To take the edge off Michigan’s brutal winter, the Henry Ford museum raised the heat by opening the hoods on dozens of the automobiles on display at its Dearborn history palace. The special Engines Exposed exhibition runs through January. For severely afflicted gear heads needing a preview fix and for those who can’t make the trek, we present this guided photo tour.
1896 Ford Quadricycle Henry Ford sold his first experimental car for $200 and bought it back later for $65 to demonstrate his ingenuity and his wheeler-dealer instincts. This buggy originally had neither brakes nor reverse. Its 59-cubic-inch two-cylinder four-stroke engine produced four horsepower, enough to accelerate the contraption to 20 mph on the streets of Detroit after the 32-year-old self-made engineer widened the door of his shop with an ax.
1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II Though it sold for $9966, the second-generation Continental allegedly cost Ford more than twice that to manufacture. The 368 cubic inch OHV V-8 engine produced 285 horsepower.
1965 Goldenrod Bonneville streamliner One of the most successful racers to thunder across the Utah salt flats was built by Bob and Bill Summers with only a little help from Chrysler. Four fuel-injected 426 cubic inch Hemi V-8s delivered a combined 2400 horsepower to all four wheels. Using only three of the four available gears, Bob Summers broke the land speed record in November 1965 with a two-way average of 409 mph.
1919 Ford Model T The flivver’s 20-horsepower four-cylinder engine was blessed with an electric starter about halfway through its 20-year production run, during which more than 15-million cars were manufactured by Ford in six countries.
1965 Pontiac GTO The car that flagged off the muscle car era was powered by a 389 cubic inch OHV V-8 that produced 360 horsepower when equipped with a $116 Tri-Power (three two-barrel carburetors) option. More than 32,000 GTOs were sold by Pontiac in 1964, the introductory year.
1960 Chevy Corvair The car that made Ralph Nader famous was Chevrolet’s flawed attempt to thwart the VW Beetle. The air-cooled flat-six 2.3-liter engine mounted behind the rear wheels initially produced 80 horsepower. Subsequent efforts to build a decent small Chevy (Vega, Chevette, Citation) were only slightly more successful.
1949 Volkswagen 1100 The Corvair’s nemesis began rolling off Wolfsburg, Germany, assembly lines after World War II rubble was cleared and fresh management was installed. Motor Trend reported 34 mpg and a top speed just over 60 mph for the initial model which was powered by a 25 horsepower 1.1-liter fan-cooled opposed four-cylinder. During its 58-year life, more than 21-million Beetles were produced.
1949 Oldsmobile Rocket V-8 Credit Oldsmobile with triggering the horsepower race when it installed America’s first modern high-compression short-stroke overhead-valve V-8 in its relatively light 88 body. In 1948, Olds won five NASCAR races and paced the Indy 500. The first Rocket V-8 produced 135 horsepower from 303 cubic inches.
1943 Willys Jeep MB The light reconnaissance vehicle instrumental in our World War II victory was powered by a rudimentary flat-head 134-cubic-inch four-cylinder engine producing 54 horsepower. What the Jeep lacked in speed it more than made up in versatility. Nearly 650,000 units were manufactured by Ford and Willys-Overland.
1932 Ford V-8 Developed sub-rosa to leap-frog Chevy’s six-cylinder engine, the first Ford V-8 was a relatively light, simple, and inexpensive design that delivered 65 horsepower from 221 cubic inches.
1936 Lincoln Zephyr V-12 To power its sleek Lincoln Zephyr, the Ford Motor Company engineered a new flat-head V-12 patterned after the firm’s V-8. Exotic features included aluminum cylinder heads and a 75-degree V angle. Though it was not an overwhelming success this engine delivered 110 horsepower from 267 cubic inches to compete with Cadillac’s larger, heavier, and more expensive V-12 which produced 150 horsepower.
1934 DeSoto Airflow Less dramatic than the aerodynamic body surrounding it, the flat-head six under the curved hood of the first Airflow produced 100 horsepower from 242 cubic inches. In spite of many technical advancements underlying the program, Chrysler’s Airflow initiative was an epic failure.
1927 LaSalle V-8 Cadillac’s companion cars were powered by a 75-horsepower slightly altered version of the standard Cadillac V-8. Like today’s BMW turbocharged V-8s, exhaust ports were positioned between the cylinder banks.
1931 Duesenberg Model J The Indianapolis-based Duesenberg outfit pioneered hydraulic brakes, supercharging, and dual-overhead-camshaft engine design. The Model J’s racing-inspired eight-inline Lycoming engine featured four valves per cylinder and produced (a claimed) 265 horsepower from 420 cubic inches. The supercharged version introduced in 1932 upped output to 320 hp and top speed to 129 mph.
1923 Copper-Cooled Chevrolet The brilliant Charles Kettering’s only engineering misstep was an air-cooled OHV four-inline engine developed for use in Chevrolets. This concept was ahead of its time and all of the ‘copper-cooled’ 22-horsepower engines had to be replaced with conventional powerplants.
1903 Benz Parsifal This two-cylinder powerplant pioneered what became the preferred chassis layout: a front-mounted engine and transmission driving the rear wheels by means of a shaft. The 83-cubic-inch water-cooled engine delivered about 10 horsepower.
1904 Ford Model AC Decades ahead of the Beetle, Ford cars were powered by a flat-two-cylinder engine that generated 10 horsepower from 121 cubic inches.
1906 Ford Model N The first inexpensive four-cylinder Ford had an engine conceived by Henry and his clever partner Harold Wills. This design produced 15 horsepower from 149 cubic inches.
