It seemed kind of sacrilegious to me - putting Chevy engines in Fords, and I always wondered what made deuce owners drop Chevs in to their engine bays. But there was method to their madness, so I discovered with a bit of research.
Drag racers were on a never ending quest for more power. No matter how many horses lived under the bonnet, it was never enough. By the late 50s the venerable Ford flathead, even with Offenhauser heads & every aftermarket part installed, was starting to slip behind in the horsepower stakes.
It just so happened that at the same time, the late 1950s to be precise, the first Chevy small blocks were finding their way into wrecker’s yards across the States. The Chev small block was introduced in 1955, and when you consider Chevrolet made around 5 million cars from '55 through '57 - that's a lot of small blocks that wound up in wrecker's yards across the US by 1958 and beyond.
Rodders had done their math, and they knew it was possible to get a lot more horsepower from a small block than a flathead.
So auto junkyards across the country were scoured by horsepower freaks on a budget. Flatheads were torn out of '32 Fords in their hundreds, replaced with Chev power. Marque loyalty be damned - it was all about being at the end of the quarter mile ahead of your competitor.
But why Chev engines when Ford made small block V8s? Blame a gentleman by the name of Zora Arkus Duntov. He of the Duntov cam, and Corvette fame. No sooner had Chevy introduced a small block, than they offered a dizzying variety of go-fast bits - cams, fuelie heads, inlet manifolds and more. Drag racers could pick up a used small block at a wrecker's, buy some of the goodies from an aftermarket supplier or even a Chevy dealer, and turn their Duece in to a winner at the drag strip.
Flathead diehards aside, by the early '60s it actually became the norm to have a Chev small block in a '30s Ford rod. Drag racers lead the way as usual, their quest for quarter mile supremacy starting a whole new custom - Chev powered Fords.
When you know the reason behind it - doesn't seem to sacrilegious after all. And die-hard Ford boys who want a duece can always slot a neat little 351 Windsor between the front wheels. That's the thing about rods and customs - there are no rules. Do whatever turns you on and damned what people think...