The Y-block had overhead valves and was more technologically advanced than the flathead, which had been produced by Ford for many years. The Y-block engine was released first in 1954, and more became available in 1955 and 1956 and gradually replaced the flathead engine. It lasted until 1964 and made Ford a major player in car racing.
The Y-block is still a V8 -- the "Y" referring to the shape of the cylinder block, noted for its deep crankcase. The Y-block was well entrenched as an engine for top of the line cars in 1956. It was used most often in the Thunderbird and the Victoria. While the Y-block was introduced in 1955 as a 272- or 292-cubic inch engine, the development continued through the 50s. The Y-block was a special added modification to the V8 which increased its power. The 272 engine put out 173 horsepower.
In 1956 a 312-cubic inch engine was introduced, and was used in many Thurderbirds and Crown Victorias. The engine had 214 horsepower, and even more in racing packages. It had 289 feet of torque. The car held five quarts of oil, three pints of transmission fluid and had a 17-gallon gas tank.
The Y-block was a V8 engine that put out 182 horsepower with a four-barrel carburettor, which was significant in 1956; as of 1955 Ford was struggling to keep up on the NASCAR racing circuit. The Y-block engine was modified especially for NASCAR racing late in 1955 and was in full swing by 1956.
Ford went from no wins in NASCAR in 1955, to winning 19 out of 56 races in 1956. That put the engine on the map and it became a very popular optional package in the Ford line-up.
The engine had an oiling problem because of its height. This led to many cracked heads in the first couple of years, but modifications solved the problem by getting oil to the top of the engine.
The problem was that often passages in the engine would get clogged, preventing oil from getting to the overhead cams and valves. In 1957 Ford started "posting" by putting a small piece of cast iron inside the block to support the combustion chamber and keep the oil and coolant passages open.
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