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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…

Quotes

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.

History

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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66 Comments

  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?

      • Andrew Bowes says:

        The engines in oz fords used timing chains that’s 6 or V8 the ford 6 stopped using the chain set up in 1988 . Though the 6 with chain did live on in the ford ute range for a few more years.

    • 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.

      • Andrew Bowes says:

        The early cross flows and the later xflow and the only differance is the alloy had were not SOHC, the SOHC 6 came out in 88 in the EA falcon range of shit boxes, to verify the old inline 6 as used in mustangs etc we had in our falcs so this engine to the last alloy headed cross flow six of 1987 use the same bell housing pattern, same crank, rods, pistons, chain set up, water pumps, I don’t include the 144/170 or the Aussie ford 221 they have there own unique parts but the 200 and 250 engines share many parts even dizzys, fuel pumps, cams engine mounts, some changes like electronic distributors, and the cross flow head itself then lick is different on xflow but internals are samey same

    • I think we Americans realize that since we also produced the 6 cyl here in the 60s but I guess we would have since Ford is an American company or was LOL.But like all good things that went along with the breeze..

  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

    • The old 300 inline six wasn’t supposed to be a passenger truck engine. It was built as a torque monster heavy equipment engine and got put in the pick-ups almost by accident. They were GOING to develop a brand new larger 6 banger for the Ford pick up but shelved the idea when the 4.9 litre was such a hit. This engine has seven main bearings. A crank that looks like it came out of a diesel. And gear to gear timing, no timing chain. Keep clean oil and filter in them, change the air filter, never let it get hot and keep the RPMs south of 3000 and this engine will go till the body and suspension dissolve in rust. ANY inline six has a couple of advantages from the get go. Look at the old Chrysler 225 cu. in. slant six. Put it in the cars with light weight and don’t try to use it as a race engine and BULLETPROOF.

      • Re:slant six racing – many yes ago these were used in southern dirt trk Mopar cars. The stock 225s did have problems due to all the oil got slung up awaybfrom the crank in the turns( banked) causing crank bearings to fail but put a modified oil pan and pump makes for a hard to beat car in stock form let lone modding the rest of the motor. Also seen a article of a modified slant six used in drag racing. If used on a flat circle track with just a modified oilpan could net you many wins. The one I came in contact with was stock in a 65 dart body it would hold up for hot laps qualifing and all but the last 2 LSPs of the main till one day the guy couldn’t find enuff bearings in his scrap pile because he couldn’t afford new ones I ha a belt that was long due to weight loss was thick had a diamond pattern I cut off along enuff
        section that we covered all the bearing section of the crankshaft the guy won that night and for 2 months before those leather bearings wore out so tell us a slant can’t do it. PS I’m a mustang guy mid 80s

  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.

      • Build the crap out of it boar it cam it grind head good pistons valve springs a t5 good set of gears and u got s screamer

        • I just got a 93 f150 300ci 6cylinder 3/4ton. Has 186k and long story short got it for 550 an fixed with 60$ on a shift fork! EFI cut 1of2cats welded straight pipe out the back an it screams but can I perform it as you’ve said and still have pull power? And would it still last long? What suggestions for giving it more jump an not beating it up?

      • Yeah, I’m an old timer. And a carbureted 300 inline 6 I could make run with no muss, no fuss. The “new” great for new timers engines with the electronic controls have thousands of nit picking problems that the OWNER can’t solve. Neither many times can the dealer. But your basic screwdriver pair of channel locks butcher, like ME, could make those old engines run. Period. And although these engines weren’t HP monsters they did the WORK required of them and LASTED forever. UPS used that particular engine in their delivery trucks till they were no longer available. UPS is ALL about cost effectiveness. Period. And they do the RESEARCH. I’ve personally driven these 300 inline sixes with well over 300K on the clock. Cannot say the same for ANYBODIES V8. I’m talking about 300K without ever pulling a valve cover. NO engine problems, at all, ever.

