Category: Ford Flathead V8

Automotive Specialists Builds An Ardun-Headed Ford Flathead For Bonneville – Jeff Hunnycutt @Hemmings

Automotive Specialists Builds An Ardun-Headed Ford Flathead For Bonneville – Jeff Hunnycutt @Hemmings


Preparing To Take On Speed Records In Two Classes

Back when Henry Ford released the Flathead V8 early in the last century, it was revolutionary in numerous ways. But the power wasn’t exactly revolutionary. The flathead was designed to provide adequate torque while being economical to produce and relatively (at least for the time) durable. Horsepower, unfortunately, was not at the top of the priority list.

In fact, the first examples produced just 65 horsepower, which was 10 horsepower less than the Chevrolet straight-six from the same era. In fact, the most Ford’s version of the flathead was ever able to produce on its own was a measly 110 horsepower.

And that’s the reason why brothers Zora and Yura Arkus-Duntov decided to develop a better-flowing overhead valve setup for the flathead. (If you are wondering, yes, that’s the same Zora Arkus-Duntov of Chevrolet’s Corvette fame.) They formed Ardun – a company named after an amalgamation of their last name – and developed their own overhead valve kit for the flathead. In 1945 they even approached Ford Motor Company, in the hopes of selling the Ardun cylinder head design to the automaker.

But the powers at Ford turned down the offer and rejected the Ardun cylinder, so Zora and Yura decided to produce and sell the engine kits on their own. The big advantage of the Ardun design is the overhead valve arrangement allowed for highly efficient intake and exhaust ports which flowed much more air than the convoluted ports cast into the flathead block. Overhead valves also had the opportunity for greater lift without lowering the compression ratio like it does in a conventional flathead, and finally, the hemispherical combustion chamber makes for a cleaner burn than the OEM chamber.

Doug Kenny’s 1929 Ford Roadster LSR racer. The Ford is slated for two classes: XXF/BFR (Blown Fuel Roadster) and XXF/BFR (Blown Gas Roadster).

Unfortunately, while they did make more power, the Ardun kits did have the same issues that caused the decision makers at Ford to say no thanks. Namely, the bigger cylinder heads added weight, made the engine significantly wider so it would no longer fit in many stock engine compartments, had durability issues (particularly valve seats falling out of the heads after a few heat cycles), and at $500 a set were quite costly for the time period.

Plus, while there were power gains, they weren’t exactly extreme. Depending on tuning, most customers saw a power boost between 25 and 60 percent, with most engines averaging around 160 horsepower.

So the Ardun cylinder head kit never quite caught on like Zora and Yura hoped. Still, they managed to produce somewhere between 200 and 250 pairs of heads and associated parts. And although the Ardun heads never caught on with the mass market, racers almost instantly recognized their potential. It’s their constant improvements that have helped make the overhead valve cylinder heads for the Ford Flathead take on the almost mythical reputation they have today.

These days, those original 200 to 250 pairs of Ardun cylinder heads are as rare as a snowman in Alabama, but thankfully, reproductions are still available. Just be prepared to wring out your wallet. Today, Don Ferguson owns the right to produce Ardun cylinder heads and associated products, and you can purchase a brand-spanking-new pair of heads, shaft-mount rocker arms, valley cover and a few other things for your flathead build. But you’d better be serious, because it’s going to cost you a whopping $16,000 for a set.

Which brings us to the topic of this story. Land Speed racer Doug Kenny purchased a 1929 Ford roadster from another racer that had a supercharged Ardun engine already in it. He and his crew spent weeks tearing the car apart and rebuilding it and even refreshing the engine before taking it back to Bonneville for Speed Weeks back in 2001. But unfortunately, the engine burnt two pistons while on the salt, and Kenny had to come home without setting any records.

For help with the engine rebuild, Kenny turned to father-and-son duo Keith and Jeff Dorton at Automotive Specialists in Concord, NC. After dominating several series in oval track and stock car racing for decades, in the last several years Automotive Specialists has turned their focus to really high-end unique builds, usually either for show cars or for land-speed racing

As we went to press, the Ardun was ready to be fired up. The Roadster hasn’t been to the Bonneville Salt Flats with the new engine yet. These images are from the car’s last outing in 2021.

