The Ford 300 I6 Belongs in the ‘Engine Hall of Fame’

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Ford 300

Folks love the Ford 300 I6 for one simple reason — it’s one of the greatest engines ever produced.

There isn’t an “Engine Hall of Fame,” sadly. But if there was, one of the very first inductees would be the Ford 300 I6. Whether you call it the inline-six or the straight-six, Ford’s 300ci engine is one of the few six-cylinder truck guys care to embrace. It’s an engine that even Jalopnik calls “one of the greatest of all time.” Trust us, that isn’t some sort of wild exaggeration.

You’ll rarely hear anybody complaining about the 300, because there isn’t much to complain about. The long(er) stroke version of the 240 stuck around in the F-Series for better than three decades, despite never producing what one would call “a lot of horsepower.” But it was capable, versatile, and virtually indestructible.

The legendary 300 straight-six saw use in everything from wood chippers to irrigation pumps, to snow plows. It’ll even run on LPG and natural gas with the appropriate modifications, in addition to unleaded fuel. It’s made of iron and it’s heavy, like an engine should be. And it runs forever, with many examples returning diesel-like mileage of up to 500,000 with nothing more than regular maintenance.

Despite its modest horsepower ratings, the 300 possessed the same quality that all straight-sixes do: it produces loads of torque. The torque curve starts very low and peaks out in the 2,000 rpm range. Not only is that a good thing for towing, but it’s a great thing for longevity.

Unlike modern powerplants, the Ford 300 is a bone-simple design. The lump of cast iron uses one camshaft in the block, seven main bearings, and two overhead valves per cylinder. It even has a timing gear instead of a chain, which tends to last longer. Even though the 300 won’t win any dyno wars, Scott Donohue won the Baja 1000 three times with one.

The Ford 300 I6 isn’t perfect, of course, as the rear main seals tend to leak over time. The exhaust manifold bolts will back out and cause leaks, as will the distributor roll pins. You’ll have a hard time finding a more reliable, longer lasting gas engine on the planet, and that’s what makes the workhorse a legend in our book.

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Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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