Thursday, July 24, 2008

If I Were a Motor: My Favorite Car Engines

This is the first post in a series I am calling "If I Were a Motor..." I'm not sure how many posts will be included because there are a ton of motors I wouldn't mind being. Most are motors that arose from the "muscle car era" that started back in the 60s (Preview: Chevy 454 "Rat" and 350 "Mouse," Ford small blocks, 5 liters, and the Boss series, don't forget Mopar 340 and the venerable "Hemi") but some are modern-day motors that power the Corvette, Ford GT, Ferrari (of course!) and Lambos.

First up is my all-time favorite, the one I grew up with. I grew up in a "Ford family."

Wait! Come back!! :)

That being the case, I was surrounded by small block Fords and chatter about the 427 FE and SOHC, 429 BOSS, and 351 Windsors and Clevelands. My first car was a 1983 Ford Mustang GT that I once got up to 130, which was pretty fast way back when.

Needless to say, I worked a lot on that car. It had a "5.0 Liter" V8 (also known as a 302) and it loved to rev to 6000 RPM. Ford's small block V8, which had started out as a 260 cubic inch "little" motor, powering things like the Falcon and first-ever Pony car, the mid-60s Mustang (based in the Falcon, by the way), not to mention the very first Cobra, grew into a 289 (our Ford Fairlane had one of those. Man, it was fast), then a 302, and finally a 351 Winsdor.

The 351 Cleveland was a cross between the 351W and a Boss 302 (basically, a 351W with Boss 302 heads, with some beefing up and modification to the engine block).

In any event, the reason I love the small block Ford is that they're so easy to modify. You want a part to make it go faster? Only time and money will stop you. Parts are cheap, relatively speaking, but there are so many hot-rodding parts that you'll go broke if you buy them all.

Want a few extra horsepower? Replace the intake manifold. Want a little more pep? Swap out the stock carburetor for something a little more powerful, like a Holley 4 barrel or an Edelbrock (where did the Predator go?). Want 15 horsepower? Remove the stock exhaust manifolds and replace them with a set of headers.

So easy to work on, too. The distributor is right up front, everything is within easy reach, and parts are available at your local NAPA and Kragen dealers, along with a TON of aftermarket shops online.

Most of this is due to the overwhelming popularity of the Ford Mustang, dating all the way back to the 60s, but really taking hold with my generation's fascination with the "Fox-based" (aka Fairmont) Mustang III that started in 1979 but really became popular in the mid- to late 80s.

They're "short stroke" runners that love the higher RPM range, especially if you have modified heads (the exhaust ports have always been on the small side). They make a wonderful sound, too.

What a fine piece of American (really Canada, as in Windsor, Canada) ingenuity.

On par, or in competiton, with the venerable Ford small block is the Chevy and Dodge (aka, Mopar) small blocks. I'll probably talk about those next. Be sure to come back for the next installment of this series. Sure to piss off "the other guys," I'll pick another motor for the next installment. Maybe with more pictures!