The Ford Kent is an internal combustion engine from Ford of Europe. Originally developed in 1959 for the Ford Anglia, it is an in-line four cylinder overhead valve type engine with a cast iron cylinder head and block.
The original 1.6 L/97.5 in³ (1599 cc) Kent was used in many cars on both sides of the Atlantic. With a 81 mm (3.2 in) bore and 77.6 mm (3.1 in), it was a departure from traditional under square English engine design. It powered the Anglia and Cortina as well as the original American Pinto until that car's OHC Pinto engine was ready.
The Kent was also used in the Ford Classic and Ford Capri at 1340 cc. It was in this form that the Kent was noticed by Colin Chapman of Lotus Cars. Lotus needed a compact engine for the new for 1962 Lotus Elan, and Chapman adopted the Kent block. Harry Mundy, technical editor for Autocar magazine, designed an aluminium DOHC hemi head for the Kent, thus providing Chapman with his engine. It was bored to 1558 cc and produced 105 hp (78 kW).
The same engine was used in the 1963 Lotus Cortina, and 15 were installed in Lotus Sevens. It was also used in the Type 47 Lotus Europa, and Lotus-tuned Ford Escorts.
A redesign gave it a cross-flow type cylinder head, hence the Kent's alternative name "Ford Crossflow". It would go on to power the smaller engined versions of the Ford Cortina and Ford Capri, as well as the first and second editions of the European Escort.
The engine was revised to suit front wheel drive installation in 1976, coinciding with the launch of the Ford Fiesta. The ancillaries were repositioned and the cylinder head redesigned. This version of the Kent was known as the Valencia engine, after the Spanish production plant in which it was made. It would later see service in the third generation Ford Escort. Even TVR used the engine in the 1600M/Vixen.
In 1988 the engine was revised once again to meet with tightening European emissions legislation and the requirement to use unleaded fuel. The redesign included an all-new cylinder head with hardend valve inserts, reshaped combustion chambers, and a fully electronic, distributor less ignition system. The engine was renamed the Ford HCS (High Compression Swirl). It first appeared on the Ford Escort, then was later used on the third generation Ford Fiesta
The final redesign came in 1995, with the launch of the fourth-generation Ford Fiesta. This edition of the Kent was known as the Endura-E, and featured many revisions to combat noise and harshness. This engine would feature in the Ford Ka.
The Kent engine and its successors were used as the stock engine in Formula Ford auto racing. In Europe, Formula Ford switched to the Zetec, but American Formula Ford continues to be Kent-powered.
The Kent engine has also been used by other makes such as Morgan, Caterham, and Lotus.
The arrival of the Duratec-E engine in the fifth generation Fiesta range has finally signalled the end of the road for the Kent engine after a 44 year career, although it is still in production as a general use engine by Ford's Industrial Power division.
The Kent engine was largely responsible for Ford gaining a name in the 1960s and 1970s for producing cars which were reluctant to start in damp weather conditions. The sitting of the distributor tucked at the back of the engine beneath the inlet manifold made it an ideal candidate for attracting moisture and condensation with the obvious effects in damp weather. The arrival of electronic ignition in 1986 put paid to these problems.