It happens to us all; in fact, it happens not only to us but to everyone and everything around us as well. I’m talking about old age, an affliction that doesn’t discriminate between the living or inanimate objects. Time takes its toll.

Just like me, it seems as though the driveline in my old hot rod was wearing out. Both of us had begun to exhibit the telltale signs of old age—a lack of power, some wheezing, spitting, sputtering, and on occasion, a bit of smoke out of the old tailpipe—if you know what I mean. But unlike me personally, there was something I could do to refresh my old Model A—I could yank out that tired Ford and rickety Cruise-O-Matic and replace it with fresh new items. This route would allow me to grant that aging hot rod a fresh new life—it wasn’t going to do me any good personally but at least one of us would get a new lease on life.

As I mentioned, the A was powered by an old 289—an early ’64 five-bolt bellhousing version at that. I knew I wanted to retain the Ford driveline rather than throw a small-block Chevy in the ol’ gal. So with that in mind I hit the Ford Racing website and began perusing their crate engine listings. It didn’t take me long to decide on which engine I wanted. The crate engine I chose as the 289’s replacement was the M-6007-X302, a 306-cube (at 5,500 rpm) small-block that utilizes an OEM precision remanufactured block and cast-iron crank. It’s also outfitted with forged pistons, a hydraulic roller cam, a set of aluminum 64cc performance heads, and a bunch more Ford Performance components. Not too shabby for a crate engine with a retail price under $4,000!

With a fresh engine like the M-6007-X302, my ol’ Cruise-O-Matic wouldn’t have stood a chance, so I hit my local transmission rebuilder and picked up a fresh C4. My new SBF arrived in just a few days and since I’d already picked up my new trans all I needed was a bit of free time to get out into the garage and perform the swap.

Well, a good two or three weeks went by before I had a free weekend but I did finally get out there and got to work. I tore into the old driveline and began tearing it down so I could yank the old 289 and tranny out and begin transferring some of the odds and ends I planned on reusing off the old engine. That’s where I began on the wrong foot. You see, I’m not the most experienced person when it comes to engines, and of course I began thrashing without spending too much time with the installation instructions. I stripped the old engine of its pulleys and distributor, unhooked all the wiring, and drained all the vital fluids. As the fluids were draining I slid under the A and dropped the driveshaft, removed the tranny cooler lines, and loosened the trans and engine mounts. So far, so good.

Once the old engine and trans were removed and sitting on an old dolly I was ready to begin transferring some of the components I knew were still in good shape from the old engine to my new crate engine—and this is where I began getting myself into trouble. To me, a small-block Ford is a small-block Ford. The 289/302s have been basically the same for ages—at least that’s what I thought at the time, but boy was I in for a surprise.