Home » Why This Air Force Veteran And Mechanical Engineer Is In Love With Ford Straight-Sixes: Member Rides

Why This Air Force Veteran And Mechanical Engineer Is In Love With Ford Straight-Sixes: Member Rides

Good Dog

If there’s a core value of The Autopian community, it’s pluralism. I might like Volvo wagons and you might like electric trucks and both of us are right. In that spirit, Autopian Mr. Asa has a collection sure to make all sorts of readers happy. He’s got a classic American pickup, a vintage pony car, a Miata, an old Toyota truck and a Type 2 Volkswagen van. He’s got just about every possible situation covered with that garage.

(Welcome to Member Rides. This is the weekly feature where we look at people who became members of the site by signing up here and parting with a little of their hard-earned dough to keep The Autopian going. Our plan is to do these every week! Today it’s Mr. Asa’s turn!)

Autopian: Alright Mr. Asa, where do you live and what do you do?

Tampa, Florida area. Mechanical engineer.

Autopian: How’d you get into cars?

My dad has a 1974 VW Type 2 Westfalia Camper. We went everywhere in that thing. About the time I started looking at cars, Grandpop started to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s. About twice a month Dad and I drove the four hours one way to visit with him and Grandma.

Because the VW’s massive power levels (yes, that’s sarcasm) made it not suitable for interstate travel we ended up on rural routes and highways much of the time. At some point along one of those drives through mid-Florida, we saw a 1966 Mustang for sale in a field. Turquoise, gorgeous, and at $4,500 about $3,000 more than I had available. I wasn’t hooked, but I was interested. I started looking, Mom and Dad got interested, and my uncle found a ’67 Mustang in Crystal River for $1,500.

Mrasagunship

We all drove down, Dad and I drove it to Tallahassee with Mom following. Knowing what I know now, I would have looked for a different Mustang as the rust was (and still is) a bit much, but that was it. I was a car guy. I joined the U.S. Air Force, did roughly 10 years there, much of it as a heavy equipment mechanic, got out and worked as a service writer at Pep Boys ’til I realized the GI Bill paid me enough to not worry about having to work while I went to school.

So I went off to become a mechanical engineer. I joined my school’s FSAE team and did some cool stuff, graduated, and continued to do cool stuff.

Autopian: What’s in your fleet?

  • Susie, a 1967 Ford Mustang. First car, bought with my own money when I was 17. 200ci Inline six, converting 1bbl carb to twin 2bbl carbs. Auto to T5 swap. 5-lug swap.Susiemustang
  • Truck, a 1993 Ford F-150. 4.9L I6, put over 250K miles on it when I got it. Seen most of the country behind the windshield. Currently building a cylinder head from two GM LS cylinder heads for it. May cast my own head for it in the next ~5 years.Clean510
  • Betsy, a 2018 Mazda Miata, bought just before used car prices started to fall. D’oh!1662309454 20220904 122851 Mmthumb

Dad’s vehicles, which I’m slowly taking over repairs and such for:

  • 1994 Toyota Truck, 22RE, 4WD, manual
  • 1974 VW Type 2 Camper van

Autopian: What’s the story with these cars?

Fair warning, as someone who is an amateur author and slightly-higher-than-amateur-but-not-paid-professional photographer, I have… a lot of data in these links.

LS head for the truck (mentioned this in comments several times and always had some level of interest) : https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/ls-headed-300-brainstorming-problems/178791/page1/
Other stuff I forgot to mention.
Autopian: Wow, a 1993 with the I6, that’s a great car. In 250k miles did you ever have any serious issues? What have you replaced?
Hbzgho6
[A lot of this is] answered in the truck thread, but I haven’t had anything go wrong on the truck that I wasn’t warned about or didn’t cause except for the stock fuel pump going out at about 215k miles when I was driving cross country. I was headed from Tallahassee, Fl to Port Hueneme, Ca for a USAF TDY. Hurricane Ike was just about to hit Mississippi or Alabama or wherever it made land [Ed note: Houston. I was there. It sucked. -MH], so I had to divert from I-10 to I-40. I was partway through Arkansas when the truck just shut off. No warning, no weird noises, just dead. Coasted to the side of I-40 and poked at a few things, realized that the insanely loud fuel pump wasn’t cycling when I turned on the key and ended up calling a tow truck. Got pulled to a AAA recommended shop and had the fuel pump replaced.

