Ardun Heads for the Ford Flathead: Revolutionary Performance Upgrade Explained

Ardun heads are a celebrated chapter in the history of the Ford Flathead V8, an engine that has became an icon in the American automotive tradition.

These overhead valve (OHV) conversion kits are a creation by Zora Arkus-Duntov, who later became famous for his work with the Chevrolet Corvette. The significance of Ardun heads lies in their ability to provide a substantial performance increase, transforming the venerable flathead into a more powerful engine by improving airflow and combustion efficiency.

Ardun approaches the Ford Flathead

We recognize that Ardun modifications involve precision-crafted aluminum alloy heads that replace the original flathead’s iron heads.

Due to their design, Ardun-equipped engines are wider and heavier than the stock flathead V8s. This characteristic means that fitting them into a vehicle often requires modifications, not just to the engine bay, but sometimes to the chassis itself to accommodate the increased width.

Despite these challenges, the performance benefits they provide have made them a sought-after upgrade among hot rod enthusiasts and racers who are willing to invest in their classic cars’ potential.

The allure of Ardun heads stems from their robustness and the storied performance legacy they offer to an already historic engine design.

Evolution of the Ardun Heads

Ardun heads revolutionized the Ford Flathead V8, transforming it from a humble workhorse into a high-performance engine that left an indelible mark on motorsport history. Let’s explore the journey from their inception to their impact on racing.

Inception and Design by Zora Arkus-Duntov

Zora Arkus-Duntov and his brother Yura created the Ardun Mechanical Corporation in the late 1940s. Their engineering masterpiece, the Ardun Overhead Valve Conversion heads, was designed to retrofit the ubiquitous Ford Flathead V8. These heads converted the flathead engine to overhead valve operation, increasing airflow and power.
Don Ferguson Jr.

has continued their legacy, ensuring that the ardor for Arduns endures.

Adoption in Racing and Records

The adoption of Ardun heads by racers was swift, as the performance advantages became clear. At Bonneville, Ardun-equipped vehicles shattered records, with their robust design enabling sustained high-speed runs.

These modified engines were not just about raw power but also reliability and efficiency, traits that were essential for endurance races and speed trials. The racing community quickly recognized the value of retrofitting their Ford Flatheads with Ardun heads.

Enhancing Ford Flathead Performance

Upgrading the venerable Ford Flathead V8 requires an understanding of its limitations and benefits. We leverage modern technologies to maximize its potential, particularly through conversion to hemispherical combustion chambers using Ardun heads. These modifications promise significant performance gains for enthusiasts.

Conversion to Hemispherical Combustion

Hemispherical combustion chambers are a staple in high-performance engine design. They offer better fuel burning efficiency and higher power output due to their shape, which allows for larger valves and more efficient airflow.

  • Benefits: Increased horsepower and improved thermal efficiency.

When we apply this hemi technology to the Ford Flathead, specifically through the addition of Ardun heads, we replace the original flat combustion chambers with hemispherical ones. This conversion not only optimizes the engine performance but also integrates large overhead valves that dramatically improve breathing, making them an exceptional upgrade for the flathead engine.

Ardun Heads Attributes:
  • Substantial power increase
  • Reduced engine knock
  • Enhanced thermal efficiency

Influence of Hemi Technology

The Hemi design has transformed the automotive world by setting new standards for power and efficiency. These advancements inspired the robust hemispherical conversion for the Ford Flathead V8, ensuring it stays relevant in a modern performance context.

  • Impact: A significant leap in power and performance for classic engines.

Materials like 355-T6 Alcoa aluminum alloy lend themselves to durable, yet lightweight, construction of contemporary hemi conversion kits. We recognize the importance of quality materials to withstand the increased stresses of a high-performing engine, and thus prioritize longevity alongside performance.

It’s essential to balance the weight increments caused by conversions with material selection to preserve handling dynamics.

Technical Advancements and Impact

Ardun heads introduced significant advancements to the Ford Flathead V8, transforming its capabilities and influencing the hot-rodding community. These overhead valve conversions allowed the flathead to unleash more power and achieve higher RPMs, marking a turning point for performance enthusiasts.

Improvements in Valvetrain Dynamics

Legendary Figures and Machines

The success of Ardun heads is inextricably linked to the pioneers who engineered them and the marvels they powered. We’ll explore the individuals whose expertise cemented the Ardun’s place in hot rod history, and spotlight machines that, even today, stand as testaments to the potency of these legendary heads.

Racing Icons and Ardun Enthusiasts

Key figures such as Don Ferguson, George Kudasch, and Clem Tebow were instrumental in Ardun’s evolution. Ferguson’s expertise was paramount in refining the performance of the heads. Together with Kudasch, their contributions included crucial enhancements to valve springs and valve covers, leading to sustained high-speed performance. Tebow’s knowledge of induction systems further complemented the Ardun setup, turning the Ford flathead into a powerhouse.

Don Clark of GE Dyno and Don Ferguson, Sr., amongst others, also deserve credit. Their innovations propelled the Flathead beyond its factory limitations, making it highly sought after for hot rodding and competitive racing. The collaboration within this engineering cohort yielded a blend of performance and reliability previously unseen in Flathead conversions.

Noteworthy Ardun-Powered Cars

The Ardun’s transformative effect wasn’t limited to the craftsmen; it also extended to the cars it empowered.

Doug Kenny’s 1929 Ford Roadster is iconic, showcasing the balance between classic aesthetics and increased horsepower bestowed by the Ardun head conversion.

Racer/Car Contribution/Highlight
Don Clark’s Innovations GE Dyno’s breakthroughs led by Clark pushed the boundaries of Flathead performance.
Doug Kenny’s 1929 Ford Roadster This car stands as a testament to the potential unlocked by Ardun heads in classic hot rods.
The car’s roaring performance can be largely attributed to the enhanced breathing capability and improved induction provided by the heads.
Their influence was so profound that they were featured in publications like Popular Mechanics, further cementing their legendary status.
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