Following the 1964 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, Ford Motor Company decided to develop its 500 horsepower 1965 Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine. Many of the 1965 Indy 500 participants designed or purchased vehicles built around this now famous engine. Here is the story from my collection of mid-1960s Indianapolis 500 Mile Race press kits.
1965 Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine
Copyright © 1965 Ford Motor Company
Ford Engineering was assigned the task of preparing the basic double-overhead-cam engine for production. It was primarily a job of redesign for production, plus durability improvements based on findings from the 1964 race. For instance, the 1964 engine experienced valve-spring failure due to excessive interference of inner to outer springs. This situation was corrected by a controlled select fit.
The engine’s lubrication was improved to protect against anticipated higher RPM and greater loads in 1965. The oil pressure was increased from 65 to 115 pounds. The entire lubrication system was enlarged to allow for freer flow and better cooling.
The connecting rods were strengthened and the crankshaft redesigned for 100 percent internal balance. As a result, the loading of the main bearings was improved.
In addition to the push for increased engine durability for 1965, considerable time was spent improving fuel economy. The 1965 version had two basic fuel systems – the modified Hilborn pump used in 1964 and a Ford injection system using a boost venturi in place of an injector nozzle. Economy was improved as much as 20 percent with the second system.
Since the selection of fuel for the 1965 race was at the discretion of the car owner, Ford calibrated fuel systems for blends of 80 percent methanol and 20 percent toluene, benzol, or gasoline. Additional tests were run on methanol with small percentages of nitro methane added, because most owners used some nitro in qualifying. These tests yielded information needed to determine calibration of the fuel system and spark requirements.
The 1965 Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine developed close to 500 horsepower at 8,600 RPM and 333 pound feet of torque at 6,700 RPM, an increase of over six percent over the 1964 offering. The engine’s operating limit was raised to 8,800 RPM.
Considerable attention was given in selection and training of personnel to assemble the production engine. A service manual was prepared to aid the car builders and mechanics in maintaining engines, and facilities were established for factory rebuilding engines if desired by owners.
The Meyer-Drake firm was the sole agent for the sale and servicing this engine. The company established an Indianapolis facility for parts and equipment for the racing fraternity.
Ford hosted a 10-day seminar for race mechanics in Dearborn, MI, devoted to care and maintenance of the engine. They observed engine disassembly, reassembly, and explanations of all design phases. Ford personnel were available at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to provide technical assistance and parts selection to meet owners’ performance requirements.
All of this pre-race preparation paid-off for Ford in 1965. Seventeen of the 33 cars in the starting field had this engine. Jimmy Clark drove his Lotus powered by Ford to first place in the Indianapolis 500. In fact, The 1965 Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine captured positions 1-4 and 7-9 finishing positions.
The 1965 Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine in various configurations enjoyed success in Indy Car racing and other venues for a number of years.