Because of pandemic-related supply chain issues, it took nearly two years for Kenny’s Ardun to be rebuilt to Automotive Specialists’ standards. Thankfully, we were able to step in just as everything was coming together. Please note that this is not a story about building a flathead with the original Ardun components. In the same vein that racers and innovators built their own highly modified Arduns when Zora and Yura first began selling the heads in the 1940’s, this story is how a smart engine builder is continuing to advance power levels with these iconic heads almost 80 years later.

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BB- Rebuilding A Fuel Pump – Nate Cooper @TheFlatspot


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.

Kiwi Brian

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How to Identify the Ford Flathead V8 – For Newbies – Nate Cooper @TheFlatspot


The Ford Flathead V-8 engine powered Ford and Mercury vehicles from 1932 to 1954. The Ford Flathead is a valve-in-block engine and the valves open adjacent to the combustion chamber, rather than from the top, as in later engines. The four different V-8 flathead displacement sizes between 1932 and 1953 are 136, 221, 239 and 337 cubic inches.


One of the easiest ways to start ID’ing your flathead is to look at the heads. Ignore the castings numbers. Focus on the type of head itself. Flathead heads have 3 main shapes. Your going to mainly focus on the Water outlets.
Also, Don’t assume you know what your flathead is internally because of the casting on the heads. That’s because Flathead heads where commonly replaced. If the motor was not commonly serviced at a Ford dealer, the heads you got where the ones sitting on the shelf. This is why it is almost never accurate to use the Heads casting marks to ID your flathead.

If your heads look like this, you’re rocking a 1932-1936 Ford Flathead. First gen flatty’s are more rare and how the whole things started. Congratulations. This was a great little power hose. The engine is harder to build than others years as the parts can be harder to find and more expensive. But we here in the Flat-Spot can help you find almost anything you need.

If your outlets look like this you have a 1937-1948 range flathead. These where a more common flathead and they are honestly the most eclectically desirable. There are two version of this head early heads had 21 studs where the later engines had 24. So that might also help you when it comes to narrowing your year down.

If you have very small Heads that look like these and your Flathead seems really small. Notice how they don’t have water outlets near the top neck. These heads are off a V860. The mini v8 form 1937-1941 which ford put out to try and capitalize on his company’s popularity for the cheap and economical V8. It was fords original goal to not offer an inline 6. But rather produce a Mini V8 to take on the larger sizes that pushed the inline 4 out of favor. This engine was not ideal for the larger Ford cars, but found a second life in small engine racing. The V860 was very popular with Midget race cars, speed boats, and some industrial applications like welders, compressors and water pumps due to their small size.

If your heads have the outlet in the front then lucky you. You have a 8BA flathead which ran from 1948-1953… 1954 if your Canadian. These engines where the last series in the continental US to be made and have some of the best Flathead’s had to offer when it comes to stock performance and engineering. As many of the issues had been resolved.


Take a Look at the Head Studs. Count the number of studs on the cylinder heads. According to Van Pelt Sales’ Ford Flathead Specifications web page, the count is as follows: all 136-cubic-inch engines have 17 studs, all 337-cubic-inch have 24 studs, 1932 to 1937 221-cubic-inch engines have 21 studs, 1938 to 1948 221- and 239-cubic-inch engines have 24 studs. The 1949 to 1953 239- and 255-cubic-inch engines have 24 bolts rather than 24 studs with nuts.


This is the first gen Helmet style distributor. These are commonly also referred to as the Foot Ball Distributor. They ran from 1932-1941. This style came in with a 2 bolt and 3 bolt coil. I am told that the 2 bolt is the older version

This is the second gen 2 bolt distributor. These ran from 1941-1945 and are commonly called the Crab Style Distributor.

