How Holley Helped Ford Beat Ferrari

Photograph Courtesy Holley

The team developing the Ford GT40 had a problem: Their NASCAR-sourced 427 V8 needed a special carburetor in order to reliably make full power for the full 24-hour race at Le Mans—and have any chance of beating Ferrari.

Since an off-the-shelf carb wouldn't suffice, Holley engineer Harold Droste was tasked with finding a solution. He came back with this, a prototype 780-CFM four-barrel carburetor.

Photograph Courtesy James Helms of RK Motors

The prototype carb delivered consistent flow to all four barrels during hard cornering by featuring a center-discharge accelerator pump and center-hung float bowls, items that have since become common.

Of course, a number of other modifications were made to the 427 for Le Mans duty, but, as author Wes Duenkel explains, “It didn't hurt that the GT40 MkIV was fueled by dual-quad Holleys, either.”

Read more about the prototype 780-CFM Holley four-barrel carburetor and how it helped Ford beat Ferrari over on the Holley Motor Life blog.

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wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
2/19/21 12:12 p.m.

I always wondered why Ford opted for a 780 cfm American carb when the Weber 48 IDAs used on the small block Fords in the Cobras offered a theroretical maximum -depending on which venturis were used - of around twice that (not that either engine could ever suck that much) and looked better.  Anyone know?

The only indication is that article points to Ford ignorance:  "The engine was topped by a prototype Holley 4-barrel carburetor that replaced the temperamental Weber carburetors of its predecessor". 

Webers aren't tempermental, and they are dead reliable as any number of Le Mans winners will attest to. They do have a steep learning curve in regard to tuning (many incompetent people trying to tune them have blamed their failures on the carbs) and I suspect that was what dictated the choice of an American 4 bbl carb on the Mk IV but I haven't seen anything in writing that verifies either view.

 

 

 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
2/20/21 1:18 p.m.

Italian carbs on a Ford engine, at that time, might not have been acceptable to Hank the deuce.

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
2/21/21 11:03 a.m.

That may very well be the real reason!  

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
2/21/21 12:03 p.m.

Italy bad, America good.

If they ran the Weber's and won, the Italians could say "yeah but they still needed Italian carbs". 
 

Probably best to solve the issues with products you normally use on your cars, more technology transfer that way.  Not that that carb is likely to be used on a street legal car of course.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/21/21 5:44 p.m.

In reply to wspohn :

 You know I love Weber's ( and SU's.) but the simple truth is that individual Weber's won't make as much power as 2 four barrel carbs.  It's pure physics. Air has mass. Starting and stopping that mass every time a valve opens means only a fixed amount of air/fuel will get into that cylinder.  With a big plenum connected to all 8 cylinders air flowing through the carbs won't start and stop. It will be diverted from one cylinder to another depending on firing order but air will constantly be in motion. 

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
2/21/21 11:08 p.m.

If the Webers are plumed the way they normally are though, they will feed on barrel isolated per cylinder.  Obviously allows for half the flow of the same carbs on a plenum, but that has to have some advantages (tuning each cylinder is one of course). 

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
2/22/21 11:30 a.m.
frenchyd said:

In reply to wspohn :

 You know I love Weber's ( and SU's.) but the simple truth is that individual Weber's won't make as much power as 2 four barrel carbs.  

 

Damn - wish they had told the Lamborghini factory that - my engine would have looked far better with a Holley on there......who knew they needed a plenum....cheeky

 

 

 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/22/21 6:25 p.m.
wspohn said:
frenchyd said:

In reply to wspohn :

 You know I love Weber's ( and SU's.) but the simple truth is that individual Weber's won't make as much power as 2 four barrel carbs.  

 

Damn - wish they had told the Lamborghini factory that - my engine would have looked far better with a Holley on there......who knew they needed a plenum....cheeky

 

 

 

As I've said I love the eye candy of Weber's. It comes from my sprint car days when they had one tube per cylinder. I got involved when Chevy's started to beat Offy's  foolishly I thought "Oh they have twice as many tubes so they must make twice as much power" !!!  
I mean two carbs on an engine make it faster than 1 carb and 3 is faster than 2. Etc. 

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
2/22/21 7:01 p.m.

Ford could share intake development costs with Holley and not reinvent the wheel.  They would in all likelihood get no technical or financial help from Weber.

 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
2/22/21 8:01 p.m.

In reply to Jerry From LA :

Exactly plus there was plenty of knowledge in California about aluminum manifolds. Since a standard  hot rod requirement was to replace the stock cast iron manifold with one for bigger carb or more carbs or both. 

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
2/23/21 10:28 a.m.

Some American shops were already doing Weber conversions.  If you didn't want vertical carbs (due to height issues) you could even get cross ram set ups (this one by Inglese, and for a SBC rather than big block).

Expect you are all right though - it was probably a 'go American' thing as no doubt Ford was still smarting from Ferrari telling him to 'fangool'  when Ford tried to buy Ferrari in 1963.

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
2/23/21 11:30 a.m.

You are incorrect!  The above picture is of a high rise double pump carburetor!  You know. Squirts the fuel, makes it go fast.

 

 

(I learned everything I know about cars from Transformer movies)

cheeky

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