Home SCIENCE How Ford’s Flathead V8 Engine Works, And Why It Disappeared

How Ford’s Flathead V8 Engine Works, And Why It Disappeared


In 1932 Ford introduced the mass market to V8 engines, sticking a 3.6L flathead V8 producing a terrifying 65 horsepower in the Model 18. The engine lived on until 1953, until being finally replaced in 1954.

source/image: Engineering Explained

What was so special about the flathead V8? Mostly the simplicity of the design.Instead of complicated cylinder heads, they were now simply a single piece of relatively flat metal (flat head). This drove the cost of the engine down, allowing it to be built and sold on a larger scale./ Engineering Explained

The challenge, however, is that the engine suffered from poor airflow, especially at high RPM. In this video we’ll discuss the valvetrain, and how the flathead design impedes airflow for high revving, high power engines.


Not only was airflow a challenge, but the compression ratio was difficult to increase without further restrictions on airflow. Ultimately, improved technologies replaced the flathead in 1954.

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