History of the English Ford Engine

Last update: March 30, 2006

The following is a history of the English Ford engine. It was used in the Morgan 4/4 Series II, III, IV, V, V-Competition, 1600 and 1600 Competition cars.

The following history is copyrighted and the property of Dave Bean Engineering.
Permission was granted by Roberta Bean to put this document up on the internet on 2/14/96.

For those looking for information or parts for the 4/4's with the English Ford (Cortina) engine you should contact:

Dave Bean Engineering
636 East St. Charles Street
Star Route 2
San Andreas, Ca. 95249
(209) 754-5802

This information has be excerpted from their catalogue and retyped by:

John T. Blair (WA4OHZ)
1133 Chatmoss Dr.
Va. Beach, Va. 23464
(804) 495-8229

E-The English Ford Pushrod Engine
It can only be likened to the infamous Chevy V8. This happy little engine has etched its presence into racing history in such a parallel course that it can almost be called the Chevy of England. A lot of the same ingredients went into the formula. They both were designed only to be efficient, cheap, and light utilitarian engines. In both cases, it was found by accident that the same parameters to serve the above also begot excellent performance potential. Both created performance industries and racing dominance that permanently changed both communities. In the case of the English Ford, it put what is now the world's most successful and famous race engine manufacturer in business and helped establish an independent car maker. Both seemed to predate their era and live far past their apparent technical prime. (The Chevy is still going strong at 30; the Ford was just put out to pasture last year, at 25 years old). Yet they are still the standard by which others are judged. The synergism goes on, but you get the point.

The English Ford is probably the reason we are in business today. It was just one of those neat mechanical devices we couldn't keep our hands off of ... just because it was so clever. And, quite frankly, it was easy to make power, yet hard to hurt. It's these two facts that explain why it is still at the forefront of racing today.

This inherent sturdiness and the idealized dimensions are also the reason it was the basis for exotic conversions like the Lotus Twin cam and BDA and FVA 4-valve head (which begot the DFV, the DFI, etc., etc. -- we're dealing with lineage here). It also makes it easier to comprehend that its horsepower today is over 6 times its original design HP (which in its own day was a landmark)!

Not that it doesn't have its little faults and idiosyncrasies. Below we will cover a few of them along with a brief chronology of developments over the year. All this so you will a) not make the same mistakes we did, b) come to the same level, language- wise if not technically, so that we both know what the other is talking about, and c) know how and what to buy from us.

This catalog is intended to cover the full gamut of Ford enthusiasts. From the vintage Formula Jr. racer to the Formula Ford (FF) engine builder, from the Fiesta enthusiast who wants to freshen his engine to the midget racer who wants 280 HP, we will try to cover it all, which is easy since they're all interrelated (with the exception of the Lotus twin cam, which deservingly gets a catalog of its own -- order "Lotus Elan, +2" catalog, 026T9985). We have also included coverage of the Pinto 2- liter engine for the SP2000, FF2000, and mini stock racer. This is not a member of the family or even a development of it. Other than the same bell housing flanges, motor mount boss and logo, there is no commonality or interchangeability between the tow. This is a modern engine, designed to deal with the economics and social order of the Seventies and Eighties and has less or the racer's soul than the pushrod. Don't get us wrong; it's a fine engine. Just don't expect to see it as a base for Formula One engine 10 years from now.

First some fundamental terminology. What do we call this thing anyway. It's variously referred to as the "pushrod, OHV, Cortina, Kent, Crossflow, 105E, 116E, 711H, uprated," etc. We know what they're talking about, but you may not. All are pushrod. All are OHV (Overhead valve), which separates it from the Pinto, which is OHC (overhead cam). 105E, 116E, and 711H refer to the short, intermediate, and tall block engines. Crossflow is descriptive of the inlet and exhaust port layout, but only from 1968. Cortina was but one of the cars it came in, and "uprated" refers to a 1971 design improvement. Kent, however, refers to the engine manufacturing plant that built it -- just like "Cleveland" and "Windsor" refer to the two U.S. plants building two distinct Ford V8's. This has come to be accepted practice even though it wasn't referred to as such originally. We accept this and will "back date" it to refer to the whole family, all the way back to 1959.

This is also in keeping with the other European Ford engine designations: "Essex" for the 3-liter V6, "Cologne" for the 2.8-leter German Capri V6, etc. Curiously, this all breaks down when it gets to the Pinto 2-liter. Apparently because it was made almost everywhere (U.S., England, Germany, etc.), it is referred to simply as "Pinto" or SOHC. Since "Pinto" in this country conjures up unpleasant visions of slow, pinging, vibrating econo-boxes or fuel tank fires. We will just call it SOHC from here out.