Messed up a few plans I had for the trip, I ended up having to pull a couple long days to get to Cali on time.

F150truck

I have had other things go wrong, typical replacement parts like a belt going bad or the alternator or starter going out. The biggest thing I learned from most of those is to, whenever possible, buy OEM manufactured parts. Harder and harder to do with a truck approaching a quarter century of age, but still possible and very worth it; OEM parts give me so much less trouble than the stuff at your local Autozoo. I’ve started to stock up where and when possible as well.

That being said, at roughly 365K, while on a drive from Tampa to my sister’s place just outside Tallahassee I started to see oil pressure dropping. Pulled over, added oil honey, did other things, and did all the tricks I could. Nursed it to Tallahassee and instead of spending time with my 18-month-old niece and sister I ended up swapping an oil pump.

Emo4u4r

It didn’t take. Within 5,000 miles or so I had a massive rod knock, 10k miles later when I was finally able to pull the engine for a cheap rebuild I had done I found that the #1 bearing had spun. Unfortunately for me, I skimped on a few things with the cheap rebuild and I’m having to rebuild the motor again as the #5 oil rings didn’t seat properly. Still runs, and would get me where I needed to go if I had to, but now I’ve got a miles-per-quart of oil figure that I have to track.

Once that motor is out, I’ll pull it and rebuild it properly for the LS4.9 head I’m building.

Autopian: Do you ever wish you’d have waited and got a clearly superior 10th gen F-150?

You’re gonna wish my boot didn’t go so far up your butt!

The year honestly didn’t factor into it. I wanted a 300ci I6. From what I’ve heard they made it into a very small number of fleet destined 10th gen trucks, but I’ve never been able to verify that.

10thgenf150

I wanted the 300 because the engine in my Mustang was a 200 and by that point, I was in love with the inlines. Yes, they suck in stock configuration. The passenger vehicle equipped 144-250ci I6s that Ford made had the intake cast into the head, it probably saved Ford millions of dollars in post-processing costs. It was a 1bbl intake. It sucked.

However, for a clever person, power could be made by the I6s and I wanted to be a clever person. For my Mustang at least, I wasn’t as enamored with getting monster torque from the truck as I was with boosting HP for the Mustang. I just wanted a good solid vehicle that was better than the ’86 El Camino I was bombing around in, and I got it.

El Camino

I hated that El Camino (have I mentioned I hated that El Camino? Here’s a post about why I hated it).

So, I got the ’93 cause I wanted the 300, at the time I got it I could have found a 10th gen, but no 300 = no care.

Autopian: Do you name all your vehicles? Is the truck named Truck?

I don’t really set out to name my vehicles, but if they have one they tell me. Susie’s name came about in high school one day. I was driving my best friend somewhere, on a nice day, windows down; we may have been on a long lunch break, or we may have been at the start of playing hooky for the rest of the day.

We were passing a gas station in the 1600 block of W Tennessee St, Tallahassee (a station that time has erased) and Bubba asked me if he minded if he smoked. “I don’t care, but Susie would.” was the first thing out of my mouth. He gave me a Look, I shrugged and focused on avoiding getting hit by some idiot college student. That was that. Susie was Susie forevermore.

Dog Time

I tried to actually name The Truck, but nothing ever really worked, so it’s “The Truck”
Don’t really call it by its name, but when I’m doing something stupid, or I’m frustrated by traffic and do something dickish like drive off the shoulder to get to the turn lane, or I’m pulling someone out of mud or snow I’ll typically exclaim “TRUCK!” and pound the steering wheel or seat a few times.

