By on March 4, 2015

This Friday I hope to cover the Detroit Autorama and the competitors for the prestigious Ridler Award for what many consider to be the best new custom car. It’s a great show but because the show was originally organized by a Detroit area hot rod club to whom go was as important as show, the rules say that during judging the engines have to be exposed. That’s a pet peeve of mine because nobody has ever drawn a car with a hood up, either in junior high study hall or in an automaker’s design studio. I understand the desire to show off the cars’ motivating force, not to mention all of the chrome (or gold plated) eye candy, blowers and ancillaries, but it doesn’t make for great photography of a car as a whole.  Still, with some cars, you just gotta see what’s under the hood. For the first time in its history, the Henry Ford Museum is popping the hoods of about 40 of its historically significant cars in its Driving America display to let us do exactly that.

Note: There are about 80 photos after the jump so the page may load slowly.

Running through March 15, the museum is exhibiting what it calls Engines Exposed, and as an automotive history buff, I have to say that it’s a very rare opportunity to see some very special machinery and some truly legendary engines. With less than 400 Duesenberg Model J cars that exist, you don’t often get a chance to see the Duesenberg brothers’ masterpiece DOHC straight eight. There are only six Bugatti Royales so it’s even less likely to be able to see Ettore’s own 12.7 liter straight eight. The opportunity to view both engines in the same place won’t likely happen again (unless the Ford museum makes Engines Exposed a recurring event).

Racing in America, the section of Driving America devoted to motorsports, is also part of Engines Exposed, and cowls and clamshells have been opened so you can see motors like the V8 Ford (with its “bundle of snakes” exhaust) in Jim Clark’s 1965 Indy winning Lotus 38, the big block that powered A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney to victory at LeMans in the Ford MkIV, and the four Chrysler Hemis in the Goldenrod land speed record car.

Other historical engines on display are the small block Chevy V8 in the museum’s 1956 Bel Air, the flat six Franklin helicopter engine that Preston Tucker stuck in the back of his car, and an early 260 cubic inch version of what became the 289 and 302 Ford “Windsor” engine, in the museum’s early production ’64 1/2 Mustang. It should be noted that in addition to the motors that are part of the Engine’s Exposed exhibition, there are some other historical powerplants you can see that are part of the museum’s permanent display, including the very first flathead Ford V8 (with a hand stamped metal tag reading “HOLD FOR MR FORD”), Henry Ford’s less successful experimental engine that had an X layout, and the first gasoline motor that he built, the one that ran in Clara’s kitchen sink.

Alternative powerplants are also featured, including the jet engine in the museum’s Chrysler Turbine Car, and the hood is also popped on the 1916 Woods Dual Power gas/electric hybrid that was the subject of a post of mine here at TTAC. I have a good working relationship with Matt Anderson, the museum’s transportation curator who chose which engines were to be exposed, and he’s given me access to photograph the Woods Dual Power inside the barriers and from underneath the car, but now the general public will also be able to see the vintage hybrid’s gasoline engine and the electromagnetic clutch that couples it to the car’s electric motor, whose armatures can also be seen.

Because some engines are obscured by bodywork, a number of the cars have mirrors mounted to give visitors a better view.

For the duration of the exhibition, the museum’s Douglas Drive-in Theater will be running a daily presentation on the more important vehicles in the Henry Ford Museum’s collection and on major developments in the history of automotive powerplants. On Saturday, March 14th, at 1 PM in the theater, Matt Anderson will be giving a deeper look into the engines on display, using materials digitized from the museum’s collection. That date and the previous Saturday, the museum’s hands-on Tinker.Hack.Invent program for kids will teach them about the pros and cons of various power sources and have a chance to assemble an electric car.

To inject some fun, I cropped the photos of the powerplants to give you the chance the see how many of the engines and cars you can identify. Scroll down for the photographic answers in order below.

Answers:

Okay, trick question. That's Henry Ford's experimental X8 engine. It never worked well enough to go into production.

Okay, I started with a trick question. That’s Henry Ford’s experimental X8 engine. It never worked well enough to go into production and Henry decided to make a V8. The engine block to the right is an early casting for the flathead Ford V8 that came out of that decision. Full gallery here.

Buick Riviera. Full gallery here.

Buick Riviera. Full gallery here.

Miller-Ford V8 Indy Racer. Full gallery here.

Miller-Ford V8 Indy Racer. Full gallery here.

Offenhauser "Offy" engine in a A.J. Foyt raced, Meskowski built sprint car. Full gallery here.

Offenhauser “Offy” engine in a A.J. Foyt raced, Meskowski built sprint car. Full gallery here.

Jim Clark's Indy winning Ford V8 powered Lotus 38 that revolutionized open wheel racing in America. Full gallery here.

Jim Clark’s Indy winning Ford V8 powered Lotus 38 that revolutionized open wheel racing in America. Full gallery here.

1936 Lincoln Zephyr. Full gallery here

1936 Lincoln Zephyr. Full gallery here

1927 LaSalle. Full gallery here.

1927 LaSalle. Full gallery here.

Clara (Mrs. Henry) Ford's 1914 Detroit Electric. Full gallery here

Clara (Mrs. Henry) Ford’s 1914 Detroit Electric. Full gallery here

Duesenberg Model J. Full gallery here

Duesenberg Model J. Full gallery here

First U.S. built Honda Accord. Full gallery here

First U.S. built Honda Accord. Full gallery here

Bugatti Royale. Full gallery here

Bugatti Royale. Full gallery here

First generation Toyota Prius. Full gallery here

First generation Toyota Prius. Full gallery here

Honda Accord. Full gallery here

Honda Accord. Full gallery here

Dodge Omni. Full gallery here

Dodge Omni. Full gallery here

Mercury Cougar. Full gallery here

Mercury Cougar. Full gallery here

Chevrolet Corvair. Full gallery here

Chevrolet Corvair. Full gallery here

Volkswagen Beetle. Full gallery here.

