On April 27 we celebrate the 427 engine from Ford and Chevy

Yesterday was April 26, AKA Hemi Day due to the designation of Mopar’s famous 426 cubic inch V8 engine. But today, an extra cubic centimeter means a special day dedicated to two of the most impressive engines from Detroit’s other two muscle car makers.

Arguably the largest engines either company has ever produced, the 427 cubic inch engine has been a hugely successful move for Chevrolet and Ford on the street and on the track.

The importance of the 427 engine for Ford and Chevrolet

Chevrolet introduced its first 427 engine in the 1963 Impala Sport Coupe as a Special Edition Regular Production (RPO) option, code Z11. Only 50 of these cars would be built, with the intention of selling them to drag racing and NASCAR. Based on the W Mark 1 409 series, the 427 featured increased stroke to compensate for displacement and produced an underrated 430 horsepower.

It wasn’t until Chevrolet introduced the Mark IV big-block engine in the 1966 Corvette and other full-size vehicles that the 427 was available to the general public. The new big-block design was initially rated at 450 horsepower, but was reduced to 425 as the RPO L72. Fitted with Holley Tri-Power carburettors, horsepower was increased to 435.

The engine also found its way into various racing cars in all-aluminum ZL1 form, such as the McLaren M8B Can-Am. The ZL1 engine was also available in the Corvette, but checking the option box doubled the price to $4,718.

Carroll Shelby's 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake is auctioned by Barrett-Jackson
Screenshot Via Barrett-Jackson.

Ford has also been in the 427 game since 1963, with the first engine of this displacement hitting the track in 1963 under the hood of the Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt. The big-block engine designated “FE” was available in both top-lube and side-lube configurations, which oiled the camshaft and crankshaft first, respectively.

The side engine lubrication model was fitted to the GT40 MKII, which placed 1-2-3 in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The engine top lubrication model only found its way into a small number of Ford machines, such as the Galaxy, Fairlane and a special Mustang. Carroll Shelby is most famous for cramming the mill into the featherweight Cobra, to great effect.

In addition to the FE 427, Ford also produced the famous 427 SOHC “Cammer”, which featured one overhead cam per bank, rather than a single cam in the block. However, the Cammer was not available in a streetcar, causing Chrysler to protest the engine’s homologation and ban it from competition.

Whether you’re a Ford guy or a Chevy guy, at least the 427-cubic-inch V8’s displacement is something we can all agree on. No, we’re probably not going to do 428 or 429 posts. Sorry, Ford guys.

Shelby 427 Cobra
Photo via Mecum Auctions

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