Ready, Aim, FIRE! In this Order, Please*

Firing order diagram
Click to embiggen

From the outside, most American V8s look about the same. Things get interesting once you start messing with ignition or camshafts. As you can see here, there’s more to be figured out. Aside from distributor and spark plug wire installations, these differences contribute to the specific sound and feel that each engine has. Print
it out, post it on your wall and pretend you’re in a speed shop from the 1960s.
Source: MSD Ignition (but I can’t find it on their site) via Blog dos Carros Antiguos (how’s your Portuguese?).
Update: Wow, so apparently we need to keep up with what the other guys are doing, given that Jalopnik ran this back on May 5th (after finding it on Bangshift) with a nearly identical headline. We’re not in the copy-off-others’-homework business, so we’d like to offer our apologies for the duplication.

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  1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

    great poster and all.. but just like when i last saw this pop up on a website… one must ponder the purpose of the ford flat head having cylinder # 4… it just seems to be dead weight 😉
    thanks for putting it up just the same

    1. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

      I noticed that right away, too. 1-5-8-6-3-3-7-2?!

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Yeah…didn't see that when it ran a little while ago. The headline's a little embarrassing.
      Post updated.

  2. Alff Avatar

    Alfa firing order = 3-4-2.

  3. engineerd Avatar

    I wonder how many 5.0L to 302 conversions have been screwed up by the different firing order?

  4. dukeisduke Avatar

    Having been used to old GM engines and the 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2 firing order, I still don't get the way Ford does it (even though I own a 5.0 EFI). Stupid.
    If I convert the cylinder numbering scheme to be the same as a GM engine, the 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8 firing order becomes 2-6-5-4-3-1-8-7. Now I'm really confused.

  5. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Updated about the rerun. My bad, there.

  6. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    Well Mad maybe our friend Syrax can help you out with your portugees 😉

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Knowing Spanish, I can usually figure out what's going on. Just more "o"s and "u"s.

  7. Tomsk Avatar

    Interesting how GM likes to consider the LS motors descendants of the SBC (calling the LSs Gen III and Gen IV) when even the firing order – one of an engine family's most fundamental traits, IMO – is different.

    1. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

      But the bore spacing and cylinder bank angle are the same, therefore it's the same, even if none of the parts fit! That seems to be GM's rationale. I also think it stinks of marketing hooey.

  8. CptSevere Avatar

    What? No Cadillac big block diagram? My very old Chiltons has one, that's what I went by back in the day when I had the '71 Limo. The distributor was mounted on the front of the 472, which made working on it a breeze. I swear like a paratrooper every time I have to dick with a SBC with the distributor in back. My Ford truck has a straight six, the distributor's on the side of the engine in front of God and everybody, easiest thing to work on ever. I can even touch the starter standing next to the truck with the hood open. It's like cheating, working on that truck is so easy.

    1. Mike_the_Dog Avatar

      Hence my adoration of inline sixes. Don't spread it around, though. If the hipsters start picking up on it, prices will soar.

  9. Straight6er Avatar

    One, five, three, six, two, four.

    1. CptSevere Avatar


      1. CptSevere Avatar

        Fifty One Seven
        (Camper Van Beethoven)

  10. widgetsltd Avatar

    The "modern Hemi" cylinder numbering is wrong. It is numbered back and forth from bank to bank, like the old small-block Mopar was.

  11. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    So…between the comments here and elsewhere, it appears like 4 of these are correct.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      I haven't found any articles that link to an actual MSD page for this chart, but I did find a corrected version here:
      That website is described as "Presented by MSD Ignition."

  12. People Avatar

    Happy 2010! I can’t wait for the fourth of july. I loved this article that you wrote. I’ve bookmarked your site and shared it on my facebook. I hope you don’t mind! thanks!