When I look back over my life, one thing stands out—I have been fascinated with things that would take me places. I am sure I inherited this fascination from my father. His love had been trains, particularly those from the era of steam. I loved trains as well. But, as a boy, it was the bicycle that took me most places. Soon I was taking my bicycle apart to see how it worked and to make repairs. I did my first resto-mod on a Hawthorne bicycle while in my teens!
Although horses hardly fit the same category of mechanical things, I did enjoy riding them where bicycles could not go. But, even in those early years, my biggest fascination was with airplanes. It would be a while, however, before that dream would be realized.
Driving age brought me in contact with the automobile. Here, my father was strictly a “point A to point B at the least cost” kind of a guy. In 1961, that meant a 1962 Mercury Meteor with a 6-cylinder engine. It was much too under-powered for my taste.
When I started looking for a car of my own in 1968, I had about $600 to work with. That did not leave much room for choice. About the only reasonably priced car for that money was a Ford Fairlane. Even used Mustangs were going for about $1,200 at that time—far above my budget. I did want a V8—that was a “must”—and ultimately found a 1962 Fairlane with a 221 V8.
That car would last through my final college years and into the Navy where my dreams of flying would be realized. (I am currently retired after 22 years and having logged 4,500 flight hours.)
I never expected to become so well acquainted with Ford’s small block V8. When my Fairlane’s 221 V8 began losing compression in one cylinder, I arranged to have a “ring job” done by a local mechanic. When that fell through and I could not afford anyone else’s price, I faced the challenge of doing the job myself. It took two weekends and the evenings in between to complete the job. I wound up replacing all rings and one burned piston—without removing the engine!
So began my efforts at maintaining and improving my own cars. Next would be installing a 4V carburetor on the 221. What a great drafting sound it produced through the open element air cleaner at wide open throttle! When the 221 V8 started giving out at 135,000 miles, I used the occasion as an excuse to substitute in a 289. Such power I had never known, particularly when helped by Ford’s 1969 Muscle Parts Program.
In 1975 my growing family needed a station wagon. I decided to restore a Fairlane wagon, figuring I could build a better wagon than was offered by new car dealers at the time, and for less money. Two more cars would be restored in a similar fashion, and by then I knew that my interest in these particular machines had indeed become a hobby.
Small Block V8s
I was not a fan of 6-cylinder engines and I could not afford the gas consumption of big block V8s in large passenger cars. The Ford small block V8 in a compact or intermediate seemed the perfect compromise for me. All my cars (many have come and gone) would be powered by these engines. Here is my list of small block V8 powered cars I have owned through the years in chronological order:
- 1962 Fairlane 500 4-door sedan with 221 V8. Replaced with a 289-4V with Ford Muscle parts, then a 260 V8 prior to car being sold.
- 1963 Fairlane Sports Coupe with 221 V8, replaced by 260 V8.
- 1964 Comet Caliente with 260 V8.
- 1963 Fairlane Squire wagon with 260 V8 replaced by a 289 and later upgraded to a 302 (stroked 289).
- 1963 Fairlane Sports Coupe with 260 V8, replaced with a 289-4V from my 1962 Fairlane.
- 1964 Fairlane Sports Coupe with 289-2V upgraded to 4V.
- 1964½ Mustang hardtop with 260 V8.
- 1963 Fairlane 500 4-door sedan with factory 289 HiPo.
- 1964 Fairlane Sports Coupe with factory 289 HiPo.
- 1965 Comet Caliente hardtop with 289 V8.
- 1963 Fairlane Squire wagon with 221 V8 (to be upgraded to a 1963 289 stroked to 302-4V).
- 1964 Fairlane 500 hardtop with 289 V8.
- 1962 Meteor S-33 with 260 V8.
- 1963 Fairlane 500 2-door with 221 V8.
- 1963 Fairlane 500 4-door with 260 V8.
- 1965 Fairlane Sports Coupe with 289 HiPo.
