Let’s say it’s your lucky day, and you’ve found an engine laying around in the back of a garage with an unknown history. Or maybe you’re trying to discern which engine was swapped into a car, and all of the aftermarket parts between the fenders are muddying the waters. In any case, the first step is always to identify the engine
Determining precisely which engine you’re looking at under the hood can be difficult. Heck, sometimes a brand produced more engine families in the same decade than you can count on both hands. If you’re pretty sure you’re looking at a Ford V-8, the following guide will help you make the proper ID of your engine so that you can dive deeper into the ID.
This article, focusing on Ford passenger car V-8s, isn’t a full history on engine tech or applications. It’s intended as a primer to help you narrow things down and, in turn, enrich your gearhead knowledge. We’ll focus on the biggest visual keys to look for when you come face-to-valve-cover with eight cylinders of Detroit metal.
Ford flathead V-8: 1932–53