Yesterday here at MC&T we celebrated the history of the legendary 426 Hemi V8 engine on what is known as Hemi Day. Of course April 26 isn’t the only date on the calendar that lines up with some of our favorite muscle car powertrains. For those who are not particularly die-hard Mopar fans, today’s date is equally as important. That’s because it’s 427 Day, an automotive holiday that is shared by two of the fiercest rivals in the business: Ford and General Motors. In order to properly celebrate this day of high displacement, we’ll take a look at some of the greatest 427 V8 engines produced by either company, including Ford’s infamous 427 SOHC Cammer and the 427 side-oiler, as well as GM’s own L88 V8 and ZL1 V8 engines.
We’ll start with Ford’s 427 SOHC Cammer V8, as it was a direct response to the 426 Hemi that we celebrated yesterday. This racing engine is based on the same block as the more common side-oiler engine, but features some specific changes that would help it compete in NASCAR. The engine featured unique hemispherical cast iron heads, upgraded valvetrain with sodium-filled exhaust valves, dual springs, and an idler shaft that replaced the in-block camshaft. This idler shaft also necessitated some changes to the oiling layout, and brought cross-bolted main bearing caps. The camshaft itself features some trick shaft-driven rocker arms as well.
With a single-carb setup, Ford says the SOHC Cammer produced 616 horsepower and 515 lb-ft of torque. If you optioned dual four-barrels, that output shot up to 657 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately for racing fans, Chrysler successfully got the engine banned from NASCAR before it could compete. Nonetheless, the engine found a life in drag racing after that.
We can’t gloss over the side-oiler 427 V8 on which that Cammer V8 is based. The odd name comes from the fact that the motor sent oil to the crank first, before directing it to the camshaft and valvetrain. This is of course the legendary 427 V8 engine that powered iconic vehicles like the Shelby Cobra 427 and the Ford GT40 MkIV that pulled a three-peat at Le Mans in the late 1960s. The engine was good for up to 475 horsepower from the factory, and made a serious impact on American motorsports history.
Now onto General Motors. Chevrolet first introduced a 427 V8 engine for the Corvette back in 1966, but things really started to get interesting a year later. That is when the L88 V8 made its debut, and brought some serious upgrades. The motor features aluminum heads, forged pistons, a forged crankshaft, a solid-lifter camshaft, and a dual-plane intake manifold. Chevy said the engine made 430 horsepower, but the motor was pushing over 500 horsepower with ease. GM only built the L88 for three years, ending the run in 1969. During that time they only built 216 units, which was rumored to be the result of Zora Arkus-Duntov wanting to keep the engine under the radar.
As badass as the L88 427 V8 is, it was no match for its replacement. The ZL1 V8 was designed with Can-Am racing in mind, but that didn’t stop a few from finding their way onto the street. The engine ditched the iron block and picked up an aluminum unit, making it the first big-block of its kind available in a production vehicle. It also featured a different camshaft design and upgraded head bolts, but beyond that it was identical to L88. The engine made “525 horsepower”, but most believe the true figure is closer to 600 horsepower. At $4,718, the motor doubled the price of a 1969 Corvette. This is likely why only two Corvettes ever left the factory with it in place. That said, the ZL1 V8 made a name for itself through the COPO Camaros, of which 69 were built with the engine.
So then as we celebrate 427 Day, you have plenty of glorious engines to go and listen to. These are only a few of the 7.0L monsters that these companies built over the years, though they come from the high age of America performance cars. That’s not to say that the modern engines like the LS7 V8 aren’t worthy of some love, but we’ll leave you to experience that one for yourself. Which engine featured here is the coolest? Let us know down below!