Ford Sidevalve engine

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Ford logo.svg Sidevalve engine
Ford 12M BW 2011-09-03 13-47-06.jpg
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Also calledFord Flathead engine
ConfigurationNaturally aspirated straight 4
Displacement933 cc (56.9 cu in)
1,172 cc (71.5 cu in)
Block materialIron
Head materialIron
Compression ratio6.0:1
Fuel systemCarburettor
Fuel typeUnleaded gasoline
Cooling systemThermosiphon (pump was only fitted after 1953)
Power output36 hp (27 kW)
SuccessorFord Kent engine
Ford Taunus V4 engine

The Ford Sidevalve is a side valve (flathead engine) from the British arm of the Ford Motor Company. The engine had its origins in the 1930s Ford Model Y, and were made in two sizes, 933 cc (56.9 cu in) or "8 HP", and 1,172 cc (71.5 cu in) or "10 HP". The early engines were did not have a water pump as standard, instead relying on thermosiphon cooling as the Model T engine had. A water pump was added in 1953 for the 100E models. The Sidevalve engine was used in many smaller Fords as well as farm vehicles, commercial vehicles and a marine version in boats. Production of the engine was stopped in 1962. Windscreen wipers were often driven by the vacuum generated in the inlet manifold.

The Sidevalve Engine was also used in German Fords, starting with the Ford Köln in 1932 and ending with the last rear wheel drive Ford Taunus 12M in 1962.

It was replaced by the Kent engine in Britain and by the Taunus V4 engine in Germany.

Engine modifications[edit]

Many ways were explored to enhance the power output of the standard engine, most notably special exhaust manifolds, twin carburettors, stiffer valve springs, thinner cylinder head gaskets and modified camshafts.

Power rating[edit]

The nominal horsepower quoted for each engine size comes from the British method of power calculation for road taxation purposes, and bears no relationship with the actual power output. Displacement, cylinder diameter, stroke, and number of cylinders determined the power for road taxation purposes.

Gearbox & transmission[edit]

A three speed gearbox was fitted as standard; three forward and one reverse. Several ways of improving the performance through modifications to the gearbox and transmission train were applied; replacement close ratio gears fitted to gearbox, overdrive gears fitted behind the original gearbox and higher ratio crown & pinion gears fitted to the differential unit on the back axle.


Ford cars[edit]

Other makers or models[edit]

Ancillary equipment, designers & other related information[edit]

  • Aquaplane, manufacturer of dedicated exhaust and inlet manifolds for the Ford sidevalve engine, also aluminium alloy cylinder heads etc.
  • Leslie Ballamy, designer of split front suspension used on many Ford "specials"
  • Buckler Cars manufactured 1172 Formula racing cars using a space frame chassis and the 4 cylinder English Ford Sidevalve engine and other Buckler sporting cars using similar equipment. Manufacturer of close ratio gears, special axle ratios, and all types of engine tuning equipment for the 4 cylinder sidevalve engines.
  • Willment in the UK, designed and manufactured overhead inlet valve cylinder heads for the side valve engines.
  • Elva Engineering in the U.K. designed and manufactured overhead inlet valve conversion cylinder heads for this sidevalve engine, also complete sports/racing cars and other tuning parts.

External links[edit]


  • Cars and Car Conversions, "Tuning SU Carburettors", Speed and Sports Publications Ltd, (1968).
  • G B Wake, "Ford Special Builders Manual", J H Haynes & Co Ltd.
  • Philip H. Smith, "The Ford Ten Competition Engine", G T Foulis & Co. Ltd. A complete tuning manual.
  • John Haynes, "Building a Fford 10 Special", Auto Publications, London.
  • John Mills, "The Constructions of Ford Specials", B T Batsford, London.
  • Bill Cooper, "Tuning Side-Valve Fords", Speed and Sports Publications Ltd, (1969).
  • Miriam Nyhan, "Are You Still Below", The Collins Press, (2007) - The Ford Marina Plant, Cork, 1917-1984. ISBN 9781905172498
  • Ford Motor Company, "Anglia-Prefect Repair Manual"
  • Dave Turner, "Ford Popular and the Small Sidevalves", Osprey Publishing Ltd, (1984). ISBN 1-90308-804-6
  • Bill Ballard, "English & Australian Small Fords", Ellery Publications, (2002). ISBN 1 876 720 07 7