Home » Four Gallons Of Displacement Between Them: 1988 Ford Club Wagon vs 2002 Chevy Silverado

Four Gallons Of Displacement Between Them: 1988 Ford Club Wagon vs 2002 Chevy Silverado

Sbsd 3 12 2024
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Welcome back! Today’s Shitbox Showdown is a celebration of massive engine displacement. We’re looking at two heavy-duty trucks with engine sizes that have to be seen to be believed, and fuel economy numbers that are best not to think about.

But first, let’s check in on yesterday’s Chevies. I guess this one was pretty much a foregone conclusion; nobody wants a Citation for six grand, especially with that Beretta sitting next to it. But as I’ve said before, the cars I pick are the ones I think you’ll want to talk about, not necessarily the cars you would want to buy, and by that measure, the humble Citation is, once again, a success.

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And about that Beretta: I’m glad to see so many of you appreciate it. I always liked the styling, ever since I first saw spy shots of it in AutoWeek. This one is almost perfect; the only thing that could make it better is a five-speed manual. Okay, you’re right – a Quad 4-powered GTZ would be better still, but those are getting really scarce.

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So let’s talk about engine size. What do you consider a “small” engine? What’s a “big” engine? It’s relative to the vehicle, of course; the old 3.5 liter Rover V8 is enormous in a Triumph TR8, but barely sufficient for a Range Rover. When you get to the edge cases, though, everyone is pretty much in agreement about what’s considered “big.” And today’s vehicles are definitely edge cases, both equipped with the largest V8s offered. Let’s take a look.

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1988 Ford E-350 Club Wagon XLT – $4,250

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Engine/drivetrain: 7.5 liter overhead valve V8, three-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Lake Oswego, OR

Odometer reading: 165,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives great

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Ford’s E-series vans are legendary. These big friendly boxes-on-wheels are dependable, capable of feats of strength worthy of a Festivus celebration, and often pretty cheap on the used market. They’ve hauled everything from church youth groups to plumbing supplies to aspiring rock bands over the years. But while most Ford vans make do with an inline six, or maybe a small-block Windsor V8, this one has its doghouse stuffed full of 460 cubic inches of cast-iron V8 goodness.

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It started out as a Club Wagon, the fancy passenger-carrying E-series, rather than the workhorse Econoline, which means it has carpet and velour seats and fake woodgrain trim like it’s an LTD or something. This one has had its rear seats removed and replaced with racks of storage bins, probably by the current owner, who seems to have used it to tow a rally car. This is good; it means they’re One Of Us.

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This van runs and drives great, and has had a lot of recent work done to keep it that way. The only non-functional item according to the seller is the air conditioning; it’s all there, but it has never worked for them. Oh, and the gauge for one of its two fuel tanks doesn’t work. This could be an issue, because, according to the seller, this van gets between six and nine miles per gallon. Ouch.

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But it’s pretty clean and rust-free and looks ready to be put to work. You could haul a boat with it, or take the bins out and put seats back in and use it for family road trips – after you take out a second mortgage for gas money, that is.

2002 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD – $5,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 8.1 liter overhead valve V8, five-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Marble Falls, TX

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Odometer reading: 158,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives great, but has an exhaust leak

460 cubic inches not enough for you? Don’t worry; I got you covered. Here we have a three-quarter-ton Chevy Silverado pickup, equipped with a big-block Vortec V8 displacing 496 cubic inches, or 8.1 liters if you prefer. This beefy engine powers the rear wheels through a heavy-duty Allison 1000 automatic transmission. I know some of you would rather have a manual – and one was theoretically available – but this is a good transmission. Its aim is true. (Oh come on; I had to.)

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It’s a big truck overall, too; a crew-cab long-bed GMT800 is 21 feet, 4 inches long – not something you want to try to parallel-park. But if you absolutely need to haul four or five people and a bed full of 4×8 sheetrock, this will do it. The seller says it runs and drives great, and has a new battery and tires as well as a recently replaced radiator and water pump. It does have an exhaust leak that will need sorting out, but the seller isn’t specific about where.

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Inside, it’s a standard-issue GMT800, which is not a bad thing at all. It’s not really what you’d call a fancy truck, but it’s comfortable on long trips, and holds up pretty well for GM plastic and velour. It’s a nice way to get home after a long day on the jobsite.

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Outside, it’s a bit battle-damaged, but hey, that’s what trucks are for. There’s a big wrinkle in the right-hand side of the bed, and another just below the right taillight, and a pretty good bonk in the front bumper, as well. It all just adds character, as far as I’m concerned. The locking toolbox is a nice touch, as are the step bars on the sides.

Do either of these beasts actually need these massive engines? Of course not; either one is available with smaller V8s that would do the basic job required of them just fine. And if you’re commuting long distances, these are probably really bad choices. But if you go by the theory that it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, then for occasional use, the big engine is the way to go. So what will it be: a big box on wheels, or a loooong bed truck?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Is Travis
Is Travis
1 month ago

The truck does the trick newer and prettier, no hesitation even with the kitted out “storage racks”.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

If you’re going to start by splashing around different units of measure, then at least let us know how many OPEC barrels each carb has.

Also, maybe that van is for someone who feels uncomfortable with just a jack and a spare in their trunk so must travel with their entire shop in case of a roadside emergency.

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
1 month ago

i feel targeted

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago

I don’t want a van down by the river, so I’ll take the Silverado- I like it!

Gene1969
Gene1969
1 month ago

Silverado. My hooooooome – Sweeeeet hoooooooome.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

8.1L Silverado for me. The old GM 8.1 was a good engine for what it was. And I predict that it’s probably more fuel efficient and nicer to drive with that 4 speed auto (not a 5 speed auto) compared to that old Ford 460 with the 3 speed auto.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
1 month ago

If it’s an Allison, it’s a 5 speed. And there’s a 6th hiding inside there if you change the valve body and software.

Last edited 1 month ago by Speedway Sammy
WR250R
WR250R
1 month ago

THREATENING GMT800 GANG

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

As a certified E-series Nutjob™ I’m taking the van, although the fact the seats were removed makes me sad.

Looks good for its age, and I’m still annoyed Ford got rid of the “Club Wagon” name after 1999.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

This is the rare case where the van may be the stupid choice.

But I’m still taking the van.

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