Henry Ford had been busy alongside his favorite engineers designing a new V8 engine since 1926. The timing is perfect for offering the American public an inexpensive, but reliable V8 engine in the 1932 Ford Model 18. This proves to be the third and possibly the biggest success for the industrialist. The development of the flathead V8 is a milestone for industry and has been called one of the most significant achievements for automobiles in the twentieth century. Henry’s impeccable timing ensure high profits in 1932 for Ford Motors with another trend setter. The flathead engine will become the standard and favored choice of hot rod enthusiasts for the next twenty or more years The budget priced 221 cubic inch (3.62 L) flathead eight gasoline engine has the intake and exhaust valves positioned in the block, a water pump for each cylinder with 21 bolts to attach the head to the block. This is the first of three flathead engine families produced by Ford and this initial offering becomes known as the medium block. The Flathead, for the next twenty years or more, is a hands down favorite with hot rod builders and on race tracks through-out the America’s. The Ford engine was also the first choice in a get-away-car for Bonnie and Clyde according to Clyde Barrows. The original letter from Clyde to Henry Ford attests to this and can be seen at the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
In the United States the Model T is most commonly known as the Tin Lizzy and could be purchased in black only. The sales of the “T” peaked in the late teens, with sales dropping as competition begins to catch up and surpass the model T with stylish, affordable and dependable transportation. In 1908 the Ford factory turned out 500,000 units, but by 1918 that had jumped to 2,000.000 per year. The production ceased on May 26, 1927 with more than 15,000,000 units of the Tin Lizzie produced during the 18 year run. The 1928 Model “A” is introduced to the public and Ford takes another giant step forward. The popular new model is now available in four colors and sells more than one million units per year from 1928 until retired at the end of 1931. The “A” is superseded by the Model 18 powered by the new Flathead eight which is fast and priced within a working mans budget. This was Henry Ford’s final major achievement although he couldn’t stop working, he remained as an adviser and he handed over management of the family owned automobile manufacturing business to his only son, Edsel, in the early ‘30’s. Before Edsel took over Henry had reclaimed all the shares of Ford, wanting the company to remain a wholly family controlled business.
Henry Ford was not only very astute, he was an intuitive and a progressive thinker that had begun developing international associations long before it became a common practice. He had solicited and sold rights to produce Ford designed engines in diverse places all over the globe. The last Flathead Ford engine used in an American factory produced automobile was in 1953, but France manufactured their own until as late as 1990 to power the Simca Unic Marmon Bocquet military truck. The Flathead medium block was also manufactured in Brazil until ’64 for automobiles. The components that had been manufactured in France and Brazil even at this writing in late 2015, have new parts still available through limited sources.
Not the Flathead engine