Template talk:Ford early engine timeline

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The distinction between big and small block is perhaps less important to Chevy enthusiasts because Chevrolet added a second block size in 1958 with the introduction of the W-series. And as everyone konws, the largest displacement Chevy small block exceeded the smallest displacement Chevy big block.

Thus, a different criteria for block size is in order. May I suggest bore spacing? It is the one dimension that is never changed in an engine series no matter what the other modifications are. It is a good indicator of CID potential. For example both the W and Mark series Chevrolet big blocks have a bore spacing of 4.84" and the Chevrolet small block has a bore spacing of 4.4".

Chevrolet was not the first manufacturer to introduce multiple block sizes however. In 1952 Ford added the Lincoln Y-Block (4.63") to the Flathead (3.8") and Chrysler added a Desoto Hemi (4.3125") to its Chrysler Hemi (4.5625"). Chrysler added a separate Dodge (4.1875") and Plymouth (4.46") V-8 engine series in 1953 and 1956 respectively. Thus from 1956-57 Chrysler had four different block sizes. By 1959 they pared this down to two different block sizes: the A/LA series (4.46") and the B/RB series (4.8"). They would continue to offer two different block sizes through 1979. When Mopar fans refer to big versus small block this is what they are usually talking about.

Ford replaced the venerable Flathead with a Ford Y-Block (4.38") in 1954. In 1958 they replaced the Lincoln Y-Block with the much larger MEL (4.9") and the Ford FE-series (4.63") was also introduced. Ford would continue to offer three basic block sizes through 1976 with the Ford 335-series taking the place of the Y-Block after a three year overlap (1962-64) and with the MEL replaced by the 385-series (4.9") in 1968. Thus talking about a big versus small block Ford is something of a misnomer as there were actually three different block sizes from 1958 through 1976.

Buick had only one block size, the Nailhead (4.75"), until the introduction of its small block in 1961 (4.24"). This engine was used on other makes, in particular Oldsmobile and Pontiac. Buick would continue to make two different block sizes through 1976 with the Nailhead being replaced by the "Big-Block" (4.75") in 1968.

Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Pontiac only ever offered one V-8 block size during this period. Cadillac increased its bore spacing from 4.5625" to 5.0" in 1968. Oldsmobile replaced its original Rocket V-8 with a new series in 1965 but both have the same 4.625" bore spacing. Pontiac's V-8 has a bore spacing of 4.62". Pontiac enthusiasts are quite anal about the fact that there is only one Pontiac block size. On the other hand Oldsmobile fans are notoriously inconsistent and on this score.

And last but not least there are the independents. Both AMC V-8s have a respectable bore spacing of 4.75" and Packard has a bore spacing of 5.00". The Packard V-8 was supposedly going to be bored out to a 440 CID in 1959 but Packard went under before that could happen. The engine obviously had a lot of CID potential that was never realized.

This is clearly a matter of semantics but if one were to consider a universal standard for all V-8s may I suggest the following? Among manufacturers that had an extended period of offering two basic block sizes (Buick, Chevrolet and Chrysler) the largest small block was the Chrysler A/LA (4.46") and the smallest big block was the Buick Nailhead/Big-Block (4.75"). If one were to establish an arbitrary cutoff it should lie somewhere between these two values, perhaps at 4.6" bore spacing.

On the other hand, Ford had an extended period of offering three different block sizes. Perhaps it would be better to classify blocks with bore spacings from 4.47" through 4.74" as midsize blocks. Under this rubric the Lincoln Y-Block, the Ford FE-series, both of Oldsmobile’s V-8s, the Pontiac V-8, the early Cadillac OHV V-8 and the early Chrysler Hemi would be classified as midsize blocks.

Deck height is also a relevant measure when talking about block size, particularly when considering Oldsmobile V-8s. Hence Oldsmobile fans may not be as inconcistent on first inspection.

The later series Oldsmobile V-8 came in two distinct deck heights: 9.33” and 10.625”. The former of these came in displacements ranging from 260 CID to 403 CID. The latter vary in displacement from 400 CID to 455 CID. Thus Olds enthusiasts can legitimately claim there are two block sizes, but the difference is deck height, not bore spacing. However, the difference between these engines is of course much less than that between the small and large block Chevys (for example).

