What engine should I put in this truck?

I’ve been getting very antsy to start work on my dream truck, and after wrapping up a few small projects and shuffling a few things around I should be able to shoehorn this into my garage. Once I do, I’ll need to make a final decision on what I want to power it. Since it’s always been a “I’ll get to it soon” project, ideas and dreams have danced in my head like a kid at Christmas, but now that I’m getting serious about getting it started, I need to decide. What I really want is something different, that stands out a little, and of course I want a manual. Yet budget, and some really cheap motor/auto trans combos may push me in a different direction. I’d rather have it running and driving than worry about it being perfect.

Here are the options I’ve dreamed of so far.

Small block Ford 302/351 (351 preferred) - carbureted

Pros: easy to find, pretty easy to find with a manual, cheap to build, reliable

Cons: Boring, predictable

Ford 5.4 (2 valve or 3 valve, 3 valve preferred)

Pros: Plentiful in my local junkyard, same cost as a SBF, more modern, fuel injection, different/unique


Cons: more complicated to install and wire, impossible to find with a manual, not all that different or unique

Lincoln 4 valve 5.4

Pros: more power than the Ford 5.4, definitely unique, I can refer to my truck as a hot rod Lincoln, in reference to one of my favorite songs.


Cons: Auto only, wiring etc, hard to find

Ford 6.8 V10

Pros: They show up in my local pull it yard often enough, same price as any other engine I get from the pull it yard, lots of torque, unique, its a V10


Cons: more than likely to have an auto, I’ve never seen a manual one in the yard, not a lot of aftermarket support and what it does have is expensive, gas mileage will be very bad

Flathead V8

Pros: I already have one, flatheads are awesome, it would retain some period correctness (not that that’s what I want %100, but I’d like to keep it on the traditional hot rod side of things). Manual trans adapters are readily available.


Cons: The one I have needs everything, and I mean everything, it might be better off to turn it into a table. It’s gonna cost a bit to get it built. I would still need to find a trans, plus all the kit to make it work. Not a lot of power, bad gas mileage.

Ford 300 I6

Pros: reliable as hell, very easy to find with a manual, less common than a SBF, carbed or in


Cons: not a lot of power

So those are all the ideas floating in my head. What would you do Oppo? And no, I absolutely will not put a small block Chevy or LS in it, I’m not much of a brand purist, but I’d like to keep it Ford, and at this point nothing is less interesting than and LS swap (even though they’re cheap, reliable, easy, and make lots of power). I’m open to other ideas though as long as it’s simple, cheap, and I can maintain roughly 1/2 ton truck capacity.