Ford Y-block engine

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Ford Y-block V8
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
PredecessorFord L-Head engine
SuccessorFord FE engine
Ford Windsor engine
Ford 335 Cleveland V8

The Y-block engine is an overhead valve V8 automobile piston engine from Ford Motor Company. It was introduced in 1954 to replace the side-valved Ford Flathead engine and was replaced by the Ford FE engine (on larger cars) and the Ford Windsor engine (on smaller cars) in 1962, and lasted until 1964 in Ford trucks.

Note that Lincoln introduced its own Y-block in 1952. That engine lasted until the 1958 introduction of the MEL.


The first Y-block was the 1954 239 cu in (3.9 L) Ford engine; known for its deep skirting which causes the engine to resemble a Y. Rated at 130 hp (97 kW), it replaced the 239 cu in (3.9 L) Flathead which was rated at 106 hp (79 kW). The Y-block was considered a major advancement over the flathead. Known for having oiling problems in the rocker shafts due to the fact the oil first went to the crankshaft bearing, then the camshaft bearings, then to the rocker shafts. This problem plagued the entire Y-block family and could be remedied by running a copper line from the oil pump and then to the rocker shafts.

The oiling problem was caused by the passage from the center cam bearing to the cylinder head being offset by an inch and too small. The motor oils available at that time were low in detergents but high in coke which when combined with short trips and infrequent oil changes led to this passage blocking up. This left the lower end with ample oil while the rocker shaft assemblies literally burned up. The external oiler kit essentially provided oil to the rocker shafts from the oil pressure port on the outside of the engine.

A quick reference of the engine specifications for 1955-57 will show the Ford V-8s ahead of the Chevrolet counterpart in displacement, horsepower and torque. The real enemy of the Y-block was its displacement limit. The original architecture was very small and tight. Even with the benefit of today's technology, (aftermarket rods and stroker cranks) the real limit of a Y-block is about 348 cubic inches while the Chevrolet could go well past the factory limit of 400. Simply put, the ever increasing size and weight of the standard passenger car, the added parasitic losses for accessories like power steering, power brakes and air conditioning, cheap gasoline and the horsepower race all conspired to outgrow the first Ford OHV V-8 engine. It is interesting to note that both Ford and Chevrolet went to optional "big block" engines for 1958, 352 cu in (5.8 L) at Ford compared to 348 cu in (5.7 L) at Chevrolet.


The Mercury Y-block was the 256 cu in (4.2 L).


The 272 cu in (4.5 L) version was introduced in 1955. Most standard Fords used this engine.


292 Y-block engine in a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria Skyliner.

The 292 cu in (4.8 L) was also introduced in 1955. It was used in the Ford Thunderbird, Mercury, and some high-end Ford cars. In 1956, it was an optional engine for Ford cars, was commonly used in high-end models, and called the "Thunderbird V8" (the optional larger 312 cu in engine was called the "Thunderbird Special V8"). The 292 cu in was also used in Ford trucks, namely the F-100, through 1964. The 292 forged steel crankshaft was popular with motor enthusiasts in stroking the 289 V8's. With some machine work, this part was used to upstroke the 289 V8's to 340 cid in combination with custom-made pistons and a .040 inch overbore (4.040 in. x 3.3 in.).

Ford Australia released this V8 motor as its only option in the 4 door sedan Customline for 1955 through 1959 (based on the Crown Victoria) and its utility based on the same styling as the Customline and called a Mainline.

This particular version of the Y-Block engine was used in Argentina in the F-100 Pick-up well into the sixties, and was known as Fase I (Phase I). Later in the sixties, the engine was modified to accept a new-style cylinder head with a different valve arrangement (E-I-E-I-E-I-E-I versus E-I-I-E-E-I-I-E), new intake and exhaust manifolds and was re-named the Fase II (Phase II). In this form, the 292 Fase II continued into the eighties in the F-100, and in addition, was also used in the Argentine Ford Fairlane (built from 1969 to 1982, and based heavily on American 1968 model).


The 312 cu in (5.1 L) engine came out in 1956 and was again used in high-end Ford and Mercury cars, including the Thunderbird.

The 312 was available with a 2 barrel carburetor, a 4 barrel carburetor, two 4 barrel carburetors, and a McCulloch (Paxton) supercharger.

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