Illustration for article titled Project Car Hell, Cheap Straight Eight Edition: Buick or Packard?

Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! You know what's missing from your grim, purposeless life? Straight Eight power!


You see, taking eight cylinders and arranging them in a crass V layout cheapened the entire concept of the eight-cylinder engine. A real luxury car boasts a long, low hood, the sort that you get when your engine boasts a crankshaft as long as your arm. It's safe to say that the decline of everything that was once good and true about the American Way Of Life can be attributed directly to the abandonment of the straight-eight engine. You've got to get a straight-eight-powered car immediately, of course, but some of you might not have the cash needed for a perfect one- you know, this inconvenient downward economic spiral and all- so we've gone shopping for some down payments on a lifetime of rusty hell deals!

The traditional straight-eight engines used a flathead design, which allowed the hood to be attractively low while still creating many cubit-geepounds of torque, and you don't have to make too many logical jumps between "flathead straight-eight" and "Packard." Packard kept putting flathead inline-eight engines in their luxury machines until 1955, when they finally succumbed to the trendy V8 craze, which means that all you need to do is find yourself a nice project Packard made between 1924 and 1954 and count the spark plugs. Thanks to the 24 Hours Of LeMons forum, we've found this 2-for-1 1952 Packard deal, and what a deal it is! You get two cars, two non-frozen 327 I8 engines, and enough rust to turn your world red for eternity a somewhat challenging bodywork project. The car has been up on eBay with a no-reserve $500 price, twice, and failed to attract any bids; this means the seller should be motivated to accept your totally generous cash offer.

Flatheads are pretty cool, but let's say you'd like to build some serious horsepower into your straight eight, and you'd like to be able to rev it past, oh, 2,500 RPM. That means you need to go for an engine with futuristic valve-in-head technology, which Buick adopted for its I8s way back in 1931. Come on now, you're probably sneering (with a really irritating skeptical eye-roll), you can't get a classic Buick that cheap! Hey, Project Car Hell is here to make such waking nightmares dreams possible for you, and we've found this 1947 Buick (go here if the ad disappears) with an asking price of just 550 bucks. $550! You couldn't get an '86 Somerset sitting on a Superfund site with a thrown rod for that price (well, actually you could probably get a flawless '86 Somerset for free, but just suspend some disbelief here), and here we've got pure essence of Buick, complete with toothy grille and 48-foot-long hood! The seller doesn't have much to say about the car (he or she limits the statement to "1947 buick no title bill of sale Restore or Ratrod. Need it gone"), but you can see an engine in one of the photos, and one window most of the glass seems to be intact. How hard could it be?

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