By on February 19, 2018

One of the red-circled events on my calendar every year is the Detroit Autorama, arguably the world’s best custom car and hot rod show. As is fitting for an event in the Motor City, the vehicles competing for the Autorama’s top prize, the Ridler Award, must actually function, they have to be driven onto the show floor under their own power, and the hoods are up during judging so the judges can evaluate the engine compartment.

While that makes for fair competition, it also makes for less-than-ideal photography of the cars’ styling. No kid sitting in seventh-grade study hall ever drew a hot car with the hood up.

It might surprise you, then, that I was excited to find out about the Engines Exposed exhibit running until the end of February at the Henry Ford Museum’s Driving America display. Curators there have popped the hoods on over 70 of the more than 100 vehicles on permanent display at the museum. Unlike at the Autorama, you won’t find any LS3 engines, but you will find a small-block Chevy V8 from the 1950s, as well as many other historically significant powerplants. I say “powerplant” because the vehicles featured don’t just include those powered by gasoline engines. There are gas/electric hybrids, including one over a century old, pure battery-electric vehicles, Chrysler’s famous turbine, and even a steam-powered vehicle.

The Henry Ford Museum is always worth a visit, but if you’re a motorhead, this is a particularly propitious time to check it out.

I was going to do a photo essay on the display, with a little bit of historical info to accompany each engine, but some of the engines are worthy of entire books by themselves and the post would have gotten unwieldy.

Instead, we decided that a quiz would be more fun. Can you identify the make and model of the car from just a cropped image of the motor?

Some of them are easier than others, as I didn’t bother to obscure any logos that decorate a few of the engines. And speaking of obscure, I’ll be surprised if you can identify all of them. Some are virtually one of a kind so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t identify them. On the other hand, some of the motors and their motorcars are so iconic that you should give up your car guy/gal card if you don’t recognize them.

By the way, the flathead Ford V8 engine at the top of this post isn’t part of the quiz. That’s the first production Ford V8 ever made, with a hand-stamped brass plate reading:


One might say that’s a bit ironic in light of the fact that the V8 was Henry Ford’s second choice for a powerplant to replace the by-then venerable Model T’s four-cylinder engine. At Henry’s direction, Ford Motor Compan spent four years and uncounted dollars trying, in vain, to develop an X-8 layout before the industrialist accepted failure and turned to the V8 configuration. Still, though it was his second choice, the V8 was Henry’s baby. While the flathead Ford V8 was revolutionary in that it brought V8 power to non-luxury automobiles, it’s hardly a perfect design — and most of its technical shortcomings are the result of Henry Ford’s personal decisions.

The correct answers for the quiz are provided below, along with a gallery of uncropped photos.





























































1. 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible
2. 1909 Ford Model T
3. 1924 Essex Coupe
4. 1943 Willys Army Jeep
5. 1949 Ford Sedan
6. 1960 Chevrolet Corvair
7. 1978 Dodge Omni
8. 1989 Honda Accord
9. 2002 Toyota Prius
10. 1949 Volkswagen Type I
11. 1914 Ford Model T
12. 1930 Ford Model A
13. 1932 Ford V8
14. 1956 Continental Mark II
15. 1937 Cord 812
16. Bugatti Royale
17. 1931 Duesenberg Model J
18. 1919 Woods Mobillette
19. JB Rocket Cyclecar
20. 1951 Crosley Hotshot
21. 1936 Lincoln Zephyr
22. 1948 Tucker
23. 1958 Edsel Citation
24. 1963 Buick Riviera
25. 1987 Ford NASCAR
26. 1956 Chrysler 300B NASCAR
27. 1962 Ford Mustang I Concept
28. 1951 Beatty Belly Tank Land Speed Record
29. 1965 Goldenrod Land Speed Record
30. 1906 Locomobile Old 16
31. 1933 Willys Gasser
32. 1960 Meskowski Offenhauser Roadster
33. 1935 Miller-Ford V8 Indy
34. 1967 Ford Mk IV LeMans
35. 1919 Ford Model T
36. 1956 Ford Thunderbird
37. 1986 Ford Taurus
38. 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang
39. 1949 Kaiser Traveler
40. 1963 Chrysler Turbine
41. 1997 General Motors EV1
42. 1916 Woods Dual Power Hybrid
43. 1906 White Model G Steam
44. 1896 Riker Electric
45. 1955 Chevrolet Corvette
46. 1957 DeSoto Fireflite
47. 1904 Packard Model L
48. 1919 Overland Model 90B
49. 1950 Plymouth Deluxe Suburban Station Wagon
50. 1984 Plymouth Voyager
51. 1968 Mercury Cougar XR7
52. 1949 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe
53. 1983 Honda Accord
54. 1927 LaSalle Roadster
55. 1939 Ford Convertible
56. 1903 Oldsmobile

