How to Shoehorn a V8 Engine Into a Ford Popular

The Ford Popular was an incredibly basic car in today’s standards. However, innovative minds have found a way to integrate the V8 engine and power into this very popular classic car. The V8 engine is today’s powerhouse, which ups the performance and experience when driving any classic car on today's’ roads. This article looks at ways you can shoehorn a V8 engine into your Ford Popular and the challenges that come with the modification.


Indeed, the Ford Popular can run on a V8 engine. However, there are a few problems that you have to deal with. They include the following.

Traction Deficiency

The Ford Popular had very thin wheels, which were standard during the period. These wheels cannot hold the sheer power that comes with a V8 engine. Unfortunately, the rims of the vehicle cannot handle today’s custom V8 wheels. To work around the problem, you can split the stock rims to fit the wider rubber tyres available for the V8. This work requires some professional assistance. Splitting involves the use of a cutting torch, which cuts the run in half at the centre. Then a steel band is placed at the centre to act as the spacer then welded onto the rims. If you rather not do so, you can purchase generic custom-made wheels that fit your Ford Popular, but these can be pricey.

The Gearbox

A standard gearbox will not be up to the job so you will need to replace it. If you love the classic way to drive, you need to think of a manual gearbox rather than an automatic one. Either way, it is not an easy job because a new gearbox will not fit in your Popular's gearbox tunnel. You need to modify the tunnel by making it larger and reducing its mouth near the dashboard. You can go with a 4-gear to the 6-gear engine/gearbox, depending on your preferences. A few other modifications will be required for the smooth running of the gear system when changing your gears.

The Braking System

The Ford Popular used drum brakes in its heydays. Therefore, it requires some engineering ingenuity to make it work with the standard disc brakes and improve your pedal feel as you drive the vehicle down the road. To go around this challenge, you will need to work out some form of raised front suspension. This will help raise the pedals and you can add some hydraulic power so that the clutch does not feel too light, as that may cause you to brake or accelerate too quickly without knowing it. Retrofitting the front suspension will also require some welding and modification of the area below the dashboard of your car.


The original engine that was put on the Ford Popular required very low air intake. Therefore, it had a very small air dam. If the air dam is not increased, there is a chance that your engine will overheat and get damaged. Consider cutting the lower front air-dam to a bigger size to bring in more air. You can put back the original grille or get one custom-made for you to retain the aesthetic quality of the front of your car. The changes give the car a beasty look just like the engine.


It may take time before you get used to adjusting the speed, and steering the car properly. Also, the Ford Popular body is not the most appropriate for racing. You are likely to experience a chassis flex as you increase the speed of the car. The best way to enhance your safety on the road is to weld in a roll cage. The roll cage ensures that you are safe even when the car rolls at high speed. Another safety precaution is to ensure that the front seats have a bolting mechanism that allows you to lock them in place when racing your car. This prevents any movement of the seat should you apply emergency braking or in the event of a roll.

Fitting the Engine

The V8 engines differ in terms of size, depending on the brand that you pick. Whilst there is no recommended brand that you should go for, you may have to do a little modification to your bonnet to enable you to fit the engine properly. Some people suggest that the engine should be placed at the back of the car. This has serious effects on the manoeuvrability of your vehicle and it's power and may require lots of expensive and extensive modification to achieve.

What is the Cost of a Pumped up Ford Popular?

The Ford Popular and Anglia have become choice vintage cars for most classic car lovers in the UK and beyond. An old vintage Ford Popular that is running without modifications may fetch more than £10,000 in local vintage markets. A modified one can fetch a price of about £15,000 to £25,000, depending on how well you have been able to integrate your V8 engine into the classic car. You may sell it in an auction, which may bring in a higher price. Buyers look at the aesthetic feel of the car, the amount of power it generates, the safety, as well as the driving experience when settling on the price.

Shows and Races Where You Can Feature Your Modified Ford Popular

Several shows and races happen throughout the year involving vintage cars across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. Here are the most popular ones.

• The London classic car show, which takes place every year at various dates in February
• Race Retro Stoneleigh, which is a race for vintage cars from different periods
• American Auto Club Kilbeggan: This event showcases over 400 vehicles with roots in America. Ford Popular is one of them.
• Croydon Charity Classic car run: This race runs in Surrey Hills and involves over 200 vintage cars from different timelines. You can also sell the car at the end of the race.
• Flying Scotsman endurance rally, which is a rally for improved classic cars and happens in the wilds of the Scottish borders to test the endurance capabilities of different classic cars.

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