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						Holman Moody Cobra1
Oval-Port Holman-Moody?

ERA Cobra offered with a Holman-Moody 427 side-oiler

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, eBay

I’m always interested to learn more about engine building, design or anything else that makes horsepower, especially when it pertains to Ford V8 engines of the 1960s and ’70s. So when I found an ERA Cobra on eBay this week boasting an oval-port Holman-Moody 427 engine, I had to learn more. The only problem is that I can’t find any mention of an oval-port HM engine anywhere. Is someone mistaken, or is this an even more desirable piece of Ford racing nostalgia?

Holman-Moody was founded in 1957 after John Holman and Ralph Moody got together to build stock car racing chassis and parts after factory backing ended that same year. Both men had ties to Ford, as Moody had been a successful NASCAR racer in the mid 1950s, and Holman had worked for Bill Stroppe and subsequently Ford in their North Carolina factory team shop. Holman-Moody’s chassis and race cars enjoyed great success in the late ’50s and early 1960s. By the mid 1960s, Holman-Moody was building Ford engines for multiple NASCAR race teams and supplying cams and other performance parts to other teams. Then of course there’s the Holman-Moody prepped Mk II GT40s that took part in Ford’s Le Mans push in 1966.

But of course Holman-Moody was putting its mark on many other Ford-products in this era as well, including warmed-over boat engines, intakes, camshafts and built racing engines for public consumption. The signature H-M was applied to all sorts of performance and racing mills, from 302s all the way up to the Holy Grail 427 SOHC.

Ford did its part with the 427 side-oiler block, which delivered fresh oil to the crank before the camshaft and valve train, ensuring that the engine could withstand long stints of high-rpm use. But to make a good engine even better, Holman-Moody probably would have torn the whole assembly down to blueprint and balance the assembly before topping it with a purpose-built set of cylinder heads and matching intake. Most Holman-Moody engines are known for their tunnel-port, or massive rectangular port designs, while specific intakes were specified from the low-riser on up to the medium-riser and high-riser depending on the application.

As for history on this specific engine, the seller relays the following information:

“I purchased this engine two years ago from Gregg Blaisdell in Medford, Oregon. The engine was originally built in 1972 by Holman-Moody for Goodyear’s NASCAR program, but was only run on a dyno and shelved after Goodyear got out of the racing business …”

“There are actually pages of documentation on the engine stamped D2HM63. Note that the original text said 1966 and was crossed out and the year 1972 noted later by decoding the stamp. Holman-Moody called it a ‘Ford 427 Oval-Port NASCAR’ engine. Whatever an ‘Oval-Port’ engine is?"

But no matter where I look, I can't find any mention of an oval-port Holman-Moody engine, and the engine specs leave me questioning if any original HM parts are left. I’ve attached the seller’s breakdown of the engine internals below, but the Shelby heads, modern valve train and low 10:1 compression aren’t exactly what I would have expected. Also the Blue Thunder intake is a piece that’s currently available from Holman-Moody, and I’d expect the oval-port magic to happen between the intake and cylinder heads.

So maybe this engine isn’t a whole Holman-Moody 427 today in the complete sense (or maybe it is, I’m no expert), but it’s still a legit 427 side-oiler in a Cobra that has some cool race history attached to it (assuming the documentation supports it). And the $95,000 price tag on this car is close to the money for a quality Cobra like and ERA with such an engine.

Find the side-oiler ERA Cobra here on eBay, and if you have any additional Holman-Moody wisdom, please share it with us in the comments below.

Engine Specs:

Shelby Aluminum heads

· Keith Black 10:1 hypereutectic pistons (91 octane runs great)

· LeMans rods

· Original forged steel crankshaft

· Comp Cams camshaft

· Shubeck Ultra Lite lifters

· Dove roller rockers

· Blue Thunder intake (looks original on the outside but CAD designed for superior flow)

· Stainless steel braided line plumbing

· White faced fuel pressure gauge

· Holly 850 cfm double pumper carburetor

· Triple chromed & polished pentroof valve covers

· MSD 6AL Ignition suite (distributor, wires, control box, tach controller)

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