How Henry Ford Democratized V8 Power

Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we've got reports from Petrolicious, Vanity Fair, and Axis of Oversteer.

Ford's Flathead V8 Fueled The Hot Rod RevolutionPetrolicious

I shouldn't feature a Petrolicious story since I already brought one of their videos, but what can I say? I'm a fan. And I love reading about the Flathead Ford V8:

Although the American V8’s roots can be traced back to Cadillac’s L-head design of 1914, it was Ford’s democratization of multicylinder power in the dying days of prohibition which really cemented the configuration as the prototypically American motor—previous to this V8s were only seen in very exclusive, very expensive luxury cars.

The inimitable Brett Berk explains the similarities between the 911 Carrera 4S and the Parliament-Funkadelic, as well as how neither can be co-opted by douchebags.

Douche culture can infect an area of pop culture on three levels. On the lowest plane, douches colonize an already tainted pop phenomenon, like, say, vintage Adam Sandler films. On the second level, things that are, prima facie, amazing—like Bob Marley—are so undermined by affiliation with douche culture that they are forever ruined, and cause us to weep. And on the top level, cultural exemplars—like Parliament/Funkadelic—witness attempted occupation by douches, but, by sheer force of their supreme excellence, resist and retain their transformative power and appeal. The $147,000 Porsche 911 Cabriolet—even in this clamorously conspicuous Racing Yellow enamel, even with the matching $540 Racing Yellow seatbelts and $335 color-coded vehicle key—falls distinctly into the third category.

How Henry Ford Democratized V8 Power

Speed Secrets Saturday: BrakingAxis of Oversteer

You and I know that braking on the street and on a traffic are very different things. But Axis of Oversteer has a good breakdown of how exactly it should happen in a race.

You’ve probably been given the advice to squeeze the brake pedal on, to be smooth. Hey, I wrote that in my Speed Secrets books! But in some ways I regret it. Why? Because many drivers have taken this too literally – they’re too smooth with the initial application of the brakes. What I meant was to squeeze the brake pedal, but to do it really, really fast, ramping up to full pressure as immediately as possible. Applying hard initial pressure to the brake pedal can be done smoothly. But it might be a little more abrupt than you’re used to because of the way you drive on the street.

Photo credit Ford, Porsche, lewis j houghton