In only the last few year have engineers been able to leapfrog the performance of engines built 50 years ago, engines that have long since become legend, their presence in a restored muscle car not only bringing extra dollars on the auction block but plenty of oohs and aahs from onlookers poking their heads under the hood.
There have been rumors over the years that these engines have been severally underrated for a variety of reasons. In reality, when freshly rebuilt versions using 100% stock components have been run on a dynamometer, their output is consistent with what the factory stated.
Recall that the engineers of the 1960s could predict airflow through CFD (computational fluid dynamics), deliver fuel via a direct injection system that pulsed the output to assure the best possible mixture, computers that consistently monitored all engine functions that allowed maximum performance under the available condition, or any of the other tools and gizmos available to engines today.
The most these pioneers of performance had at their disposal was a flow bench, a dyno, but mostly their own experience and skill, yet they still created some of the most memorable motors in the brief history of the automobile.
1965 Ford 427 FE Side Oiler
The famous side-oiler configuration of the FE (Ford-Edsel) block was developed for the Shelby Cobras as they moved up a class in international sports car racing. The engine was quickly adopted as the block of choice among all competitors because of the path of oil through the engine allowed it to rev above. 6500 rpm. Very few 427s made it into production cars and most of the those were intended for racing, particularly stock-based drag racing classes. Rated at 425 hp in Gross trim, output was consistent with its competitors. Ford even experimented with a SOHC version of the engine, but it was never installed in a production car. While the 427 designed as a race engine (and a very successful one winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans 24 fitted to the GT40 and the Daytona 500 with a Fairlane) it was a little too finicky to be a street motor, so the 428 was created to meet that need.
1966 Chrysler 426 Hemi
Chrysler had been playing cat and mouse with NASCAR for a number of years regarding the legality of the Hemi engine, which had as of yet not actually been delivered to a paying customer in a passenger car. By 1966 Chrysler had no choice and offered the Hemi in a number of different models, and not just performance cars. There were several plain-jane Coronet four-door sedans ordered with the “eleplant motor.” Displacing 7.0 L (426 CID), the engines were both massive and expensive to build, so only 11,000 were installed in passenger cars between 1966 – 1971. The engine produced 425 hp in “gross” form and 350 hp in “net” trim.
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