Hooniverse Asks- What's Your Favorite Carburetor?

Along with disc front brakes and airbags, fuel injection made the slow, tenuous trek to ubiquity in the modern automobile. Today, at least here in smog-controlled America, the carburetor is as anachronistic as the Conestoga wagon or an honest politician. But geez if they don’t make you feel like you can actually do something when fiddling with them under the hood. Even when they were common, most cars had but one, and it had little screws on the side the twisting of which could make the difference between a stumble and a rumble. Sporty cars typically rocked either a pair, or maybe a larger edition of the lone wolf, but one that packed more BBLs and a lot more CFM.
For me, it’s always been a tossup between the DCOE Weber and the most common product of Skinners Union, the HS. Maybe their preference speaks volumes about the number of hours I spend laying on the couch watching TV – a position my dad used to refer to as parade rest – as both of these are side draught. Or maybe it’s been my prowess with a Uni-Syn. Either way, the simplicity and ease with which each works and may be tuned has always been a comfort zone for me.
Of course my proclivities lean toward the products of that island nation known as Great Britain, and whether Lotus, or Jag, the SU and Weber DCOE is always a welcome sight for me. You, on the other hand, may be more relieved to find a traditional down-draught two or four barrel nestled in the vee of a 60-degree eight like a kitten sleeping between a well-endowed woman’s breasts. Or, maybe you’re so old school that your motto is if it’s not updraft, it’s crap!  For those of you so young that carburetor engenders the same dull-eyed, slck-jaw response as does do you recognize this 13-year old girl? maybe you might want to sit this one out. For the rest of you, which is your favorite carb?
Image source: [MGexperience]

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  1. OA5599 Avatar

    If, by "favorite", you mean which have I owned the most of, then a Holley 2300. They come conveniently packaged in sets of three.
    <img src="http://www.amtracingengines.com/tripower/images/tp2.jpg"&gt;

  2. LTDScott Avatar

    I have only worked on one carbureted car for any length of time, and it had probably one of the worst carbs made, the infamous Motorcraft Variable Venturi. I can confidently call it my LEAST favorite carb. Car ran like crap.
    <img src="http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w227/noddson_album/Variable%20Venturi%20Rebuild/Reinstalledonengine.jpg&quot; width=500>

  3. west_coaster Avatar

    The Autolite 4100, which was installed on lots of Ford V8s in the 1960s.
    Every carburetor expert I've ever talked to says it was dead-nuts perfect right off the bat, especially on the 289.

  4. Vega Avatar

    Weber 40 IDF, two of them.
    <img src=&rdquo ;http://data.motor-talk.de/data/galleries/0/58/7370/23851693/img-1081-4344521814888153438.JPG&rdquo; title=”Weber” width=380 />

    1. vwminispeedster Avatar

      Weber 48IDAs look so dang good too, especially with velocity stacks

  5. themagicboltbox Avatar

    Q-Jets fo' lyfe!
    Ahem. Carter AFBs are cool too.

  6. JayP Avatar

    Zenith oil-dampened carbs found on late-model, rubber bumper MGBs.
    Not that they were spectacular but the only carb that used as much oil as the engine.
    The good… I was able to get about 40mpg highway out of that setup on a non-OD B.
    <img src="http://i788.photobucket.com/albums/yy170/atill93/1978%20MGB/DSC_1860.jpg"&gt;
    But tossed the carb and the horrific one piece cast iron intake/exhaust and replaced with a tube header, aluminum intake and downdraft Weber.
    Favorite-favorite… sidedraft Weber WCOE with polished stacks.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      It will cost you over $1600 to put 2 sidedraft Webers and Quad4Rods.com's manifold onto your Quad 4. But if I ever got around to building an old-timey-looking 4-banger hot rod, I would have to go that route. The quad four has a very Offy-ish look once you strip off the beauty covers, and the twin DCOEs match the engine to perfection.
      <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/Quad4rod.jpg"&gt;

      1. JayP Avatar


        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          >Poof?<Sent from my iPhone

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      > Poof? <

  7. Feds_II Avatar

    Mikuni round slides. I have 2 sets of 4 of these in the basement in case I ever decide to build a performance 4-cylinder car.
    <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v463/GoranXS650/XS650%20Tinnis%20Project/Mikuni%20VM34/2007-10-21MikuniVM3401.jpg&quot; width=500>

