The 1958 year is a landmark for Ford Motors with three all new engine Families available under the brand although the “Y” block is used for some models through to 1964. The MEL and the FE family will power the full range of Ford products for up to the next years. The letter-names are acronyms, respectively, for “Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln” and “Ford-Edsel” divisions of the company. There is also the FT engine family for “Ford-Truck” and its close, but more formidable cousin, the “Super Duty”. A variation of SD engine is used not only in the larger pick-up trucks, but also include the lower revving engines to power-up the largest Ford industrial vehicles.
The complete MEL engine line is produced in Fords Lima Engine plant in Lima, Ohio. This engine family is for larger, more powerful passenger cars and has one major point that sets it apart from the FE engine other than its size and weight. The MEL valves are arranged with the intake valve first then the exhaust in each combustion chamber, but the FE is configured with the exhaust valve first followed by the intake. The wedge shaped combustion chambers of the MEL are formed by the flat head surface topped by a head deck that is 10° off square to the cylinder wall axis with the piston shape and travel. The piston, and its travel, determine the compression ratio. The shape of the firing chamber, is not unlike the Chevy big block introduced the same year, but unlike the Chevy, the MEL shaft mounted valves are inline, similar to the FE. Other features shared with the smaller FE include the open runner intake manifold which requires a stamped steel lifter channel and neither engine employ a cross-over passage to warm the fuel/air mixture prior to combustion. The MEL engine has two thermostats with the intent of keeping the coolant at a more uniform temperature. Both the MEL and FE group have the same style valve stems, bolt patterns and also share an identical oiling system. The main bearings on the MEL engine are a substantial 2.9” (73.66 mm) with the formidable 2.6” (66.04 mm) connecting rod bearings the bottom end has staying power. The connecting rod beam is of an unconventional triangular shape and the bolts shoulders sit low, only a half inch above cap mating surface. The MEL engine is designed with the luxurious Lincoln models in mind, but is also under the hood of the all new four seated Thunderbird-the sporty looking personal luxury car for 1958.
The 383 cu in (6.3 L) Marauder is an exclusive to the Mercury Division and the smallest member of the MEL family with its production running from 1958 until the end of 1960. This engine is in Mercury models exclusively and has a 4.3 inch (109.22 mm) bore with a 3.3 inch (83.8 mm) stroke. The first year it delivers up to 330 hp (246 kW) with the four barrel, but the following year the same carburetor configuration produces 322 hp (240 kW), and the final year the rating has dropped to 280 hp (209 kW).
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