Timeframe: early ’90s
In the last 30 years, Ford has produced several experimental engine developments which were ultimately abandoned. Most have never been seen, much less detailed technically. T-Drive is one of them; another was the stratified charge V-8 (“PROCO”) engine of the 70s.
T-drive is an architecture consisting of a transverse inline engine, a transmission, and associated packaging. It was designed by Ford in approximately the 1990 timeframe and shown in several auto shows and to magazines. Ultimately it was abandoned due to several reasons. Ford instead went ahead with the “modular” V-6, V-8, V-10, and V-12 engine families and separate engine families for 4-cylinder engines.
The T-Drive engine was literally t-shaped – the transmission was located in the middle of the transverse engine instead of the end. This allows easy and compact placement in small spaces. Due to the tight spacing of the cylinder bores, engines were possible in a “width” of from 4 to 8 cylinders. T-Drive was designed from the start as a DOHC engine, state-of-the-art at that time. And because the engine design was entirely consistent (simply varying the number of cylinders in line) across the board, any new future technologies could be applied to the entire range of engines quickly and at minimal cost.
Engine output was never discussed. However, there are no reasons why it wouldn’t be exactly the same as a conventional engine. Displacement was apparently 2, 3.2, and 4 liters (4, 6, and 8 cylinders).
- Don Carriere, Principal Research Engineer
- Ansel Flanery, Senior Research Engineer.
- Family approach to a range of engines
- Because of the size of the engine, and placement ahead of the axle centerline, front-, all-, or rear-wheel drive configurations could be engineered
- Rear-wheel drive could have used variations of existing off-the-shelf transmissions (saving money)
- Packaging advantages for “cab-forward” design
- The transmission is located in-line with the midpoint of the crankshaft. This allows for a very low engine placement, and correspondingly low hoodline
- Marketing: provide Ford with centerpiece engine technology, as Subaru has with it’s boxer engine family.
- Packaging, NVH, durability
- Harmonics, torque pulse and gear rattle
- Limited bore size (torque, breathing, valve area) and displacement
- Engine weight over front axle-line, creating weigh-balance issues as in a front-wheel drive car
- Front- or all-wheel drive would have required engineering variations on existing transmissions – which defeated the objective of saving money by using existing transmissions
- Bulky transmission placement behind the engine – requiring specific design changes on existing front-wheel drive-based platforms (when one of the points is to be able to use existing transmissions).
- T-drive powertrain assembly for automotive vehicle with forward disposition … Donald L. Carriere
- Powertrain assembly having a t-drive configuration Donald L. Carriere
- T-drive powertrain assembly Donald L. Carriere
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