In 1959, Ford of England started it all by introducing a quite advanced, short stroke, overhead valve engine with 997 cc and 39 HP (quite exceptional at the time and not bad even today; it would translate into a 230 BHP. 350 CID Chevy, and they don't get that except on Corvettes). Formula Junior race engine tuners of the time, weaned on BMC "A" engines with 5-port heads and crank throws longer than most V8's, found it manna from heaven. It would rev (less than a 2" stroke), it had BMEP (large valve and piston area), it was a happy engine. Soon people such as Martin, Holbay, Cosworth, et al, had in the 100 HP range, and it changed the face of formula car racing as we know it. Larger engines of 1200cc and 1300 cc were introduced for Ford's heavier vehicles by increasing stroke and shortening rods. The hollow cast iron crank and light weight rod suddenly were less suited for racing purposes, as anybody who ever tried to race a 1340 cc Super Seven will tell you. Ford subsequently introduced a solid 105E (1000 cc) crank for service replacement, which proved quite reliable even at race speeds. As HP crested 100, race tuners saw the light and introduced special steel cranks and long, beefier con rods.
The First 5-Main dot_clear
Ford, learning from the racers, introduced a 5-main bearing bottom end (the 116E) when it came time for more horsepower. This became the basis for the Lotus twin cam engine in 1964. Cosworth soon had this to 140 BHP. Yet again the iron crankshaft and light con rods (the 116E's) were marginal for racing. Again, Ford learned from the racers. The 125E con rod was a virtual copy of Cosworth's racing rod, and the crank got bigger counterweights and better material.

Keith Duckworth parlayed his early success in Kent engines tuning into the now historic deal with Ford to produce 1000 cc Formula Three (the SCA) and 1600 cc Formula Two (the FVA) engines based on the 116E Kent, and hence the DFV Formula One V8, which -- for all intents and purposes -- was a V8 block using two FVA cylinder heads.
First Production 4-Valve dot_clear
Seeing the ease at which power could be had with the Cosworth 4-valve design and the apparent ability of the Kent bottom end to handle it, Ford had Duckworth productionize the FVA and Formula One cylinder head and bolted it onto the 1600 cc lower end. The BDA (Belt Drive, series A) was at once a success. Soon it became the basis for yet more racing conversions (new F2), and we watched with curiosity as the racerized production engine blew off the race engine from which it was derived!
The Updated Engine dot_clear
In 1971, Ford made an attempt to correct the crank problem and again back some of the HP they were losing to emissions standards. They "uprated" the engine by introducing a beefier crank with heavier counterbalances, deep, square shouldered main caps, bigger valves, and a truly chamberless, flush cylinder head (previous ones had a small chamber around the valves) -- the so-called Uprated engine. This is the basis of Formula Ford as we know it today. FF racers still break cranks, though not quite as often. But the big main caps make the block stout enough for whatever revs and horsepower you can get out of it via twin cam or BDA heads.

This uprated engine coincided with the introduction of the Pinto and Capri in the U.S., and it was offered as the base engine. Curiously these were fitted with "Cortina" cylinder heads; i.e. small valves and chambered head. And, in truth, the big valve head was never sold in the U.S., a fact the SCCA will not admit to this day. They upgraded FF to include the uprated engine on the basis of "parts availability," instantly obsoleting hundreds of Cortina FF engines, which had excellent parts availability. Of course, the uprated parts were available only out of England. TO reverse the decision would be to admit they were wrong to start with, so we've had uprated engines ever since.

For the record, all uprated and non-uprated parts interchange except the pistons (valve reliefs need to accommodate flush chamber) and valves (uprated are .09" longer).
Fiesta - The Final Chapter dot_clear
In 1977, the Fiesta was introduced using -- wait for it -- the Kent engine. This time it was extensively changed to accommodate the crosswise front drive configuration and the now nearly impossible emissions regs. It was still "uprated", but it had small valves, flush head, no-squish low compression pistons, and the worst excuse for an inlet manifold ever seen. The block had different bosses and drillings such that you can use a Fiesta where an uprated lived, but not the other way around. (Your old 110HP FF engine won't fit in your Fiesta, in other words). The crank was shortened on both end to fit in the chassis. Oil pump and water pump are different. Still, the breeding shows. Fit the uprated FF pistons, cam, and valves, GT manifold, 34 mm Escort carb, and RS headers, and suddenly you have 100HP and can go GTI/Scirocco hunting!

In 1983, the Escort was introduced with its new, high-tech CVH (Controlled Vortex Hemi-head) engine, which was inherently cleaner emissions-wise. The Fiesta was dropped here altogether, and in Europe, where it is considered something of a cult car, the CVH high-performance engine was installed. Thus, after 25 years, the Kent was finally dropped as a standard product car engine. It's still produced by Ford, though. They still run the old uprated GT "service engine" off the Kent line, and it has no other purpose in this world except -- you guessed it -- a base for a race engines.

Compliments of Dave Bean Engineering

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