Many of the classic Ford cars we love came equipped with six-cylinder engines. A popular choice in Falcons and Mustangs, they offered acceptable street performance along with good fuel economy.
Early in Mustang sales, the six-cylinder cars were often the only ones on the showroom floor as the V-8-powered models were sometimes not available. The 170, 200, and 250ci sixes were all based on the original 144ci six-cylinder engine which debuted in the '60 Falcon. With a bore of 3.50 inches and a stroke length of 2.50 inches, the 144 was low on grunt and slow on acceleration. The stroke was lengthened to 2.94 inches in 1961 to yield a displacement of 170 ci. In this incarnation, the engine was rated for 105 hp. In 1964, both the bore and stroke were enlarged to 3.68 inches and 3.126 inches, respectively. The displacement for this combination was 200 ci.
Until this time, these engines had a four-journal saddle for the crankshaft. In the middle of the '64 production run, the block was recast to incorporate seven journals for the crankshaft. With nearly double the crank support of the earlier version, the new inline-six was much more durable. The seven main-bearing design was a more durable engine with some performance potential. Later, in 1969, the block deck height on the 200 engine was raised 1.66 inches and the engine stroked to 3.91 inches for a displacement of 250 ci. Many of the components from the bigger six, which saw extensive use overseas, particularly in Australia, are interchangeable with the earlier engines.
If your classic Ford has a six-cylinder engine, and you've been thinking that your car will never be quick without going to a V-8, think again. There are many interesting performance possibilities out there. Let's take a look at some of the more popular upgrades and conversions that are being done on six-cylinder Fords. We think you'll be amazed at the ingenuity and craftsmanship.
Six on the 'Net
No, I said six, so get your mind out of the gutter! If you're looking for some great information on six-cylinder performance, maintenance tips, or you just want to trade barbs with your fellow six-hole enthusiasts, check out www.fordsix.com. There you'll find interesting six-cylinder-based tech articles, a thriving member forum, a members' ride section, and more. So if you've got a hankerin' for any of the Ford six engines and an Internet connection, drop by www.fordsix.com and say "hi" to the gang.
Here's a bone-stock, 200ci...
Here's a bone-stock, 200ci six-cylinder engine as it might appear installed in a Falcon or Mustang. The single-snorkel air-cleaner housing conceals a wheezing, single-barrel carb that's designed just for fuel economy.
To begin our journey to six-cylinder...
To begin our journey to six-cylinder performance, we need to improve over the little one-barrel carb found on the stock engine. This intake manifold has been modified to accept an adapter for a two-barrel carb.
This shot shows the adapter...
This shot shows the adapter plate in place on the manifold, topped by a tapered spacer plate, and finally the carb baseplate. A variety of adapter plates are available at your local performance equipment outlet and range in price from $12.75 to $55.00 depending on the application. Trans-Dapt PN TRD-2044 adapts a Holley two-barrel to a single-barrel manifold for $32.95. Trans-Dapt PN TRD-2065 adapts a four-barrel carb to a two-barrel inlet for $14.75.