The Anatomy of the 427 SOHC – Ford’s Answer to the HEMI

What is the most feared engine ever to come out of Ford? A very subjective question – but the Boss 302, 427 Tunnel Port, Boss 429 come to mind. All these are candidates, but a lot of people would say that distinction belongs to the 427 SOHC. Mostly referred to as a 427 “Cammer” or “Sock”.

1964 was the year that Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 with the new Dodge 426 Hemi. Ford was running the 427 Hi-Riser that year and won the majority of NASCAR races. The writing was on the wall and the boys at Ford had to come up with an answer to the new Hemi. Within 90 days, Ford took what it learned from the 255ci Dual Overhead Cam Indy motor and applied it to the bulletproof 427ci FE motor. The FE (which stands for Ford-Edsel) replaced the Y-Block engines in 1958. The displacements started at 332ci and grew to 428ci. The baddest of the bad of these were the 427’s and the King of the 427’s is the 427 SOHC!

The shortblock for the “cammer” was basically all 427 hi-riser. Ford wanted to keep the cost down by using as many off-the-shelf parts as it could. The crank was the 427 forged steel version that was cross-drilled at both the mains and rods. This crank with the steel hi-riser connecting rods and special “hemi-head” pistons was the ticket needed to live at 7500 rpms. Increased oil pressure and updated water pump helped to keep all fluids flowing no matter what the conditions were.

The main thing that drew your eyes to this motor was the massive valve covers, which were made from magnesium. One look and you knew that this was no ordinary engine. The heads were cast iron and wide. With a machined combustion chamber putting the compression ratio at 12.0:1. The intake ports were a “tunnel port” design that fed 2.25″ intake valves and through 1.90″ exhaust valves, gases exited out D shaped exhaust ports. Hollow stem intake valves were used and the exhaust valve stem were sodium filled to help control the heat that is generated at 7500 rpms.

Photo By: Pops Performance Center

A single overhead cam on each head actuated the valves through the use of cast iron rocker arms on a harden shaft with needle bearing rolling followers on the camshafts. Valve lash adjustment was by lash adjusters on the first design, but later changed to adjusting screws. Now with no camshaft in the block, the engineers plugged off the rear cam bearing oil feeder and installed an accessory shaft to drive the distributor and oil pump. This shaft was spun from the crankshaft by a standard double roller timing chain. An additional drive gear off the front of the accessory shaft ran the timing chain for the over head cams. Ford opted for a gear and chain drive instead of a complicated and hard to time gear drive to handle the timing of the cams. The main drive chain is 6 feet long! The system that was designed for this used a series of idlers and timing chain guides to control the valve train harmonics at engine speeds of 7000+rpms! All of this was covered by a 2 piece plate and cast aluminum cover.

Ford used a dual point distributor with a transistorized amplifier box and specially tuned dual Holley 4 barrels on a dual plane intake to handle the spark and fuel. All of this when put on a dyno netted a gross horsepower reading of 657hp at 7000rpm and a torque reading of 575 ft/lbs. This combination was put in a ’64 Galaxie and ran at the time the fastest lap at Daytona. Chrysler heard about this and after the dust settled, had the engine banned from NASCAR. Well those rules did not apply to drag racing where this powerful and unique engine powered many racers to victory lane. This engine remained very competitive into the earl 70’s. Now regulated to vintage drag races and street cars, the 427 SOHC is still one of the most unique and powerful engines to come out of Detroit in the 60’s. When you hear one of these beast coming down the road you know it is something very special that you don’t see everyday!

About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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