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Came here to say that. An efficent, straightforward design that's simple and predictable to tune. Maybe it's because I have much more experience with them than anything else, but the Mikuni VM round-slide is the only carb I have been able to tune absolutely spot-on 100% of the time, even in custom applications. More importantly, they're not very persnickity; lots of different engines seem to run pretty damn well anytime the jetting is anywhere in the general ballpark of "optimal."
      Esslinger actually makes several manifolds to mount VMs on Ford SOHC fours.
      <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/car-mikuni-vm38s.jpg&quot; width="480">
      <img src="http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u217/luckybonez/knucklez%20sandwich/Immag005.jpg&quot; width="480">

  8. OA5599 Avatar

    I always liked the looks of the inline 4 barrel.
    <img src="http://image.popularhotrodding.com/f/9106539/0703phr_03_z+inline_four_barrel_carb+.jpg&quot; width=500>

  9. buzzboy7 Avatar

    This not my favorite carb. Just the one I have spent the most time fiddling with.
    <img src="http://www.aircooledtech.com/34pict3_modification/34pict-3.jpg"&gt;
    Those little guys in the back though. They are my favorite. Best intake noise I've ever heard.
    <img src="http://bringatrailer.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/1967_Austin_Mini_Cooper_S_Mk2_For_Sale_Engine_1.jpg"&gt;

  10. ptschett Avatar

    Since it's the only carb I've really tinkered with, I'll have to go with the Keihin CVK40.
    <img src="http://gadgetjq.com/keihin_cvkwoteng2.jpg"&gt;

  11. PowerTryp Avatar

    Carb, shmarb. Engines didn't really become somthing till fuel injection.
    <img src="http://www.enginebasics.com/Engine%20Basics%20Root%20Folder/Images/Fuel_Injectors_1.jpg"&gt;

    1. McQueen Avatar

      Not trolling only a fool would love to eff around with carbs especially when self programing EFI set ups can be had for around $1500 and you never have to touch it again .

  12. Michael Avatar

    Dellorto DHLA. Nothing is prettier than side draughts with trumpets on an inline!

  13. OA5599 Avatar

    For those of you on low carb diets:
    <img src="http://www.landcrazed.com/wp-content/uploads/Basic%20Carburetor.jpg&quot; width=500>

    1. Alff Avatar

      The perfect location for vacuuming up road grime.

  14. Armand4 Avatar

    The only one I've ever actually fiddled with is a Weber DGV. It's wonderful– as long as the jetting's in the "close enough for rock and roll" range, you can make it run pretty well by turning two screws. And in my non-overdrive 1600-cc Sunbeam, it returns around 30 MPG and 66 pavement-rippling British horsepower. Someday, I'll move up to the far sexier (and far more expensive) DCOEs, but the DGV is a great piece of engineering.

  15. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    40MM Kadrons (Brosol-Solex) have a nasty reputation for being crudely manufactured, but they're cheap, simple, easy to work on, and capable of really improving performance. All those qualities make them the perfect match for the VW Type 1 motor.
    <img src="http://www.shop.kaddieshack.com/media/Kadron%203.jpg&quot; width="500">
    You just need to know somebody who can make them work right.

  16. Froggmann_ Avatar

    Favorite Carb: Autolite 2100. Never had to fiddle with it. It just worked.
    <img src="http://www.ponycarburetors.com/images/carbs_002.jpg&quot; /img>
    Carb I hate the most Holley 4100. Always had to F with it and when they started putting that ethyhol crap in our gas I started having to change out needle valves every 3 or so months because they would harden up into little black rocks which then just dumped fuel.
    <img src="http://image.automotive.com/f/howto/mump_1012_autolite_4100_carburetor_installation/29480177+soriginal/mump_1012_05_+autolite_4100_carburetor_installation+holley_185)-carburetor.jpg" width=600 /img>

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell


  17. boostedlegowgn Avatar

    I've never had to fiddle with carbs, having grown up with 80's turbo tech and their associated goddamn vacuum lines, but the family MGB and Land Rover were certainly fist-bitingly annoying to dear old Dad. Here is a Keihin-equipped Spitfire engine that is relevant to your interests.
    <img src="http://img151.imageshack.us/img151/1096/timthumbphpi.png"&gt;

  18. SSurfer321 Avatar

    Who says carburetors are rare?
    <img src="http://www.deviantart.com/download/114318511/2009_Nascar_Desktop_by_TheKnockoutKings.jpg&quot;, width=640>

  19. mdharrell Avatar

    I'll have to go with the Bing Type 21:
    <img src="http://www.bingpower.de/shared/images/products/fotos/type21.gif"&gt;
    Specifically the variant developed for KV/KVS and used in the Mini 1. It's not just a sentimental favorite for the application, but also because Bing Power Systems GmbH still lists that application on their website, making it the only currently active reference to KV that I've ever been able to find. If you want to see the last, flickering ember of the KV empire, go here:
    and select 21/20/108 – Vergaser 21 from the drop-down menu, click Show Data and read the results under engine model. That's all that's left.

