Go Back   The Ford Barn > General Discussion > Early V8 (1932-53)

Sponsored Links (Register now to hide all advertisements)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-24-2016, 09:22 PM   #1
41Joe
Senior Member
 
41Joe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Posts: 284
Default Why the flathead?

Markymark started a thread yesterday about the story of your Ford.
This got me thinking and I am interested in why people are so enamoured with the Ford Flathead V8.
For me, it started with going to car shows with my dad. I always loved the old cars from when I could start walking. And seeing all those cool cars did something. I got bit by the bug. Then when I saw a flathead for the first time, it was so different than all the other engines in these cars. It was so simple and elegant looking in a way. Now I didn't think like that when I was a kid, that's how I feel now. When I was a kid it was more of, "that's a neat looking engine, what is it?".
Then as I got older and learning more about the Flathead and how they work, just the simplicity amazed me. It stands out from the rest of the crowd in my mind.
How do the rest of you feel and how did it begin for you?
41Joe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 09:27 PM   #2
swoopNZ
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 1,202
Default Re: Why the flathead?

The sound from the exhaust - beats most other cars.
swoopNZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links (Register now to hide all advertisements)
Old 02-24-2016, 09:36 PM   #3
RalphG
Senior Member
 
RalphG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Sask. Canada
Posts: 2,034
Default Re: Why the flathead?

For me, I was just surrounded by flathead Fords in my formative years. I never knew there was any other car or truck engine other than a Ford or Mercury flathead for a long time. Dad's 39 Deluxe and the 46 Ford truck. Later the 52 Merc. All looked and sounded pretty similar. Eventually I discovered those strange looking six and eight cylinder OHV engines. Now I'm back to flatheads when I have time to play with them.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1939 Ford.jpg (50.9 KB, 49 views)
RalphG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 09:39 PM   #4
Flathead41ford
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Mentor OH
Posts: 23
Default Re: Why the flathead?

I bought my 41 Ford the end of July of 1995. I wasn't able to open the hood on it at the time but it had the V8 emblem. At the time I didn't care too much because I was thinking of an early Olds drive line to start with. The car was shipped to Cleveland OH from Wiliston ND in December of 95. My dad and I figured we would see if the motor spun over. It was stuck. We put (if I remember this right) 50/50 Coke and Marvel Mystery oil down all the cylinders. A few days later the motor spun by hand. We cleaned up the points, cleaned the plugs and dumped some gas down the old carb. Sure enough, it popped off. A little more minor things we had it idling on its own. Amazingly, it was quiet and idled well. I was impressed on how it sounded. At the time I was 15. My dad and some of his friends told me about how good the old flatties were in the day. I wanted to go fast, but I loved the nostalgia. More digging showed me that they did well for their day. I ended up keeping the flathead for my 41 (still not even close to done) and chose to build others around it for the go fast sensation. The motor still does, and most likely always will, intrigue me. As I like to tell some of my go fast buddies that bust my chops about the power of a flathead, "Its like a Harley. It turns money into noise with out the side effect of power. But, it looks great doing it!"
Flathead41ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 09:51 PM   #5
41Joe
Senior Member
 
41Joe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Posts: 284
Default Re: Why the flathead?

Flathead41ford,
I think I am somewhat the same way, I like the nostalgia too. My first flathead was in a 41 Mercury Fordor. The car sat in a guys carport for a while. I got it home and for some reason without thinking I tried to start it. It fired right up with no hesitation. This car had never been worked on and sat for a while. After I got it parked, I pulled the heads and the engine was clean looking inside, but all the cylinders had coolant in them. I made the mistake of pulling the engine and doing a complete rebuild at the time. I say it was a mistake because I never got it back into the car to enjoy it. I was 19 when I bought that car and got married at 21. Then it went on the backburner till I had to sell it.
But that first experience of starting it and it ran, just amazed me. Another reason I love the Flathead. They seem indestructible, or just really reliable.
41Joe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 09:54 PM   #6
Scott H in Wheaton
Senior Member
 
Scott H in Wheaton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Wheaton, IL near Chicago
Posts: 861
Default Re: Why the flathead?

Sponsored Links (Register now to hide all advertisements)
Because I've done small block Fords since 1977 and I wanted something new to challenge me, and I've always admired the nostalgia of the flathead and admired the engineering effort it took over 80 years ago to dream up, create, manufacture, and sell them.
Scott H in Wheaton is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 10:00 PM   #7
zzlegend
Senior Member
 
zzlegend's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Reseda, Calif.
Posts: 2,171
Default Re: Why the flathead?

