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The Ford Kent is an internal combustion engine from Ford of Europe. Originally developed in 1959 for the Ford Anglia, it is an in-line four cylinder overhead valve type engine with a cast iron cylinder head and block.
Pre-CrossflowThe original OHV Kent engine appeared in the 1959 Anglia with a capacity of 996.95 cc developing at 5,000 rpm. With an 80.96 mm (3.1875 in) bore and 48.41 mm (1.906 in) stroke, it was a departure from traditional undersquare English engine design.
The same engine, its bore unchanged, but with a longer stroke and thus larger capacity was subsequently used in the Ford Classic and Consul Capri (1340cc and 1500cc), the Mk1 and early Mk2 Cortina (1200cc and 1500cc), and the early Corsair.
In addition to its 'over-square' cylinder dimensions, a further unusual feature of the Kent engine at its introduction was an externally mounted combined oil filter/pump unit designed to facilitate efficient low-cost production.
The engine is now referred to as the pre-crossflow Kent, with both the inlet and exhaust being on the same side of the head.
The nameSubsequent to its introduction the engine became known as the Kent engine because Alan Worters, the company's Executive Engineer (Power Units), lived across the river from Ford's Dagenham plant in the English county of Kent.
LotusThe Kent was also used in the Ford Classic and Ford Consul Capri at 1340 cc. It was in this form that the Kent was noticed by Colin Chapman of Lotus Cars. Lotus needed a compact engine for the new for 1962 Lotus Elan, and Chapman adopted the Kent block.
Whilst the 1340 engine, which used the original 109E 3-bearing block, may have initiated Lotus' interest, this was never used in production Elans though prototype 1340 twin-cams were built. By the time the car was on the market, the 116E 5-bearing engine destined for the Cortina was available, and this was the one used. The very first Elans - the "Elan 1500" used the 116E block with standard cylinder dimensions, soon changing to the "Elan 1600" when the cylinders were overbored to give 1558 cc. For the first years of production, the Lotus blocks were simply selected for the thickest cylinder walls from the standard production line, and identified with an "A" stamped into the timing cover mating face. Later, the blocks were specially cast with twin-cam production in mind and identified with an "L" cast into the block under the engine mount. By 1966 all major engine parts: block, crank, rods pistons and flywheel were unique to the Lotus engine. By the end of production some 55,000 twin-cam engines had been built.
Harry Mundy, technical editor for Autocar magazine, designed the aluminium DOHC hemi head for the Kent. Chapman called his engine the Lotus TwinCam. It was bored to 1558 cc and produced 105 hp (78 kW). Exact dimensions were 3.25 in (82.55 mm) bore by 2.9 in (72.746 mm) stroke. Later versions produced from 115 to .
The same engine was used in the 1963 Lotus Cortina, and 15 were installed in the last production Lotus Sevens. It was also used in the Type 47 Lotus Europa race car, and Lotus-tuned Ford Escorts.
The naming of twin-cam engined Cortinas needs care. Only the first production cars were actually "Lotus Cortinas" and these were assembled at Cheshunt. After the first year, the cars became the "Cortina Lotus" and were Ford assembled. The Mk2 version was the "Cortina Twin Cam".
CrossflowA redesign gave it a cross-flow type cylinder head, hence the Kent's alternative name Ford Crossflow. It would go on to power the smaller engined versions of the Ford Cortina and Ford Capri, the first and second editions of the European Escort as well as the North American Ford Pinto (1971, 1972 and 1973 only). In South Africa it also powered the 1.6l Mk II, Mk III, Mk IV, & Mk V Ford Cortina and 1.6l Ford Sierra. It also featured in the Fiesta XR2, with the US 1600 bottom end and GT spec head and cam.
The Crossflow featured a change in combustion chamber design, using a Heron type combustion chamber in the top of the piston rather than the head. The head itself was flat with each engine capacity (1100, 1300 and 1600) featuring different pistons with different sized bowls.
The Ford Crossflow engine (1300cc and 1600cc) also powered the Reliant Anadol (1968-1984).
ValenciaThe engine was revised to suit front wheel drive installation in 1976, coinciding with the launch of the Ford Fiesta. The ancillaries were repositioned and the cylinder head redesigned using flat-top pistons and the traditional combustion chamber in the head. This version of the Kent was known as the Valencia engine, after the Spanish production plant in which it was made. It would later see service in the third generation Ford Escort. Even TVR used the engine in the Grantura, Vixen, and 1600M.
HCSIn 1989 the engine was revised once again to meet with tightening European emissions legislation and the requirement to use unleaded fuel. The redesign included an all-new cylinder head with hardenened valve inserts, reshaped combustion chambers and inlet ports, and a fully electronic distributorless ignition system. The engine was renamed the Ford HCS (High Compression Swirl). It first appeared on the Ford Escort, and on the third generation Ford Fiesta.
Endura-EThe final redesign came in 1995, with the launch of the fourth-generation Ford Fiesta. This edition of the Kent was known as the Endura-E, and featured many revisions to combat noise and harshness. This engine would also feature in the Ford Ka and the 1.3 Ford Escort.This type of engine still has tappet noise even after adjustment. This noise is said to come from the cams, which are known to melt .
FutureThe Kent engine and its successors were used as the stock engine in Formula Ford auto racing. In Europe, Formula Ford switched to the Zetec, but American Formula Ford continues to be Kent-powered until 2010; SCCA has approved the Honda L15A i-VTEC to be used for Formula F..
The Kent engine has also been used by other makes such as Morgan, Caterham, and Lotus.
The arrival of the Duratec-E engine in the fifth generation Fiesta range has finally signalled the end of the road for the Kent engine after a 44 year career, although it is still in production as a general use engine by Ford's Industrial Power division.
On October 16th, 2009, Ford announced that it will be putting the Kent back into production in order to supply the vintage racing community with spares. According to a Ford press-release, engineering work has already begun at Ford Racing's Performance Parts division in the USA, with sales scheduled to start in 2010.
TriviaThe Kent engine was largely responsible for Ford gaining a name in the 1960s and 1970s for producing cars which were reluctant to start in damp weather conditions. The siting of the distributor tucked at the back of the engine beneath the inlet manifold made it an ideal candidate for attracting moisture and condensation with the obvious effects in damp weather. The arrival of electronic ignition in 1986 put an end to these problems.
Harry Mundy, who designed the twin-cam development of the engine for Lotus, was offered the choice of payment for his work of £1000 cash or a royalty of £1 per unit. Knowing Colin Chapman's reputation in financial matters and the fact that he'd never made 1000 of anything, he took the cash. The twin cam went on to 55,000 units.
The Ford diesel engines "Endura-DE and Endura DI" bear no similarities to the petrol namesake. However Ford did produce a diesel HCS engine. These engines are notoriously underpowered.