      • Hans Davidsson says:

        Not a Ford 300 or a Slant six,but my AMC/Jeep inline 6 in a T-Roadster has no problems to outrun a 550 hp big block Chevelle in the 1/8 with more than 1.5 car lenghts,and that’s just a 4.7 litre stroker,stock valves in a ported head and some cheapo pistons and topped of with a hydraulic camshaft,this year it will get a small shot of nitrous to get it to go fast…

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

    • Watched a stock ford 300ci or (for those of u don’t know what ci means) 4.9L inline six with manual trans hold then beat a built Chevy 350 /5.7L with manual trans both in pickup trucks until the Chevy guyvstood on his brakes and still almost got dragged over the line because the chain broke

    • F.Y.I. The I6 is easily capable of reaching 700hp and pulling 7000 rpm’s daily with the right machining and add ons @ a cost of approximately 2400.00. If You do the build yourself. The reason seasoned old schoolers build these engines is due to the torque…Serious bottom end…From the holeshot, It’s a huge advantage. It deserves it’s #4 title in the rankings.

    • Gregory P. Koesel says:

      Put a one-barrel carburetor on your V8 and see how well it performs. My T-model roadster with a 300 ci six modified for drag racng runs the quarter mile in 9.00 seconds @ 147 mph – normally aspirated, on gasoline. Its been on Pass Times TV and FoxNews Detroit. Don’t believe me? Google “The Frenchtown Flyer”. Other 300s with further refinement have run seven second quarter mile times.

    • Andrew Bowes says:

      Oh I totally disagree, might be so in the States but here in OZ we developed a Chrysler 6 with a Hemi head that chews up V8 s and spits em out and that’s from a 4.3 litre 265 cubic inch capacity, we’ve been developing 6 cylinders in our local Ford Falcons and Holden commodores that negate the owning of V8s unless u really like the noise, that Chrysler 6 I mentioned was made in the early 70 s and today still regarded as a damn fine motor, We like our rear wheel drive cars here in OZ

  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

    • mark klingelsmith says:

      I dont know what your working with but every 90’s 300 six I have the timing is gear drivin and in the trucks(using SeaFoam in the oil) I get, easily 20-25 miles to the gallon, regardless of alcohol content.
      Klinger in the NYS Southern tier

  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

      • Andrew Bowes says:

        The T-18 will handle the 300, in fact I’m pretty sure the Canadian F100 sold in OZ had the T 18 as an option,

  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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  24. I own a 83 f150 with the 4.9 inline with a c6 behind it 4 wheel drive 334k on it still makes runs through the mud bogs along with being a daily driver absolutely love this truck unbeatable

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  26. Do you guys think a truck with the stock engine and transmission would be suitable for towing an Airstream or sliding in one of those Lancer enclosed campers? Mountain passes no problem? Alaska trek?

    Tks

    Tim

    • More weight takes more power to climb a hill and that requires torque or low gears. So it depends on how fast you want to go up the hills. As long as you do not expect it to be the same as a lightly loaded passenger car it will be fine.

      My 6 routinely moved 32,000 lb loads of fruit from farm to cannery (with 24 forward speeds and a low axle ratio nothing stopped it.

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  28. I have been around this legend since I was a kid on the farm! This engine was in everything on the farm from hay swatters, grain combines, skid loaders, Self propelled balers, 69 Ford F250 4X4, my 67 Fairlane, and when our Allis Chalmers tractors engine blew up I made an adapter plate installing the Ford 300 ci industrial engine in it’s place. This engine just NEVER quit! When I worked for Ryder our forklift had the 240 ic industrial engine in it and the standby generator had the 300 ci industrial engine both running on Natural gas.

  29. I just bought a 1985 ford f-250 wth a i6 engine in it.i had to do some small things to bring it back up like replacing the exhaust manifold,egr valve and other small items.I can’t wait to drive it to see how well it runs.I might want to resell it as i flip vehicles.Henry

  30. Wes Kouns says:

    I have a ’71 f250, took the 360 out, installing ’89 300 with ’92 efi. First ever engine swap, any, informed tips would be appreciated.

