The Ford single overhead cam (SOHC) 427 V8 engine, familiarly known as the "Cammer",was released in 1964 in an effort to maintain NASCAR dominance by seeking to counter the extremely powerful, enormously large block Chrysler 426 Hemi "elephant" engine. The Ford 427 block was closer dimensionally to the smaller 392 cubic inch first generation Chrysler FirePower Hemi; the Ford FE's bore spacing was 4.63 inches compared to the Chrysler 392's 4.5625 inches. The Ford FE's deck height of 10.17 inches was lower than that of the Chrysler 392 at 10.87 inches. For comparison, the 426 Hemi has a deck height of 10.72 inches and bore spacing of 4.8 inches; both Chrysler Hemis have decks more than ½ taller than the FE.
The engine was based on the high performance 427 side-oiler block, providing race-proven durability. The block and associated parts were largely unchanged, but an idler shaft replaced the camshaft in the block, which necessitated plugging the remaining camshaft bearing oiling holes.
The cast-iron heads were designed with hemispherical combustion chambers and a single overhead camshaft over each head, operating shaft-mounted roller rocker arms. The valvetrain consisted of valves larger than those on Ford wedge head engines, made out of stainless steel and with sodium-filled exhaust valves to prevent the valve heads from burning, and dual valve springs. This design allowed for high volumetric efficiency at high engine speed.
The engines were essentially hand-built for racing, with combustion chambers fully machined to reduce variability. Nevertheless, Ford recommended blueprinting before use in racing applications. With a single four-barrel carburetor they weighed 680 lbs. and were rated at 615 horsepower at 7,000 rpm & 515 foot-lbs. of torque @ 3,800 rpm, with dual four-barrel carburetors 655 horsepower at 7,500 rpm & 575 foot-lbs. of torque @ 4,200 rpm. Ford sold them via the parts counter, the single four-barrel model as part C6AE-6007-363S, the dual carburetor model as part C6AE-6007-359J for $2350.00 (as of October, 1968).
Although enough 427 SOHCs were sold to have the design homologated, Chrysler protests succeeded in getting NASCAR to effectively legislate the engine out of competition. It was the only engine ever banned from NASCAR, scuttling the awaited 1965 SOHC versus Hemi competition at the Daytona 500 season opener. Nevertheless, the SOHC 427 found its niche in drag racing, powering many altered-wheelbase A/FX Mustangs, and becoming the basis for a handful of supercharged Top Fuel dragsters, including those of Connie Kalitta, Pete Robinson, and Lou Baney (driven by Don "the Snake" Prudhomme). In 1967 Connie Kalitta's SOHC-powered "Bounty Hunter" slingshot dragster won Top Fuel honors at AHRA, NHRA, and NASCAR winter meets, becoming the only "triple crown" winner in drag racing history. It was also used in numerous nitro funny cars including those of Jack Chrisman, "Dyno" Don Nicholson, Eddie Schartman, Kenz & Leslie, and in numerous injected gasoline drag racing vehicles.