[Images: The author]

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17 Comments on “A Quiz: Henry Ford Museum Pops the Hood – What Engine is That?...”

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Nice idea, but I quit looking after the first ten or so, when I realized most of them would be old-timey stuff from the days when you had to buy gasoline in 1-quart cans at the drug store.

  • avatar

    Cool pics. Surprised there was no big block chevy or 426 Hemi. I would like to have seen the whole pic of that blown Willys gasser.

    • 0 avatar

      My personal Holy Grail is to find a 1940 Willy Americar restored to showroom original instead of being hot-rodded.

      I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that its an impossible quest, seeing I’ve been looking for one for 50 years now.

  • avatar

    I can’t speak for the ’63 Riviera, but the air cleaner on our ’64 was black, because I remember respraying it once. The plate on top of the air cleaner was red, though. I seem to recall that it was a 425 and not a 445, though. Hard to remember for sure, it has been around 50 years!

  • avatar

    Nostalgia with a bit of neck-jerking and tongue swallowing when I saw these pictures. I still deal with a variant of the old Ford 4-cylinders (in my ’40 9N tractor) as well as the memories (good and not-so) of my Corvair and the various air-cooled VW’s I owned. As always, Thanks, Ronnie.

  • avatar

    Great pics. When I was a hs kid I worked in a gas station where the owner ran a flathead V8 Ford stock car, early 50s body and chassis. They were simple engines, and seemed to be fairly durable, but because of the exhaust porting they put a lot of heat into the cooling system, needed a lot of radiator. Also as you removed material between the valves and cylinder bore to improve airflow, the block was thinner in that area and prone to cracking on the exhaust side.

  • avatar

    Great pictures – no engine can beat the appearance of a well polished Model J.

    • 0 avatar

      The Duesenberg Model J engine is magnficent but the Bugatti Royale engine is a work of art. The Offenhauser four is also very pretty.

      The Royale is one of the things that makes the Henry Ford Museum special. For most car museums, a Duesenberg Model J is the pinnacle, but the Royale makes the Model J, great as it is, look just a little bit ordinary. It’s a bit like comparing a Model J to one of the senior Packards.

      I was at an auction preview and there was a Packard dual cowl parked nose to nose with a Duesenberg. As cool as the Packard was, the Duesenberg was bigger, bolder, and more impressive.

      • 0 avatar

        The J is technically more sophisticated than the Royale, but the type 41 (and Offy) are certainly magnificent. I’m guess I’m just a sucker for apple green and polished aluminum.

  • avatar

    A couple that I was able to recognize right off the bat are the ’56 Mark II (the valve covers are a giveaway) and the ’60 Corvair (the small center-mounted air cleaner and the rubber elbows are a ’60 only thing). The Corvair shown here is a Powerglide, evidenced by the dipstick going through the firewall.

    • 0 avatar

      I found a nice Corvair Monza convertible that needs work. I would l_o_v_e to have it. Cheap too.

      Stunning car:

  • avatar

    Yay number 37!!! I was hoping it would he on here. Mine isn’t quite that clean, but not bad considering it’s 237K miles.

    I had a red-on-grey 1986 LX once. It was in rough shape, but I should kick my own arse for not keeping it. I’d love to have it today.

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