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Since Ford did not have an engine available that could be readily made to meet these requirements, one needed to be developed.

The quickest and least expensive approach in accomplishing this was to copy an existing engine from a competitor, which ended up being the Buick V6 from General Motors.

A common, but erroneous, belief is that the Essex was based on the 5.0 L Windsor V8 engine with 2 cylinders missing, because they both have a 90° vee configuration, are OHV, and that a 5.0 L V8 less two cylinders would make a V6 displacing around 3.8 liters.

Though the practice of deriving a V6 from a V8 was not unheard of, several important differences between the Windsor's design and the Essex's, such as their considerably different bore and stroke, made a common design lineage implausible.

Unlike the British Essex V6, the Canadian Essex used a 90° V configuration, in addition to having different displacements and valvetrains.