1) 223 Six in a '55 F100. What I'm looking for is an easy starting and smooth running motor. The Clifford Research headers and intake with weber carbs isn't cheap but who cares if it works. I'd think that a solid state distributor would be a plus too. What works?
2) This no syncro 1st gear three speed is a killer too. Is there a fully syncronized 3 speed that is a bolt in? Guess I could do a 4 speed if required..
I love my 223. It has the original Holley 1904 carb. I believe the key is a rebuilt carb, good wiring, good ignition. Is your system still 6 volt or converted to 12 volt? The stock setup is dependable as long as the system is good.
Depending on what you plan on doing with the truck will dictate what direction you should go. As long as your intake/carb is in good shape it is fine for weekend driving. You will never get big horses out of a 223 so the aftermarket intake/webers may be overkill. As for the distributor, I hate points but with a good tune up the stock 223 distributor will be fine. Again, make sure your wires, etc are in good shape.
I have 3 on the tree. I rarely use 1st gear, 2nd and 3rd work fine for me. Swapping out the tranny has been discussed in detail on this forum. What rear end are you running?
Starting, Smooth, Dependable and I assume a bit more power?
Before you dive in consider and verify the fundamental "soundness" of the engine. Compression, Valve Adjustment, Starter, Fuel Pump, Lines, Hoses, Belts, Cooling, Vacuum, Tune Up, Carburetor and so on all in good repair. Electrical - Wires - Crimps - Lugs - Connections - Cables - Charging. If you don't verify or correct the status of these items, dependability may always be in question.
Assuming you have a solid foundation, most folks turn their attention to the ignition system, the exhaust system and the intake system. If you are not interested in more performance, a header system and carburetor upgrade are not needed. If you want to upgrade these areas, a header system with a conservative free-flowing exhaust in concert with an Intake Manifold/Carburetor with CFM and jetting for your application is a good thing.
In respect to ignition in my opinion, electronic systems today are far superior in every respect. To me, breaker point systems are obsolete. Like everything else, the components (Coil - Plug Wires - Plug Gap etc) should be matched as recommended by the manufacturer.