Anyone who ever wrenched on a 1950s- or '60s-era Ford pickup is familiar with the Y-block V-8. Introduced in 1954, it was Ford's first overhead-valve V-8 and powered millions of cars and trucks in displacements ranging from 239 to 312 ci. Many Ford fans consider a T-bird 312 to be the pinnacle of Y-block performance, but "Speedy" Bill Smith-the owner of Speedway Motors in Lincoln, Nebraska-recently showed us a far more potent version of the engine at the museum that bears his name: the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed.
Little is known about this exotic Weslake Y-block, built by Harry Weslake's famous British racing and aircraft engine company. According to "Speedy" Bill, the engine features aluminum heads with "Industria Argentina" cast onto them, which indicates that it was likely developed after Ford sent its Y-block tooling to South America. It also has a race-bred fuel injection system, an aluminum Evans oil pan and an aluminum front cover and water pump.
(Ed. Note: When Damon Lee stated that little is known about the Weslake Y-block he wasn't kidding. Noting an Evans oil pan and aluminum front cover and water pump were listed as part of the Weslake Y-block's specifications, I called Gene Ohly at Evans Speed Equipment in South El Monte, California and asked if he could shed any light on the subject. Gene told me that Earl Evans never made any parts for the Ford Y-block engine, so it must be another Evans that made the parts. When I spoke with "Speedy" Bill last year after seeing the Weslake Y-block motor in person, "Speedy" Bill told me that not even Weslake had any information on the engine. Another thought that comes to mind is I saw the engine before it was restored, and was painted a dark green color similar to a '60's era British Leyland engine, and now it's painted a Ford dark blue. All I can say is it's a saga stranger and even more mysterious than the Riley-Ford V-8 also in "Speedy" Bill's collection.)
All of this seems to indicate that the engine was being prepared for racing-probably Formula One-although nobody seems to know much about it or whether it was ever raced. We can only speculate at the engine's performance figures, but it makes you wonder how much potential is hidden inside these often-overlooked V-8s.
This Weslake Y-block is just...
This Weslake Y-block is just one of more than 600 rare and exotic engines in the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed. For more information on the museum, visit www.museumofamericanspeed.com.