Betsy was a similar thing to Susie. Wasn’t with anyone, but I was just kinda reviewing the day to myself on the drive home after work and realized I had been referring to the Miata as “Betsy.”

Autopian: Have you ever sold a car?

Miataagain

Never sold a car. Never had a car that I wanted to sell. Unfortunately, I haven’t had near as many projects or cars as I want. Mom is going to give me the El Camino at some point.
Dad is going to give me his VW Van, Grandpop’s ’94 Toyota Pickup, and ’71 Porsche 914-6 (yes, an actual 914-6, not a conversion. Needs a LOT of work, but no rust!).

My aunt has a ’61 GMC Carryall that she’s promised me, I just need to get up there and drag it back down. Some of those I might be interested in selling one day, but nowhere near today.

WAIT. I sold a ’68 Mustang once! Bought it for $500 around ’06, meant to strip it of everything usable, didn’t have time, and sold it for the same price four or five years later. Probably should have kept it, could have sold it for a lot more these days.

Autopian: Ok, what’s your dream garage:

Everything I already own, completely de-rusted along with Chip Foose chained to a wall; he weeps because I keep making him turn FWD shitboxes into Mid-Rear track-day shitboxes.

Autopian: Poor Chip Foose, but it’s a noble cause. What FWD shitboxes are we talking here? Aspires? Geo Metros?

A couple of years back I joined the Grassroots Motorsports forums after seeing an absolutely epic Ferrari 308 V12 swap.

It was a great thing for me. The projects, the attempts at greatness, how often the members pulled it off! It was the equivalent of the Roadkill! builds that Freiburger and Finnegan would do, but at a forum level.

It inspired me. I wanted to do their $2000 Challenge. To that end, I bought a turbo Dodge motor, transmission, and bits from a member of the forum for $1.
Now I’m looking for a Dodge Rampage to put it in, and then maybe take it out and shove it into the bed of the truck for a mid-rear build.

That’s honestly the only car I really want to do a FWD to mid-rear conversion build, although a couple of Kei cars with a turbo 2.0L shoved in the back would be fun, after that I’d just have Chip helping me with rust repair and bodywork. I hate bodywork. Everyone sane hates bodywork.

Autopian: That makes sense. Thanks for all the answers!

Oh! With the engine losing oil pressure. The only reason I had any warning at all was that I upgraded the dummy gauge on the dash to an actual one and put in a real pressure sender.
It’s stupidly easy, literally just soldering a jumper wire and replacing the sender on the block.

When he got The Marshall I recommended that Jason do that upgrade if it hadn’t already been done. If he hasn’t taken that advice, please kick him in the fork for me.

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44 Responses

  1. Loved reading this Mr. ASA. Love your passion for the I6. Thank you for sharing this part of your life. Cars are a great culture that is able to bring so many people together, because they have such variety to choose from.

    As a follow-up question, are there any other I6’s from other automakers that you appreciate?

    1. I appreciate all I6s to some degree. I didn’t really mention it in the questions that Matt asked me, although its in one of those threads, but after I got Susie my Dad introduced me to my mentor, Chuck Sparks. Chuck worked on Italian and English exotics. I got a wide introduction to Jag I6s and V12s working with him.
      I met the Nelson family through Grassroots Motorsports, and they have been doing amazing things with the GM 4200 Atlas engines (check their youtube @NivLac57)

      So, probably after the Ford stuff, I’d like to play with Jags, then the GM Atlas

    1. Agreed!
      Just found a Cars & Coffee this past weekend at Leaven Brewing. Not sure if there are others, but I’ll be there the first Saturday of every month, 11-2!

      1. I know there’s a big one that DuPont Registry puts on at Armature Works. I think that’s the third Saturday of every month.

        I’ll try to make it to Leaven for their next cars and coffee!

        1. I’ll go searching for it, see if I can get to the next one.

          Kinda surprised that Cleetus doesn’t do one at the Freedom Factory. Or maybe he does and I haven’t been paying attention.