- 1963 Fairlane Sports Coupe with 289 HiPo.
- 1965 Fairlane Sports Coupe with 289-4V.
- 1965 Fairlane Sports Coupe with 289 V8.
- 1965 Fairlane 500 hardtop with 289 V8.
- 1963 Fairlane Sports Coupe with 260 V8 (upgraded to a 1963 289 stroked to a 302-4V).
In addition, two of my friends have had 1964 Falcon Sprints with 260 V8s. In short, I have spent my entire life with these engines powering Ford and Mercury cars.
In 1981 I acquired a 1964½ Mustang that I hoped to restore. My initial thought of a book was motivated by a desire to earn enough money to pay for the Mustang’s restoration. I intended the book to cover 1964½-66 Mustang part numbers. That seemed too ambitious a project, so I decided to work on just 1962-65 Ford small block V8s. The project grew, first to include the 1966 Mustang, then the 1967 California smog control, then the introduction of the 1968 302, and finally to cover the 1969 302. As I added each production year, I fully covered all models and versions of the engines.
Seventeen years later, and 15 years after the Mustang was sold, the book was published!
Many, many sources were used to create the book. However, a strong emphasis was placed on what I called “junkyard research.” This was where engines known to be original and “unmolested” were torn down, cleaned, inspected, and photographed. The parts were then often reassembled so that mockup pictures could be taken of complete assemblies. To say I spent a lot of time and money in junkyards would be an understatement.
Whatever was found out in junkyard research was corroborated wherever possible with Ford sources. These included parts catalogs, technical service bulletins, and assembly manuals. I often conferred with owners of original cars as well, and walked many a swap meet.
Although the project proceeded sequentially through various stages, follow-up research and photography were ongoing efforts until the book actually went to the printer. Those efforts continued and have now resulted in a new PDF Edition of the book.
Almost all the photographs were taken with a Canon AT-1 35mm single reflex camera with Kodak Plus-X Pan 125 Black & White film. Lenses used were a standard 50mm and Vivitar 70-210 Macro Focusing Zoom. Flash photography was seldom employed. I preferred using floodlights. Very slow speeds with the camera on a tripod gave the greatest depth of field possible in macro photography.
The film was processed commercially. I worked from a contact sheet to select pictures for print. Enlargements were made using an old German Durst 606 enlarger picked up at a garage sale. I constructed a darkroom in my garage for the majority of work, although a bathroom was used for a darkroom on a number of occasions after I moved to another state. Kodak chemicals were used and pictures printed to a 4×6 inch size on Ilford Multi-Grade Resin Coated (RC) paper. I bought many of my supplies from Adorama in New York.
Later supplemental images were taken using a Sony DSC-T9 digital camera, as digital displaced film.
I initially worked on an IBM Selectric typewriter. (What a great mechanical device for a person who likes to tinker!) When the Commodore 64 hit high popularity in the mid 1980s, I switched to that and a daisy-wheel printer. My initial intention was to take the pictures, write the manuscript, and turn the rest of the process over to a publisher. But, when the Intel 389DX computers showed up on the scene in the early 1990s, I saw the potential of taking the project into the layout stage. As computers and scanners became better and more affordable, I found that I could also do the digital graphics work. In practice, I trained myself as a desktop publisher. The next big break was in mass data storage capacity. Starting with Iomega products, I switched to a CD recorder when they became available. Ultimately, I delivered five CDs to the printer which contained my entire book!
Scanning was done on Hewlett-Packard IIp and 4c ScanJet flatbeds. Major software products were Windows (operating system), PageMaker (page layout), PhotoShop (image editing), CorelDraw (illustrations), and Fontographer (special lettering).
Later updates to the book were done using InDesign software.
- Fairlane Club of America (founding member, club author, editor)
RPM is a recognized abbreviation for revolutions per minute, and in the auto field represents an engine’s speed. It also happens to be my initials for Robert Paul Mannel. So, when deciding on a business name to publish my book, it seemed a natural to call my business RPM Press.