Other engines also came in varying deck heights and this naturally creates a plethora of block sizes. So how can one quantify all of this? Well one possibility is to compute engine block volume. In other words if one takes the square of block spacing by deck height and then multiply this result by eight to account for the number of cylinders. Doing this one gets the following results:

Rank Engine CID Bore Sp. Deck Hgt. Block Vol. 1. 68+ Cadillac 472-500 5.00” 10.8125” 2162.5 CI 2. Packard 320-374 5.00” 10.625” 2125.0 CI 3. 68+ Cadillac 368-425 5.00” 10.56” 2112.0 CI 4. Ford MEL 383-462 4.90” 10.482” 2013.4 CI 5. Ford 385 460 4.90” 10.322” 1982.6 CI 6. Chrysler RB 383-440 4.80” 10.725” 1976.8 CI 7. Ford 385 429 4.900” 10.30” 1978.4 CI 8. Buick BB 400-455 4.75” 10.57” 1907.9 CI 9. Lincoln Y-Block 317-368 4.63” 10.94” 1876.2 CI 10. Chrysler B 350-400 4.80” 9.98” 1839.5 CI 11. Chevrolet W 348-427 4.84” 9.80” 1836.6 CI 12. Chevrolet Mark 396-454 4.84” 9.80” 1836.6 CI 13. Oldsmobile BB 400-455 4.625” 10.625” 1818.2 CI 14. Olds 371-394 4.625” 10.625” 1818.2 CI 15. Chrysler Hemi 392 4.5625” 10.87” 1810.2 CI 16. Buick Nailhead 401-425 4.75” 10.00” 1805.0 CI 17. Rambler 250-327 4.75” 9.994” 1803.9 CI 18. 57-58 Olds 371 4.625” 10.375” 1775.4 CI 19. Buick Nailhead 364 4.75” 9.75” 1759.9 CI 20. Olds 303-324 4.625” 10.25” 1754.0 CI 21. Pontiac 287-455 4.62” 10.25” 1750.2 CI 22. Ford FE 332-428 4.63” 10.17” 1744.1 CI 23. Chrysler Hemi 301-354 4.5625” 10.32” 1718.6 CI 24. 64-67 Cadillac 429 4.5625” 10.105” 1682.8 CI 25. Buick Nailhead 264-322 4.75” 9.25” 1669.6 CI 26. AMC 304-401 4.75” 9.208” 1662.0 CI 27. AMC 290-390 4.75” 9.175” 1656.1 CI 28. Studebaker 224-305 4.50” 10.065” 1630.5 CI 29. Oldsmobile SB 260-403 4.625” 9.33” 1596.6 CI 30. Ford 335 351-400 4.38” 10.297” 1580.3 CI 31. Desoto Hemi 330-345 4.3125” 10.37” 1542.9 CI 32. Chrysler A/LA 277-360 4.46” 9.60” 1527.7 CI 33. Ford Y-Block 239-312 4.38” 9.77” 1499.5 CI 34. Hemi-Magnum 392 4.46” 9.252” 1472.3 CI 35. Buick SB 340-350 4.240” 10.187” 1465.1 CI 36. Ford 90-Degree 351 4.38” 9.50” 1458.0 CI 37. Dodge Hemi 315-326 4.1875” 10.38” 1456.1 CI 38. Desoto Hemi 276-291 4.3125” 9.54” 1419.4 CI 39. Ford 335 351 4.380” 9.200” 1412.0 CI 40. Chevrolet SB 262-400 4.40” 9.025” 1397.8 CI 41. Buick SB 300 4.240” 9.543” 1372.5 CI 42. Dodge Hemi 241-270 4.1875” 9.29” 1303.2 CI 43. Buick SB 215 4.240” 8.96” 1288.6 CI 44. Ford 90-Degree 221-302 4.38” 8.206” 1259.4 CI 45. Ford Flathead 221-255 3.80” 10.4375” 1205.7 CI

I think this if anything makes it clear that talking about deciding what constitutes a small versus a big block is a somewhat arbitrary matter as there is in fact a continuum of block sizes. But given the popular terminology and the engines which were available at those times it would seem a cutoff between a two classification system should be somewhere between 1597 CI and 1759 CI, a range which includes ten engine blocks on this list.

In short, by this metric the FE is a medium block, and the 385, MEL and Lincoln Y-block are all big blocks. All other Ford V8s are small blocks.

Thus I'm reordering the template to correspond to the objective data. Sadowski (talk) 02:21, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

351C/335 series Engine[edit]

Why are their two separate entries for these engines? The 351C, 351M and 400 are all in the same family and should fall be listed as 335 series V8, 1970-1979 (for purposes of this chart, actually went to 1982). I don't know how to edit these timelines, so hopefully someone can fix this. Caprice 96 (talk) 05:01, 1 June 2014 (UTC)