Piston Slap: Twisted Talk on Straight Eights

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap twisted talk on straight eights

TTAC Commentator Morea writes:

Sajeev, hope it’s not too dumb, but it really is a question I have! I wish to someday own a car with a straight eight engine.

Nothing fancy, just something to use as a weekend toy, perhaps to do some work on myself. Nothing too expensive or concours quality either. Just a car to get the feeling of running a straight eight through its rev range. It seems an American car of the early 1950s would be the best bet, but which make and model? Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac, Hudson, another? Which straight eight was best? Which model is easiest to own? Can the Best and Brightest advise me on how to get into a straight eight that won’t break the bank?

Sajeev answers:

What a fantastic question! This is what I live for, which is a bit sad.

Even worse, the only straight-eight I want is Ford’s T-Drive concept, since it combines my love of Fox bodies and the current Piston Slap topic. Maybe I should write about finding one of these tucked away somewhere in Dearborn, parking my ’88 Cougar next to it and they magically open a Foxy ThunderCat portal to another dimension…no Stephen King’s lawyers, don’t sue me!

My ideal I-8 for you is the Buick “Fireball” 8. I always admired the vehicles around this mill, and it was OHV instead of the flathead designs of other manufacturers. The Buick Eight has unquestionable curb appeal, especially for anyone who remembers the movie “Rain Man.”And that marginally depressing Steven King book. It’s not that other straight eights are bad vehicles, the Buick is just the ideal one for the average collector car buyer that isn’t infatuated with ’69 Camaros or vintage Porkers.

I think you can find a decent driver for anywhere from $5000-15,000, depending on your luck and what’s on the market. More perfect examples are more like $25,000 and beyond. That’s not too bad, especially if you buy it below market value in a down economy. You could easily get a cheap Buick Eight and sell it for thousands more when the economy picks up.

Now, about breaking the bank: all antique vehicles need a ton of work to keep running. Anything that moves or has rubber can and will go bad. Luckily there is a fair amount of restoration parts for Buicks, just not as much as Tri-Five Chevys. Thanks to eBay, Buick parts restorers and even places like Steele Rubber Products can hook you up.

I’d rustle up about twelve grand in cash and start searching. Best of luck to you!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

Join the conversation
3 of 30 comments
  • Radimus Radimus on Oct 16, 2012

    Go bigger. Bolt two I-6's together for a straight 12.

  • Andy D Andy D on Oct 24, 2012

    Yah, when I was in junior high, I had a 53 Packard to drive around on the trails. Big car, prehistoric flathead 327CI, Carter 4 barrel My buddy Jeffrey drove a '53 Special from Oregon for my wedding. in '73

  • MaintenanceCosts This class of car competes hard with Chargers/Challengers and modded diesel pickups for the douchey-driving crown.
  • 28-Cars-Later Corey - I think I am going to issue a fatwa demanding a cool kids car meetup in July somewhere in the Ohio region.
  • Master Baiter Might as well light 50 $100 bills on fire.
  • Mike1041 At $300K per copy they may secure as much as 2 or 3 deposits of $1,000
  • Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!