This distributor was common from 1946-1948. Because of war surplus the crab style cap is more commonly seen on the later engines. Due to popularity that style commonly replaced this version. The caps are interchangeable.

If your distributor is upright like a modern ignition system then your engine is a 8ba. This was the first year of adjustable timing, that could be done on the car while it was operating. Before they could only be adjusted on a bench with a specific tool.

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The V8-60 Engine, Henry Ford’s Baby Often Forgotten by Car Enthusiasts – Silvian Irimia @Autoevolution

In 1932, the Ford flathead V8 began production when the expression game-changer wasn’t around. Ford’s V8 revolutionized the American automotive industry, forcing all its competitors to switch to eight cylinders mounted in a V shape. However, we are here to talk about the V8-60.

The story of Henry Ford’s genius creation, the 60-horsepower V8, starts earlier than 1937 when it was introduced. In 1934-35, Ford designed and produced a smaller, 2.2-liter power unit of the company’s standard V8 for its European divisions in England and Strasbourg, France. With interesting engineering, this first version featured only two exhaust ports per bank and four main bearings. At the same time, it was full of issues, especially overheating. Consequently, only around 3300 examples were produced, and today only a handful of them still exist.

Still, the effort was not in vain and actually inspired a second redesigned V8 for Europe. Later, in 1937, it was introduced on the United States market as the V8-60. While in Britain, it was commonly known as the 22 hp V8 (in reference to its taxable power rating), the Ford ad writers for the US called it the “Thrifty Sixty.”

The updated V8-60 was an identical and much tinier version of the original flathead Ford V8 introduced in 1932. The displacement was scaled down by Ford engineers from 221 cubic inches (3.6-liter) to a shabby 136 cubic inches (2.2-liter). The power output was 60 hp (61 PS) instead of 85 hp (86 PS) for the old 1937 V8.

One of the particular features of the V8-60 was the front engine support casting, which doubled as the timing cover and mounts for the ignition distributor and twin water pumps. The small and big Ford V8 powerplants are so similar in appearance that ordinary people are often confused. Looking at the head bolts makes it easy to see the difference. The V8-60 has only 17 per cylinder bank, while the big V8 has 21 or 24 fasteners per side. Another interesting and particular feature was the cooling jacket on each bank that was closed out with a sheet metal plate. This metal plate was electrically welded in the proper position.

Ford customers were attracted to the V8-60’s fuel economy, so sales were outstanding initially. However, sales quickly fell as word got out about the engine’s poor acceleration. You see, despite its tiny displacement, the power unit produced 60 hp at 3500 rpm, which for 1937 was quite decent. Unfortunately, the engine had a significant downgrade. The peak torque was less than 100 lb-ft (136 Nm) at 2500 rpm. The available torque was 50 percent behind its V8 larger brother. As a consequence, The V8-60 was discontinued in the USA after 1940, when Ford introduced an L-head straight six engine as its economic engine.

However, this tiny powerplant found its true potential in racing. If you didn’t know, there was a time before and shortly after WWII when American citizens were absolutely captivated by a new racing competition known as the Midgets. In the 1930s and 1940s, these small cars, modeled after their larger siblings from Indianapolis, raced on tracks in baseball and football stadiums on quarter-mile ovals specially built for them

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A Short History of the Flathead -@ModernDriveline


A Short History and Evolution of the Flathead V8, and Making It Modern

Back in 1932, Henry Ford introduced the 221 cubic inch Flathead engine producing 65 HP. And by 1935 HP was increased to 85 HP.  Those engines were produced from 1932 to 1938 and were commonly known as “21 stud engines”, due to the head design using 21 head studs

In 1937 Ford introduced a 136 cubic inch variant, producing 45hp.
This engine was only in production from 1937 through 1938.
Although the engine was efficient, it was not very popular with the American public, who were now used to the 85 HP engine.
The 136 cubic inch engine was discontinued at the end of 1938 when the new Inline 6-cylinder Flathead was introduced.

