Barry Kluczyk
August 22, 2011

Henry Ford And Holley Carburetors

It was none other than Henry Ford-at the dawn of the automotive age in the in early 1900s-who encouraged the Pennsylvania-based brothers George and Earl Holley to get into the carburetor business. The two had been tinkerers and built their own automobile, but as Ford's business began to grow, the brothers wisely followed his advice and established their landmark fuel systems company in 1903 and relocated to the Detroit area.

As the auto industry grew, so did Holley. The company's carburetors mixed air and fuel for just about everything on four wheels. Of course, their iconic four-barrel carburetor was a mainstay of the muscle car era and remains a core performance component more than four decades later.

The classic Holley 4150-series four-barrel made its first appearance on the '57 Ford Thunderbird. Its use in Detroit's factory supercars mushroomed and it became a popular aftermarket product. The company was sold to Ohio-based Colt Industries in 1968 (the same year the larger, "Dominator"-series carb arrived, designed for NASCAR racing), remaining part of that company until its sale to a private equity firm in 1998. New cars were fuel-injected, so manufacturers' needs for carburetors dried up. Holley necessarily shifted its focus to aftermarket performance, but that was tough, too, as enthusiasts embraced fuel injection. In 2008, Holley filed for bankruptcy and emerged from it in 2010.

Regardless of the ups and downs of the past century, it was the urging of ol' Henry himself that helped make Holley a performance icon.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery