I started by thinking one...
I started by thinking one or two Flathead intakes would look good "wall hangers". Now there are 140 here, with no sign of letting up. Many manufacturers are represented, each with a speed secret: in the second row, there's one of Barney Navarro's curious "dog bone" dual intakes; alongside it is the same manifold without the water-heated riser. Nicknamed, "The Professor," Navarro clearly understood the physics and chemistry principles that separated inefficient manifolds from the ones that set lakes records. H&H Flatheads manufactures nearly all of Navarro's manifolds today.
I can't really explain or justify my interest (some would say obsession) with old Ford Flathead speed equipment, especially multicarburetor intake manifolds. I guess it's insufficient to rationalize that I was speed equipment deprived as a teenager. Collecting aluminum is a recent phenomenon for me. Fourteen years ago, I wanted a high-rise Ford intake or two as a wall hanger. My first acquisition mushroomed into what's now more than 140 intakes, and there's no sign of stopping.
Mike Russell inadvertently started me down the never-ending road of aluminum hoarding. He had a superb collection of over 150 Flathead intakes. The first time I visited his Northern California garage and saw those manifolds mounted like so many silver trophies on his garage walls, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about the men who made them, why there were so many manufacturers, and why they were cast in so many different configurations. I wondered which ones worked well and which of them were flops.
I soon learned Russell was one of a small group of passionate Flathead manifold devotees. Floyd Hulegard, in the Pacific Northwest, owned an impressive early Ford intake hoard, as did Bill Ewing in Arizona. All three sold their collections. Serious Flathead manifold collectors, like Ron San Giovanni in Connecticut, Harry McAuliffe in Detroit, and Bob Whitehead in Arkansas, have been augmented by the irrepressible "Speedy Bill" Smith in Lincoln, Nebraska, and John Mumford, in South San Francisco. To better understand their obsession, you need to know more about Ford's fabulous Flathead.
Here's an E&S four-carb that...
Here's an E&S four-carb that would be best on a race boat or on a dragster engine. This manifold has been copied recently, but the originals are highly prized. Made in Burbank, E&S and L&S came in several configurations, including a dual with a large mixing chamber that its makers called a "Blast Box". Did it work? Who knows? I'd sure like to have one, though.
Considering Henry Ford's many contributions to the automobile industry; arguably, the lightweight, affordable, powerful, and remarkably long-lived Flathead V-8 has to rank with the best. Stated simply, the elder Ford hated Chevrolet's inline-six. After considerable experimenting with cylinder configurations as varied as an inline-five (they couldn't balance it) and an X-shaped eight (which wouldn't cool), Ford's crack engineering team, led by Don Sullivan, Laurence Sheldrake, and Emil Zoerlein, developed a cast-iron, 221-cid V-8 engine, with a central camshaft, nonadjustable tappets driving inclined valves, and a pair of flat, detachable cylinder heads.
In the mid '30s, hot rodders still prized Ford's sturdy four-banger. Vic Edelbrock Sr., Tommy Thickstun, Eddie Meyer, and Phil Weiand recognized the Flathead V-8's potential, but there wasn't much aftermarket speed equipment available in the beginning. So it took a while before Ford's Flathead was able to assert its superiority.
When Harry Miller prepared a quintet of radical Flathead-powered front-drive race cars for the '35 Indianapolis 500 (only four qualified), they sported two different intakes. Don Sullivan created a clever 2x2 with the twin Stromberg 97s facing rearward; it was later sold in volume by Hexagon Tool Company in Detroit. The other was a slick four-carb setup that used a quartet of Winfield SRs.
Some of the earliest commercially available dual-intake manifolds were made by Robert Roof (in Anderson, Indiana) and Californians Wayne Morrison, Jack Henry, Eddie Edmunds, Thickstun, and Vic Edelbrock. Barney Navarro cast his first manifold just after the war. Before the conflict began, he machined high-rise intakes for Weiand. West Coast Flathead pioneers like Colonel Alexander (Colonel was his real name), Earl Evans, Jack Radke, Mal Ord, Al Sharp, and others offered intakes, as did Ed Almquist on the East Coast.
The Ord 2x2 log-style intake...
The Ord 2x2 log-style intake was favored by legendary hot rod fabricator, Doane Spencer. Spencer, who was nicknamed "Mr Bracket", ran an Ord on one of his early dry lakes engines. Mal Ord went on to become a noted Indy 500 mechanic. This is a real one; Don Orosco repops them today, along with Ord high-compression heads.
Made in Toledo, the McGuire...
Made in Toledo, the McGuire dual intake is a two-part setup that must have been relatively simple to mold, but I've never seen one in use. A gasket would have been required between the top and lower pieces.
The Lightning 4x2 featured...
The Lightning 4x2 featured a pair of removable covers so alternative bolt-on risers could provide for either two or four carburetors. I have seen several of these painted red. Reportedly, this manifold was jokingly named for its builder, who apparently was anything but fast. Anyone remember his name?