Hot Rods and Non-Ford Cars

6 Cylinder Classic Mustangs

Six Cylinder Ivy Green 1996 Mustang hardtop

Back in 1966, this is what many new Mustangs looked like. Nearly 5 out of 6 were hardtops or coupes. Moreover, a lot of them had the 200 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine. While Ford's official history says that 58% of the Mustangs were V8's, it seems as though back then, everyone had straight six. At Mustang shows today, almost all the cars have V8's. But look at the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the inner fender and you'll see that many of these used to have six cylinders. People will look at our car and say "that's exactly like what I used to have." Some of them may not know the difference between a six and eight, but many do and proclaim that the engines last forever. I don't know about that, though: the engine in my Dad's Mustang was replaced with a rebuilt engine at around 85,000 miles. Stop-and-go traffic may have taken its toll, but I don't think that engine was driven hard. But that was also before all the quick oil-change shops hammered in the "every 3000 mile oil change" mantra.

Spotters Guide

Closeup of front fender of a six cylinder Ford Mustang. There is a running Mustang badge behind the wheel well, but nothing in front of the wheel well. Closeup of front fender of an eight cylinder Ford Mustang. The "V" badge with "289" indicates this has a 289 cubic inch V8 engine.

On the left is a close-up of the wheel and front fender of the 6 cylinder Mustang. This has the standard stamped steel wheel cover for 1966. There's a running horse logo just behind the wheel well, but the fender between the headlamp and wheel is empty. The Mustang on the right has a "V8 289" badge there indicating the engine type. In 1966, V8 Mustangs also had the running horse logo, but this car is a GT and has special GT badge instead. In later years, the separate V8 badge was dropped but the engine size for V8's was part of the running horse logo.

Under the Hood

Of course the big difference between a V8 and straight six is under the hood. V8's have the distributor nestled between cylinder heads, spark plug wires neatly laid out to either side of the engine. There are lots of different options for chrome air cleaners and a huge variety of valve covers. Okay, the chrome valve covers aren't any faster than the painted steel, but the cast aluminum ones might do a little bit to help cool the oil and the engine.

In comparison, the most striking thing initially about a six cylinder engine is how much room there is! You can just about climb into the engine compartment, particularly if there's no power steering or air conditioner. But most of the owners of 6 cylinder Mustangs leave their "drivers" at home for the car show. As these pictures show, they shouldn't have to!

Nicely restored 6 cylinder engine in a Ford Mustang

This is a very nicely restored, stock 6 cylinder engine which placed second at this car show(for 64? - 66 convertibles), just behind the 66 GT you can glimpse in the background. This was a rather unusual car since it has the fog lights usually seen only on GT's or GT wannabees. But the engine compartment looks as good as any stock-detailed V8.

Sprint 200 engine (chrome air cleaner plus different body trim) Another Sprint 200 engine with newer air cleaner cover and after-market spark plug wires

Anyway, at least one of these engines has the wrong color blue as well.

Six cylinder 200ci Mustang engine with aftermarket chrome valve cover

Just because Ford didn't sell chrome valve covers doesn't mean you can't add them. And why stop there? This 6 cylinder car has a chrome export brace and top shock mounts. I can only assume that the owner was still looking for a place that would chrome plate the air cleaner.

Six cylinder 200ci Ford Mustang engine and lots of chrome. Hopefully the model car on the air cleaner cover is just for the show. Six cylinder 200ci Ford Mustang engine and lots of chrome. Hopefully the model car on the air cleaner cover is just for the show.

The owner of this car decided to abandon the stock air cleaner for a chromed, open element air cleaner. Even the alternator is chrome plated. Makes the power steering pump look kinda lonely and blue.

Ford 200 ci engine with chrome air cleaner, valve cover and chassis brace

This is another heavily chromed 6 cylinder engine, except the intake and exhaust manifolds are both natural cast iron instead of blue and silver painted.

Ford 170ci inline six engine in a 1964 Falcon. This engine was also used in early 1965 Mustangs, but was soon replaced with the 200 ci engine.

Last and least, this 170 cubic inch 6 cylinder is actually in a 1964 Falcon, not a Mustang, although this engine was used in early 1965 Mustangs (often called 1964½ Mustangs).

1966 Mustang with Sprint package. Note that the rear fender panel does not any trim. Another Mustang Sprint package engine with chrome air cleaner

It does seem to be true that most of the 6 cylinder Mustangs at shows have the Sprint package. You can see (or not see) where there's no trim in the rear quarter, and this one doesn't even have the C-stripe paint. It could have been ordered this way, but it's more likely just a casualty of the repaint.