        2. Rides by the River on the third Saturday. I’ve been a couple of times and had fun. Apparently I missed the CTS-V blowing itself up back in November.

          I’m local as well, I live down in Ruskin.

    1. Thanks, man! Always nice to hear that. I start doing something new (for me right now, TIG welding) and impostor syndrome can start clanging that bell.

        1. Picked up the new YesWelder 7’n’1 welder a while back on the Kickstarter.
          It is phenomenal. Been ~10-15 years since I learned how to TIG and haven’t touched it since, but since I got the machine I have been picking it back up.
          Here’s one of my better welds (on the inside, not the outside, that was from a crappy spool gun) https://i.imgur.com/shJPqDB.jpg

  2. This is the community-building stuff I love about the Autopian! You really get to know the folks you post with every day.

    Asa, as a fellow I6 nut, I look forward to updates on your LS4.9 project (I already read the thread). I’m still looking for my holy grail 9th gen F150 with the auto (wife prefers it), 4×4, and the 4.9. That is a tough one to find, much less in decent shape. We had a 6th gen F series with the 300 and LOVED it.

    1. Roughly what price range are you looking for?
      I periodically will get bored and do a Craigslist or FB Marketplace troll of various areas around the country and post them on the GRM Forums’ For Sale section. If I see one that might fit I’ll throw it in.

      1. Ideally, I’d like to keep it in the four figures, although the market has probably changed a lot since I last searched. Typically, I can find a pretty decent 9th gen, except with the 5 speed, for about $4-8,000 in my area.

        1. Honestly, the market is starting to correct back the way it should. Not sure where you’re at, but Central Florida where I’m at is hell for vehicle prices. I go searching in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Prices there are much closer to pre-covid levels.

  3. I love inline-6s. You need a Triumph GT6+ in your life. Mine isn’t for sale and you wouldn’t want it though, because I converted it to electric. But if you love driving Betsy, then you’ll really love a GT6+.

    Also, on your Grassroots Motorsports page, I love how you equate the E36 M3 with a slang/vulgar term for feces. So spot-on.

    1. Always wanted to try one out, but I’ve never personally run into anyone that had a Triumph. At least, that I knew had a Triumph.
      Seen a few guys on the FordSix forums that have swapped the Triumph motor for a Ford and got a weight savings (which boggles the mind a bit)

      There are a couple of word filters like that built into the forum. See if you can find them all!

      1. When I converted my GT6 to electric, the cast iron lump that came out by itself was 403 lbs. Including gas tank, radiator, exhaust, and all of the other ancillaries, I removed roughly 700 lbs from that car before adding in all the EV components.

        The 2L engine that came out was built with 1930s technology intended for tractors, and there was no attention paid to using weight saving materials due to financial reasons.

        1. Shit. Without googling, I think a fully dressed 4.9L is about 450-500lbs.
          No wonder people were swapping them out. What’s the weight distro on a stock GT6?

          1. Somewhere around 60F/40R, with slight variations depending on which model of GT6. It is a very front-heavy car, but it doesn’t feel at all like it when driven. The suspension was tuned correctly for the weight distribution, and with modern radial tires, is at least as capable as a Miata. Lighter than a Miata too.

            As an EV, it actually lost some weight over stock. When I finally get a chance to test the range with some subsequent aerodynamic modifications, I expect it will approach 200 miles on a charge too, and this is using some very primitive batteries compared to what Tesla is using. If I upgraded from CALBs to some of the modules used in the Tesla Model 3, range could double for the same amount of battery weight.

  4. Pretty sure I talked to you recently when you inquired about using one of our PiMPxs ECU’s to run this thing? I can’t imagine it was a “different” 300 I6 guy that was doing an LS head swap. Good to see you on here.

    1. There are three or four builds with this setup that I know of that have crept ahead of me since I started (although they have cut up the cylinder heads in a different way than I have.) I’d bet there are at least a dozen more people out there at some stage of development of the swap.
      I hadn’t heard of you guys before, but I’m always interested in a new setup, did you get anywhere with whoever contacted you? I was planning on some flavor of Megasquirt, but just because that’s probably the easiest method for something so weird as this.

