at a crossroads
bought an "84" 4 x 4 for my kid and began turning it into a general pre-runner off-road rig that doubled as a daily driver. it burned a little oil and i reminded him of that fact on many occasions and even checked it a few times myself until my mother went into hospice care a few months back. as a result of having other things on my mind other than his rig he ran the thing until it was out of oil and fried the engine. the thing that amazes me is that he had no idea what was wrong except that he said it wouldn't run right to my wife. of course the first thing i checked was the oil before i even tried to start it and lo and behold it had not one drop of oil. figuring that maybe cause he never had the money to drive it very far (coupla miles) that if i stuck some oil in it i might find it would run enough to determine if maybe he blew a head gasket or something minor. NOT! totally smoked. anyway, seeing as how i live in vegas and we have the smog police here and in order to get it registered i need to probably either rebuild the engine, find another one that's not blown, or figure out how to replace it with something else cheaper and still be legal.
if i decide to get it rebuilt (a spendy proposition) are there reasonable performance upgrades i can do to it that are worth the money to increase hp without losing too much mpg and if so what might those be, or should i get a crate motor from autozone for (1500.00) and upgrade it instead?? or is it possible to go another route with another engine size and still be able to get it registered like a 5.0 maybe?? the truck is rust free, with no dents, has a good tranny and rear end, and only needs a paint job. or should i just part it out and start from scratch??