Ford MEL engine
|Ford MEL V8|
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Also called||Marauder V8|
|Configuration||Big-block OHV V8|
|Predecessor||Lincoln Y-block V8|
|Successor||Ford 385 V8|
Ford developed the MEL ("Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln") engine series as the replacement for the Lincoln Y-block V8 engine for use in large passenger car applications. These engines were produced in Lima, Ohio at Ford's Lima Engine plant. They were in turn replaced by the 385 series engines.
All MEL engines had wedge-shaped combustion chambers formed between a flat head surface and an angle milled block deck (10 degrees off square with the bore axis), with the piston top determining the compression ratio and combustion chamber shape, similar to the Chevrolet Big-Block 348 combustion chamber, also introduced in 1958, and the later 409 and 427. Unlike the Chevrolet, which had staggered valves and scalloped or M shaped valve covers, the MEL valves were inline with shaft mounted rocker arms like the FE model Ford engines which were introduced at the same time. As with the previous generation V8's, an open runner intake manifold was used, requiring the use of a stamped steel lifter valley cover similar to that of the Pontiac V8 engines. Also, the intake manifold provided no exhaust crossover passage to warm the air/fuel mixture. MEL engines also had two thermostats which supposedly did better at regulating the engine's coolant temperature than a single one.
The MEL was similar to the Ford FE, with the same oiling system, bolt patterns, and valve stems, but was even larger. The main bearings were 2.9 in (73,66 mm), while the rod bearings were huge at 2.6 in (66,04 mm). The connecting rod beam had a unique triangular shape with the shoulders for the bolts sitting low toward the cap mating surface (1/2 in.). There was one major difference between the MEL and FE engines besides their size and weight. The valves on MEL engines were arranged in alternating fashion (I-E-I-E-I-E-I-E) and not in the manner of the FE (E-I-E-I-I-E-I-E) where the I indicates an Intake valve and the E indicates an Exhaust valve.
The MEL was just one of three engine families introduced by Ford in 1958. The others were the FE (Ford Edsel) and SD (Super Duty), which were large, slow-turning engines for heavy trucks. Ford also introduced the Edsel (actually a blend of the Ford and Mercury lines with unique styling), brand new Lincolns and Continentals plus the all new four seat Thunderbirds in the same year. If that weren't enough for just one year, the Lincolns, Continentals and Thunderbirds were also Ford's first unit body cars that had no separate chassis.
The 383 cu in (6.3 L) Marauder was the smallest member of the family. Produced from 1958 through 1960, it was only used in Mercury vehicles. It used a 4.3 in (109.2 mm) bore and 3.3 in (83.8 mm) stroke. Output began at 312 or 330 hp (233 or 246 kW), both with a four-barrel carburetor. The 322 hp (240 kW) was the only output for 1959, and power dropped to 280 hp (209 kW) for the final year.
The MEL 410 engine was only offered in the Edsel during 1958 and 1959. It was only available in the larger Citation and Corsair series models which were based on the larger Mercury models of the time. It delivered 345 HP at 4600 RPM and 475 foot-pounds of torque at 2600 RPM. The 410 was intended to be the largest Mercury (and perhaps Lincoln) engine in 1957 but problems getting the production line going pushed back the introduction of the MEL line to the start of the 1958 model year.
The 430 cu in (7.0 L) engine was produced from 1958 through 1965. It was the standard engine on all 1958 to 1960 Lincolns and Continentals. Power was 375 HP in 1958, 350 HP in 1959, 315 in 1960, 325 in 1961 and 340 in 1964. It was an optional engine on all Mercurys from 1958 to 1960 but Mercury models had a little less horsepower than the Lincolns and Continentals. The 430 was also an optional engine in 1959 and 1960 Ford Thunderbirds. It was commonly referred to[who?] as the "Bulldozer" of the MEL series engines. The 1958 Super Marauder version used three two-barrel carburetors to generate 400 horsepower, the first American production car to reach this figure. It was an option on all 430 equipped 1958 Mercurys and all 1958 Lincolns and Continentals. This engine featured the tripower intake manifold, which was cast for Ford by Moon products. Three Holley 2300 carburetors were used. The 430 had a 4.30 in (109.2 mm) bore (same as the 383) and shared the 3.7 in (94 mm) stroke of the 410.
The compression ratio started at 10.5:1 for 360, 375, and 400 hp (272, 280, and 298 kW), but was reduced to 10.0:1 the following year. These 1959 engines produced 345–350 hp (257 to 261 kW), but power was down to 315 hp (235 kW) for 1960.
Some 1958 Lincoln Continental Mark lll came brand new with the Holly 4150 4 barrel carburetor, list1405 rated at 590 flow rate.
New pistons and a four-barrel carburetor were added for 1963; the 10.1:1 compression brought output back to 345 hp (257 kW).
The 430 engine in particular had a limited but storied history in hot-rodding. The first Miami to Nassau race won by Bertram Yachts (which subsequently helped establish their name) featured a boat powered by twin 430 MEL engines. In the 1959 NASCAR season, Holman Moody campaigned a number of Thunderbirds, at least some of which were powered by 430's. At least one car still survives intact.The cars were ponderous handlers because of the heavy engine, but successful runners. The Holman Moody 430 Thunderbirds caught the attention of Ford after one of them driven by Johnny Beauchamp finished a photo second to Lee Petty at the 1959 Daytona 500. Houston's Rodney Singer and crew chief Karol Miller used a GMC supercharged Lincoln-powered dragster to win the 1959 NHRA Nationals Top Eliminator. Theirs was the first supercharged TE in NHRA history, starting a string which has continued through the present.
Because of the changing nature of heads, intakes and piston designs, as well as a limited life span, not many aftermarket speed parts were made for the MEL line of engines. Edelbrock made a 6X2 intake manifold and a set of water-cooled marine exhaust manifolds (M4) and Weiand made a drag start 8X2 manifold as well. Oversize pistons for early drag racers or blown 430's were made, including sets by Jahns Pistons at 13:1 and .150" over standard bore. Other speed parts have been rumored, but they are difficult to find.
The 430 was replaced by the 462 cu in (7.6 L) engine in 1966. Bore and stroke were entirely different at 4.38 in (111.3 mm) by 3.83 in (97.3 mm) and the 462 MEL engine produced 340 hp (254 kW) and as much as 485 lb·ft (658 N·m) of torque. This engine was fitted with hydraulic lifters and a Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor. This large torquey engine was used only in Lincoln Continentals, from 1966 until mid-year in 1968 when it was replaced by the 385-series 460. Production ended after 1968. The production facilities in Lima were converted to produce the new Ford 385 engine family.
- 1958–1959: all Edsel Citation and Corsair models as standard equipment (410 only)
- 1958–1960: all Continental models' Marks III, IV, V as standard equipment (430 only).
- 1958–1960: all Lincoln models as standard equipment (430 only).
- 1958–1960: all Mercury models as standard or optional equipment (383 and 430 only.
- 1959–1960: all Ford Thunderbird models as optional equipment (430 only).
- 1961–1965: all Lincoln Continental models as standard equipment (430 only).
- 1966–1968: all Lincoln Continental models as standard equipment (462 only).
|Ford Motor Company engine timeline, North American market, 1950s–1970s — Next »|
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|Small block V8||Flathead V8||351 Cleveland V8|
|Ford Y-block V8||335/Modified V8|
|Medium block V8||FE V8|
|Big block V8||Lincoln Y-block V8|
|MEL V8||385 V8|
|Super Duty V8|