I’ll never forget the first time I got to photograph an Ed Pink engine. It was the air-cooled Singer Porsche Indiana, and the 4.0-liter flat-six engine was a beauty to behold.
At the time, I had only seen Pink’s engines on TV, or on display at car shows and whatnot. So seeing something so spectacular up close, and being able to hear the motor roaring, right behind my head as we hauled ass around town was a memory I shall never forget.
But after more than half a century, Ed Pink is hanging up his toolbelt and calling it quits. At 92, retirement should have occurred somewhere around the turn of the century, and for a moment there, it actually did happen. But Pink’s passion pushed him onward, and after a brief break in 2008 or so, the famed engine builder returned to his craft.
A few months back, YouTube automotive documentary enthusiast Stapleton42, was contacted by Ed Pink. Ed wanted to know if the guys would be interested in hearing some of his story, and catch a glimpse of his final engine build, up close in person.
While there is a lot that we will never know about this iconic automotive mastermind and his contributions to the racing world, his closing opus is truly something to behold. And it only seems appropriate that Ed Pink’s final engine should be the one that made him famous in the first place…
In 1966, Ford approached Ed Pink, asking him to build a series of Ford 427 SOHC engines for public sale. But the Blue Oval went beyond this not-so-modest request and asked if Pink could simultaneously develop a drag racing engine for the likes of Lou Baney and Don Prudhomme.
At the time, the NASCAR rulebook prohibited the use of overhead camshafts, so Ford said screw the oval, and repurposed its 427 SOHC as a drag racing engine instead.
Naturally, Ed Pink accepted the offer, even though the Ford 427 was a bit new to him. Although Pink didn’t have a ton of experience working on the Ford 427 SOHC prior to taking the job (he had primarily focused on the 392 up until that point) he embraced the challenge with gusto because… well… he’s Ed freakin’ Pink!
Set to produce around 600 horsepower and unfathomable amounts of torque for the time once tuned, Ed Pink’s Cammer 427 motors went from an unwanted, 800-pound goliath, to a highly desired, race-winning design. The only downside to the Cammer V8, Pink explains, is how labor-intensive it was to build and maintain, and that after about a dozen pulls internals were almost always toast.
But drag racers are well familiar with this risk because it’s pretty much a given with any engine at some point or another. Capable of making anywhere between 2,000 and 2,500 horsepower on nitrous way back in the day, the Cammer V8 quickly found its way into a slew of NHRA drag cars, many of which crushed the previously prominent NHRA Mopar engines.
Back in the day, if you didn’t run one of my engines, you didn’t win… and a lot of times you didn’t even qualify. — Ed Pink
The Ed Pink Ford 427 SOHC Cammer Engine Reimagined
But as factory iron blocks eventually gave way to aluminum aftermarket 427 bottom ends, and EFI fueling and tuning solutions became more prominent in the racing community, Ed Pink found himself changing with the times. Instead of fighting change, like a lot of old-timers, Pink embraced these new forms of engine enhancement with open arms. Pink recognized that not only would the engines be more powerful and reliable with electronics, but they were becoming mandatory as well, from a race homologation viewpoint.
Up until that time, the Ford 427 SOHC had come with either a single four-barrel carb, or if you were lucky, a duo of four-barrel carbs. So when a former IndyCar electronics engineer started swapping things over to an EFI setup for the Cosworth crew, Pink took notice and immediately struck up a friendship with the guy. Fast-forward four decades later, and Pink still uses many of the one-off parts produced by this former Cosworth engineer on his builds, including the final engine seen here.
On this particular motor, a Hillborn mechanical fueling system ties into a Kinsler manifold setup up top, which is machined to match up with the EFI side of the 427 Cammer V8. With custom adjustable butterflies on each stack making for easy adjustability and a smooth idle, Pink says a little help from some exhaust temp measurements can easily get you dialed in idle-wise.
Being that the engine was never intended to run boost, or be exposed to 9,000-plus-rpm drag race pulls, overloading the chain and it struggling with stretch was a concern that had to be addressed before anything else. This issue became especially apparent when nitrous was introduced to the mix. So Pink had specialized chromoly chain links and pins made, which helped with longevity but unfortunately didn’t do anything for the offset issues they were seeing.
To help fix this problem, a cam-bearing galley had to be machined to keep things adequately lubricated up near the intermediate shaft. This was done in part because the bank for the intake valve is mounted in reverse on one side of the engine as opposed to the other, and therefore each camshaft was unique unto its set bank. Coincidentally, it was the physical adjustment of each camshaft that ultimately eliminated the chain stretch issues Pink had observed when he first began to tinker with the Cammer V8.