1903 Oldsmobile The Curved Dash Olds – the first mass-produced automobile–was propelled by a one-lung (single-cylinder) engine manufactured by the Dodge brothers. This powerplant produced 4.5 horsepower at 600 rpm from 118 cubic inches. Nearly 4000 of the $650, 800-pound cars were sold in 1903.
1933 Willys coupe A Ford-powered Willys drag racer was the hottest thing in the gas class from 1959 through 1966. The supercharged and fuel-injected SOHC 427 V-8 powered bolide built by George Montgomery of Dayton, Ohio, ran the quarter mile in 9.34 seconds at 156 mph.
1967 Ford GT Mark IV A. J. Foyt and Dan Gurney earned the second of four Ford victories at the 24 Hours of LeMans in a honeycomb-structured racer powered by a mildly tuned 427 cubic inch OHV V-8 cranking out 530 horsepower.
1960 Slingshot Dragster Sam Buck and Bob Thompson loaded a 1948 Ford flat-head V-8 engine into a tube-framed chassis to run the quarter mile in 10.6 seconds at 130 mph.
Bonneville Belly Tank Lakester An Oldsmobile V-8 fed by six carburetors and one supercharger provided the motivation for this 1950s era salt flats express.
1955 Chevrolet V-8 Long after Ford paved the way with affordable V-8 engines, Chevy finally responded in kind. The immortal ‘small-block’ produced 162 horsepower from 265 cubic inches when it was born in 1955.
1956 Chrysler 300B stock car The first generation Hemi V-8 was the first engine to produce one horsepower per cubic inch of piston displacement (355 horsepower from 354 cubic inches breathing through two four-barrel carburetors). Tim Flock and Buck Baker campaigned a NASCAR racer for Carl Kiekhaefer (owner of Mercury Marine), to earn two national championships (1955 and 1956).
1965 Ford Mustang Cute design and an irresistible price were not the only compelling features associated with the first Mustang. The original pony car also offered a 289 cubic inch ‘Challenger’ V-8 engine with as much as 271 horsepower, adding ample kick to its gait. The museum’s car is, however, powered by a less exciting 260 cubic inch two-barrel V-8 producing 164 horsepower.
1953 Ford X-100 Dream Car Constructed on a Lincoln chassis and powered by an OHV V-8 fitted with five carburetors, this early ‘laboratory on wheels’ was equipped with an electric shaver, power jacks, a dictaphone, and a 300-horsepower, 317 cubic inch engine.
1964 Chrysler Turbine Ghia Carrozzeria built 50 experimental cars for Chrysler powered by gas turbine engines that produced 130 horsepower at 36,000 rpm. Only a few escaped the crusher.
1935 Ford-Miller Special A fleet of ten front-wheel drive Fords campaigned by Preston Tucker competed in the Indy 500. While the 220-cubic-inch, 150-horsepower Ford V-8s ran flawlessly, all the cars dropped out of the race due to failed steering shaft U-joints.
1960 Bowes Seal Fast Special The thoroughbred Offenhauser four-cylinder powering this Indy car burned methanol to produce 400 horsepower from 255 cubic inches. The Bowes Seal Fast Special won half of the 26 races it competed in between 1960 and 1963. In total, Offy engines earned 26 national championships for 17 different drivers.
1906 Thomas Flyer The luxurious touring cars manufactured in Buffalo, New York by the E. R. Thomas Motor Company were test driven to 60 mph prior to delivery. This $3700 Flyer was powered by 523-cubic-inch four-cylinder engine delivering 50 horsepower.
1924 Doble Model E The domed pot under the hood of the 100-mph Doble is a boiler, not an engine. Steam is delivered to a 125-horsepower engine located just ahead of the rear axle.
1932 Ford Highboy Roadster Constructed in 1954, this classic hot rod is powered by a 331-cubic-inch Chrysler Hemi V-8 delivering an estimated 180 horsepower.
1949 MGTC The British roadster that kicked off the 1950s sports car craze was powered by a slow-witted four-cylinder engine delivering 54-hp from 76 cubic inches. The TC’s original price was $1895.
1902 Ford 999 racer Henry Ford used this awesome contraption to drum up investment capital. The camshaft, crankshaft, clutch, and bevel-gear drive were all exposed to the elements. Intake valves were opened by suction. Brakes were fitted only to the rear axle. The fearless Barney Oldfield drove the 80-horsepower, 1156 cubic-inch wood-framed beast over 90 mph.
1926 Rolls Royce Phantom I Limousine Rolls was an early adopter of overhead valve technology. The inline six powering this Brewster-bodied limo delivered a silent 108 horsepower from 462 cubic inches.
1949 Mercury custom coupe The inimitable George Barris chopped the top and dropped the body on this classic Merc which delivers a claimed 270 horsepower from 276 cubic inches. The Ford V-8 is fitted with twin carburetors and aluminum cylinder heads.
1923 Stutz Bearcat Roadster The T-head (intake valves on one side, exhaust on the other, all in the block), four-cylinder engine powering Stutz’s illustrious Bearcat produced 109 horsepower at 3000 rpm from 360 cubic inches. The 3450-pound roadster originally cost $2760. To embellish the underhood presentation, most of the engine was porcelain finished.
1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale Only six examples of the car for kings were manufactured in part because they cost a king’s ransom. The 12.7-liter inline-eight engine was fitted with an overhead camshaft and two spark plugs per cylinder. Charles Chayne, Buick’s chief engineer from 1936 through 1951 and this Royale’s first owner, replaced a single huge up-draft carburetor with the four down-draft units currently installed, thereby increasing power by twenty percent over the factory’s 250-horsepower. Faced with a surplus of Royale engines, Ettore Bugatti built locomotives for the French railroad powered by four of these monsters. One set a speed record of 122 mph over a 44-mile distance.