Legendary Ford engine builder Mose Nowland has died, his family has revealed. Nowland worked for Ford for 57 years, building engines and working on the company’s racing programs in the company of racing legends such as Jim Clark, Colin Chapman and Ken Miles. He started with the company in 1955 and quickly began assembling and repairing experimental engines, becoming very skilled at fabricating the parts the engines needed to function.
Among the race engines Nowland worked on were the Ford V8 that powered Clark to victory in the 1965 Indy 500, the power plants of the GT40s that won the 1966 and ’67 24 Hours of Le Mans and, in association with Ernie Elliott, the V8s that helped make Bill Elliott “Awesome Bill” in NASCAR in the 1980s. He also developed the Ford V6 for NASCAR Busch (now Xfinity) Series racing, and worked with Bob Glidden on developing NHRA Pro Stock motors..
Nowland was the company’s man on the ground at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, working through the duration of the race to make adjustments, fix problems and make sure that Ford’s GT-40 racing prototypes returned to the track as quickly as possible, playing a key role in their 1-2-3 sweep in a shocking upset over Ferrari that was recently dramatized in the film “Ford Vs. Ferrari.”
“You didn’t want to be the last one touching the engine and not have it perform like it should,” Nowland recalled in an interview with the Detroit Free Press in 2019.
Receiving the prestigious Spirit of Ford award from Edsel Ford, Nowland retired from Ford in 2012, but kept busy as a volunteer at both the Henry Ford Museum and the company founder’s home, Fair Lane, where his near six decades of experience crafting engine parts made him adept at creating mechanical and architectural elements from a variety of materials, including metal, rubber, and glass. In a restoration like Fair Lane, which relies on making new objects that look identical to their historic counterparts, this skill proved invaluable.
Funeral arrangements are pending.