geegee I hear what you are saying. But, the car is pretty far from being stock already. At some point in it life someone flared all of the fenders out, to accomodate wider tires I suppose, or may be they just like the way it looked. So, I would have to repair or replace all 4 quarters just to get the body back to stock. Maybe I should elaborate on what I want to do. I want to beef up the suspension, I don't think I need to explain why . I want to replace the 351 Cleveland I have in it, with a built up 390. I want to keep the existing toploader tranny for the nostalgia, and the fact it's a good tranny with nothing wrong with it. The only body mods I want to do are the hood and paint. I figure the stock hood may not accomodate what I decide to do to the motor. Other than that, I don't plan on changing it much, maybe add a roll cage to the interior.
I understand. My '65 fastback was used as a drag race car for ten years...had a 351c in it during that lifetime. After buying it and figuring out its history, I made the same decision you are now making about your S-code. Unless you have a 390 already and money is an issue, my opinion is you'd be better off with a new 351 crate engine (I went with Ford Racing 302. I found this choice better fitting with my budget and ability to get parts). Note: 302/351w has growth potential not possible with the 390 and parts are a lot easier to come by. 351w block (or stroker block) can produce the same hp as a 390. Before deciding what route to take determine whether your toploader is 31 or 28 spline, what the tail shaft length is (short or long), what the rear axle is, 8 or 9", type and ratio, etc. Decide what clutch and pressure plate you wish to use and see if everything looks copesetic before starting. Sometimes what you now have is a big determinant it where you should go. Problem with picking an old engine is you have to scrounge up everything and sometimes it takes forever unless you've already got it and it's complete.
You have a very good point Geegee, about keeping the 351, and I have strongly considered it. I may very well hold onto it for a while and use it. But, there is something about the 390 that just seems to call to me. I will probably hold onto the 351 just to be sure I don't change my mind.