Ken Miles was key in Ford’s triumph at Le Mans in 1966, developing and racing the Ford GT40, as depicted in the film Le Mans ’66. He also developed the Shelby Cobra. But Miles is also known for missing out on the Le Mans win in 1966; he gave up a dominant lead in an effort to ensure a tied finish with the second-placed GT40, driven by Bruce McLaren, which went on to be awarded the victory.
Ken Miles was born Kenneth Henry J Miles on November 1, 1918 to Eric Miles and mother Clarice Jarvis in Sutton Coldfield, England.
In 1929, Miles began riding a 350cc Trials Special Triumph bike, resulting in a crash that broke his nose and the loss of three teeth, but Miles persevered and fixed up an 1100-cc Salmson motorcycle.
At the age of 15, in 1933, he met his future wife Mollie and purchased an Austin 7 Special that she painted in British Racing Green. It was this year when his engineering prowess was realised and he quit school to become an apprentice at Wolseley Motors.
When World War II dawned, Miles was posted to an anti-aircraft unit in the British Territorial Army with just eight weeks of his apprenticeship remaining, becoming a driving instructor at Blackpool a year later. He was promoted to staff-sergeant in 1942, and was a part of the D-Day landings as part of a tank unit in 1944.
While in the army, he wrote to Motor Sport and his letter was published in the August 1943 edition. He waxed lyrical about the “great promise” of American vehicles “from a sporting point of view”.
After the war, Miles was hired as an engineer at Morris Motors, and his son was born.
Miles’s racing career began in earnest after WW2 – first racing at Silverstone on April 23, 1949, when his name appeared in Motor Sport once more as the driver of a Mercury V8-powered Frazer Nash that he took to various hill climbs and club races.
He found himself in the United States in 1951, working for Gough Industries, and entered races for the company in a stock MG-TD. In 1953, Miles won his first race in the United States, at Pebble Beach and won every race in the under-1500cc class that year.
The MG was later modified to carry a 1500cc engine and dubbed the “Flying Shingle”, which brought him success in the SCCA Modified class against the likes of actor James Dean. Miles graduated to a Porsche 550 the following year, in 1956, and in ’57 he fitted the Porsche engine and drivetrain to a Cooper chassis.
Ford vs Ferrari
Between 1958 and ’63, Miles won 38 of 44 races he entered, also driving part-time for Sunbeam distributor Rootes. He was swiftly picked up by Carroll Shelby to test and race the Cobra – a partnership that was immortalised on screen in the 2019 movie Ford vs Ferrari. He also had a hand in developing the Sunbeam Tiger for the Rootes Group.
While synonymous with Ford, Miles did race Ferraris from time to time including a 375 Plus Spider in 1955, which he took to third behind Ernie McAfee and Phil Hill. Hill would later join him at Shelby’s squad alongside Parnelli Jones, Dan Gurney, Bob Bondurant, Chris Amon, Bruce McLaren and Roy Salvadori among others. However, Miles was renowned not just for his driving, but engineering expertise.
February 4th, 2022 marked the 100th anniversary of the purchase of The Lincoln Motor Company by Ford Motor Company. The real result of that purchase is that for more than 100 years Lincoln products have reflected the design sense of a true automotive industry visionary, Edsel Ford. The DNA of the brand and its vehicles from the earliest days have been based on Edsel Ford’s sense of grace, beauty, art, spirit and design. We will get to the vehicles that show Edsel’s and Lincoln’s contributions to automotive history in a bit, but let’s set up the story first.
Henry Leland founded Lincoln in 1917, after he left GM and the Cadillac Division, in a patriotic move to build airplane engines during World War I. Leland named the company after Abraham Lincoln, who he claimed was the first President he ever voted for. The firm built Liberty V12 engines during the war under a $10 million governmental bond. After the war, relying on his previous experience, Leland shifted the production to automobiles, with the company finally producing the Model L in 1920. Unfortunately for Leland, Lincoln was plagued with production and design issues. Customers who placed orders for the Model L waited up to a year to receive their cars, and while Leland’s reputation for fine engineering was well deserved, the Model L styling was drab and lacked appeal to car buyers in the post war environment. Given these factors, The Lincoln Motor Company suffered financially and by 1922 had entered into receivership with nearly $8 million still owed to major creditors.
At the request of Edsel and his wife Eleanor, and his own wife Clara, Henry Ford was convinced to place an offer for Lincoln. The ultimate sale price was set at $8 million which was used to pay off the principal creditors of The Lincoln Motor Company. The sale date was set as February 4th. Edsel Ford was named President of the company shortly thereafter.
