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Why a small engine in early '55 Commander?

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  • Why a small engine in early '55 Commander?

    Does anyone know the REAL reason?


  • #2
    I don't know the real reason, but it was common practice throughout the industry to make the customer pay for bells, whistles and chrome he might not want to get the performance engine he wanted. Chrysler loaded the good engine into the top-of-the-line C300, Cadillac only put the 2x4 on the Eldorado. The base price of a '65 Mustang was around $2495. Equipped with the HiPo engine, 4-speed and all the performance stuff, it was $3495. Most of that $1000 was 40% more pure profit to Ford, as the engines, transmissions and rear axles all cost the same to build.

    The '55-56 224" V8 is an interesting engine, having a 2-13/16" stroke, one of the shortest ever in a US V8. It is also one of the largest and heaviest externally/smallest displacement internally V8s ever built. Very bad science! Studebaker was not alone, as the Dodge hemi 241" was also huge outside/small inside. Soon, the manufactureres all found there was no fuel economy advantage to these tiny V8s and everyone went to larger displacements. I drove a '55 E12 with a 224" V8 for thirty years. It is the smoothest of all Stude V8s, but no more economical than the 259" or 289" when in the same vehicle.

    As an aside, charging a lot extra for the good bits was the way it was done everywhere until Honda debuted the Accord in 1976. Three color choices and 4-speed or automatic and AC. Most everything else came standard. Given their longer supply line Honda found it was actually less expensive to put all the smaller nice-to-have stuff on all the cars than to try to keep track of which one got it/had it and which didn't.

    jack vines

    jack vines