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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Henry Ford's X-8 Engine

Henry Ford & staff worked on several prototype engines to replace the Model T engine. Perhaps the most famous of them all was the X-8 Engine. This motor has been well documented over the years. A few examples still exist- one is on display in the Powerhouse at Henry Ford's Fairlane Estate in Dearborn, another is located in Speedy Bill's Museum in Lincoln Nebraska, and a third is in the possession of Eli Apolzon. There are rumors of a couple more in private hands, but I am unable to confirm this. Henry Ford Museum conducted a few auctions over the years and lots of rare Ford items such as these motors have made it out in the general public. If anyone has any idea, let me know and I will update my dataset. To see some great photos of this rare engine click on the links below.
Eli Apolzon's X-8 Engine Page
Hemming's Blog Entry on Experimental Ford Engines
Here at Vintage Ford Facts we delve a little deeper into all things Ford. Here's a bit more about these engines with a couple of era photos below.

In his reminiscences Gene Farkas remembers Henry Ford coming to him around 1920 and saying "I know you'll laugh, but I want to build a cross shaped engine with eight cylinders, let's get busy on it!" And they did get busy- around 10-12 of these engines were built. The first two were water cooled and had dual camshafts. Later improvements brought on were pressurized oiling, battery ignition and other features that predated current Ford thinking.

One of the X-8 Engines was installed in an Oldsmobile Chassis, as it was too big to fit in a Model T chassis, and while speed & performance were good, the bottom cylinders & plugs being exposed to road dirt & moisture caused alot of problems with fouling spark plugs, etc.

Edsel Ford had a speedboat outfitted with a later version of an X-8 engine, but it too gave trouble and the project was abandoned. Even though Henry Ford really wanted to see the X-8 become a reality, time was of the essence to build a car to replace the Model T, the X-8 was destined to become yet another part of the wonderful Ford Motor Co. history.

Below are two period photographs of the X-8 Engine: