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CATEGORIES (articles) > Engines > Ford Engines > Ford FE big block engine range

Ford FE big block engine range

The replacement for the Ford Y Block engine was the FE range of Ford big block V8. Sold in the North American market between 1958 and 1976 it was itself replaced by the Ford 385 engine series. Some claim the name means 'Ford-Edsel', while others insist the name meant simply 'Ford Engine'. The latter seems more likely, as another engine family, the MEL, stood for "Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln".

A related engine, the Ford FT engine, was used in medium and heavy trucks from 1964 through 1978.


FE series engines powered most full-size Fords, some mid-size and performance models, and many Mercuries from 1958 until 1971, and pickup trucks from 1965 through 1976.

Specific models that used FE engines include the later, large-engined AC Cobra, high-performance Ford Mustangs between 1967 and 1970, many Ford Galaxies including racing cars, some Ford Fairlanes, Ford Thunderbirds until halfway through 1968, and many others.

Both engine families saw use in industrial as well as automotive applications.


The FE and FT engines are Y-block designs—so-called because the cylinder block casting extends below the crankshaft center line, giving great strength at the cost of weight. In these engines, the casting extends 3.625 in below the crankshaft center, which is more than an inch below the bottom of the crank journals.

All FE and FT engines have a bore spacing (distance between cylinder centers) of 4.63 in, and a deck height (distance from crank center to top of block) of 10.17 in. The main journal (crankshaft bearing) diameter is 2.749 in.

Generation 1


The smallest big-block Ford was the 332 (of 331.8 inł (5.44 L) true engine displacement) with a 4.0 in (101.6 mm) bore and 3.3 in (83.8 mm) stroke. It was only used in Ford-brand cars in 1958 and 1959. A two-barrel version produced 240 hp (179 kW), while a Holley four-barrel output 265 hp (198 kW).


  • 1958-1959 Ford cars
  • 1958-1959 Ford Courier
  • 1959 Edsel Corsair (called "Express V8")


Introduced in 1958, the Ford 352 (of 351.9 inł or 5.77 L displacement) was the replacement for the Y-block series. It was simply a stroked (to 3.5 in or 88.9 mm) version of the 332. Rated from 208 hp (155 kW) (2-barrel carb) to over 300 hp (224 kW) (4-barrel police interceptor models). This series of engines were all known for excellent torque and durability. These engines usually weighed over 750 lb (340 kg). Bore of this version was 4 in (102 mm), with a 3.5 in (89 mm) stroke.


  • 1959-1960 Ford Thunderbird
  • 1959-1960 Ford cars (optional)
  • 1959-1960 Edsel
  • 1961-1962 Mercury cars
  • 1958-1960 Ford Courier
  • 1965-1967 Ford F-Series
  • 1965-1967 Ford Econoline


The 360 (of 360.7 inł or 5.91 L displacement) was used in the F Series trucks and pickups. It is basically a destroked 390 with a bore of 4.05 in (103 mm) by 3.5 in (89 mm) stroke. The 360s were known for having sluggish performance because of the truck camshaft, mostly noticed by F100-F350s. Use of a standard 352/390 cam for use in passenger cars along with carburetor and distributor adjustment gave it the same kind of performance as the 352/390 car engines. First introduced in 1968 and phased out at the end of the 1976 year run. Rated at 215 hp (160 kW) at 3600 rpm (2-barrel carb, 1968).


A special 361 was also produced.


The 390 inł (of 389.6 inł or 6.4 L true displacement) engine, with a bore of 4.05 in (103 mm) and stroke of 3.78 in (96 mm), was the most common FE engine in later application. It was used in many Ford cars as the standard engine, as well as many trucks. It was a popular high-performance engine too; although not as powerful as the 427 and 428 models, it provided good performance, particularly in the lighter weight vehicles, and was in much greater supply.

Generation 2


406 with TriPower intake and carbs, on a Ford Galaxie.

The 406 engine used a new 4.13 in bore with the 390's 3.78 in stroke, giving a 405.1 cubic inch (6.64 L) real displacement, rounded up to 406 for the official designation. The larger bore required a new block casting with thicker walls but otherwise very similar to the strengthened 390 HiPo block.

The 406 was developed purely for racing and was sold to the public only to meet racing targets. It was available for less than two years before it was replaced by the 427.

The increased power of the 406 led to a problem with the crankshaft main bearing caps working loose under racing conditions. This was remedied by cross-bolted mains - where the main bearing caps were not only secured by bolts at each end coming up from beneath but also by bolts coming in from the sides through the block.

When these problems were fixed however, the 406 was a powerhouse and a great racing engine. Many Ford enthusiats beef up their 406's with 457 Stroker blocks, 427 Tunnel Port intakes and heads, and 428 SCJ Cranks. Some 406's are capable of 540 HP, and 622 Lb. Ft. of torque.


The 410 engine, used only in 1966 and 1967 Mercuries, used the same 4.05 in bore as the 390 engine, but with the 428's 3.98 in stroke, giving a 410.12 cubic inch (6.72 L) real displacement. The standard 428 crankshaft was used, which meant that the 410, like the 428, required external balancing. A compression ratio of 10.5:1 was standard.


