To me, the pinnacle of modernizing your vintage car is installing fuel injection. It makes it more reliable, more efficient, and ultimately a better driver.
Through a series of unfortunate events, my 1962 Rambler Ambassador Station Wagon is now my daily driver… er well, it was until a major backfire ruptured the accelerator pump in the factory Autolite 2-barrel carburetor. It was at that point I had three options: 1) A rebuild kit, 2) Upgrade to a modern 2-barrel carburetor, or 3) Fuel injection conversion.
So . . . carburetor or fuel injection?
This has been a question plaguing enthusiasts since the dawn of fuel injection. In the 1940s, Stu Hilborn came out with his mechanical fuel injection which could be seen on flathead V8’s roaring down the Bonneville Salt Flats or Lions Drag Strip. With General Motors debuting fuel injection on several of its 1957 models, we started seeing the influx of more sophisticated factory fuel delivery, eventually eclipsing carburation after the last gas crisis.
For those enthusiasts who want to keep their hot rod, custom, or muscle car period-correct (or at least as traditional as you can get it), the carburetor has been the go-to fuel delivery system. Everything from a big-honkin’ 4-barrel to multiple Strombergs, carburetors have been providing our mills with fuel for a hundred years. In the rodding scene, carburetors still reign supreme due to their simple installation, basic tuning, and ability to handle big-horsepower numbers.
But today, computer-controlled fuel injection such as FiTech is making great in-roads by calculating all this through a multitude of settings such as air/fuel mixture, idle, and map. And, the prices are now comparable to that of a carburetor.
Why The 2-Barrel?
Ultimately, I wanted fuel injection. This is my daily driver, so I wanted to have the reliability it offers. Since the wagon has a 327 AMC V8 in it, I need all the help I can get when it comes to fuel economy.
The guys over at FiTech helped me out and sent the GoEFI 2 barrel 400HP system. What I really like about the product specifically is the traditional look, which is something I am keen to retain on George Romney’s brainchild. Lastly, if you’re on a budget like me, it’s the best bang for your buck.
My Rambler wagon has the factory-cast, 2-barrel manifold. The factory did offer a 4-barrel manifold, but since I have owned the wagon I have only seen one in the marketplace, and it was cracked. The only other option would be building my own intake, which from a few of the forums I frequent, a small-block Chevy tunnel ram can be adapted, but that’s a little outside my skill level. And again, I want to keep the car as factory as possible.
FiTech offers the 2-barrel version of the well-known 4-barrel, so this wound up being a bolt-on setup with no modifications needed to the intake. The FiTech 2-barrel GoEFI can also be installed on a tri-power setup. If you have a GTO with a rare factory tri-power intake, and are building a restomod, you can install three GoEFI units. It will definitely turn heads when your hood is popped.
When I talked with the representative over at FiTech, we went over the basics of the GoEFI 2-Barrel Fuel Injection. First, there are a few boxes you need to check off to see if the GoEFI will work on your application. It has to have a 12-volt system, and you can’t be using those pesky points in your distributor. For me, the Rambler wagon was factory 12-volt already, and I recently converted the distributor to electronic ignition with a Pertronix kit on my quest to build a reliable traditional driver.
Next, a decision needed to be made regarding the fuel tank and fuel pump. I was still running the factory fuel tank and mechanical fuel pump, so I decided on using the Hyperfuel Single Pump G-Surge tank. The Hyperfuel G-Surge tank is used in applications where the fuel tank doesn’t have any baffles in it.
Why would you need baffles? Fuel injection’s worst enemy is air in the line. When you are cornering, and the fuel is sloshing back and forth, the pickup may catch air — which is much more forgiving if you are running a carburetor. The G-Surge is a billet tank with a built-in fuel pump and regulator. This allows you to keep a mechanical pump which feeds fuel to the surge tank. It is a compact two-wire setup, making installation a breeze.
First, you have to pull off that pesky carburetor. You can leave the throttle cables, springs, and vacuum lines in the place because the GoEFI unit will use all of them.
The GoEFI system bolts on exactly the same as a carburetor. With the provided gasket, it bolted snuggly with new fasteners I provided. The linkage and vacuum line reconnected with ease.
The GoEFI system works by monitoring your exhaust with an O2 sensor, your tach signal, and coolant sensor. FiTech provides a pretty slick bung setup for the O2 sensor which makes it so you don’t have to weld. You will need to drill a 7/8-inch hole about 2 to 4 inches from the exhaust collector to mount your bung and gasket using hose clamps, which instructions promise won’t leak.
