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 engine of the 70s. We've finally found some information on T-Drive, a truly unique and innovative system. We'm still looking for information on the stratified-charge V-8, and while some information was published 30 years ago about it I haven't yet been able to find any information about it in my personal library. I remember seeing a picture of a room full of them, after being broken up with sledge hammers when the program was abruptly terminated.
T-drive is a system consisting of a transversally located 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 went ahead with the "modular" V-6, V-8, VB-10, and V-12 engine families instead.
The T-Drive engine was literally t-shaped - the transmission was located in the middle of the 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 from 4 to 8 cylinders. And T-Drive was designed from the start as a DOHC engine, state-of-the-art at that time. Because the technology was entirely consistent across the board, any new technology could be applied to the entire range of engines quickly.
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.
-Bulky transmission placement behind the engine - requiring specific design changes on existing front-wheel drive-based platforms.