No engines on the market have the performance, durability, or long-standing reputation of Ford. In 2017, Ford won best small engine at the International Engine of the Year Awards for the sixth year in a row and received its ninth win for fuel-efficient and sporty engines. It has been Overall Winner three times—a record—and previously won Best Newcomer, so Ford has been accustomed to being a front-runner from inception.
Ford was a powerhouse into the 1970s, and then the oil crisis hit, adversely impacting car manufacturers. The company kept pushing onward through the 90s until it started showing signs of life again in the 2000s. They have some of the best cars and engines on the market and the most consistently well-performing brand.
Ford engines have the durability and power that enthusiasts, racers, and experts demand.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The Model T Ford was introduced in 1908, and the innovative company sold 15 million cars before retiring it in 1927, making it the most popular engine in history. WardsAuto also names it one of the top ten best engines in the twentieth century.
At 20 HP, it could get up to 45 miles per hour. The inline 4-cylinder engine had a Monoblock design that lent itself to maintenance and manufacturability. Because of the engine’s location, the first Model Ts could only go up hills in reverse, making them ideal for flatland, a comedy show on rolling terrain, and modified horse and buggy operations on mountain tops.
Engine technology has come a long way!
Car & Driver magazine says the Ford Flathead V8 is the seventh-best motor of all time, and WardsAuto says it’s the fifth, just behind the Model T. For having come along in 1932, that’s an achievement.
Here was an affordable engine during the Great Depression, when folks really needed value, and horsepower (HP), 65 HP at 3400 rpm ranked it much better performing than the larger V8s by luxury models available at the time. The 1949 edition rated at 100 HP and revived Ford Motor Company after World War II.
BEST SMALL ENGINE
The 999cc three-cylinder turbo EcoBoost motor, which is in the Fiesta, B-Max, Focus, C-Max, Grand C-Max, Mondeo, and EcoSport models, is being replaced next year with an updated design and technology.
One wonders about the high-quality standards Ford is keeping when the engine wins first place for the sixth year in a row and every year that it has been nominated at the International Engine of the Year Awards, yet they think it’s time for an update anyway.
The aging champion even beat out its Volkswagen rival that had all new technology. With a fuel economy of 56.5 miles per gallon and low CO2 emissions, it also displays the power of 125 HP and 170 Nm peak torque up to 4,500 rpm.
No one expects the budget-friendly Fiesta to hold the best engine of its class, but that’s what Ford accomplished. The engine and body are super lightweight, with the great gas mileage and a punchy motor that can handle just about any terrain if it’s properly maintained. It’s a great car for long-distance trips. If you’re traveling solo or with one partner, remember—this is THE small car engine! Because it’s economical, too, it’s perfect for an about-town, stop-and-start errand runner for the small family as well.
The Ford 5.2-liter V8 in the Mustang Shelby GR350R placed fourth in the same competition but different category, again ranking among all luxury cars. Also placed by Wards, this year it was the only aspirated engine to achieve such an honor.
It’s a new engine completely, not just another derivative of the 5.0-liter, with a new block and mostly new other parts as well. The Mustang is intended to be a street-capable track car, light, with high performance. The engine was designed specifically for the car to meet these requirements.
Car and Driver magazine calls this Ford’s “pony car on steroids,” and it goes zero-to-sixty in under 4 seconds. They measured it at 526 HP and say it’s the muscle car that can finally hold through corners. At 21 miles per gallon, it’s not your car for fuel economy, but no one is looking for that in a pony, and Ford has plenty of other options for that criteria.
2-LITER TO 2.5-LITER
The International Engine of the Year Awards gave the Ford Focus RS (Rally Sport) 2.3-liter turbo third place in this category. WardsAuto also named this one of the best engines of the year. They called the 350 HP motor a “slam-dunk” in the competition.
The RS hasn’t been seen since 2010, but Europe wanted to bring it back and introduce it to America for the first time, so they chose the 2.3-liter, a Mustang V8 derivative.
And they did it right—another sub-5 second zero-to-sixty engine that’s fierce enough for the youthful lead foots and conservative enough for the aging speed racers. Another tight-cornering masterpiece, it gets slightly better miles per gallon than the Mustang Shelby 350R, and you can take this one home to meet your mother.
Ford is the only carmaker that can claim to have been Overall Winner of the Engine of the Year Awards three times. This year it placed fifth, but the first four (and all other contenders placing below Ford) are luxury car makers outside of most price ranges. Ford wins fifth-best overall engine for its 999cc three-cylinder turbo, the engine that took Best Small Engine for the sixth year running before being put into retirement.
In 2012, this same engine was the Overall Winner, also winning Best New Engine of the Year. The engine is an exercise in efficient downsizing, with fuel economy and performance in a quiet and consistent engine from a small three-cylinder engine. It’s been called “small but mighty.”