Unfortunately, the hose clamps provided were too large for my application so I had to supply those. I still would like to upgrade my exhaust system at some point, so I will probably have the bung welded in for peace of mind, but so far the hose clamps have been working as advertised.
Next, install the coolant sensor. You can either patch into the head or manifold. With my 327 AMC, the only place I was able to plumb it was the passenger-side head. The factory steel plug ended up giving me a seven-hour battle to get out since it was stripped, but persistence paid off and the coolant sensor went in with ease.
At this point, I moved on to the installation of the G-Surge tank. You will most likely need to build a bracket for it to mount in the engine compartment. I utilized the horn bracket since I was in the process of relocating them. This gave me a strong mounting surface that would take whatever vibration the fuel pump would put off. I made a simple aluminum bracket with four mounting spots to the G-Surge tank and two to the fenderwell.
Time To Plumb
Once the G-Surge tank was mounted, it was time to plumb the entire system. I was provided the GoEFI In-Line Frame Mount Fuel Delivery Kit which includes the fuel lines, fittings, fuel filters, and an additional electric pump, which I did not use due to the surge tank. The first thing I noticed about this kit is if you are using the surge tank, it doesn’t include enough AN fittings.
I ended up using some AN fittings my dad used to run back in the 1970s — period-correct, right? But, the ones included were very nice, lightweight, and anodized black. They were push-on style which don’t require hose clamps (more on this later).
Now, on to the part I was dreading — the return hose into the fuel tank. I will say this right now, and please listen — I don’t endorse drilling into a tank full of gas and fumes — I highly encourage you to drain it and fill it with water. That being said, I drilled into the fuel tank very carefully and did not have any incidents.
I was provided the no-weld, return-hose bung. The instructions tell you to place the O-ring bung into the hole you just drilled into the tank and tighten the bolt until the bung collapses to create a seal. Well, sure enough it worked. I think it is a great design, very easy to install, and changes the way we can add bungs into fuel tanks while they are still installed in the vehicle.
Finally, I wired up the system, which was very self-explanatory. The already-marked wires went like this: Battery, coil, fuel pump, key ignition, and ground. That’s it, and it almost felt too easy.
FiTech provides a handheld device which allows you to control the new and beautiful fuel injection. You have to answer a few easy questions to have the vehicle start. After that, it begins to self-tune.
Those questions go as follows:
- How many cylinders?
- How many cubic inches?
- What cam?
Once you input those numbers, it’s time to start the engine. I opted to prime the surge tank first by unplugging the power to the tank and letting it fill up from the mechanical pump. Once I was ready, I turned the key, pushed the starter button, and it fired right up. I will tell you, the Rambler wagon has never started that quick.
The GoEFI will start self-tuning once the engine reaches 170 degrees. It will constantly learn while you drive, making it as efficient as possible, and ultimately giving you the most performance. You can also go into the Pro Tuning section and have complete control of the settings.
First 100 Miles
Like any install or modification to your ride, it is always good to double check hose fittings, bolts, and clearance after initial startup. When it comes to fuel lines you want to make sure nothing is rubbing such as belts or linkage so keep a close eye on them.
An observation I made was one of the AN fittings (that do not “require” hose clamps) began to get loose. I decided to put hose clamps on all the fittings of the surge tank and the GoEFI unit. This is your opportunity to make any necessary adjustments to the install before its’ initial shakedown run.
The handheld device, while handy, has the cables plug-in from the top which makes installing it in the cabin a little obtrusive, and since it takes a parasitic draw from the battery, you need to unplug it when the car will sit for awhile or overnight. The unit is partially touch screen and partially toggle-oriented, so it takes time to know which buttons do what, which makes it tough to learn while driving.
The system has been working flawlessly though. The Rambler wagon has been starting up right-away every time, and even in the morning when it has been 40 degrees out, it fires up and runs smooth. Throttle response is quick and crisp, and driving feels much smoother. The G-Surge tank is a lot quieter than I thought it would be. You barely hear it compared to some other electric pumps I have used in the past.
Having the Rambler wagon back on the road is an amazing feeling, and knowing it has the reliability and performance of fuel injection gives me the confidence I need for a daily driver. I have already found myself bragging it has fuel injection when someone comes up and asks about the wagon. Their positive response solidifies my decision to convert to fuel injection.
Like it says on the FiTech box: “Never buy a carburetor again!”