The Ford Motor Company is one of the world’s largest and oldest active car companies. Established in 1903, Ford has been producing cars, trucks, vans and tractors for over 114 years. During this time, Ford has produced over 300 million vehicles, which is a truly impressive number. Up until the 1950’s, Ford was the world`s biggest car company and one of the most influential, since it introduced modern production methods and many patents that experts consider the top standards of the industry.
Such an important giant of the car world is known for their models, but also for their engines. After all, the engine is the heart of a car. Those highly-popular vehicles have become famous, but not only for their style or technology, but also for their engines. Sometimes, the engine itself becomes legendary and starts a life of its own in various models. The Ford Motor Company has had its share of legendary power plants which they installed in many cars.
Keep reading to learn about the top 14 iconic Ford engines. All are gasoline powered motors, except one Power Stroke diesel V8. Some are over 80 years old, while others are currently in production. Even so, they all have two things in common: Ford built them and they made automotive history.
Ford’s first important and highly influential engine was the Flathead V8, which they introduced in 1932. In this modern day, it’s hard to imagine how advanced this unit was. However, not only was it was the first mass produced V8, it also introduced a whole new technology to the car industry. Originally, the power was only 65 HP, but for the standards of the day, it was more than enough.
To put it in perspective, only high-end luxury makes of the day had engines with eight cylinders and then only in straight eight form. Ford`s biggest competitor, Chevrolet, introduced its first V8 in 1955 – 23 years later. The Flathead V8 stayed in production for over 20 years, until 1953. During that time it sold in the millions, introducing V8 power to satisfied customers worldwide.
The power steadily grew to 125 HP, which put the Flathead V8 equipped Fords at the top of its class in terms of power. One of the most important aspects of this engine was that the Flathead V8 showed its tuning potential as soon as Ford introduced it. With just a few backyard mechanic tweaks, it could produce twice the power.
Soon, the aftermarket offerings designed especially for Flathead V8 flooded the community and hot rod crews got their signature engines and the whole automotive industry supported it. Basically, the Flathead V8 created engine tuners, a trend that is with us up to this day.
289 V8 Small Block
Introduced in 1963, the 289 CID, 4.7-liter V8 engine was a small block unit Ford designed to be an entry level V8 for all models in their lineup. With small dimensions, a relatively small weight, and decent power, the 289 engine was an impressive offering for car buyers. It was available on all Ford Motor Company models, from the modest Falcon to the upscale Galaxie 500. But, the 289 proved to be a perfect match for the legendary Ford Mustang, which they introduced a year later, in 1964.
In the Mustang, this engine was an ideal combination that suited the character of the car. Even in its base variants with a single dual barrel carburetor and 200 HP output, this small 289 V8 engine provided an impressive performance to the iconic Mustang. Ford recognized the potential of this engine and upgraded it to a 221 HP. Next, they produced the 271 HP and then the legendary 289 HiPo, or High Power version. The HiPo 289 was a factory-tuned engine that featured the same displacement but with tougher internals, an intake system, and a four-barrel carburetor.
The 271 HP provided a lively performance in the Mustang GT; however, the ultimate 289 came in 1965, thanks to the famous Carroll Shelby. The Shelby American company built a racing Mustang called the Shelby GT350. Under the hood was a race-ready 289 engine with a totally different intake, cylinder heads and pistons that delivered 306 HP from 4.7 liters.
The final year for the 289 Mustang was in 1968 when Ford replaced it with more modern engines. Over the years, Ford has produced millions of those small but powerful engines that have become a favorite with Mustang owners. Ford still makes the parts and aftermarket components for the 289 V8 today.