Ford is to throw a lifeline to thousands of historic Formula Ford racers worldwide thanks to a decision to put the legendary 'Kent' engine block back into production. Engineering work has already begun at Ford Racing’s Performance Parts division in the USA, with sales scheduled to start in 2010.
The 'Kent' engine began its production life 50 years ago, and was the perfect choice of power unit when Formula Ford was created in Britain in 1967. Though the engine was superseded at the top level of Formula Ford racing in the UK in 1993, between 5000 and 7000 'Kent'-engined cars are competing around the globe and engine parts are becoming increasingly scarce.
Now expertise gained by Ford Racing Performance Parts through its remanufacturing of classic Ford road car engine blocks, like that for the original Mustang, is to be put to good use on the 'Kent'.
“Our parts division has many years of expertise in re-making blocks,” says Ford Racing Engineering Supervisor Andy Slankard, “and we are going to take our knowledge of modern techniques to remanufacture the 'Kent' block and improve its durability. Our aim is not to make performance gains but to strengthen it and to make the unit more reliable.
“There are many thousands of 'Kent'-engined Formula Ford cars still racing around the world – particularly in the USA, which never adopted the Ford Zetec engine which replaced it in Europe – and we believe that the majority of owners of these historic machines will want to retain the originality of their car by using a genuine Ford engine.”
The news is welcomed by Mike Norton, Motorsport Manager Ford of Europe: “It is fantastic news that the legendary 'Kent' engine is to be reborn. This engine powered some of motorsport’s greatest names to their first championship successes – drivers like Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell and Mika Hakkinen – and we very much hope that the plan to remanufacture the unit will lead to even more names being added to the list of Formula Ford greats in future seasons.
Written by Ford Media
July 2010This picture shows one of the first castings of the new and improved Kent block in the process of being machined. These blocks became available in mid-August and many such blocks have been the basis of "new" Formula Ford engines, especially in the National and Vintage ranks.
September 2010The new Kent block before dyno testing at Ivey Engines in Portland, Oregon.