Power to the People: Happy Birthday to the Ford Flathead V8

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Way back in 1930 Henry Ford assembled five of his best engineers to undertake a new clandestine plan: develop the worlds first mass-produced, low-cost V8 engine. 

His reasons for secrecy was simple, the world said it couldn’t be done and he was protecting himself from failure. At the time Fords were rolling off the assembly line with a stout and reliable inline-4.

It wasn;t until 1932 that Ford pulled the sheet on the very first Flathead V8 available in the 1932 Model 18, making it the first mass market, affordable car with V8 power.

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Back then the 221-cubic inch Flathead V8 kicked out a gigantic (at the time) 65 horsepower, 50% more than the L-head inline-4’s.

Production of the Flathead V8 commenced on March 31, 1932 and ran through to 1953. While not the first V8, it was certainly the first V8 that brought power to the people.

Not just that, companies like Edelbrock and Holly Performance got their start modifying the original Ford V8. The Flathead isn’t just a motor, it’s literally a cultural icon in America.

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