In one of his first moves, Edsel Ford showed his true character in authorizing additional money after the purchase saying, “in addition we voluntarily paid all of the general creditors. This additional amount, aggregating more than $4 million, was paid purely out of generosity and without any obligation whatsoever to do so. In addition to this, a gift of $363,000 in cash was made to Mr. Henry M Leland on his seventy-ninth birthday, which was the equivalent of his investment in the old company.” That was quite a birthday gift, adjusted for inflation it would be comparable to over $6 million today.
Edsel Ford’s impact on the vehicles that Lincoln began to produce was nearly as profound as his business decisions. The oft used quote from Edsel that “Father made the most popular car in the world. I want to make the best car in the world” became the operating vision of The Lincoln Motor Company and was quickly noticeable in the vehicles and the company advertising.
Contrary to the concerns of Henry Leland at the time of the sale, Edsel not only embraced the engineering quality of the cars, he worked to improve them. He also understood that “a Lincoln not only has to function perfectly, it also has to look perfect.” With that goal in mind, (as is covered so eloquently in the 1996 Concours program) Edsel began to utilize the services of the greatest coachbuilders of the day. Names that ring down in automotive history like Brunn, Judkins, Fleetwood, Holbrook and LeBaron began to build the custom bodies coveted by Lincoln customers, raising the prestige of the brand. Edsel also changed the way Lincoln operated by ordering some of the body styles in batches of 50 and 100 units, which offered luxury at a relatively affordable price. The sales at Lincoln reflected the sweeping changes that Edsel Ford was making as 5,512 Lincolns were sold in the year after the purchase, effectively doubling what the Lelands had been able to sell the previous 17 months.
The Model K was introduced in 1931 to replace the Model L, which debuted under Leland’s ownership of Lincoln. For 1932 the Model K was split into the Model KA and KB series. The KB was the longer wheelbase at 145″ and sported a 447 cu. in. V-12 engine. The KB series badge sported a blue background, while the KA had a red background. There were nearly two dozen standard and customized body styles available. On May 30, 1932 Edsel Ford drove a Lincoln KB Murphy bodied roadster as the pace car at the Indianapolis 500. The Model KA and KB were only used through 1934 MY. In 1935 they reverted back to Model K and were designated by wheelbase. Some of the custom body designers were Derham Body Co., Willoughby, Brunn, Dietrich, Murphy, LeBaron and Judkins. Eventually, the Model K was discontinued after the 1939 Model Year as prices and tastes changed. The final few Model K’s were sold at 1940 MY.
In 1932, Edsel met Bob Gregorie, who had been designing yachts until the depression drove him to find work in the Detroit auto industry. Edsel, Gregorie, and John Crawford, Edsel’s executive assistant and shopmaster, formed a three-person design team for the Ford Motor Company and Lincoln. Two of the first projects they turned their attention to were the 1936 and 1938 Zephyr, both considered design classics for different reasons. The Briggs Body Company had been a featured coachbuilder for both Ford Motor Company and the Model L luxury Lincolns, but with the beginning of the depression and declining sales of ultra-luxury automobiles, they began to look for an alternate vehicle. Briggs designer John Tjaarda had done some preliminary studies of streamlined prototypes which were shown to Edsel Ford who immediately saw the potential in the vehicle.
The 1936 Zephyr was based on that aerodynamic shape (that Tjaarda had shown at the 1934 World’s Fair) but was converted to a front engine vehicle with a special version of the Ford flathead V-8, which had been converted to a V-12. While the 1936 Zephyr was not the first aerodynamic automobile produced, it was the first to achieve broad public acceptance. The aerodynamic design of the car was captured in its teardrop shaped logo and headlights that evoked the spirit of the “west wind.”
With the 1938 Zephyr, Bob Gregorie and Edsel Ford achieved one of the most successful makeovers of an existing automobile line. The original Zephyr sold well, but Gregorie and Edsel felt that it could still be improved. Gregorie changed the position of the radiator, necessitating a new lower front grille, which he designed with a horizontal pattern that was soon copied by the automobile industry. One pundit stated that while the Zephyr had been considered a successful streamlined car, beginning with the 1938 model it was beautiful as well.
n October of 1939, the Lincoln Zephyr Continental was introduced, and in many ways achieved Edsel’s vision of the perfect luxury automobile. The Continental was an immediate design icon and was displayed by the Museum of Modern Art in 1951 as one of eight cars epitomizing design excellence. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright considered it “the most beautiful car in the world” and bought two.
The inspiration for the Continental began with a trip by Edsel and Eleanor Ford to Europe in 1938. Edsel was impressed by the design and elegance of European automobiles. When he returned from the trip, he challenged Gregorie to work with him to create a new and stylish Lincoln.
The team began with the existing Lincoln Zephyr chassis. Gregorie designed a special convertible coupe, or cabriolet, by October 1938 with a 10th scale clay model produced shortly thereafter. The car became a passion point for Edsel Ford as he stopped by the design studio daily to monitor progress and offer suggestions. Gregorie later said of Edsel Ford “He had the vision. I did the work of translating his vision into workable designs.” In one instance, Gregorie wanted to hide the spare tire in the trunk, but Edsel insisted on keeping it mounted to the rear of the car to reinforce the image of a low speedy automobile. Special panels were added to lengthen the hood by 12 inches, while four inches were removed from the body to lower the car. The low, sleek Continental design was born.
