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Top 10 Engines of All Time (#4): Ford 300 I6


Editor’s Note: This series counts down the Top 10 engines of all timesee how the voting was done by reading our initial post.

Ford 300 I6 engine

Image courtesy of Jalopy Journal


Some are undoubtedly puzzled that this inline 6-cylinder engine landed fairly high on the list.

Others might be surprised it made the list at all.

The rest of you—the ones that have actually owned the Ford 300 inline six—helped place this engine at #4 because of its legendary durability and impressive torque output. Just ask these guys…


Ford inline 6: 300 cubic inches of raw, low-end torque.” –Coty M.

“OK, I’m not a Ford guy, but I have to be honest: the Ford 300 I6. Can’t kill those.” –Lyle G.

“Ford’s inline six–the 4.9L, I think. They may not be for racing, but they never die, and they’ll pull down a house with ease.” –Jaide Z.

“Ford 300 straight 6. The rest of the truck will rot away before you ruin one of them.” –Bobby G.

“Ford 300 inline six. Those motors will never die. Knew a guy who ran one with no oil for 6 months. He put oil in it  and drove it for another three years.” –Scott E.


Part of the fourth generation of Ford six-cylinder engines, the Ford 300 I6 came on to the scene in 1965 and had a 31-year production run. Although this engine powered Ford F-series pickup trucks until 1996, the 300 I6 also supplied power for everything from woodchippers and generators to tractors and dump trucks.

The reasons for the popularity were simple: big-time low-end torque, extreme durability, and ease of maintenance.

Ford 300 I6 engines have been known to last up to 300,000 miles with no major issues. They produce gobs of low-end torque, including an impressive 265 ft.-lbs. of torque in some instances. That has made the Ford 300 I6, particularly the versions with a forged crank and high-flow exhaust manifold, a popular choice for heavy-duty commercial trucks.

Fun Fact

If you’ve ever received an on-time delivery from UPS, you likely have the reliable Ford 300 I6 to thank. The Ford 300 has been used on those brown UPS delivery trucks for years.

Popular Modifications

The Ford 300 I6’s durability is well documented. To make the engine last even longer, manufacturers offer a wide selection of replacement part and performance upgrades for the 300. According to Summit Racing, here are some of the more popular items:

Editor’s Note: This series counts down the Top 10 engines of all timesee how the voting was done by reading our initial post.



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  1. Seth Stewart says:

    The Ford 300 I6 pulls heavy weight up steep hills with ease. Not made for speed, but the torque output is quite good for a little 4.9 litre truck engine. Change the oil on time and it and it will last 300,000 miles (500000 km). Also, it is a peppy engine, so it’s perfect to have in a daily driver.

  2. Best 6 cyl inline ever made

  3. I hope you Americans realise that Ford Australia has been producing an Inline 6 (still is until 2016) since the 1960’s. Its called the barra its a 4 litre 6 cylinder engine which comes turbo charged (270Kw) or naturally aspirated (195KW) its more than capable of doing 1 million kilometers in its life time, we use it in a souly RWD sedan called the Ford Falcon and an Australian developed SUV called the Territory, which is RWD standard or AWD optional.

    • Mike Pintur says:

      Hello my Aussie Friend, I think we may be talking about the same motor !
      Mike P.

    • Does the Australian Inline 6 use timing gears instead a belt or chain?

    • Some of us realize it! :) The Barra is the DOHC version of the SOHC crossflow 6, which is then also related (or is the same family) as our American “small six”. It’s entirely different from our “Big Six” 240/300 cubic inch. Essentially the Aussie engine is a Ford 144/170/200/250 cubic inch small six (250 c.i. version). We never even saw the crossflow head here, import only, which is a shame as the engine family is quite tough and capable of a lot as Aussies know well. The integral log manifold type heads we had were not very capable of much power. We of course used to have a Falcon as well which popularly had a this variant of engine, but the model was discontinued long ago. Maybe it could make a comeback one day! A modestly sized sporty sedan with RWD is just my thing, which is why I’ve come to love BMWs and mostly left Fords behind.

  4. Had a 300 in a 31 coupe ran vary good surprised many raced my sons in his 64 F100 mild bult 460 was right at his door and still pulling hard when we crossed the line

  5. Bruce Nix says:

    I put a 1981- 300 out of a big ups delivery truck into my 1954-f-100 after putting in rv cam ,500cfm 4bel. Dual exhaust &5spd out of 86 mustang highway patrol pursuit car 20yrs ago n it still runs grate its a real sleeper

  6. Loved my old short box ford with the 300 and 3 on the tree. One of the best trucks I ever owned. The only vehicle I miss more is my 307 69 camaro.

  7. Just bought a 79 f150. We rebuilt the 6 to factory, used EFI headers, H pipe and a proper muffler. Had to make a heater plate to get coolant up to warm the intake, but she sounds awesome. Wish we had a better market for aluminum blocks, heads, hoods, etc to drop some weight in the old 79.

  8. Just bought a ford f 150 with the 4.9 I l6 it’s a 1996 short bed auto from the state of georgia no rot or rust can’t wait to get it

  9. Miki Csupak says:

    Re: ford 300 engine. In a1982 E150 After two years on the blocks, with old gas in the tank, primed with 1/2 oz. fresh gas through a small funnel via the hose pulled off the vacuum manifold the engine started on the first 1/2 revolution. Zero problem in 37 years.
    Thank you Ford!!

