourself an original VW Beatle in good condition. Learn how to set the points, change the plugs, and adjust the valves. Then change the oil every 1,500 to 2,000 miles and be happy. These are simple cars to work on, but you’ll be tinkering with it frequently.

If you want an American car you should find something pre 1970. After '70 they put so much anti-pollution controls on the American cars that they ran lousy and got horrible gas mileage. An old mid '60’s pick up would do the job for you.

I’ll agree with everyone in saying that the best bet is to get a pre-70’s car/truck to re-build. Get all the mechanical items up and operating, and of course, make it safe to drive (seat belts & such). The only problem was finding one that wouldn’t drain the old wallet. That was why I was wondering about converting my current truck. But as 'yall suggest, it’s ILLEGAL and would cost too much.

However, dagosa makes a good argument: are the parts for older cars getting harder to find? I haven’t checked for any in a long time.

Oh, and by the way, I’m in my 30’s & not retired. This is more of a future project for my kids than anything. I’d like to show them the same things that my Pop taught me when I was growing up. Independance, mechanics, ect.

depending on your state, nothing should stop you. I knew a guy that put a carb’d small block into a early 90’s S10 with sidepipes.

there are thousands of cars and trucks with “old” engines in it.

a an older small truck should work. if you do go small (S10, ranger), get a chevy, engine swaps are easier then fords.

I’ve seen others do what you are talking about, with the early 90’s S-10’s. It seemed like a hatchet job, changing out the engine. But that could have just been the modifier’s job, not the modification itself.

“but I can’t correct faults within an ECM”

Nor can you correct faults within a power steering pump.
Both can be purchased cheap at a junkyard or online.
Get a spare if you’re worried.

Get a simple economy car or truck, stay away from luxury options and the fancy European imports.

I think you should get yourself a street legal dune buggy. Most have simple air-cooled VW engines. You can easily get to all the parts to work on them. You could get something relatively new that is relatively simple.

I think the newer componants on vehicles today work much better than the older cars did. I have driven many miles with modern cars and with out any problems.

Boy you’re like me. Old school. It’s all digital and everything on it is built around a system of sensors that go into that ECM which in turn spits out a bunch of signals that drive various types of servo-mechanisms to make your car run right. It’s not a matter of “advantage”. It flat can’t be done, at least not in realistic terms hat would make it an option. I feel the same way about stereo music. I have state of the art early 1960s analog equipment. New digital junk does not even come close.