Just cant beat the sound and looks of a flathead. Besides you cant put 48 chrome acorn nuts on a round head. Just my 2 cents.
zzlegend is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 10:22 PM   #8
TonyM
Senior Member
 
TonyM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: West Hammond, Illinois
Posts: 2,676
Default Re: Why the flathead?

My dad had a 1937 Ford when I was a kid. He then went on to Buick Straight Eight and never looked back. I never forgot that old Ford. Always loved them.
TonyM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 10:23 PM   #9
29AVEE8
Senior Member
 
29AVEE8's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Redlands, CA
Posts: 148
Default Re: Why the flathead?

As for me, I love exquisitely engineered, intricate, state of the art and complicated power plants.
__________________
Ignorance of the laws of physics does not mean they do not apply to you.
29AVEE8 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 10:23 PM   #10
gtopillado
Member
 
gtopillado's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Redwood City
Posts: 51
Default Re: Why the flathead?

I don't try to play partisan when it comes to manufactures but Fords should be with Fords and Chevys with Chevys etc etc. When I see a small block Chevy in a old Ford....someone should just put a scratch on the emblem. This is coming from a Pontiac purest and have always wanted a old Ford Hotrod since I was a kid, didn't even enter my mind to put anything other than a Flathead in my old little car(32' Roadster). My older brother got first pick of family cars when he was 16 so of course he picked the 51 Merc. There's something different about the sound of a Flathead that just rolls back the time, I can't explain it but it's like listening to a Shovelhead to a twin cam Harley. I might get heat from this but flame suit is on, long live the Flatheads!

Last edited by gtopillado; 02-25-2016 at 09:29 PM.
gtopillado is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 11:00 PM   #11
Henry Floored
Senior Member
 
Henry Floored's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Florida
Posts: 555
Default Re: Why the flathead?

This is a great question! Why the Flathead? So many people have denied themselves the pleasure of Flatheading for whatever reason. Often the very heart of a V8 Ford ripped out due to preconceived notions or blatant misinformation.

Now on the other hand many people are instantly enamoured with the exquisite little Ford V8. Think about it. How many engines originally designed in the 1920's are viable and practical today? Sure there are many awesome engines from yesteryear that are wonderful but are they really something that you could use daily like a Ford Flatty?

What's really so great about a Flathead Ford. Well in my opinion the most important thing is they are rewarding to work on and operate. Everything from an old Ford V8 that is pulled out of a barn and with a little work you get running again, to a full house dream engine you've poured your heart and soul into that makes jaws drop when you lift the hood. They are just fun to have and work on.

From a mechanical perspective what makes the Flathead so good? To me it starts with the engine's shape and configuration. A Flathead is a power dense machine. For the power and torque it can provide it is a very compact package. This has an instant and positive effect on overall vehicle performance. In all honesty there were many engines that could outpower a Flathead, but it was usually at a much higher price and in a much bigger vehicle. The Ford V8 by way of it's physical shape sat lower and farther back than almost any early car I can think of. This was good for weight distribution and a better center of gravity. The V8 Fords could usually outhandle and outmaneuver cars that were way more expensive.

Then of course there is all of the subtle goodness that add up to a great powerplant. Starting with the rugged crankshaft, main webbing, and oiling system. Quite simply you could double the power of a Flathead V8 without any major lower end mods. The camshaft is gear driven as well as the oil pump which is very reliable. The rotating assembly is "right sized" and lends itself to "sporty" rpm levels.

Moving up we get into some really simple but genius characteristics. Starting with the simple and direct acting valve gear. Not much parasitic loss is suffered in a Flathead like that in an overly complex and heavily sprung OHV type valvetrain. The Fords are simple and lightweight. The intake ports are grouped together in such a way as to be close to the centrally mounted fuel source. This is significant and provided much better fuel distribution than say the typical inline engine of the day. Combine that feature with the eventual "dual plane" intake manifold with a heated crossover and you have the blueprint for most of the later and more modern OHV V8's of the 1950's, most notably the small block Chevy.

The list goes on to include the fast burn "Ricardo" style combustion chambers to the properly positioned exhaust ports that fall away gently from the exhaust valve pockets.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Flathead Ford really and truly stands on it's own merit from a design standpoint and we don't really have to make excuses like, "yeah it's pretty good for an antique", because it runs better than anything called "antique" should or could.
Henry Floored is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 11:00 PM   #12
Brian
Senior Member
 
Brian's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Masterton, New Zealand
Posts: 2,924
Default Re: Why the flathead?