  31. Tom Heuerman says:

    Building a rat rod with 300 from a 77 pickup. 1997 S10 frame, 1941 Chev panel body. I wanted a automatic and had a C4 rebuilt and used 1974 Maverick bell housing and flex plate. Haven’t run it yet. Did Ford ever offer C4 behind a 300 , maybe cars, not trucks?

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      Although we’re not absolutely certain off-hand, the bellhousing bolt pattern is the same on both a 302 and an inline 6. So, it’s possible Ford mated a C4 and a 300!

      • Andrew Bowes says:

        The Windsor and Cleveland V8 s use the same bell housing pattern, the 351M to 460 use there own housing pattern, can only speak for Aussie Fords and we used the same engines and some transport here the 6 and 8 don’t share same housing patterns, only motor I know off where 6 and 8 share same pattern is the AMC engines

  32. Andrew Bowes says:

    In Australia the 300 Ford 6 was available in the Ford D Series trucks an English cab over, and also in the Canadian F100 , these were Canadian engines, I would like to know what the bell housing pattern is, is it same as the old 200 cube ie Mustang, Comet etc?
    To cover the Aussie Falcon range began in 1960 with the XK model with the little 144, the XL had the 144, the XM gave us the 144 and the 170 pursuit motor both ran happily on standard fuel, the XP gave us the 170 and the 200 super pursuit , the XR falcon still had the 200 though did here the 170 was still an option, there was also a 188 industrial motor used in concrete trucks, the XT gave us the 200 but aso the freaky 221 good revvy little motor with real steel crank but there a freak of there own breed though look like the cousin, bearing differences, crank bolt pattern prevent the swapping of parts, the XW model had the 3.6 and 200 engine, the XY gave us the big long stroke 250 my fav engine, the XA and B 200 and 250 engines, the XC gave us the 250 iron head cross flow, these motors you can really mess with and they scream hard, the alloy head version in the XD to XF a good motor but soft cams and lifters meant if you didn’t change your oil the case hardening of the machine surfaces chewed out some motors were knackered at 150kms, the EA blessed us with the 3.9 litre TBI motor a fine piece of shit that cracked heads, the EA 2 gave us the 4.0l multi point an ok motor but again prone to head gasket failure, the EB and EB2 are fairly reliable engine wise, the EF was a shit heap the EL was slightly better, AU was fords evil child , the later AU3 were a good machine and the last of the 4.0 litre breed going back to EA, the BA series now here’s a good car the VCT 6 or barra is the ducks nuts, we have a 2005 BAXR6 and boy does this thing flog hard, the EA to BA engines trace there bloodlines back to the old 200 I6 but there the similarities lie,
    If only you yanks had the Chrysler HEMI 6, originally developed to replace the old 225 slantys in our Dodge trucks of the 70s , three sizes the 215, 245 and the mighty 265 of which in full race trim with a 3 speed manual tranny in a Charger would be bumper to bumper with the Ford HO phase3 the fastest street legal car in the world in 71, Ford developed the phase4 in 72 was faster then the 3 around the track top speed of 180 mph rumoured to be, Chrysler had developed an even faster 265 powered Charger, these cars were killed off in the super car scare bought about by a motoring journo named Evan green,
    They say the old Ford 300 had amazing torque levels but the AMC 258 was maybe better in all respects

  33. I have a 1995 f150xl with the 4.9 inline6 and 5 speed manual tranny. Bought it new from dealer. Worked construction (self employed) until a couple of years ago. Beat the living hell out of that truck for 18 years. Never had any problems with engine, transmission or differential. 278,000 miles and counting. Yup, still driving it and except for putting in a new clutch every 100,000 or so never had anything replaced in the engine or drive chain – knock on wood. As a matter of fact the air conditioner still works and has never been serviced except for an occasional refill. Muffler and exhaust pipes are original too as is the catalytic converter and it makes it through emission testing. Hoses are original too. I will say that the day I brought it home from the dealer I drained the oil and put in Mobil1 (used it ever since-change oil religiously every 20,000-30,000 miles or so) and 13 years ago I filled the radiator with 100% anti-freeze. BEST ENGINE IN THE BEST PICK-UP EVER MADE!

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