Watch us bless this barn-find Ford 351 Cleveland V-8 with new life

Hagerty Media

The latest rendition of Hagerty’s timeless Redline Rebuild video series has arrived, and it might just be our favorite one ever. The lucky engine in question is a Ford 351 cubic-inch Cleveland V-8, pulled from a 1972 DeTomaso Pantera that Tom Cotter and the Barn Find Hunter crew rescued from a four-plus-decade slumber a while back.

While the crossover nature of how this engine came to find its way into our shop is as serendipitous as it comes, the romance didn’t last long when it came time to get down to business. “We know the motor’s stuck,” says Davin Reckow, the greasy knuckles behind the Redline Rebuild series. This one was always going to be a bit of a battle to make happen. But seized engines are no match for Davin and the crew. (Remember that Buick Nailhead revival? That thing was a doozy.)

With the engine removed from its dusty resting place, it was time to make the trek north to our shop and begin the teardown process. Almost immediately, Davin and the team identified what they thought was a blown head gasket, an ailment that would quickly prolong how much time it would take to bring the Cleveland back to life. Deeper into the teardown, their prognosis changes a bit, and they theorize that at one point, the engine suffered an overheating event that caused damage to multiple cylinders. Ruh-roh.

Concerned but not flummoxed, the team pressed on. No amount of slime nor sludge—and as you’ll see, there was plenty to go around—was going to halt this rebuild. With everything apart, it was time to send the parts through the washer and get to work rebuilding the block. After a trip to the machine shop to ensure healthy mating surfaces for the heads and clean cylinder walls, the team decided to sleeve one of the gnarliest cylinders. “We’re only sleeving one, so that’s a good sign,” notes Davin.

Davin and the team decided to make a few modifications to the Clevland in the interest of performance and durability, including new ARP main bolts and an adjustable valvetrain for the cylinder heads. They also made a tweak to the way the lubrication system functions. “Cleveland blocks had a tendency to over-oil the valvetrain and starve the rods,” explains Davin. The fix, as you’ll see in the video, was to install a “bushing” in the oil passageways that reduces the flow rate for the oil headed to the valvetrain, ensuring that plenty of lubrication remains available for the rods. Davin and the crew also increased the oil pan size, upping the engine’s oil capacity from six quarts to nine.

With durability modifications complete, it was time to send the Cleveland off to the salon for a glow-up. Sit back, grab a cup of eggnog, enjoy the time-lapse rebuild, and be sure to stick around to hear this engine roar back to life for the first time in more than four decades—of course, not without a little drama first.

What engine do you want to see Davin work his magic on next? Let us know in the comments below.




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