Updated: Dec 27, 2019
"Craigslist Y Block Speed Parts"
Throughout this month I plan to post a few articles that I have written for the Y Block Magazine. Over the past several years, helpful technical information I have submitted has been published by Bruce Young the editor. If you are interested in subscribing, you can find out more by visiting this link: http://www.y-blocksforever.com/Links.html. Towards the bottom of that page there is a link with which you can contact the magazine.
It used to be that if you wanted Y Block speed parts you had to know what junkyard to visit and simply pray that someone had mistakenly left a gem under the hood or treasure in the trunk. Or maybe it was waiting for the swap meet season each year, as travel, rain, work, and “searching for the needle in a haystack” had a tendency to hamper the efforts to find the parts we were looking for on the next engine build.
Then came the internet and the world as we knew it changed. Suddenly cars, parts, equipment, tools, information, and everything else under the sun became available right there in your living room at the click of a button. Not too long after the worldwide web came on the scene, the online auction site “eBay” showed up and there went the prices through the roof!
Long time subscribers to this fine magazine may recall that some years ago I wrote a series of articles about buying and selling Y Block Ford parts through the online community such as “eBay”. The content of said articles was tips on using the search engine, where and how to find parts, and even how to be a successful seller if you were listing items on the online auction site yourself. Over the years we have all seen the inflation of Y Block Ford parts, and most certainly websites like eBay have attributed to the outrageous asking prices or starting bids of many sellers. The demand for all things Y Block has increased (to which we can be thankful as it has spawned more people and businesses to invest in manufacturing thereby making more parts available). However there are still items out there that are not being reproduced. For instance, there is no one making new Holley Teapots (yep, some of us still know how to rebuild them and make them work very well), no one is offering a new dual four barrel intake manifold, Edelbrock has sputtered in its efforts to retool the historic 573 three-deuce intake, and there is no one reproducing a “kit” to mount a blower on your Y block like Paxton McCulloch or Latham offered back in the 50’s and 60’s. [2018 Update: ther is a small business up in Canada that now offers a kit to mount an SN60 series blower.] Even for those companies that make new parts you still have to source what you need to make the blower drive work.
There are a few businesses and personal investors who have taken it upon themselves to reproduce some of the early speed equipment or at least to make bolt-on high performance parts for the Y. Obviously many of them advertise in this magazine from month to month – to which we are all thankful. How John Mummert keeps up with the demand for those aluminum heads I have no idea.
All of the above being said, we all know that Y Block performance parts come at a premium. They are just not available, the demand is high, and many source vintage speed equipment through eBay. But there is another “classified” site called “Craigslist”.
For every horror story about eBay, there are probably 5 or 6 more about Craigslist, that online classified website that makes “one man’s junk another man’s treasure”. Only two websites for used car parts, engines, etc hold the market share for gearheads like us – eBay and Craigslist. If you know of another please fill me in. [2018 Update: Facebook Marketplace is becoming more and more popular these days.] Occasionally I use the Fordbarn.com or Yblocksforever.com of course but these sites are pretty small comparatively and if you are looking for deals, the users of those sites are very knowledgeable so they ask the right prices – generally there are no deep discounts. I would imagine that many of our readers have purchased parts through eBay – I know that I certainly have. On occasion you may also use a weekly classified newspaper or even this bi-monthly magazine to source used parts, engine cores, and/or parts cars. Those parts sources (eBay, printed classifieds, Y Block Magazine, FordBarn, y-blocksforever, etc) are the only ones I have used for quite some time. For the past few years I have stayed away from Craigslist because of the stories, rumors, problems, wasted time, serial killers, terrorists, and whatever other reason I could think of not to deal with it. I always said to myself, “Can anything good come from Craigslist?” I was an unbeliever, but now I have seen the light! Read on.
Occasionally I put a “Wanted” advertisement in the printed classifieds newspaper we have around here called “The Valley Trader”. Granted this is not a publication I have found success in selling anything because of the people who call and never show, etc, but I have been able to purchase a good number of 292’s, parts cars, and the like. In November I posted a want ad for 292 or 312 cores and that I was also looking for a T85 or T86 overdrive transmission. I got a few phone calls back from folks around the county. Most of them wanted $600 to $800 for their 292 core so I passed on those. One guy about 90 miles away from me responded to the ad and told me that he was selling his 54 Club Coupe and was “getting out of it” so he had two 292 cores, a “B” intake, dual exhaust manifolds, and an overdrive transmission.
He said, “I’ll take $500 for all of it.”
“That sounds like a good deal,” I replied. “Can I come down with the truck this Saturday morning?”
“Sure, that will be fine,” he replied.
So I made plans to go Y Block hunting later on that week. On Friday of the same week he calls me back and says that he forgot that he paid $125 for the “B” intake so he is going to have to get $100 for that but all the rest will go. I told him I understood and that the intake was certainly worth it. Deal on.
My buddy and I drove an hour and a half that Saturday morning to take a look and to basically fork over the cash without any haggling if the man was even halfway honest in what he described. First up, the small part – immediately he began pricing everything separately - $60 for the flywheel, $75 for the exhaust manifolds, $100 for the intake, etc. Then he went to the transmission – it was not a 55 or 56 model T86, but it was an overdrive Ford maybe from a 59 or 60. Unfortunately it was not a T85, I could tell that much.
