Learning about Your Ford V-8

Learning about Your Ford V-8

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t be a part-time hot rodder. It seems like no matter what we do, we’re constantly thinking about everything from multiple carburation to early Ford sheetmetal. Maybe I’m making blanket statements here, but I have a strong feeling the majority of us are in the same boat.

Last weekend I was in Seattle for my friends’ wedding. With warm, sunny weather and clear skies, it was a beautiful time to be in the Pacific Northwest. By Sunday, the festivities had wound down and my girlfriend suggested that we should check out a local outdoor flea market in the Fremont neighborhood. I called up an old college friend of mine and we were on our way.

By early afternoon, we had arrived. The street was lined with white tents and there were vendors as far as the eye could see. Artisan jewelry here, exotic teas there, paintings, posters and vintage clothing galore. After sifting through several racks of jackets and overpriced T-shirts, we noticed an open underground parking garage off in the distance.

A few moments later, we were below street level in somewhat of a subterranean bazaar. Hip hop music played from large speakers while clumps of youths scoured bargain bins and contemplated their next trucker hat purchase. The three of us searched through a sea of Chinese good luck charms and sport shirts made from rice sacks.

Then I came to a booth with two tables and a single rack of shelving. I glanced at the spread—expensive lamps, homemade belt buckles, wooden nickels, postcards and other this and that. But on the far table I noticed a small booklet that looked unmistakably old. I picked it up and read the cover: “Your Ford V-8 – Car Reference Book for 1936.”  There was no price—and no question that I had to have it.

“This is a neat little book,” I said to the vendor nonchalantly.

“Sure is,” he said. “It’s kinda from the ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ era. I had a bunch more from back then, but I sold them yesterday.”

“Oh,” I replied. “Well I’ll take this one.”

With that, I threw out a number and we had ourselves a deal.


The Reference Book is interesting on a number of levels, from the layout and design to the content itself. It’s not a full service manual by any stretch of the imagination, but it is chock-full of information that I never would have known—the two biggest being that no break in was required for the ’36 Ford flathead and that they only produced 30 horsepower. Is there any truth to either of those?

There’s a whole lot more inside, and I’ve highlighted a handful of favorite pages below. It just goes to show that you never know what you’ll find when you have hot rods on the mind.

Joey Ukrop

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