By the beginning of 1939, as work on the prototype Lincoln-Zephyr Continental neared completion, Edsel liked it enough to order two more for his sons, Henry II and Benson. These vehicles were only eight inches longer and three inches lower than the original Zephyr, which became closer to the future Continental standard. With that order placed, Edsel headed to his winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida with instructions that the prototype be delivered to him there. According to legend, the car turned heads among his friends in Florida and Edsel returned to Dearborn with orders for 200 more! Sensing the demand, Edsel, Crawford, and Gregorie worked on a plan to produce the cars at a greater rate.
On October 2, an assembly line was set up to begin manufacture of the Lincoln-Zephyr Continental. By the end of 1939, 25 had been produced and were designated 1940 models. In all, 404 Continentals were produced the first model year, 350 cabriolets and 54 coupes. Each car was essentially hand built using Lincoln Zephyr branded trim pieces, with the upholstery a combination of leather and whipcord. The cars featured a Model H V-12 engine and prices began at $2,640 for either the cabriolet or the coupe.
With the 1941 Model year, Zephyr was dropped from the name plate and the car was known simply as the Lincoln Continental. Upgrades and modifications remained constant, as the goal was always to produce the finest automobile possible. Demand remained high and there were always standing orders for all of the cars produced. With the beginning of WWII and the conversion to wartime production, the manufacture of the Continental was discontinued in 1942.
After the war, the Continental was built from 1946 to 1948, but changing tastes and production techniques made it difficult to maintain sufficient manufacturing quantities. There was no longer room in the market for a small production, highly personalized luxury automobile. In order for The Lincoln Motor Company to continue the Continental line, a total redesign would have been required, and Edsel Ford passed away in 1943, leaving a void in vision and design for a new model.
This first generation, later designated Mark I, of the Lincoln Continental offered driving excellence and design elegance for a generation of auto enthusiasts. Ultimately, 5,324 Continentals were produced, 3,047 coupes and 2,277 cabriolets, all manufactured individually and hand constructed. The vision of Edsel Ford and the design expertise of Bob Gregorie led to one of Detroit’s classic cars.
To all fuel pump push rod welders. 1932-1948 models
Many years of Flathead experience taught me that the fuel Pump push rod DOES NOT wear down causing pump operation problems. It does wear but how much would be realistic? .. maybe 1/16″ to 3/32″ for 100,000 miles?, Ive measured them and its not much more than this.
What does wear then?. It’s the fuel pump lever/link system!. Most are a laminated riveted plate style with a very small pressure bearing surface which wears very quickly especially as many owners fitted new units without lubing the linkage. Bolt it on!, she’ll be right mate!. We fitted hundreds of fuel pump kits so you get to know them very well.
OK, the linkage wears & the pump cant deliver the 1 1/2 lbs minimum required, so the owner [or the mechanic] then builds up the rod by brazing or welding an amount that is guessed [or measured] & bolts it altogether again & it works fine—must be the right thing to do cos the pump in hand when checked worked fine!, just not enough rod length right?, problem fixed?, not quite!.
If the rod travel was not carefully measured & its now too long, the pump mount will accommodate this by bending & or cracking near the stud holes. How hard is it to find a pump mount that isn’t bowed or cracked?—very!. We probably had in stock 30-40 units & if you found one that was straight it would most likely have a stripped thread or the guide tube was missing etc!.
[49-54 mounts were beefed up in this area so usually the pump linkage bent & the diaphragm stretched some & the camshaft eccentric suffered too!]
When that pump finally wears out, [after the rod has probably been brazed up once more] a new pump is bolted straight on without checking pump travel, the mount now really has to bow or break & they did. A result of this bow was a big gap between manifold & pump base causing a very oily engine. The little skinny gasket supplied for the base was replaced by a fat homemade job to try to stem the flow!.
The correct fix for pump linkage wear is a cup or flat washer fixed to the pump lever. Better still a new pump with a proper lever system instead of the Mickey Mouse design that caused the problem in the first place. Sometimes I would replace the linkage on a new pump with a used preferred design. Sorry I cant remember the brand with the solid pivot stop lever design.
I remember now that for my own 35 Sedan I once made up an adjustable push rod for a special application. A 1/4″ NF nut was welded to a shortened rod, so the end was hollow, the bolt’s head was rounded off and a lock nut secured it in place. This would be a good aftermarket replacement item I reckon.
