Article submitted for publication in the Old Cars Weekly November 4, 2009 and is taken from 335 HP Flathead Ford V-8 Performance Handbook, © 2009, Motorhead Mart, Albuquerque, NM. Car and engine details and test data are available in the book. See for more info.

The Most Powerful Flathead Ford Powered Street Rod Ever?

The Motorhead Mart Special


 Joe Abbin

Motorhead Mart Special 276 Blown Flathead. It produces 335 HP at 5000 rpm.


Most people have noted the recent resurgence of flathead Ford powered vehicles at car shows and auto events across the country. Most of this resurgence results from a rediscovery of the timeless good looks and sound of the classic flathead Ford. However, even diehard flathead Ford fans concede that the flathead is obsolete as a performance engine by today’s standards. But is it? What about a street driven 1934 Ford Tudor sedan with a 276 flathead that accelerates from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds? Compare this with 3.8 seconds for a Dodge Viper or 4.1 seconds for a Z06 Corvette. This article will describe the Motorhead Mart Special, a flathead that runs with the big dogs.

The Beginning

In 1991, I acquired a “project” 1934 Ford sedan. This car would not have been a candidate for a stock restoration since it had been crudely chopped and channeled with welded-on, bobbed fenders. The car had sat in a barn for approximately 30 years after being campaigned as a Chevy-powered drag car in the Midwest. Quite a mess, but a perfect candidate for a guilt-free hot rod! Henry and Edsel would be proud!

My friends and I completely rebuilt the car from the ground up and put it on the street in 1994 with a 1949 Mercury flathead utilizing a prototype Roadrunner Engineering flathead supercharger kit. In that configuration the car ran at drag strips in NM, AZ, CO and CA and showed at numerous events, garnering many trophies and awards. During that time, the car now called the Motorhead Mart Special, accumulated 300+ drag strip runs and almost 2000 street miles with no problems. A high point in this period was at the 1998 Goodguys’ March Meet in Bakersfield, CA where the car turned 100 mph in the quarter mile for the first time. The experience gained in building and running the Special was documented in my first book, Blown Flathead. This book provides guidance on building a high performance flathead and describes the engine and the car as it existed in 2000.

In 2003 the engine was removed from the 1934 and placed in my 1950 Mercury where it continues to provide exceptional performance on the street with over 5000 street miles and requiring no maintenance except routine oil changes and tune-ups. The flathead Ford is one tough cookie!