    1. Alff Avatar

      The KV Mini looks a lot like the machine that goes "bing".

    2. OA5599 Avatar

      Object not found!
      The requested URL was not found on this server. If you entered the URL manually please check your spelling and try again.
      If you think this is a server error, please contact the webmaster.
      Error 404 <a href="http://www.bingpower.de” target=”_blank”>www.bingpower.de
      Wed Jun 29 19:38:39 2011
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/62/Time_Enough_themes.jpg"&gt;

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Really? It's working for me. Hmmm. If you want to try typing it manually, the last part of the URL that got clipped above is einstellblaetter.html

        1. OA5599 Avatar

          No. Not really. I just wanted to see your reaction if your last flickering ember had been snuffed.
          Made you look.

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            Yes. Yes, you did.
            Curiously, my first instinct was simply to blame Hoonibbles.

  20. James Avatar

    Dellorto SHA is hard to beat for sheer simplicity. Not that simplicity is everyone's ideal feature for a carb.
    One jet. No needle setting or air screws to mess with. Spring loaded lever choke, push it down to set it, give it full throttle and the choke automatically snaps off.
    <img src="http://i450.photobucket.com/albums/qq228/JamesISpalding/Puch%20Maxi/DSCF8206.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    Shame they only make it up to 16mm. Too small for even my modest Datsun 1200 power goals.

    1. discontinuuity Avatar

      I'm currently doing battle with a 10mm on my Vespa. It's especially hard to tune when I don't have the proper sized jets and have to drill them out. Also, my choke lever isn't working.
      When I get some cash I'll have to buy a new 13mm and port the intake to match.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Gosh, I would've nominated that for the carburetor I most HATE!!! The plastic parts are made from the most brittle and fast-degrading polymer compound known to science, and the body is cast using an alloy I can only assume is made from reclaimed St. Francis of Assisi medals and old, unwashed milk cans, then cast by some special process that maximizes its porosity.
      When it's working, the SHA atomizes fuel with all the precision of a plastic spray bottle. It's the only carburetor that can be fully diagnosed just by attempting to start the bike. If the crank begins revolving on its own at any point, the carb can be assumed to be "functioning as designed." If your bike starts and runs like crap, you move on to exactly two tuning choices: 1) toss your carb or 2) just live with it.

  21. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    <img src="http://www.carbsonly.com/Graphics/Carb%20Pics/bigpictures/Big_CARTER%20AFB.jpg"&gt;
    Edelbrock (really Carter's design, and made by Weber) AFB or AVS is what I know best…because I bought a book on them and spent ample time fiddling with the AFB on my Country Sedan. The Falcon just got an 500cfm AVS, which I'm wrapping up the install on (more on that later).
    Favorite, just to look at? I keep finding reasons to post this image:
    <img src="http://www.jiminglese.com/images/weber5007010.jpg"&gt;
    from <a href="http://www.jiminglese.com/weber5_007.htm” target=”_blank”>http://www.jiminglese.com/weber5_007.htm

    1. CptSevere Avatar

      That was going to be my response, but you beat me to it. I installed an Edelbrock 600 carb and Performer manifold on the 350 that resides in the Road Condo, and it works great. I've never had a problem with it. Good call.

  22. Slow Joe Crow Avatar
    Slow Joe Crow

    All the cars I have owned had fuel injection, but I always have a warm spot for the Dellorto PHM "pumper" motorcycle carb as used on the BMW R90S
    <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5287/5336410420_90e9f1db37.jpg&quot; width="600">

  23. tonyola Avatar

    Slightly odd question. To me, asking me about my favorite carburetor is like asking what's my favorite salt-shaker.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Oh, that's easy. Mine's the Before-and-After Mt. St. Helens set, made from genuine ash:
      <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5266/5590508220_8308c7de17.jpg&quot; width="300">
      <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5175/5589918393_4720dc1133.jpg&quot; width="300">
      <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5190/5590508270_3e02875938.jpg&quot; width="300">
      I use one when teaching my introductory geology course.

      1. Feds_II Avatar

        I'm considering making some more accounts so I can give this comment more thumbs up.