MORE OF THE BEST ENGINES FORD EVER MADE
GT40. The GT40 was a car—not the engine—built for endurance racing that won the LeMans four times in a row from 1966 to 1969, with a stunning first, second, and third place finish in 1966. A performance like that has never been repeated. The GT40 in those years used the same 7.0-liter engine as the Ford Galaxie, also widely known for its motor, but was modified for the road course.
1966 was the first year the Ford GT40 won, but it was the first year an American engine won at all. There’s an even better tale here that doesn’t make it into the popular culture story vault. Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari were feuding, and Ford had vowed to go after Ferrari’s Le Mans legacy, having won six consecutive years and several of the recent years before that run as well.
Ford had planned to purchase the Italian carmaker, but Ferrari shut it down at the last minute, and Ford was a man with a grudge. Ferrari placed eighth that year and hasn’t won since. Ford never showed up again at the races from 1970 to 2015, but, in 2016 and 2017, they renewed the rivalry with Ferrari with epic verbal and literal mudslinging at LeMans, with Ford placing second this year.
1963 Ford Galaxie and 1964 Fairlane Thunderbolt. These both had a 7.0-liter V8 engine with 425 HP and were great racing cars. Ford won 23 NASCAR races in 1963, including every 500-mile race on the big tracks. These cars started with 406 cubic-inch engines, but mid-year moved to 427. The racing cars were 406, and the fastest cars in the United States at the time.
Last year, NASCAR driver Joey Logano raced an original 63 Galaxie with comedian Jay Leno and found the engine had been built to last, still holding its own with a modern racer with 750 HP.
1969 Mustang Boss 429. This classic muscle car was 7.0-liter V8 rated at 375 HP, even though most say that’s an underestimate. Actual output was about 500, according to many who tested. These engines were so strong they were sometimes removed from the cars and used for harder industrial work, like tractor pulling, because of their torque and HP.
Supposedly, this street fighter with the heart of a racer can get up to 175 miles per hour, but less than 900 were made, and their average value is $250,000.00, so no one has been crazy enough to test it and admit to it.
Ford 385 engines. These were produced in 1968, all the way to 1997, and were the last of the V8 family. After the V8s, engines started getting smaller. In 1968, they were in the Lincoln Continental and Ford Thunderbird. Later, they became truck engines and ended as ninth generation Ford F-series trucks. It was also used industrially in marine, motorhome, and industrial applications.
Mustang Mach 1. This was a 375 HP 7.0-liter V8 base 302 Windsor engine. Endurance driver Mickey Thompson set 295 speed and endurance records in this car on 500-mile and 24-hour courses. This was one of six Mustang models available in 1969, and, likewise, there were six engines available. The Windsor was Thompson’s and the most well-known, available as 2 or 4 barrel, but there were other more powerful engine options as well.
GAA V8. This one started as a V12 for aircraft, but Ford chopped cylinders off each end and made it a V8 for M4 Sherman tanks in World War II. It’s 18-liter and goes to 525 HP with 2800 rpm. You can’t get much more powerful than a war machine that defeated the Axis forces.
These, obviously, weren’t made for cars, but do it yourself car enthusiasts are always up to something. One mechanic put this motor in a 1970 Mustang and created a beast. An internet scouring reveals that everyone wants to know what the Frankenstein Ford ended up capable of, but that no one knows for sure, leading one to believe it was a lab experiment gone wrong, but it, at least, piques curiosity.
Shelby GT350. These 5.2-liter V8s, called Voodoo, are some of the most powerful aspirated engines Ford has developed. These race cars were introduced in 2016 at 526 rpm and 429-foot pounds of torque, only available with a 6-speed manual transmission. This is a track car, and the engine is lightweight.
The 2017, a GTE (that E stands for “enhanced”), has even more HP, as if it were necessary. The Shelby has been a racing tradition since 1965 and was combined with fifth generation Mustang in 2005, designed specifically for high performance on the track.
The 2016 has been called the most track-worthy car ever, and it only comes in a six-speed manual. Autoweek says it’s the most fun you can have for under a hundred grand, and it might be the most fun you can have in a car at all. With the Mustang now more than fifty years old, it has earned its place as the wise elder, but it still packs the punch of its youth.
Ford engines have been consistently the strongest and most reliable on the market for over one hundred years, and they deserve the reputation they’ve built.
Its Model T sold more than any other car in history at a time when not everyone had cars, but, of course, there wasn’t much competition, either. Ford was then, and continues to be now, the only risk-taker gutsy enough to try, and the only one skilled enough to make it work.
The reliable car took Ford through the Great Depression when not many other businesses could survive, and Ford continued to be the strongest brand through the 1970s. Most brands suffered for some time during the oil crisis, including Ford, but they staged a comeback in the 2000s.
They make the strongest engine for cars with the best performance. No other carmaker in the world has the reputation or tenacity of Ford, and their engines are consistently the most reliable and impressive currently on the market.