He said, “I will take $400 for that.”
At this point I just scratched my head, nodded at my buddy, and wondered what in the world happened to the offer of $500 takes it all. If he wanted $400 for that overdrive transmission and the money for those parts, we were already over the $500 mark and we haven’t even seen the 292’s! I opened my mouth to say something but didn’t. I was curious to find out what he would price the engine cores at (and just what they were – we all know the block and head ID numbers we are looking for – I have stumbled upon 312’s that way). We hopped back in the truck and followed the old man for about 20 minutes to another location where he had the engines stored. Both were 292’s, one a C2AE block and the other an EDB block. He swore up an down that the C2AE block had a forged crankshaft but when I pointed out the crescent on the crank flange he back pedaled.
I kind of chuckled in my mind but I decided to ask, “How much?”
“Well, I guess I can take $500 for the both of them,” he said.
“No, I ain’t giving you that,” I shot back. Now one wonders what to do. Do you go ahead and argue with the guy and tell him what he SAID he would do over the phone? I traveled an hour and a half and do I want to go home empty handed? If I go ahead and call him out will I make him mad and then not have any chance of getting any of the rest of the parts? “I’ll give you $400 cash,” I told him as I took a wad of greenbacks out of my pocket.
He hesitated a moment and said, “Nawww, I’ve gotta have $500 for those motors.”
I looked down at the engines again, looked at my buddy and sighed to myself, “Time to go home.” I ended up telling the guy that was a whole lot more than I was willing to pay and that if he ever changed his mind to give me a call back. (more on this later)
My buddy and I got back in the truck and headed back up I-81. He could not believe that I did not argue with the guy or try to haggle or at least work over some kind of a deal. I told him the time wasn’t right and that the guy would change his mind – just wait and watch. In the mean time I decided to take a plunge into something I have never done in my area. Search for Y blocks and parts cars on Craigslist. I held my breath and went to the Craigslist website and started typing in different words (tags) into the search box. There was an overpriced engine ($2,000 for a 292 core!), overpriced C1TE heads, blah, blah, blah.... hey wait, what is the listing of 312 engine parts with no photo shown?
312 Ford 3 deuce intake with carbs and linkage, $100, 4 barrel Y Block intake, $25... "Yeh, right," I say to myself laughing out loud. Must be some misprints here.
Hoping for the best I contacted the owner. His name was Bob and he lived only 35 minutes from me (in the opposite direction on the interstate from the other guy). When I asked why he was selling the parts, Bob told me that he used to race Y blocks and Flatheads back in the late 50’s and 60’s. He had sold off his cars and other equipment years ago and just had this “stuff” lying around in the garage.
"Can I come up this afternoon you think?" I ask.
"I'll be up here feedin' the fire," he quipped. "Come on."
About a half hour later I was at Bob’s house about to walk into his garage when I looked at everything he had lying out there. There was the intake and carburetor setup, the “A” manifold, and he had even threw in an old Carter AFB carburetor to the mix. I held my breath and wondered how much the price would go up... we know what this stuff is worth. While I was pondering what to say next I looked down at the 3 deuce intake... "Edelbrock 5...7...3" I almost said out loud.
I looked over at him and muttered, "Ok, how much for all of it?"
"I'll take a $100," he said dryly.
I stammered, "Wha, what?"
"Give me a $100 and it's all yours. I'm too old for this stuff anymore," he said.
"Bob, you got a deal. I mean, I got a deal," I replied as I forked over five $20 bills and shook hands with the man. I loaded the parts quickly as I was sure that county officers were on their way to book me for petty larceny. When the parts were unloaded at home the inspection proved my good fortune. The 573 was well-preserved, the 3 Strombergs were in good shape, and the linkage was complete. The nice EELCO fuel log topped off the ensemble of 3 deuce parts. The “A” four barrel manifold would need to be blasted but that was no big deal.
Once I ran the numbers on the Carter four-barrel I discovered that the original application was for a Cadillac.
A few weeks later Dennis Leeking found out that I had found a 573 and offered to trade (we had already been discussing a T86 case that I needed). As most readers may know, Dennis had recently installed G heads on his 239. (And of course the 573 is an excellent port match for the larger intake runners.) The parts were hotcakes and I made a sizable profit to put back into my 312 build.
But whatever happened to the first fella who answered my want ad that pushed me to Craigslist in the first place? At the first of the year the same guy called me back and had changed his tune.
“You still want these Y-blocks?” he said over the phone.
“Depends on what you’re asking,” I replied.
“$400 and they are both yours,” he offered.
I thought about it for a few moments and then asked him a question, “Does that include the ‘B’ intake?”
“Uh, well no,” coughed the voice on the other end.
“Let me think about it, and if I’m interested I will call you back,” was my final words to him as I hung up the phone. Maybe I will go back down there, maybe I won’t – who knows. The old saying is true, “Every once in a while a blind hog finds an ear of corn!”
There are plenty of helpful tips in the Y Block Magazine from issue to issue. Some are as simple as the procedure I just described, yet others dive deeper into such aspects as rocker arm geometry, connecting rod length, parts identification, etc. From to time I do list back issues on eBay or in a classified forum on one of the websites. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.