  24. CptSevere Avatar

    Since I've never owned anything built after 1974, I've always had carburetors on my various machines, except the '74 VW Bug with the shitty Bosch fuel injection, which never ran right. Since Mr._Science mentioned the Edelbrock already, I'll go with the cute little one barrel that runs the 240 straight six in my F100. I can have it off the engine, in pieces, cleaned, and put back on the manifold in less than an hour. I know it inside and out. Aside from that, I've always liked the Rochester 2G, which was standard on small block GM V8s throughout the sixties. Another simple and reliable carburetor, and works great in a tri-power setup, as well.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      You had a '74 Bug that had been converted to fuel injection? I've owned a carbureted '74 and an injected '77 and can't imagine why anyone would want to retrofit fuel injection onto an earlier car like that. It would be an enormous amount of work for, as you noted, disappointing results.

      1. CptSevere Avatar

        Maybe it was a '76, because it had a catalytic converter, too. Maybe I HAVE owned a vehicle newer than 1974.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          A later car does seem more likely, but I wouldn't necessarily put it past a Beetle fanatic to have done the swap. Then again, you may have ended up with a "1974" car by means of a VIN transplant at the hands of a previous owner. Those are much simpler to perform, I've been told.

  25. dukeisduke Avatar

    First: Rochester QuadraJet (some were made by Carter, when Rochester was at capacity)
    Second: Carter AFB

  26. Jim-Bob Avatar

    I tend to find OBD II EFI cars the easiest to work on in a stock application, but for my modified cars I use either a Quadrajet or a Edelbrock-built Carter AFB clone. I tend to think a spread bore Carter AVS is a better carb than either of them due to it's design but I have never played with one. At any rate, for the street it is tough to beat an air valve type secondary due to the ability to tune it for the rate at which the secondaries come in. With a Quadrajet though it is important that it comes from an engine close to the displacement of the engine it is going on to. This is because of the idle feed restriction that is set at the factory and VERY difficult to change. It is also why so many people can't get their Q-Jet to run right. The Quadrajet also has the advantage of a 175 CFM primary side which allows for high velocity through the primaries at low RPM. Thus, unlike a square flange carb, it can idle at a lower speed and maintain stable fuel atomization because it has a much stronger vacuum signal. Also, many people mistakenly think that all Quadrajets are the same size because the venturi's are all the same. This is false. Smaller displacement and smog era engines have an air valve shaft with a long stop on it that restricts the carb down to the desired maximum size. However, this also means that you can change a 600 CFM carb off a 305 to a 750 CFM carb with a Dremel and a cutoff wheel in less than a minute. It's an easy change and one that I have used successfully on my carb (which is off a 350 powered 1979 Chevy Van). I figured out where to cut by comparing it to a 1969 Cadillac 472 Quadrajet that I also have in my collection.
    The Carter AFB also uses an air valve secondary system. Unlike the Quadrajet though it is NOT tunable as it's reaction is preset by the counterweight instead of being set with an adjustable tension spring in the airhorn assembly like the Quadrajet. Plus, most of the Edelbrock/Carter AFBs out there are square flange and thus not capable of the strong fuel atomization and thus fuel economy and low speed throttle response of the Quadrajet. Just going from an Edelbrock 600 to a Quadrajet 750 on my mild SBC 355 gave me 2 mpg in city driving because of it's smaller primaries.
    As for what I drive every day, well none of those cars use carburetors. My 2 3 cyl Geo Metros use TBI and my Frontier uses OBD II SEFI. The Geo I use for pizza delivery gives me 45 mpg in city traffic on average and neither of my carburated V8 cars (1985 Cutlass Supreme with 355 Chevy and 1979 AMC Spirit with AMC 360/ Edelbrock 600) come close. Then again few cars can come close to a Metro when it comes to fuel economy and neither of my V8's is used for delivery any more.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Many times I have debated the relative simplicity of the simpler EFI setups versus carburetors.
      Having worked on both, I really prefer the simplicity of a couple of sensors, injectors and a controller to the clusterfnck of springs, valves, needles and vacuum actuation that is most 4-barrels.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        EFI is like electronic ignition: it's actually much slicker and easier to work with, until it doesn't work. Then you have little choice other than to just start swapping out random components until it works again. And heaven help you if you have two components go bad simultaneously, or you get an intermittent short in some unseen PC board potted with black epoxy sealant somewhere. At least with a carb, you can methodically go through a diagnostic decision tree. With electronics, the flow chart can seem like a bowl of spagetti sometimes.
        When you get a mechanical carb to tick over at idle perfectly, and the engine zooms to redline without a stumble when you whack the trottle open, you feel a great deal of accomplishment. When you finally discover that your FI fuel problem was that the brand new digital jillianator you kept repeatedly swapping out happened to have the exact same intermittent short as your old one, the sense of satisfaction isn't there…you're just relived that you can stop pulling your hair out.

