After coming from a 1200cc Volkswagen ‘beetle’ I revelled in my new-found power for a few years. But early in 1979, after a series of discussions with a long-time ‘diesel crank’ friend of mine, I took the V8 out and replaced it with a 4.154 Perkins diesel, that is four-cylinder 2.5 litre motor, just half the size of the original.
After the diesel conversion I replaced the M21 gearbox with an M20 box, which had a lower first gear. This was still a bit high though for the small motor so I eventually tracked down an M22 gearbox with a very low (3.74:1) first gear, and this is just right.
When I’m not holding up the traffic I enjoy nursing the ‘old girl’ along on the highway at 80km/h. At that speed I’m doing 2000rpm, a bit higher than modern cars, but it feels just right for the car and gives me the best fuel consumption.
While my big old heavy 1975 Kingswood, with its 37-year old engine (which was re-built once in 1998), can’t compete performance-wise with modern diesels, its economy is up there with the best of them. And since economy has always been more important to me than performance, I couldn’t be happier.
Since I did the diesel conversion I’ve lifted the bonnet countless times to show curious people what’s underneath.
Sounds like a tractor
Many have thought “boy, that motor sounds sick.” It does sound very much like a tractor.
I also have had a 1979 HZ Kingswood wagon for 20 years. It’s on dual fuel and I use this mainly around town and for some shorter trips.
Over years many people have told me “I wish I’d never sold my Kingswood. They don’t make them like that anymore”.