Let me continue in the vein of engines, automotive ones, the kinds that hot rodders have historically gravitated to. For an automotive engine to have even a half-life in hot rodding, it must have two basic traits: it must have an intrinsic design that allows modifications for increased performance, and it must be inexpensive. The Ford Model T banger, and the ensuing four cylinders through l940, as well as the venerable flathead V8 had these elements in spades.
But they were not alone. And it must be understood that hot rod engine-eering did not begin with the small block Chevrolet V8!
While the Model T four banger was widely used in racing, the Chevy four was arguably better, especially with an Olds head. The T banger was cheap. all right, but is was nowhere the engine the Model A, or its successor the Models B and C were. And, because they fit the two basic needs for hot rodding engines, these engines were difficult to pry away from the records at the dry lakes, and even in circle track racing. It took quite a long time, in the years, for the Ford V8 to overcome the bangers.
I remember vividly how the inline six engines would knock off any of these Ford favorites. Example, one weekend at East l4th Street race track in east Oakland (northern California) all the hot shoes were doing their normal efforts to put each other over the wall, when a six engine roadster flat towed in from southern California. Nothing special it appeared, until that flat six from Ford's nowhere land put everyone on the shelf with best lap times ever! Then came a string of Chevy sixes, and suddenly all the eight cylinder guys were looking for six bangers to build. Just in time for another southern California dude to step in with a way hot GMC. It ran like stink, with tons of torque out of the corners, and the writing was on the wall: The flat motor Fords days were numbered. Which is about the time the new Olds and Cad V8''s showed, and from then on the blue oval was an afterthought.
As always, it was just a heartbeat from the race tracks to the street, and those same Olds and Cad ohv engines showed in everything, particularly 49-54 Fords.
Even then, I got big respect for the Olds, using the nameplate regularly as rod material well into the Sixties. All the time, I played with oddball power, especially the inlines. In the southern states, those sixes reined over the V8, particularly in pickup trucks. Stump pulling torque was king with the good ol' boys. The V8's held court everywhere else. I suspect that, at least in street hot rod circles, the Smitty muffler was the reason. But, if you set up the exhaust of a six by splitting the header 2 and 4, you get a killer krackle that no V8 can muster. To go this split one better, do a 1 and 5 header. Rattle the rafters downtown, break a few storefront display glass panes, and put the local constable hot on your trail.
Plus, if you want to for sure get some up front bucks for road tests against the V8 crowd, just show with an inline six.
The inline eight’s don't do nearly as well, except maybe in a long pull. Too heavy, and face facts, those little 4 banger rice rockets are likely to dust us all.
That's why I wanted to put the Aussie hemi MoPar in the roadster. Talk about a toaster, what a combination...Under one ton with way out torque and an overdrive automatic. Good mileage and enough pinto beans to flavor any sidebets on the side streets!