If your pump mount is bowed get it straightened or find another, don’t file it flat as that will disrupt the recess for the baffle tube & the mount will bow again or the legs will crack or break off. When all is flat that skinny gasket does the job fine. Would Dennis Carpenter or others have new mounts? [part # 48-9415]
The correct rod spacer/length for your pump will be determined by turning the motor till the rod is at the crest, popping the pump/mount assy on top, pushing down hard & making sure the mount just sits flat on the manifold without “floating” above it, if it floats you’re going to bend it!. Check several times to make sure you have the rod in the socket.
THE MODEL T IS FORD’S UNIVERSAL CAR THAT PUT THE WORLD ON WHEELS.
The Model T was introduced to the world in 1908. Henry Ford wanted the Model T to be affordable, simple to operate, and durable. The vehicle was one of the first mass production vehicles, allowing Ford to achieve his aim of manufacturing the universal car. The Model T was manufactured on the Ford Motor Company’s moving assembly line at Ford’s revolutionary Highland Park Plant. Due to the mass production of the vehicle, Ford Motor Company could sell the vehicle for between $260 and $850 as Henry Ford passed production savings on to his customers.
The Model T was first tested by Henry Ford himself who took the vehicle on a hunting trip to Wisconsin and northern Michigan. The Model T became famous for the stunts it could perform including climbing the stairs of the Tennessee State Capitol and reaching the top of Pikes Peak. After the test of his own product, the vehicle was shipped to its first customer on October 1, 1908.
The revolutionary vehicle saw the placement of the steering wheel on the left side, allowing passengers easy access to and from the cars. The vehicle was also the first to have its engine block and the crankcase cast as a single unit, the first to have a removable cylinder head for easy access, and the first to make such extensive use of the lightweight but strong alloy known as vanadium steel. The Model T’s agile transmission made shifting gears easy for everyone. These improvements and innovations allowed the world to move towards a more urban way of life. The early Model T came with a tool kit, packed the gas tank under the front passenger seat, provided a windshield as an option (before it was standardized), and had to be cranked to get it going.
A common myth is that all model T’s were black. While Henry Ford did say “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it’s black,” the policy was in place solely for efficiency and uniformity. The car was only offered in black from 1914-1925, however before and after that various models of the vehicle could be purchased in a variety of colors including blue, red, grey, and green.
The vehicle also became famous for its unique nickname—Tin Lizzie. There are various accounts of how this nickname was acquired by the Model T. Possible origins include the popularity of the female name “Lizzie” during that period to a famous Model T racecar named Old Liz. Despite the popularity of the nickname Tin Lizzie, the Model T had dozens of nicknames.
The Model T was so popular Henry Ford once said: “There’s no use trying to pass a Ford, because there’s always another one just ahead.” By the early 1920s more than half of the registered automobiles in the world were Fords. More than 15,000,000 Model T’s were built and sold. In May 1927 a ceremony was held to honor the end of production of the Model T. It was the end of an era.
While the vehicle is more than 100 years old, its legacy is timeless. The vehicle had many new features that were unique for its time. The low price point allowed many people to become a Ford owner, should they choose it, and caused Ford Motor Company to be a household name.
Just for fun here’s a list of some of the more notable former US brands
AMC (American Motors Corporation)
What is an Orphan Car?
An Orphan Car is any vehicle produced by a company marque or brand that has discontinued business entirely. “According to Old Cars Weekly, “Figures differ, but most historians agree that about 2,000 or more makes of cars and trucks flashed onto the scene, only to eclipse and fade into memory.”
From the Model T to the V-8, some of Ford’s best-recognized products rolled on spokes
Ford had an image problem in the twilight years of the Model T. The Tin Lizzie had gone from revolutionary newcomer to has-been in the 17 years since it was introduced. Henry Ford’s militant disregard for styling meant the T was almost a joke. As upstart makes like Chevrolet and Star started to eat up Ford’s market share, the company cast about for a way to make its cars more relevant.
One of the obvious choices was to give the buyer a bit of what was available in those other makes—luxury and looks. The basic quality of the Model T was as strong as it ever was, maybe better, but buyers were proving that they didn’t care if their car lasted forever, so long as it looked good when new.
When the 1926 cars appeared, they had plenty in the looks department. They sat lower, their bodywork looked more streamlined, and, starting in January 1926, some of them even offered those sporty elements of nickel plating and wire-spoke wheels. For the first time since the Model T was introduced, the Ford buyer had a choice of something other than wood-spoke artillery wheels.
Wire wheels had long been a popular accessory for a number of cars, and Chevrolet made disc wheels available on its Superior line from 1923. Wires had the advantage of offering a better ride than discs, and they were different from what Chevrolet offered. For 1927, Ford ramped up production of wire wheels, and late in the year they became standard equipment on closed cars.
