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Car History: How Has Ford’s V8 Engine Stood The Test Of Time From 1932 Until Today?

Car History: How Has Ford’s V8 Engine Stood The Test Of Time From 1932 Until Today?

What inspired Ford to build the V8 engine?

In 1930, Henry Ford set out to refashion the automobile industry by revitalizing an older invention: the V8 engine. This was at the beginning of the Great Depression, when the economy of the United States was very poor and even the elites did not often endow themselves with new wheels.  Not only were the times hard, but the mechanics of the engine Ford demanded from his engineers seemed downright impossible.

With all these odds stacked against him, only one thing fueled Mr. Ford’s resolve. He simply couldn’t stand losing to Chevrolet, the company that had cornered the market with their V6 model. The reasonable option would have been to follow suit and build a similar model, but Henry had proved time and time again that he was a leader, not a follower. It had to be a V8 or nothing. And not the normal fused V8s already in play; his had to have more character!

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What edge did the Ford V8 have over older V8 models?

Those close to Ford understood his Edisonian methods of trial and error, as opposed to designing his products using logic and reason backed by the laws of physics. His engineers kept at it, and on March 31, 1931, they ushered in a new era in the automobile industry. The engineers had thumped life into Ford’s blueprint by crafting a V8 engine which was cast entirely in one piece, and at a price the general public could afford. This feat had earlier been deemed impossible by the very same engineers.

The Ford V8 engine was hardly the first 8 cylinder V configuration engine, but it beat the rest on cost and efficiency. Viking and Oakland had tried to create a similar monoblock V8 design, but it was no good. Cadillac had been selling V8 engines since 1915, but at a costly price. Leon Levavasseur had paved the way for this kind of technology in 1902 with his Antoinette series. At the time, they were only used in aircraft.

All the older V8 engines had one thing in common: they were made by assembling two or three blocks, then bolting them together. Essentially, this multiplied the resultant shaking rather than lessening it. The shaking produced vibrations that could result in engine breakdown and displacement. Another major drawback was the time the manufacturing ate up when all the parts had to be welded to become one. Critically speaking, the high cost was mainly attributed to the logistical nightmare of assembly rather than the cost incurred in sourcing materials.

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Ford remedied this by not only improving on the design but also doubling down on mass production of the engines. They were faster, smoother, and more durable, and all this was at bargain prices! It was for these reasons that the Ford V8 was seen as pushing the borders of contemporary technology.

The birth of a new automobile era!

In the wake of this new innovation, the economy had started healing from the Great Depression. People were now open to buying a new car, and not sticking with the run-of-the-mill clunkers they’d been driving. They had to have the Ford Flathead V8 engine. Henry Ford had achieved the unattainable by putting Americans on a fast roadster at a bargain-basement price.

The fascination launched by these cars was incredible. These cars had an equalizing effect: everyone from a bank robber to an aristocrat had the same kind of wheels. John Dillinger, a bank robber, personally wrote a letter to Henry Ford thanking him for providing his fastest getaway car, while at the same time Ford received acclaim from the elites John stole from.

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Cars were no longer seen as mere tools for transportation, though that was enchanting in its own right. The Ford V8 engine set in motion the first American motorsport races with original hot rods. One man with one idea had revolutionized the automobile industry.

What impact does the Ford V8 have in the motor industry today?

It would be far-fetched to claim that the modern motor industry was built on the back of Ford’s V8 engine, but there’s some truth to the idea. More than 80 years have gone by, and here we are, still marveling at his creation. Many parts makers, such as Edelbrock and Offenhauser, still make the original V8 parts. John Deere also uses them in trucks.

More recently, the Ford Flathead V8 has been part of a resurgence in high-end cars. It’s been incorporated into the Porsche 928, the E39 BMW M5, and the Jaguar XKR. These cars are high-powered, offering an exhilarating drive. The horsepower provided by the Ford V8 engine has allowed it to make its way into the most expensive sport utility motors. These are the kind of cars that have been known to make headlines on Top Gear and Formula One.

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Unlike during the 1930s, where a V8 was readily available to the masses, not so many people can afford to purchase and run a V8-powered car today. The cheapest models retail for about $39,000. This is way above what most folks can afford. The cost of maintenance is also high, and the cars require a lot of fuel to run seamlessly.

The motor industry has about 150 V8 powered car models. Of these, most are exotic. They include the likes of Ferrari, Ford, Chrysler, Bentley, and an array of four-wheel drives. Despite the heavy price tags, the demand for these V8-powered cars seems to be increasing every year. They have set the standard for performance coupled with luxury in large cars.

With the world becoming more environmentally friendly, V8 cars are facing a challenge in this regard. The green credibility of electric cars gives a boost to that class of vehicles, while many bash V8-powered cars for being more polluting. Manufacturers are hoping to invest in more efficient V8 models that will reduce global pollution. It’s because of environmental concerns that most V10 and V12 models were discontinued.

Final thoughts

Excessive gas usage has caused the demise of many vehicle models, and I predict a similar fate for V8 engines. This will not happen, however, for many years to come. The utterly primal feeling of owning an echoing, boisterous V8 is unlikely to fade away soon. Most love it for its high performance, but a few, like me, adore its rich history. Either way, the Ford V8 engine has dug deep roots into the automobile industry, and it will take more than a new, cutting-edge technology to undo this.

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Erick Clifford

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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