Naturally, different camshaft offsets are used within each bank to this day, with 7 degrees being the magic number. The drive cam also receives a split overlap, thus allowing the trailing cam to get its own 7 degrees of advance. Not only did this combo solve that pesky chain slack issue, but after a little tuning it helped set a new world record way back when. Remember, the Ed Pink Cammer V8 was the first motor ever to break into the 6-second zone in a NHRA national event thanks to Prudhomme and his Baney dragster.
I’ve got friends that turn 65-70, and they retire and they watch TV all day long. That’s a good way to go dead… brain dead. — Ed Pink
A Few Final Ed Pink Nuts, Bolts, and Washers to Spare
As Ed Pink moves around his garage, a flurry of questions and answers are exchanged.
Apparently, all of the ARP bolts and studs used on the Cammer V8 are one-offs. Custom non-magnetic nuts, bolts, and washers from ARP are also utilized on sensor plates and other sensitive areas to prevent false readings.
Speaking of readings, oil pressure is measured post-filter, not prior for increased accuracy. Machining on relocated sensor plates is done to such an extreme degree that they completely eliminate the risk of reading any slack from the rotors, gears, and other rotational components, resulting in a far more direct read-out every millisecond.
Oddly enough, Ford only made a limited run of short water pumps for the Cammer motor back in the day, so Pink worked out a deal with Edelbrock. The blank housings were delivered to Pink’s shop, where they were machined down to spec, before being outfitted with custom attachments.
This resulted in a flush water pump that is almost identical in size to the slender Cammer pumps from the 1960s, but with stronger materials, better reliability, and a far more flush fit. A water filler neck is then affixed to the upper rear portion of the engine, as it allows adequate flow and full coverage of the entire length of the motor.
On the opposite end, up front, a cap is affixed to the tank so that coolant can be added to feed a shorter, gravity-fed radiator as needed. Paired with a beefy water manifold constructed by one of the masterminds behind the Bonneville Salt Flats “Speed Demon” car, cooling and clearance remain of little concern when installing an Ed Pink 427 SOHC.
Meanwhile, an Ed Pink original crank hub allows easy dial-ins during tuning, and the crank-triggered ignition eliminates any need for a distributor. Ed Pink is quick to admit his love for EFI performance perks too. Ever since the moment it arrived on the scene back in the early 1980s, he has found ways to encourage EFI gains on his 427 Cammer motors. And while Pink relies upon Bosch pumps instead of the old mechanical units that came with the Ford V8, he keeps the chain gear in its original position for obvious reasons.
Being that this is now a fuel-injected powerplant, timing, and every imaginable sensor forward from there is connected to a custom ECU box that’s finished with mil-spec military-grade connectors and boots for added longevity and reliability.
Up top, custom-milled replacement rings for the cam sensor pop into the opening where the fuel pump used to be, and are mounted with non-magnetized bolts to eliminate the risk of interference when timing that offset to 45 degrees. As for ignition timing, Pink says that is dialed in at 10 degrees, whereas the other bank comes pre-set at 45 degrees, even though you can adjust it anywhere between 30 to 50 degrees as needed.
Needless to say, Pink’s attention to detail is uncanny, even at 92. His clever use of measuring and dialing in timing via the use of custom marker pins is brilliant, as it takes all of the guesswork out of the equation when it comes time to fire up the motor for the first time.
Saying So Long to a Legend
So, while Ed Pink was there in 1948 for some of the first races out on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and his engines were on board to propel the likes of racing royalty Don “The Snake” Prudhomme into the annals of drag racing history, his last engine is headed to Australia of all places.
But in between these pivotal points in this man’s life, some amazing milestones have been achieved, both on and off the track.
Thanks to the original Ed Pink Cammer V8, Ford’s 427 was able to dominate the drag strip, resulting in the Blue Oval promoting and selling a respectable amount of Ed Pink powerplants to racing enthusiasts and hot rod builders. It also made Ed Pink a name for himself as a top-tier engine builder.
Over the following decades, Ed Pink would go on to design and build engines for a broad array of race teams and individuals alike. NHRA, INDYCAR, USAC, IMSA… you name the race series, and chances are Ed Pink has probably provided a podium-winning motor for one competitor or another in these races in his lifetime.
Sadly though, all good things must come to an end. Ed Pink says that while his brain says he can keep building engines well into his 90s, his body struggles with the task nowadays. And so at 92 he finally is calling it quits.
Personally, I find it both intriguing and wildly appropriate that the engine that made the man famous in the first place is also the last one he will ever build. I guess things do come full circle after all…