Sunday, July 17, 2011

The flathead Ford

Ford Motor Company introduced the “flathead” V-8 in 1932. It was used on Ford passenger cars from 1932 through 1953, 2 years longer than the Model “T” engine was used in production. After Ford stopped using the engine for its own purposes, it was utilized by other manufacturers until as late as 1990.

The original flathead engine of 1932 produced 65 horsepower, but by the time that Ford stopped using the engine in 1953, power had risen to 125 horsepower.

The flathead engine was enormously popular with early hot rodders, who discovered that they could increase power cheaper on a Ford V-8 than on any other engine. Even today, the flathead V-8 is still used in racing, and the Bonneville Salt Flats has a special class for flathead V-8’s. The current record holder managed to achieve 700 horsepower and 300 miles per hour using a flathead Ford, a feat that would likely astound Henry Ford.

The “little engine that could” is pictured below:

Until the Beach Boys released "Little Deuce Coupe” in 1962, very few of us really knew much about the Ford flathead. However, the lyrics posted below got us to starting thinking about it:

“Just a little deuce coupe with a flathead mill
But she’ll walk a Thunderbird like she’s standing still
She’s ported and sleeved and stroked and bored
She’ll do a hundred and forty at the top end floored
She’s my little deuce coupe
You don’t know what I got
(My little deuce coupe)
(You don’t know what I got)”

Truth be told, very few of the modern hot rods still use a flathead V-8 for motivation. The roadster pictured below is definitely a throwback to a bygone era.

Most modern hot rods use the latest Ford or (gasp) Chevy engines to get them down the road. The car pictured below is just one example,

but the MOST famous deuce coupe is the one that John Milner drove in “American Graffiti”

On the morning of July 11, 2011, a derecho storm hit the Chicago area.Wind gusts in a straight line were recorded as high as 80 miles an hour,and countless trees on the North Shore were toppled, which cut off electrical power to over 850,000 people.

One of the trees that was felled by the strong wind was a 23 inch diameter oak tree a block north of where I live.

When it fell, it landed directly on top of a Ford Taurus that was parked right across the street. The painful results of that encounter are pictured below:

My guess is the Ford pictured above would be considered to be a total loss, but that’s a judgment call that needs to be made by the owner’s insurance company.

Would this car qualify as a flathead Ford?

Since the pictures above make even ME wince a bit, I’d have to say yes.

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