Jim’s Blog: Diamond in the Junk?

This past weekend, I was out taking pictures of a friend’s 1969 GTO project in the weeds and came across this engine sitting in the dirt. What would you do with it?

The notion of one man’s trash being another’s treasure is alive and well here. Yep, this is a vintage Chevrolet 409 V8. Or at least it was before it became rusty yard art.

A couple of things stand out to me. First, it’s a truck engine, which you can see by the cutouts in the corners of each cylinder, used to lower compression in truck applications. Second, and more obviously, it’s full of water and has been for a while — but without heads to contain that water, the block might not be cracked. But you better believe it’s seized up tight. It’s also got a broken piston from when the truck it was in dropped a valve at some point in the past — that’s likely how it ended up holding down the grass. So there are issues here, which might be the understatement of the year.

I don’t know about you, but I’d still give disassembly a go. I’m no machinist, but I’d think you might have some success getting this thing apart with a case of PB Blaster and a good dead-blow hammer and impact. After that, maybe it could be bored and reused. Maybe.

Of course, you’d need all the parts — cam, pistons, intake, heads, all the tin, etc. Not to mention a car to drop it in — although a 1964 Impala 2-dr hard top with no engine or transmission sat not 50 yards away from this. It was tempting in a backyard engineering sort of way. Who’s afraid of a little tetanus?

409s, even truck versions, aren’t common anymore, but I don’t think I’m alone in considering them pretty cool. This looks like a lost cause, but I’d have a hard time sending it off to scrap. How about you? Is this a boat anchor or an opportunity?