Jim Smart
August 29, 2005

Of course, the centerpiece of this ride is its beating heart from the Total Performance era. The FE-series, 427ci, single overhead cam big-block was born in 1964 for NASCAR competition. It was a corporate act of desperation because Ford was getting clobbered on the superspeedways by Chrysler power. The FE's architecture made it challenging to fit with hemispherical cylinder heads as Chrysler had done with its 426ci RB-block. Because Ford had experience with overhead cam technology in its high-revving Indy small-blocks, it seemed logical to apply this thinking to the FE big-block. What Ford didn't know was NASCAR's Bill France wasn't having any part of overhead cam power on his speedways. Ford would quickly learn there would be no SOHC racing, so they took their corporate ball and went home.

What made the 427 SOHC revolutionary at the time was the technology practiced by Ford engineers. The SOHC's bottom end wasn't much different than we find with the wedge variants. Outside of oil distribution to the unusual heads, the block is virtually the same. Down under is a 7.5-quart oil pan. The crank was a steel forging for obvious reasons. Where the SOHC differed greatly was in its hemispherical crossflow heads with 2.250-inch intake and 1.90-inch exhaust valves. The head gaskets certainly were unique with an asbestos/steel combination designed for extreme pressures and heat. Rocker arms were little more than a cast-iron construction supported by needle-bearing fulcrums. These engines were quite sophisticated for their day--fitted with dual timing chains that looped from the crank sprocket to the single overhead cams above. Chain slack could be adjusted via a single idler. Screw-in freeze plugs were incorporated due to the high cooling system pressures. Ford opted for a transistorized, dual-point ignition system for added measure to keep the fire lit at high rpm.

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The most remarkable part of the 427 SOHC story is how quickly Ford went from concept to running test mules--just 90 days. When Ford took its cammer to the dyno labs in Dearborn, it witnessed more than 600 hp at 7,000 rpm with more than 500 lb-ft of torque.

And this brings us back to Jack, who fires his 427 SOHC once a month to keep the oil circulating, and parts nice and limber. For Jack, listening to the SOHC enables him to live a dream most of us will never experience. Because Jack lives out in the country, he's able to spin the twin cams as aggressively as he desires. We will leave the rest to your imagination, and Jack to the business of door slamming.