  10. I own a 1983 F250 with 4.9l I6. Has 120,000 miles! Great for towing my sailboat. About 7500 lbs. No problem at all. Has 4 speed tranny. Many opportunities to sell her, i would b a fool to part with her!! Runs like new, completely stock.

  11. I have a 1968 Ford F100 and was told by the previous owner that it has a 300 ci 4.9 ltr Canadian straight 6. Great old truck that is in original condition that I intend on preserving rather than restoring. No rust as has been in the Queensland out back for most of its life. My question is why does it state on the rego papers that the engine capacity is 384.0? Does that mean it is a 4.0 ltr and therefore the 250 ci?

  12. I’m selling my 93 ford with the 300 6 complete rebuild except the motor it won’t stop running at 260000 miles great truck anyone interested message me back or call 4439773454

  13. Martin Ledermann says:

    I know USA is huge and Europe doesn’t interest you, but when it comes to 6 inline engines don’t forget BMW. I’ve had 2 325i from 89/90 and have one 330d from 2004 with absolutely no problems, a lot of power and very economical (330d 204hp 400Nm torque, 250km/h and 5.7liters/100km). Even with 100k miles made he wastes no oil, inspection every 40k km and cheaper than every car I had before (not to buy, there you invest a little more but its worth it, I’m talking inspection). Don’t worry I’m not German (Swiss) and don’t work for them, but it seems you’re only fixed to US-cars so don’t call it top10 engines of all times

  14. Ugh. Why the 6 cylinder love? If longevity is your thing, great, then proceed with the I6. Otherwise, realize that any V8 of similar or greater displacement (that was made properly, like nothing British lol) will make more power. If we didn’t have transmissions, I guess the low speed torque would be a big advantage for the I6’s.

    WAY too many old timers who say the I6’s are super powerful, but can’t do 5 minutes of research to find that even the lowliest V8’s handily beat the straight 6’s in power, often by ridiculous amounts. And again, since in the real world we have transmissions that match the engines desired RPM ranges, the V8 wins.

    • I guess the difference is those of us you call old timers worked these engines. I was on off road crews where trucks that the torque came in at a relatively low rpm and stayed constant thru the rpm band outlasted the V-8’s that had to be revved up to do the same work. At the end of the day it wasn’t unusual for that SUPPOSEDLY under powered I6 to have to pull those V-8 trucks in to town. I don’t care who manufactured the engine or what the cylinder arrangement is if it won’t get you home it ain’t worth having.

    • Horsepower does not win a drag race its torque!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Brian C. Thomas says:

    I have a 1995 F 150 with the 4.9 300 6 cylinder. Currently at 283,000 miles does not use or burn any oil.

    Recently had the motor pulled and replace all new gaskets timing chain cover and the harmonic balancer, as it has cut a hole in the timing chain cover.

    The Ethanol is killing my mileage the engine got 17 mpg for live now it about 12.5 MPG.

    Brian in Texas

  16. The only thing that lets down the I6 is that Ford never mated it with a manual transmission that matched its durability

    • Yes it did it had three trans that would handle its low end power first the three speed ford top loader second the big brother the four speed ford top loader and third the big truck 4 speed with a granny gear by np

  17. I had a mid eighties 4.9 f 150 for a few years . How can you get excited about sub 300 foot pounds? Ate gas like a v-8 Would happily trade for any other engine on this list

  18. I owed a 87 150 with a 4 speed od manual trans. You were able to break the tires loose going into second gear. Used it to pull down trees and pull out tree stumps and ran it for 12 years. But like anything else, if it works good and lasts stop making it.
    Another bonehead move on the part of Ford.

  19. I own a 93 f150 6 inline 300cu, for twenty years it’s been running strong with no rebuilt components only minor components like the batteries and alternators. Then family started to come around and my son whose 18 now started to drive it; when he was making a u-turn he hit the rail and for some reason the rail was on the way, had a small damage on dead center of the face. But no biggie, the 6 inline wasn’t touched. well I hope I could get couple of More years out of this 6 cylinder block.

    • Have a 93 ford f150 4×4 I call the swamp donkey. Truck works in the bush everyday very hard on it has well over 300,000 miles and I hate to admit it but it don’t get the maintenance it deserves. Only every had to replace the clutch. 5 speed manual in 1st gear and 4 low it will out lug anything without having my foot on the gas literally pulling 6000 plus pounds of wood in the bed and dragging 5 big trees out the bush every day.

  20. Just Bought a 93 f150 for 500.00. { 1 owner} 396,000 miles. Runs Very strong. Gonna buy another one or two with that motor as soon as i see one for sale.

  21. I am installing a 1977 300 with forged crank in my 1966 ford econoline frame on resto..the engine came out of a old food truck..3 speed on column and 9inch rear with powertrax..happy days are here again

  22. I bought my first new vehicle in 1977, a Ford F-100 300 inline six. Two options back then, radio and heater….no AC, nor power steering and power brakes, no power windows. What a truck….I retired it in 1996 when I bought a Ford Duelly. I should be shot for letting it sit and rust away until 2009 when I decided to give the girl new life. A complete frame off restoration from the ground up. I’m two days away from turning the ignition switch for its first run in 20 years. What a labor of love. These engines are the best Ford has offered. OId school yes, but heart and guts as big as Texas.

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