Wire wheels, nickel plating, and even special sport models weren’t enough to save the Model T, however, and in 1928 Ford introduced its replacement, the Model A. Wire-spoke wheels were standard now and, although they still used 21-inch-diameter rims, the new spokers differed from the Model T wheels in several details, including bolt pattern: now 5 on 5½ inches instead of 5 on 5. The Model A wheel even changed part-way through 1928 production, due to a modification to the braking system. Early Model AA big trucks also received a wire-spoke wheel, although it was quickly supplanted by the more-familiar steel wheel.
When the styling of the Model A was overhauled for 1930, the wheels were not neglected. The rim was downsized to 19 inches and the hubcap was revised to a simpler domed piece. For 1932, the hubcap would grow in diameter, covering the lug nuts for the first time, and advertising the new V-8 engine, if so equipped (four-cylinder Model Bs got the familiar “Ford” script and oval). The 1932 models also received yet another adjustment in rim diameter, this time to 18 inches
Then and now, Pontiac’s second-generation Firebird occupied a strange spot in the car world. Mind you, we’re not talking about the spatted, stickered, and spoilered Trans Am; its place known and secure. After the summer of 1977 and Hal Needham’s good-ol’-boy Smokey and the Bandit saga, America suddenly remembered that the Trans Am was the closest thing this country still had to a muscle car, and in between the fuel crises, that shot T/A sales up 35 percent year-to-year.
No, we mean the non-T/A chunk of Pontiac’s F-body lineup, consisting of Firebird, Esprit, and Formula. An Esprit (pronounced uh-SPREE, not EE-sprit—French for “spirit”) may have been pretty, and may have shared DNA with the beefier Trans Am, but it wasn’t a showy peacock of a car, a corner-carving terror, or tire-smoking recalcitrant. There was no secret life beneath that long nose or behind that new-for-1977 split-grille beak. Nor did it have the bones of something with greater potential, or the raw material for a hot-rodder to mess around with. (Why would Jim Rockford, arguably the world’s most famous Esprit pilot, drive a car that drew attention to itself?) A Firebird Esprit was simply, in the parlance of the day, “a nice car.” Looked a little sporty, felt a little plush. But in a division that had the Ventura, Grands Prix, Le Mans, Grands Am, Bonneville, and Catalina, all of which offered two-door versions and any of which could fill the division’s personal-luxury-car quota… what sense did the Firebird Esprit make?
Consider: Pontiac painted itself as the “excitement” division of GM, and while the Trans Am (and even the Formula) may have bullseyed the target, the Esprit… well, how do you define excitement? Esprit was “The Firebird with luxury,” according to the 1978 brochure, although with a shape like that you could be easily convinced that any Firebird was infused with sporting moves. Esprit’s luxury touches included (mostly) bright and body-colored trim: all-vinyl buckets; added interior grab handles on the doors and dash; added sound deadening; rear ash trays; color-keyed “luxury cushion steering wheel” and outer door-handle inserts; brightwork on the pedals; body-colored sport mirrors with left-hand remote; bright moldings on the roof, windowsills, hood, rocker panels and wheel openings; and deluxe wheel covers. That’s $304 more than a base Firebird cost. Do rear ash trays, chrome trim, and grab handles excite you?
It’s unclear whether the buying public at large was convinced either. In 1978, a year when Pontiac sold 187,000 Firebirds (a solid 20-percent gain year-to-year across the whole Firebird line, with base, Esprit, Formula and Trans Am models all benefitting from a sales boost), nearly half were Trans Ams. Had Pontiac convinced another 300 buyers out of Esprits and Formulas and into a T/A, the numbers would have been half Trans Am, and half everything else combined.
Today, four-and-a-half decades on, Trans Ams are getting all of the attention. The chasm between Esprit and Trans Am seems even greater, both on the secondary market and at auctions nationwide. Trans Ams are seemingly everywhere. Where are you going to find an Esprit (besides, perhaps, in pieces under a restored T/A)? The Esprit is considerably more rare than the performance variant, but certainly not price-guide valued up there with the far more common Trans Ams. Yet consider: For every five Trans Ams in ’78, Pontiac built just two Esprits.
Trans Ams got Shaker scoops and 400 cubes, but the Firebird Esprit’s top engine was this Canada-built 350-cube small-block Chevy. With the four-barrel carburetor on board, it was rated at 170 horsepower. Air conditioning was an option.
Bob Lane of Yorba Linda, California, didn’t have to go searching for his ’78 Firebird Esprit because it found him —all the way back in 1979. Bob was commuting round-trip more than 40 miles to USC and home again in the late 1970s, en route to his law degree, and discovered that his econo-car ride had a terrible habit of melting its engine at regular intervals.
