Class of '54     Marshfield Senior High School

Ford Flathead V8’s (1932-1953) used a single piece cast engine block which was reliable and easy to mass produce. The valves were driven directly off the camshaft. It was Macho to be able to afford a V8 engine in a low-cost car, but there were some basic efficiency problems. Engine breathing was restricted and the hot exhaust gases must be routed through the block. The big flatheads are gone!

The V8-85: The original Ford V8 engine came out in 1932 and displaced 221 cu. in. A single-barrel carburetor fed the engine during 1932 (65 hp) and 1933 (75 hp). In 1934, a two barrel down draft carburetor was introduced which gave 85 hp. Production of the original 221 flathead V8 lasted from 1932 through 1936. These engines can be identified by having the water pumps located at the front of the heads. A similar 221 flathead was used in 1937 and 1938 Fords, but the block was revised to have the water pumps mount to the block. Output remained 85 hp. The 1932 through 1938 engines used 21 studs to hold down each head. In late 1938 Ford introduced the "24 stud" engine. Output remained 85 hp. This engine was used through 1942 for civilian use and saw some use in military vehicles during World War Two. All 221 engines are commonly referred to as "85 horse".

The V8-60: From 1937 to 1940, Ford offered a 136 cu. in. V8. This engine was built in Europe in 1935 and 1936. Producing 60 hp, the engine was used in many standard Fords. It was not very popular in the U.S. The engine was later used for midget race cars after World War Two. This engine is commonly referred to as the “V8-60”.

The V8-100: In 1939 Ford introduced the 239 cu. in. V8. This was done to provide a more powerful engine for the Mercury which Ford started making in 1939. This engine was similar to the late 221 engines, but with a larger bore and more horsepower. The 239 was initially rated at 95 horsepower but that was upped to 100 horsepower in 1941. The 239 was produced through 1953 with a major redesign in 1948. The 1948 to 1953 engines had a revised cooling and ignition system. Early Ford V8’s had the distributor driven directly from the forward end of the camshaft. This final flathead used a right angle gear drive from the camshaft, placing the distributor atop the engine near the front for easier maintenance. It also replaced the integral bell housing with a bolted unit, making changes easier. All Ford 239 engines are commonly called "100 horse".

The 255: The final Ford flathead V8’s were the 1949-1953 Ford 239 cu. in. and the Mercury 255 cu. in. engines. The blocks were identical. The 255 displacement was achieved with a 4 inch stroke crankshaft in the Mercury engines, producing 125 hp and making the “Merc crank” a popular upgrade for hot rodders.