1938 saw the first major redesign of the 221 cubic inch Flathead engine, with the addition of more head studs, now totaling 24 studs. In 1939 the cubic inches were increased to 239 cubic inches and produced 95hp.  These engines remained in production until 1948.
During World War II, 1943-1946, no engines were manufactured for the public due to the war effort (or at least, that I am aware of at the time of this writing). 

The main characteristic of Flathead engines relating to Modern DriveLine, is the back of the engine block. 
The 1932-1947 59A block casting utilized a ½ bell ring over the flywheel. The lower ½ ring was removable to provide access to remove and replace the Clutch, flywheel, and rear seal.

In 1948-1953 8BA/RT blocks no longer had the cast ½ ring.
Ford now used a single stamped metal bell ring for cars or a cast metal bell ring for trucks.  

The intermediate ring with 3” depth, was used over the flywheel and clutch and used to attach transmission to the engine.
In 1948 to 1951, Ford produced the 337 cubic inch engine used in Lincoln cars and the F7 and F8 trucks.
Known as the 8EL in the Lincoln cars and 8EQ in heavy-duty trucks, these engines produced more horsepower and torque and weighed over 850 lbs.
These engines are physically larger and used 27 head studs and used a 12” clutch. Although this is a V8 flathead, very few parts from the 59A or 8BA engines are interchangeable.

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After a dream fulfilled, Lyle Aklested says goodbye to Ford museum – Taylor Inman @Daily Inter Lake


Bigfork resident Lyle Aklested grew his collection of classic cars over the years to a total 120 cars, most of which sat in his Flathead V8 Ford Museum that he opened in 1980.

After sharing his collection with the public for nearly 40 years, Aklested is ready to say goodbye to his museum.

Aklested has a storied life. He flips through experiences in his mind, speaking about his time as a boxing referee for the United States during the Olympics to his lifelong career as a farmer in northwestern Montana.

But, one of his greatest passions lies in his car collection and the act of meticulously bringing every one up to spec. Growing up on a family farm in Conrad, he said it’s hard to remember the exact moment when he started becoming interested in cars but reflects on his first few projects — including taking the engine off his dad’s grain auger and putting it in a Model T frame to see if he could get it to run.

“Then I drug my grandfather’s 1918 Dodge out of the dump that he had … it would turn over. When I was a kid, 14 years old, or something like that, I got the thing running. My dad says ‘What are you going to do? You can’t get tires for it.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m going to take and shorten all the spokes on the Model T wheels.’ I’m sure they thought ‘what in the world’s wrong with that kid?’” Aklested said.

The museum’s name is strictly coincidental, he said. A 1951 Ford Flathead V8 was his first car. Despite the museum being in Flathead County, not even a mile from Flathead Lake, Aklested said the name comes strictly from his favorite engine. He said it was a very desirable car at the time in the 1950s, and made the decision to stick with Fords from then on out.

“I thought I’d be more knowledgeable on the Flathead V8’s and Fords and see what the history of them are, for them to change each year, with the engine and with a horsepower or even with the color of the engines, the upholstery— I really got hooked on the history of Ford,” Aklested said.

He built his first “hot rod” when he was 17 years old, a ‘31 Pontiac.

“The old fish hatchery on the west side of Flathead Lake had it sitting out there and a lady from Idaho owned it. So I had written to her and asked her if she wanted to sell it. Yes, she did, and it was $8. That’s what I paid for my 31 Pontiac … and it just went from there,” Aklested said.

HIS LOVE of cars grew with his success as a farmer, which he avidly pursued. He started with a loan to buy all of the necessary equipment and machinery needed for his farm, working his way up financially to be able to eventually pursue things like his car collection. He started purchasing cars to fix up, one after another — and before he knew it, he was in need of a little more room.

“I built another building at my farm in Sweet Grass there, which held about 18 cars. Then finally I thought, well, I can’t do my restoring anymore in the shop with all the tractors and trucks and stuff like that,” he said.

Then he decided to build in Bigfork. He built one shop then a second and then he needed a bigger building again for his cars.

“And that’s how the idea of the Flathead V8 Museum got started,” he said.

