Though we all now take it for granted, the V-shaped engine design was one of the most important technological advances of early automobile history. It allowed a greater number of cylinders to be crammed into a much smaller era. Alas, it retained one flaw that we have all learned to live with for the past century; the power comes from the end of the crankshaft. And supposedly, there is a lot more power to be had from an engine if you can get it from say, the middle of the crankshaft. But how?

Over at DrivingEnthusiast there is a detailed article on how Ford planned to circumnavigate this problem, while at the same time cramming 8 cylinders into a Tempo. They called it T-Drive, and it was awesome…when it worked.

Pictures: Driving Enthusiast

The T-Drive system was developed by Ford in the early ‘90’s as a way of covering the horsepower lost between the middle and back of the crankshaft. The T-Drive engines also had tightly knit cylinders ranging from 2 to 4 liters in size, making them extremely compact and thus able to fit in a variety of different cars. Nothing exemplifies this better than the 8-cylinder equipped T-Drive Tempo. The Tempo didn’t have a traditional braking system, and the transmission was attached to the middle of the engine, rather than the end, and may have even been rear-wheel drive.

The potential for these engines was huge, though numerous drawbacks ultimately made them impractical. Patents filed by Ford hinted that all-wheel drive would have been a possibility, but putting an entire engine and transmission over the front suspension of a car like the Tempo would have destroyed the handling. The engines were also supposedly very unreliable because inline engines suffer from greater vibrations and harmonic issues than due V-type engines. But at least one advancement carried over from the T-engines, the DOHC camshaft design, which eventually found its way into the modular 4.6 liter motors.

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