        1. Tim Odell Avatar
          Tim Odell

          The (literal) sticking points in a carb as as manifold and potentially confounding as EFI gremlins.
          On my AFBs…linkage, throttle shaft, choke, fuel pump, floats, needles, seats, idle circuit, accelerator pump linkage, accelerator pump itself, gummed venturis, improper fuel rods, improper fuel rod springs, and idle screws come to mind readily.
          There's a gizmo that measures air in (MAP, MAF or some other wizardry)
          A mechanism to set the idle (usually just a set screw on the thottle plate)
          A vacuum sensor to measure load
          [N] injectors
          O2 sensor(s) to double-check the mix
          …and one magical black box to control it
          With a shop manual, multimeter and a 12v power supply, you can diagnose as easily as any carb…not to mention on OBDI or OBDII systems the computer will spew error codes to get you started. It's true that it lacks the direct "looka here! the ____'s all _____'ed up" obviousness of carb fixing. You definitely can't get started without some kind of manual.
          With a carb, you're always left wondering if some more dickering would get you a little more low/mid/top power, as there's an infinitum of tradeoffs to make. EFI throws most of those out the window. When it works, you know it's working as well as it possibly can.
          I'm not going to say EFI can't create its own headaches (let me tell you the story about the surging idle on my '85 4Runner), but whenever I hear "just throw a simple 4-barrel Holley/Edelbrock/Autolite/Q-jet on it" I laugh.

          1. Jim-Bob Avatar

            Holley 4 barrel carbs drive me to tears as they NEVER stay in tune. The littlest thing or weather change upsets them and then I am right back to square one with a set of jets, power valves and various parts of the accelerator pump system. However, OLD EFI systems can be a real nightmare as poor quality connections can make troubleshooting them a nightmare. It can be done though and knowledge of a carburated car can help. Everything a carb deals with EFI deals with. You just have to understand how the computer reads certain sensors and what it does with the data to narrow down the possible problem.
            I will post this here for anyone who is scared of EFI. Almost every sensor except the O2 uses resistance to measure things. The computer sends a 5 volt reference signal to the sensor and the sensor sends back up to 5 volts back. Thus a simple digital volt ohm meter can be used to find most faults by checking for open circuits in the sensors and for reference voltage at the sensor's plug. Some temperature switches and sensors rely on a thermistor that varies the ground signal to the computer and they can easily be checked once you know that those sensors and switches have only 1 wire coming off of them. Understanding EFI will save you a lot of money. For me it has been over 15 years and 400,000 miles of driving since I have visited a mechanic for an engine management related issue-most of that in one vehicle. It's gotten to the point that many times I can tell what is wrong by hearing a car run in passing or asking someone about a driveability issue I noticed in their car without their asking. It really is that simple for any car without direct injection.

  27. buzzboy7 Avatar

    I have a performer 600 vacuum combo. The engine is internally stock with this intake/carb and some long tubes. Runs great still but with ethanol gumming up the carb there are a bunch more pieces to clean. Also my classic mechanic is a chevy and edelbrock guy, so he recommended a carb that he would know how to work on for the things that I don't understand.

    1. McQueen Avatar

      I've always prefered Edelbrock or Carter to Holley carbs . Holley carbs seem finicky

      1. buzzboy7 Avatar

        My mechanic liked to talk about something he called "The holley weep". Said that they hold fuel against a seal that slowly goes bad, while the edelbrock/carter has fuel sitting on just metal.

  28. buzzboy7 Avatar


  29. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    So, now you're gone
    and I can think for myself
    about little deals and S.U.'s
    and things that I just don't understand….

  30. Abe Avatar

    Favorite? The only carb I could ever get to work even close to right after I took it apart, the predator carb.
    Beyond that carburetors are bollocks. EFI performs so much better and is so much more reliable than carburetors it is tough for me to imagine why anyone would choose a carb over EFI unless it was for historical accuracy.

  31. nofrillls Avatar

    Kind of middle of the road in terms of performance but I've always found the Weber DGEV to be a remarkably stable, reliable and predictable carb. Even in a pair, like I have on my '72 Mercedes, it is "set 'em and forget em".

  32. brandon Avatar

    Ugly as hell, and popularly hated where I come from, but I always had a soft spot for the Rochester Quadrajet. If set right the first time they would never need to be touched. They were superb ontop of a 350 mounted in a ski-boat. The boat manufacture I briefly worked for were forced to move to Holley's due to public perception, they never ran quite as smooth but customers could tell their mates they had a "Holley Double-Pumper".