On the road and off, the engine is the heart of the vehicle. It has been said that the rest of the machine is a mere implement that gets attached to the engine. Just as the farm tractor does no work out in the field by itself (a planter or a disc must first be attached), no machine — at least the equipment we cover — gets to work without an engine.
Marketing, by the engine manufacturer as well as the OEM, helps build brand awareness toward the engine inside. Eventually when the end-user and the OEM talk about the machine; the type of engine they are using becomes as much a source of pride as the equipment itself.
Bad Boy, Inc. offers a line of zero-turn mowers equipped with Caterpillar diesel engines. Sales Consultant Al Bower and I stood in line to drive one of the machines at the recent Lawn & Garden Expo in Louisville. The yellow powerplants, familiar to anyone who enjoys crawling through road-construction zones because it gives more time to look at the equipment, are nicely framed in the engine cover, complete with Bad Boy's bulldog logo and "DIESEL" laser-cut into the steel panels.
Elsewhere, Gehl advertises the selection of Cummins turbo diesel power for 7810E skid steer, demonstrating not only the versatility of the diesel engine, but the power of brands, too.
This pride in engines has been going on a long time in the car industry. I'm proud of the engine in my 1965 Checker Marathon, though it won't be spending time off-highway. At one time, Checker Motors Corp. was the fifth largest car manufacturer in the United States. Most of its cars were taxis, although it also built thousands of passenger cars.
Checker didn't produce its own engines, preferring to let the specialists do that. Early Checkers used a Continental power plant, later replaced with General Motors units. When my Marathon was built, Checker offered three engine choices for the first time: the more common Chevrolet 230 cid six-cylinder and two small block V-8s: a 283 cid and a 327 cid. Introduced by General Motors in 1962, the small-block 5.4 liter 327 eventually came available with a variety of add-ons that increased horsepower.
At Checker, although the car could use the additional power the 327 provided, it didn't get many orders that first year. But over at the Chevy dealer, that basic engine could be found in the Corvette. Thanks to 40 years of marketing around the 327, that's not just any engine inside my big green four-door — it's the heart of a 'Vette.