“My dad was a directional driller in the oil fields around Los Angeles, and a co-worker on the rig in Culver City, California, had purchased this Firebird Esprit new in Ohio in June of ’78. After he brought it to California, he decided to sell it,” Bob says. His dad knew young Bob needed a better ride, and this Esprit was it. Visions of banzai missions for cases of Coors Light danced in Bob’s young head, and when presented with the very Esprit you see here, he was elated. “My previous car was manual, with no air conditioning and plenty of mechanical issues. This Firebird was perfect for me — 6,500 miles on the odometer and only a small dent on the B-pillar from when it was hit with a baseball.”
As with any American car of the era, Firebirds could be optioned to the hilt, and this one was loaded to its wingtips. A Van Nuys-built car that was sold new in Ohio (something of a mystery, since the Lordstown plant that also built F-bodies was right there in the state), it was built with air conditioning, automatic transmission, and the top Esprit engine, a 170-net-horsepower, four-barrel Chevy 350 — an engine that was called out as a Chevy engine on the Monroney, and a considerable step-up from the standard two-barrel 3.8-liter Buick V-6. Those three options alone added $1,111 to the bottom line
Strength and heft: Good candidates for racing and hauling
In situations where your Ford, or any other engine has had performance improvements, it makes sense to also upgrade the transmission’s performance. For years, the Ford C-4 automatic was a reliable three-speed automatic transmission for many Ford products, and is fine for most 289, 302 or 351 engines that have received modest modifications. A later-model AOD overdrive unit that has been tweaked is one alternative, and certainly a Toploader manual transmission is another. However, for engine modifications, in which increases of more than 400 or 450 horsepower have been achieved, or for racing purposes, you should consider an automatic and changing from your C-4 or AOD to the stronger Ford C-6.
Ford began using the C-6 as a heavy-duty replacement for the C-4 in 1966. It was originally designed for Ford big-block engines. You will find them in Ford full- and mid-sized cars up until 1980, and in many light duty trucks and Broncos until 1990. Because of the C-6 transmission’s strength, you will find many of these units in four-wheel drive applications, however, because they are attached to a transfer case, they lack the necessary tailshaft for two-wheel drive applications. Still, these are viable conversion candidates, if you can locate a tailshaft assembly to mate to them. The C-6 is also used behind many 429 or 460 engines swaps.
The C-6 has a 17-bolt oil pan shaped similar to the state of New Mexico; mostly square, with a pronounced jog in the pan at the passenger-side rear. Units built after 1975 have a deeper pan than earlier transmissions. A vacuum modulator is mounted just above this jog in the valve body. The oil screen is metal and brass, and can be washed out and re-used when a fluid change or other service is performed.
Four-wheel drive versions use a stepped fluid pan, and the filter has an extension tube on it to lower the filter further into the pan. The bellhousing is integral to the transmission, and the dipstick is located on the passenger side just behind the taper of the bellhousing. The thickness of the bellhousing is different on some engines. You will find a narrow and shorter bellhousing on a 351W or 351C, which will be compatible with all small-block Ford, engine displacements. The 351M and 400 engines, as well as the 429 and 460 have a wider and taller bellhousing, which is compatible with the big block engines. First gear ratio is 2.46:1 and second gear is 1.46:1. Third gear is 1:1 and reverse gear is 2.18:1. These are practically the same ratios that Ford used on the later AOD overdrive transmission (with the exception of the 0.67:1 overdrive gear).
The transmission is 33-1/2 in. long, including tailshaft (on 2WD applications), which makes it 3 in. longer in overall length than the C-4 and 2-3/4 in. longer than an AOD or AOD-E. The transmission mount location is 22-1/2 in. from the front of the bellhousing, which makes it a good candidate for replacing a Chrysler 904 or a big block 727 automatic as well as the Turbo Hydra-Matic 700R-4 GM or Ford AOD overdrive transmission with minimal adaptation of the crossmember. When swapping into Turbo Hydra-Matic 350, Powerglide or some Ford C-4 applications it will be necessary to move the crossmember back about 2 inches, in addition to using a bellhousing adapter plate, shortening the driveshaft and changing the slip yoke. The C-6 is a bulky unit, measuring over 16 inches tall and 20 inches wide, so it may be necessary to modify the shifter tunnel on the driver’s side to accommodate the shifter linkage and complete this conversion. All of the pertinent transmission comparison dimensions are listed in the parts locator section of our online website, http://www.hemmings.com/parts-locator.
The C-6 can handle more than 500 hp without major modifications. It is also very heavy–204 pounds, so have a transmission jack or plenty of help handy. The C-6 holds 24 pints, including the fluid in the torque converter. C-6 transmissions used type FA hydraulic fluid, which was designed specifically for Ford transmissions, until mid-1977, and then converted to Dexron/Mercon late in the 1977 model year. The easiest way to tell what fluid you should be using is to check the dipstick. The stick will reference either the FA specified fluid or an M2C138-CJ specification, which is Ford’s designation for Dexron/Mercon.