Aklested curated his museum as his collection of cars compounded, also creating a section at the front which contained old tools and memorabilia. He said he enjoyed getting to share all of this with whoever wanted to stop in during the years the museum was active.

BUT A few years ago things took a turn when a drunk driver drove through the front of his museum, totaling two cars and shaking Aklested, who decided it was time to look into closing its doors.

“It just killed my heart. If it was a business for me it wouldn’t hurt as much … But this is something that I had set up, that was my ‘Lyle’s man cave,’ that was my thing and so were the cars. We had it opened as a museum, you know, and tried to enjoy the cars with other people. When that happened, it just really did something to me,” Aklested said.

When it was time to start selling cars, Aklested didn’t even have to advertise. His aptly named museum drew its own attention, and he said he has been able to sell his cars to interested buyers all over the world. Which he said made him “feel very good.”

He said collecting cars felt like a pursuit he was never able to satisfy, much like his farming career where he avidly bought more and more farmland— he just kept buying cars. Most of these vehicles he chose to sell, but there are a few special ones he is planning on keeping.

“One of the vehicles I’m keeping is a 1958 Ford pickup. I restored it, put it in the colors of yellow and white, which are the colors that I had on all my trucks and everything when I was farming — I’d painted everything yellow and white. That’s gonna be my hearse,” Aklested said.

Ford Flathead V8 Specifications – VanPelt Sales LLC


Really useful Ford Flathead V8 specification reference page from VanPelt Sales

The Flathead V8 engines produced by Ford Motor Company included basically three versions. The most popular being the 85-125hp that was first produced in 1932, and continued until 1953 (except for Canadian and Australian production which ended in 1954). Ford also designed and produced a smaller 60hp flathead V8 engine from 1937 until 1940. Lastly, the big 337 cubic inch flathead V8 engine, which was produced mainly for truck use and for Lincoln cars from 1948 to 1951. Ford’s flathead V8 engines when introduced in 1932 were the first mass-production V8’s where the block and cylinder assembly were poured as one single casting.

Click on the links below for general descriptions, general specifications, and tune-up specifications on each series engine. Horsepower and torque curves are available on some

Click here for the information

Dare to Cruise Above 55 MPH in This Restored “Coca-Cola” 1946 Ford F-1 Flathead – Aurel Niculescu @AutoEvolution


Officially, the F-Series kicked off its legendary adventure starting with the 1948 model year. But the original generation is also known as the Bonus-Built series. Meanwhile, previous trucks were largely unchanged since the start of WWII for America, that dreadful 1941.

So, do we hold it against the good folks over at PC Classic Cars in Sherman, Texas for potentially confusing the F-1 name with a truck that was created before the age of the F-Series? Purists might, but we are going to be as reconciliatory as possible, considering the very nice Coca-Cola-like paintjob. True, we might have a soft spot for crimson and creamy white combinations…

Now that everyone has finished ogling at the pristine exterior details, let’s get down to the classic pickup truck business. This 1946 Ford was probably restored sometimes during previous ownership – there isn’t much background to go along with as far as its historic whereabouts are concerned. We did catch the dealer’s reference that “extensive records and photos from restoration” are also available.

And this time around, we paid more attention than ever to what the consigner has to say, considering the laugh we had after reading the proud statement that we are dealing with a “truck (that) will cruise at 55 mph.” That’s just 89 kph for the Old Continent fans. But, then again, even after a full restoration, it’s still a very old truck – and well within pension rights at 75 years of age

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How Does An Ardun OHV Conversion Work?? – @IrontrapGarage


While visiting Ronnie Roadster Matt filmed a ton of footage while talking with Ron. We wanted to put together a video showing exactly how an Ardun OHV Conversion works for a Ford Flathead engine. Ron is a wealth of knowledge and has over 100k miles on his blue 32 Ford Roadster that’s powered by a blown Ardun. Ron shows us the inner workings of an Ardun valvetrain and some of the tricks that are needed to get them running correctly. A huge thank you to Ron and his wife Laura for letting us visit and film!!