      First time I heard about the swap was a Bangshift.com article from at least a decade back. It was a drag only car that they couldn’t get to stop leaking, probably because they used RTV to seal the heads together.

  5. Anyone who does FSAE is good in my book. I did two years of it myself before I eventually changed majors. It was cool to see in other comments we have so many Tampa area Autopians.

    1. My college allowed it no matter the major. Always thought that was a smart move. Pretty much only had engineers in the group, but we could have had business majors!

  6. just a couple suggestions.

    1 – do not double carb the 67 200, just swap in a holley sniper FI setup. it will be more powerful and loads less troublesome as uou drive it.

    2 – Don’t swap the LS head on the 300, if you want better performance Clifford 6=8 is your best friend, but again make sure you keep it Fuel injected.

    1. But those are problems that have been solved! I don’t want solved problems, I want to make my own problems and then solve them!

      One of my core memories about choosing the I6 was flipping through some car magazine and realize that I was looking at the fifth or six SBC build this month. You want 500HP out of a 350, you pick your recipe and just order parts.
      You want to just double the HP of the I6, or you want to get the SAE Net rating to actually meet what the SAE Gross rating was? You gotta put in work, and every solution is going to be different.

      That’s why I went with I6s, do something different

  7. Great read Mr Asa! Great to see a other inline-six enthusiast getting around here!

    If freight wasn’t so damned expensive I’d ship you out some later I6’s from Ford Australia

    1. Notice the pic of the exploded garage? Showing the Truck and Susie and an engine on a stand?
      Its hard to see there, but notice how the intake looks like it bolts on?
      Friend down south there shipped me an Oz 250-2V waaaaaay back when. Had stupidly low mileage with cross hatching still visible on the cylinders. (Do they still call it mileage in the southern hemisphere?)

      I’ll always accept more I6s, but now a days I’d probably just be happy with some of the dedicated go-fast parts, or a crossflow head to try and mount to the US block. That last one has been done a few times, but not very often.

      1. Ah, that makes sense when you said there was dual-carbies set up!

        I’m sure we can overload DT’s luggage next time he comes down under with some good stuff for you.

        Maybe one day I’ll get a write-up done on the 265 Hemi six in my Charger and the hop-up tricks employed. There’s even a little bit of LS parts inside it now.

        The carbureted six-cylinder scene here is still going strong, some incredible Holden Red sixes have been built lately making astonishing power for their small size as well as stroke cranks made for Hemi sixes and no doubt you’d be aware of some of the mad crossflow builders around the place.

  8. A pretty minor & infrequent issue but probably a good thing it was a ’93 and not a ’94, as there were reportedly a few instances of auto parts stores providing the wrong parts because people would ask for parts for a ’90 Ford F150 or a ’94 F150 where the auto parts store employees would hear the former as a ’94 F150 & the latter as a ’90 Ford F150; since there were some major changes in ’92 some of those parts weren’t interchangeable. Pretty funny unless it was five minutes before closing & someone needed to get their truck back on the road by the next day.

  9. Answering the dream garage question with, “Everything I already own, completely de-rusted…” says to me that you are living your best life. Looking forward to hearing about the LS heads morphing into what you want-and to what you will do when that El Camino comes back to you.

    Sorry to hear about Luna: I’m sure that was a gut-punch when you opened this article

    1. Not quite my best life, but I’m approaching escape velocity to that point, yes.

      And yeah, I had a bit of a moment when I saw her looking out at me from the front page today. There’s a similar pic in the truck thread of a white pit, Julie. Cancer took her as well, couple years before Luna. Thanksgiving morning, 2:30AM.

      Fuck cancer.

  10. My dad had many many work vans over his working life. those vans were loaded with ceramic tile and linoleum. He swore by that Ford 300 I-6 and only wanted vans with that over the v-8 because of the reliability. Great motor.

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