You can locate a C-6 transmission by looking for one of these production vehicles:
Donor cars you are looking for will have an engine size between 351 and 460 cubic inches; however, you will have to find units from a 351W to bolt directly to small-block applications. These are most commonly found in trucks. Larger engines sizes will have the bigger bellhousing and will not bolt up to small-block applications without an adapter plate.
When looking for one of these transmissions at your local junkyard, we recommend you also buy the flexplate, shifter and torque converter. You’ll want to grab the kickdown rod or cable as well, if it is not still attached to the transmission. Using the proper flexplate is important. As with the AOD transmission we featured a few months ago, Ford V-8 engines used two 164-tooth flexplates. An engine balance design change was made by Ford in the 1980s and will determine if the flywheel on your donor transmission is the correct one for your application or not. Ford engines built from 1969-’81 with the C-6 transmission used a 28.2-ounce, externally balanced flexplate which is 117/16 inches in diameter. The Ford part number is E0AZ-6375A. Ford engines built after 1981 used a flexplate that was a 50-ounce, externally balanced flexplate with the same 117/16 inch diameter. The Ford part number is E2AZ-6375A. When making this conversion, you can use the original 1969-’81 C-6 flexplate found on 302s and 351s built before 1981, but a 164-tooth, 50-ounce flexplate would be required for any small-block Fords that are newer than 1982.
When installing a C-6 into an early FE engine (352, 390 and 427), which was internally balanced, you need to find an aftermarket 164-tooth flexplate with no weights to replace the original 184-tooth unit. For engine conversions where you are mating a C-6 to a 460, you will need a different externally balanced flexplate, Ford number D9TZ-6375A. This fits all of the 460 engines newer than 1979. All three of the above-listed Ford part numbers are available from any of a number of suppliers for around $50. The 31-spline output slip yoke required to hook your driveshaft to the C-6 is also available new. The Ford part number is C7SZ-4841A. This yoke accommodates either a Spicer 1330 series U-joint or a Cleveland S55-series joint. Replacement adapter joints are made by many manufacturers to mate your existing driveshaft to the C-6 slip yoke. The starter from a C-4 vehicle will work fine, however, the AOD starters have threaded holes and you will have to drill out the threads or get yourself a C-4/C-6 starter. These are available from most part stores for less than $50.
The Ford 427 SOHC Cammer V8 is one of the rarest and most desirable big block V8 engines ever made. Unusually for an American V8 it has overhead cams rather than pushrods as it was built specifically for racing.
It’s been called the “90 Day Wonder” thanks to its compressed development schedule, some have gone so far as to call it “Ford’s Greatest Engine” however there’ll be plenty of people who argue that statement, and point to the highly influential Flathead V8 released in 1932 and engines like the more recent Coyote V8.
A Hemi Dilemma
In the mid-1960s Ford was faced with a dilemma, a dilemma in the shape of Chrysler’s 426 Hemi V8 which was an exceptionally capable engine no matter your brand loyalties. In order to effectively race against the 426 Hemi and win Ford needed a new engine, and it needed to be a doozy.
Rather than stick with the tried and tested pushrod V8 architecture so beloved of American automakers Ford decided to develop an engine with single overhead cams per bank allowing higher RPM operation, and hopefully more power
The Development Of The Ford Cammer 427 V8
Ford engineers had developed the Cammer on the 427 FE V8 platform. The FE is a pushrod engine of course so it needed new heads, a timing chain set up, and they designed an idler gear shaft in the traditional cam location in the block that operated the distributor and oil pump.
The FE block was modified with cross-bolted main bearing caps and a revised oiling system to better suit overhead cam and roller rocker operation. Originally the Cammer had an iron block and iron heads, though later engines were fitted with alloy heads to help reduce the engine’s prodigious weight.
Though the engine had its issues it likely would have proven competitive in NASCAR thanks to its high-RPM capability that was well-suited to the high speed banked circuits typically used in the racing series.
On its release the Ford 427 SOHC Cammer V8 was rated at 616 bhp at 7,000 rpm and 515 lb ft of torque at 3,800 rpm – excellent figures by the standards of the mid-1960s.
The Cammer’s Achilles’ Heel
They say every engine has an Achilles’ heel, some element of the design that wasn’t particularly well engineered. Some engines seem to be made up almost entirely of them as a matter of fact.
The Achilles’ heel of the Ford Cammer engine was its timing chain – at almost 7 feet long it’s one of the longest timing chains ever used in an automotive application, and as any mechanic will tell you, timing chains take on the characteristics of bungee cords given enough time and use.
The timing chain issues were a result of the compressed development timeline, they necessitated different valve timing for the left and right banks to account for chain stretching, and the camshafts themselves needed to a be a mirror image of one another in order to function.
Sadly the Cammer would never get to turn a wheel in NASCAR as the rules were changed to ban special racing engines, the series was supposed to be for stock cars not prototype specials.