Volkswagen Beetle. Full gallery here.

1949 Ford sedan. Full gallery here

1949 Ford sedan. Full gallery here

1943 Willys built U.S. Army jeep. Full gallery here

1943 Willys built U.S. Army jeep. Full gallery here

1924 Essex. Full gallery here

1924 Essex. Full gallery here

Roper steam carriage, circa 1863, the oldest motor vehicle in America. Full gallery here

Roper steam carriage, circa 1863, the oldest motor vehicle in America. Full gallery here

Henry Ford's 1896 Quadricycle. Full gallery here.

Henry Ford’s 1896 Quadricycle. Full gallery here.

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. Full gallery here

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. Full gallery here

1949 Studebaker. Full gallery here

1949 Studebaker. Full gallery here

Chrysler Turbine Car. Full gallery here

Chrysler Turbine Car. Full gallery here

1916 Woods Dual Power. Full gallery here

1916 Woods Dual Power hybrid. Full gallery here

1907 White steamer. Full gallery here

1907 White steamer. Full gallery here

Ford Thunderbird. Full gallery here

Ford Thunderbird. Full gallery here

1919 Ford Model T. Full gallery here

1919 Ford Model T. Full gallery here

First generation Ford Taurus. Full gallery here.

First generation Ford Taurus. Full gallery here.

1932 Ford hot rod. Full gallery here

1932 Ford hot rod. Full gallery here

1949 Mercury "lead sled", out of George Barris' shop, likely the work of his brother Sam, who invented the chopped top. Full gallery here

1949 Mercury “lead sled”, out of George Barris’ shop, likely the work of his brother Sam, who originated the chopped top. Full gallery here

Early production Ford Mustang with 260 cubic inch V8. Full gallery here

Early production Ford Mustang with 260 cubic inch V8. Full gallery here

Ford GT40 MkIV. Full gallery here

Ford GT40 MkIV. Full gallery here

Ohio George's Willys gasser. Full gallery here

Ohio George’s Willys gasser. Full gallery here

Goldentrod wheel-driven land speed record car. Full gallery here

Goldentrod wheel-driven land speed record car. Full gallery here

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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12 Comments on “Henry Ford Museum Pops the Hood. Can You Identify the Engines?...”


  • avatar
    VW16v

    Mr.Schreiber, great post ! I grew up going to the Henry Henry Ford museum and I continue to visit. But unfortunately with some on this site posting their age as 28.5 and only saying negative things about American made products and unions, many will not comprehend your post. If there is not a Japanese nameplate, the anti American views start coming out.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Yes Ronnie, thank you also. That was great fun.

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      I got a chance to go to the Henry Ford last year after a training trip to Detroit. Awesome museum, It’s more than just cars there, they have a little of everything. I love seeing all of the cars there, American or not, and I work for Toyota. Went to the Rouge plant as well, just wish I could have seen more than just the assembly building there.

  • avatar

    I got the chance to run through this place in January. I really wish I had more time because this museum is top notch on American industry and how it affects our lives. If you are near Dearborn you won’t be disappointed if you stop in here.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    That’s worth a woo, a yay, and a houpla right there.

    Some were too damn easy either through continued exposure via print media or personal intimacy, but others provided that enervating, “damn it, I should know what that one is” feeling as I puzzled over them.

    I’ve long thought an X-layout would be ideal from a modular engine construction point; simply add another ring of cylinders for additional power requirements. A 45 degree offset between banks would provide greater packaging efficiency, and you would end up with an easier to manage set of postal dimensions for the finished product.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      There’s sort of precedent for that in rotaries; each rotor is essentially a 3cyl slice.

    • 0 avatar
      TR4

      That’s what was done with aircraft engines from 1920s -1940s. The basic radial engine had one row of 7 or 9 cylinders. The Pratt and Whitney R-4360 had four rows of 7 cylinders:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratt_%26_Whitney_R-4360_Wasp_Major

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That red-silver Taurus is a beauty!

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      I’ve always been struck by that car in the museum. After so many years of seeing the original Taurus run down and broken down, it’s so nice to remember why people got so excited about them when they were new.

      I *think* that’s the actual car from the Motor Trend COTY cover:

      http://www.ford-taurus.org/taurusinfo/Articles/MT-Feb86/Cover.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        It is, is the car that was in the press fleet.

        I did a pretty poor job of guessing what most of them were. But when I got to that engine, it was case of “that looks familiar, but different…”

        Thank you Ronnie; I miss your articles from the Henry Ford, and I enjoyed it immensely. Now to check out the 3-D photos on your website; the 3-D perspective will make these engine shots easier to make out.

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    Love the Henry Ford & the history it represents. Greenfield Village, too. Was at the Village last spring on a school field trip with my son.

    Ronnie: Great article. Note that this is at least the second time they have done the Engines Exposed exhibit. I have the map from back in 2010 when they did it then.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    If you have not checked out Ronnie’s 3-D photography; you owe it to yourself to grab some 3-D glasses and check out this particular gallery in his Cars In Depth website; link is above. Many of the pictures were difficult to make out in 2-D; but in 3-D everything just pops; and it is easy to make out the equipment arrangement, wiring, and piping. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    Thank you very much Ronnie. It was fascinating to see how much they re-arranged things like the battery and coolant tank between this Taurus and my ’95 Taurus. The steam powerplants and the X8 engine were especially interesting to me.

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