When I was a kid, I wasn't into cars. My best mate however, was, big time, into early American cars. When we were 12, he bought a 36 Ford. Raved about it! Me, I couldn't see what what the big deal was. What a funny looking old car I thought.
He subsequently got it going, and we went for an illegal [no licences at 12 years of age] little blat around the block. That engine sounded so cool! doog doog doog was this sound coming outta the exhaust, give it a rev and the whole car rocked [torque reaction]. I'd never experienced anything like it. T'was very exciting!! I knew then I had to have one.
Bought a 35 when I was 16 [of age to get a licence]. Had to keep it hidden from my old man, who hates Fords- bodgies cars. To this day he has never ridden in it, or any Ford I've ever owned. I've still got that old 35, done a million miles in it, never ever get sick of driving it, it is the best, most fun, reliable, coolest car I've ever owned.
Maybe not the coolest, but the car I love the most!! Long live the mighty flathead.
__________________
Unfortunately, two half wits don't make a whole wit!
Brian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2016, 01:20 AM   #13
49r
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Wellington New Zealand
Posts: 306
Default Re: Why the flathead?

As a 7 year old I loved the shape of the wells in the heads where the spark plugs go - still feel the same way ...
49r is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2016, 05:23 AM   #14
pooch
Senior Member
 
pooch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: South Coast NSW Australia
Posts: 2,596
Default Re: Why the flathead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zzlegend View Post
Just cant beat the sound and looks of a flathead. Besides you cant put 48 chrome acorn nuts on a round head. Just my 2 cents.
42 chrome acorn nuts suit me fine and look much better than 48...
pooch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2016, 06:28 AM   #15
Vic Piano
Senior Member
 
Vic Piano's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Odessa, FL
Posts: 7,553
Default Re: Why the flathead?

Simply put, I have always had a love/hate relationship with Flatheads. I've been messin' with them for over fifty years, and I have to admit I even love em when I hate em, for whatever the reason... Yes, I love the look, the sound, the smells, even the often unidentifiable liquids they mark their territory with every time you park them somewhere. There is nothing like a Flathead.
__________________
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Vic Piano is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2016, 06:30 AM   #16
jimTN
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Powell, TN
Posts: 2,096
Default Re: Why the flathead?

If you ever owned and drove a stovebolt of the same period with those knocking rods, slipping clutches, bad brakes and vac shifters, you know why the Ford was better!
jimTN is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2016, 07:42 AM   #17
Barry-ct
Senior Member
 
Barry-ct's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Newington, Connecticut
Posts: 1,374
Default Re: Why the flathead?

For me it started in 1971 with a 49 F-3, putting a used flathead engine in the middle of a snowstorm in the backyard. Couldn't kill that truck!
__________________
Barry

50 F-1
Barry-ct is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2016, 07:56 AM   #18
Ol' Ron
Senior Member
 
Ol' Ron's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Chester Vt
Posts: 7,742
Default Re: Why the flathead?

I often wondered that myself??
Ol' Ron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2016, 08:37 AM   #19
zzlegend
Senior Member
 
zzlegend's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Reseda, Calif.
Posts: 2,171
Default Re: Why the flathead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pooch View Post
42 chrome acorn nuts suit me fine and look much better than 48...
Agree
zzlegend is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2016, 08:48 AM   #20
Mike51Merc
Senior Member
 
Mike51Merc's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Northeast Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,581
Default Re: Why the flathead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 29AVEE8 View Post
As for me, I love exquisitely engineered, intricate, state of the art and complicated power plants.
Doesn't sound like words I've ever heard describing a Flattie!

I think they're popular now because they were popular then, in a word- nostalgia.

Ford simply engineered some old school technology into an uncomplicated power plant that could be mass produced and sold for the price his competitors got for a straight six. Since they sold so many, there were plenty cheaply available for kids to get their hands on and for the same reason the aftermarket guys took advantage by selling lots of modification parts. Soon enough, it became "the" engine to have if you wanted to go to a Speed Shop and buy a bunch of go-fast goodies.

I think you can say all the same things about the small block Chevy. Their successes aren't measured by their technical or performance superiority like a Duesenberg or Rolls Royce, their successes are defined by their availability to the masses.
Mike51Merc is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Sponsored Links (Register now to hide all advertisements)


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:03 PM.