The Cammer Goes Drag Racing
Rather than dump the Cammer project Ford continued to develop the engine in the hopes of changing the minds of those making decisions at NASCAR, in the meantime they sent the engine off into the world of drag racing – where it proved wildly successful.
Many of the big names in 1960s drag racing were putting the Cammer to good use, including Bill Lawton who won the AHRA and NHRA Winternationals in 1966. Other Cammer pilots included Mickey Thompson, Gerry Schwartz, Tommy Grove, Tom Hoover, Pete Robinson, Connie Kallita, and many others.
1967 would see Connie Kalitta’s Cammer-powered “Bounty Hunter” slingshot dragster win the Top Fuel events at the AHRA, NHRA, and NASCAR winter meets – becoming the only “triple crown” winner in the history of American drag racing.
The designation’s so widespread, it’s almost become gospel among Mustang enthusiasts and the collector car world in general. You’ll see 1964-1/2 as a model year in the titles of Mustang books, in prior Hemmings articles (nostra culpa), even on Ford’s own website. Except, officially, Ford never designated any Mustang as a 1964-1/2 model year car.
“All of the first production Mustangs built from February 10, 1964, through July 31, 1964, were titled as 1965 model year cars,” according to Robert Fria, an expert in pre-production and early production Mustangs who wrote the definitive book on the subject, “Mustang Genesis: The Creation of the Pony Car.” As Fria and many others have pointed out, just looking at the VIN of any early production Mustang should bear that out: All of them – whether the one Fria discovered with serial number 100002 or the one that Captain Stanley Tucker bought with serial number 100001 – start with the digit 5 for the 1965 model year.
Case closed, really short article, right? So then why did the 1964-1/2 “model year” become so widespread to the point where it gets its own entry in year-by-year Mustang reference books and where the Mustang Club of America reportedly considers 1964-1/2 as a separate model year?
Part of it comes down to the introduction of the Mustang in April 1964, well out of line with the traditional model year cycle: The rest of the 1965 Fords didn’t debut until that September. While unusual in comparison with prevailing trends through the rest of the industry, it was actually in line with Ford’s mid-year introductions of the Falcon Futura and Galaxy 500XL Sports Hardtop the year prior, as Brad Bowling pointed out in the “Standard Catalog of Mustang” (which, incidentally, has an entire section on the “1964-1/2” Mustang). Indeed, given the success of such introductions – the Mustang essentially had the field to itself when it came to new-car publicity that spring, and that introduction date may have even been key to the avalanche of first-year sales – one has to wonder why we haven’t seen many subsequent mid-year introductions. (Outside of unintentional ones like the 1970-1/2 Camaro, its introduction delayed by a strike.)
Speaking of sales, Ford reported a total of 680,989 first-year Mustang sales, though that total is comprised of the 121,538 early Mustangs sold prior to the traditional start of the 1965 model year and the 559,451 sold during the 1965 model year.
Part of it also arises from the many changes that Ford introduced to the Mustang around the start of traditional 1965 model year production, leading enthusiasts to start referring to the early Mustangs as “1964-1/2” cars simply to differentiate them from the regular production year cars. Those early cars, for instance, had a much different engine lineup, consisting of the U-code 101hp one-barrel 170-cu.in. six-cylinder, the F-code 164hp two-barrel 260-cu.in. V-8, the D-code 210hp four-barrel 289-cu.in. V-8, and the famed K-code 271hp four-barrel 289-cu.in. V-8. Once regular 1965 model year production started, only the K-code remained; the T-code 120hp 200-cu.in. six-cylinder replaced the U-code, the C-code 200hp two-barrel 289-cu.in. V-8 replaced the F-code, and the A-code 225hp four-barrel 289-cu.in. V-8 replaced the D-code. In addition, all early 1965 Mustangs had generators while all regular production year 1965 Mustangs came equipped with alternators.
Mustang enthusiasts generally use engine codes and the presence of a generator to distinguish early from regular production 1965 cars, but a host of other changes took place in late summer 1964. Bowling notes a number of those changes, including the switch from C-clips for the interior door handles to Allen screws, slightly wider Mustang nameplates, and the switch from interior-color to chrome door lock buttons. Others have noted that regular production model year cars had an adjustable front passenger seat in place of the earlier fixed seat, that the early cars equipped with automatic transmissions had smaller shifter handles, and that the fuel-filler cap was given a tether to make it more theft-resistant. By far the most comprehensive accounting of the changes appears to be in Colin Date’s book, “Original Mustang, 1964-1/2 – 1966,” in which he points out, for instance, slight sheetmetal changes at the base of the windshield wipers, the switch from rubber to plastic trunk mats, color-keyed seat belt latches replacing chromed latches, different AM radios, and the brake light switch location moving off of the master cylinder. Even paint colors and codes changed quite a bit from early to regular production 1965 cars.