The Blue Oval. FoMoCo. First On Race Day. These are all names for one of the most iconic and successful American car companies on the planet. Setting brand-loyalties – and their inherent rivalries – aside for a minute, Ford has produced some truly great products over the decades.
From revolutionizing the automotive industry as a whole with a method of building cars that is still employed today, to creating a whole class of vehicle that still exists 54 years later in the pony car, you can’t deny the influence Ford Motor Company has had on the entire automotive industry and culture.
In this video from Visio Racer, nine of the best Blue Oval powerplants produced in the last 115 years are showcased. Of those nine, we’re going to focus on five of them and expand upon their greatness.
Ford Flathead V8
The Flathead holds a lot of significance to the automotive aftermarket, whether you’re a Ford fan or not. First released in the 1932 Ford, it was the first mass-produced, and therefore affordable, V8 engine to enter the marketplace. Available from the factory in displacements from 221 cubic inches to 337 cubic inches, it fast became a favorite of the emerging subculture of hot rodders.
In fact, the Ford Flathead plays an integral part of the history of the Edelbrock legacy as well, being the first engine that Vic Edelbrock, Sr. ever built an aftermarket part for. The Flathead had a 21-year service life in the United States and lasted an additional 20 years being licensed overseas, which helped land it a spot on Ward’s 10 Best Engines of the 20th Century list.
The Ford Flathead’s valve-in-block design may be obsolete by today’s standards, but Edelbrock still sells their original intake manifold design, along with cylinder heads after all these years. The Flathead may live forever.
Supercharged 5.4-Liter Modular
When the 5.4-liter Two-Valve Modular engine came on scene in 1997, it had some significantly large shoes to fill, replacing the venerable 351 Windsor engine. Its tall deck and long stroke made for a unique under-square engine that confused some enthusiasts, but the single overhead cam engine really made a name for itself in 1999, when the second-generation SVT Lightning was released.
Sporting an Eaton M112 roots-style supercharger, the engine was given a 120-horsepower boost over the standard model F-150, plus a very unique and distinct supercharger whine (which your author heard coming up his backside at the stripe on multiple occasions in the local bracket program).
Tossing a set of Four-Valve cylinder heads on the supercharged 5.4 was a logical next step, and with the addition of the Eaton M122 supercharger, it powered the 2007-2012 Shelby GT500s, and with the Eaton 2300 TVS supercharger, the 5.4-liter Four-Valve powered the 2004-2006 Ford GT supercar. Without a doubt, the supercharged tall-deck Modular engine shined brightly in each and every application in which it was used.
Take all the best features of the DOHC 5.0-liter Coyote engine, add more bore (94mm/3.700in.), more stroke (93mm/3.661in), and more compression (12.0:1), combine that with a flat-plane crank that will spin to 8,250 rpm, and you get an engine that makes 526 horsepower naturally aspirated.
There is something about a high-tech, high-revving production engine that is hard to argue against. With its unique sound, and insane from-the-factory performance, this engine is really unmatched by any other production engine in the Ford lineup. Designed to power the 2015-2018 Shelby GT350 and 350R, the Voodoo engine may be a niche engine, but it certainly deserves a spot on the list of greatest Ford engines ever.
The Voodoo variant of the Coyote engine is probably the peak of the current Blue Oval performance lineup, although owners of the twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost-powered Ford GT may disagree. The flat-plane crank, 8,250-rpm rev-limit, and 526 naturally aspirated horsepower really make this DOHC 5.2-liter powerplant a real badass.
The iconic small-block Ford engine first debuted as a 221 cubic inch model in 1962, followed by a 260 cubic inch model later in that same year. However, it wasn’t until the following year that the first iteration of the 4.00-inch bore version of what has become one of the most popular Ford engines in history, would appear.
With a performance 289 cubic-inch model debuting in the 1964 Mustang, it was all uphill from that point on, going on to power the Mercury Comet Super Cyclone and Mustang GT-350. Then, due to rules changes at the 24 Hours of LeMans, the displacement of the production engines was upped to 302 cubic-inches via a 4.00-inch bore and 3.00-inch stroke. That change led to an engine configuration that would be in production for almost 30 years, and become absolutely iconic within the automotive community and pop culture.
428 Cobra Jet
A variant of the Ford FE “medium-block” engine which in and of itself might be worthy of this list, the 428 FE came about as a cheaper-to-produce alternative to the 427 Ford engine. The 428 Cobra Jet was the performance version of the 428, and came in a wide variety of Ford vehicles beyond just the Mustang.
A drag racing-specific version, known as the 428 Super Cobra Jet, was further strengthened internally, and came as part of Ford’s “Drag Pack” option on a variety of 1969-1970 model-year vehicles. While it peaked in output of 355 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque, that was very robust for the time, and has become one of the most iconic historical engines to ever come from FoMoCo.
While we’ve only covered five of the engines in the video, it also covered the 300 I6 engine, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, the 7.3-liter PowerStroke diesel, and the Model T engine. Now, we’re not sure whether we agree with those choices, if we’re limited to only nine engines, as the 5.0-liter Coyote is conspicuously absent, as is the 385-series big-block Ford.
What Blue Oval engine do you think should have been on the list? Let us know down in the comments
While the 428FE may have come about as a cost-cutting measure, the 428 Cobra Jet and 428 Super Cobra Jet versions of the engine cemented the engine’s place in both Ford’s performance history books, and the NHRA’s.