The only machines that didn't use cast iron engines were airplanes and race cars, and those were way out of my league. Then Buick came out with a 3.5 liter aluminum V8 and Chevrolet came out with a 7 liter aluminum V8. But these were exotic and hardly anybody used them. The Buick was too small to matter and the Chevy was too expensive.
Before the advent of gasoline engines, back when steam engines were all the rage, cast iron was the builders material of choice. I had built up this history in my mind that all common automobile engines had always been cast iron.
|1915 Cadillac V8 eninge with aluminum crankcase|
|Replica of the engine Charlie Taylor built for the Wright brothers|
Casting engine blocks in one piece was a bit of a trick. Well, if you didn't care how much it weighed it wasn't, but if you wanted an engine that didn't outweigh the rest of the car, well, that took some fiddling. General Motors learned how to do it first. Ford had a difficult time at the beginning. Seems that 80% of their castings were no good.
It's still a bit of a trick. A friend of mine bought a new Mercedes, I think it was, a few years ago, and shortly thereafter it developed an oil leak. Inspection revealed that there was a weak spot in the engine block and oil was seeping right through the casting. I suppose this kind of thing is inevitable when you are trying to cast complex shapes, and engine blocks are right up there in complexity.