Ford's 427 inł (7.0 L) V8, introduced in 1963, was a racing engine pure and simple. It was developed for NASCAR stock car racing, drag racing, and serious street racers. The true displacement of the 427 was actually 425 inł (6,965 cmł), but Ford called it the 427 because 427 inł (7.0 L) was the NASCAR maximum size. The block was made of high nickel content iron and was made with an especially thickened deck to withstand higher compression. Forged pistons were employed (the only production Ford big-block with such) and forged rods inherited from the 390 Hi-Po.

Two different models of 427 block were produced, the 427 top oiler and 427 side oiler. The top oiler version was the earlier, and delivered oil to the cams first and the crank second. It gained something of a reputation for insufficient crankshaft lubrication under heavy abuse and spinning bearings, throwing rods and other failures under such use. The side oiler block, introduced in 1965, sent oil to the crank first and the cams second, and this (along with other fixes) mostly cured the problems. In street use the two blocks are equivalent.

The engine was available with low-riser, mid-riser, or high-riser intake manifolds, and either a single four-barrel carburetor or a double four-barrel setup on an aluminum manifold for highest performance. The twin four-barrel setup with the high-riser induction system is estimated to have delivered over 500 hp (373 kW); Ford never released an official power rating. Other models were rated at over 400 hp (299 kW).

427 SOHC

427 SOHC in a Ford Thunderbird
Cover of Hot Rod magazine showing Ford SOHC 427 engine

The Ford Single Overhead Cam (SOHC) 427 V8 engine, familiarly known as the Cammer, was developed by Ford Motor Company in 1964 to recapture NASCAR dominance from the Chrysler Hemi engine.

The engine was based on the ultra high performance 427 side-oiler block, in the family, providing race-proven durability. The block and associated parts were largely unchanged, the main difference being use of an idler shaft instead of the camshaft in the block, which necessitated plugging the remaining camshaft bearing oiling holes.

The heads, of course, were entirely new, cast aluminum with hemispherical combustion chambers and a single overhead camshaft on each head, operating shaft-mounted roller rocker arms. Valves are larger than those on Ford wedge head engines, stainless steel, with sodium-filled exhaust valves to prevent the valve heads from burning, and dual valve springs. This design allowed for high volumetric efficiency at high engine speed, ensuring enormous power. Unlike the Chrysler Hemi design, the spark plugs are not centered in the combustion chamber, but are near the intake valves for easier accessibility.

The idler shaft in the block in place of the camshaft was driven by the timing chain and drove the distributor and oil pump in conventional fashion, with the same practical limit of about 7,000 rpm for the stock oil pump (a maximum of 20.5 gallons of SAE 40W per minute at 70 psi). An additional sprocket on this shaft drove a second, six foot long timing chain, which drove both overhead camshafts. The length of this chain made precision timing of the camshafts a problem at high rpm and necessitated a complex system of idlers.

The engine also had a then-state-of-the-art transistorized ignition system, running 12 amps of current through a high voltage ignition coil.

All these engines were essentially hand-built, with racing in mind. Combustion chambers were fully machined to reduce variability. Nevertheless, Ford recommended blueprinting the engines before use in racing applications. They were rated at 615 hp at 7,000 rpm with a single four barrel carburetor, and 657 hp at 7,500 rpm with dual four barrel carburetors. Ford sold them via the parts counter, the single four barrel model as part C6AE-6007-363S, the dual carburetor model as part C6AE-6007-359J for $2350.00 (as of October, 1968). Weight of the engine was 680 lbs.

Ford's plan was cut short, however; although Ford sold enough to have the design homologated, NASCAR effectively legislated the SOHC engine out of competition through rule changes, and the awaited 1965 Ford SOHC vs. Chrysler Hemi competition at the Daytona 500 season opener never occurred. The engine found its niche in drag racing, however, powering many A/FX Factory Experimental Mustangs, and becoming the basis for a few supercharged Top Fuel dragsters.


Ford FE 428 Police Interceptor engine from a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500

The Ford 427 was a great race and performance engine, but it was simply impractical to manufacture economically for street use; it required tighter tolerances during manufacture than Ford's regular engine plants could deliver. In addition, it was not really suited to driving all the accessories, like air conditioning, required for a regular production series powerplant. Therefore, Ford went back to the drawing board to create an engine with fundamentally the same displacement (7.0 litres) but cheaper, with no requirement to withstand the punishing treatment given to race engines.

Standard 428 inł FE engines were fitted to Galaxies (badged simply as '7 Litre') and Thunderbirds in the 1966 and 1967 model years.

428 Cobra Jet

The 428 Cobra Jet, launched in April 1968, was a version of the 428 FE engine built for performance rather than cruising smoothness. Not a true racing engine, it lacked the durability and improved lubrication of the 427 but was sufficient for street use or amateur drag racing. The 428 Cobra Jet, however, could be made on a regular production line, not requiring the exacting tolerances required by the 427. The 428 Cobra Jet, however, has greater low-end torque than the 427, thanks to its longer stroke.

The Cobra Jet used a beefed-up version of the 428 block with an extra main bearing webbing and thicker main caps than the standard block. The engine was underrated at 335 hp (250 kW) at 5200 RPM. The 428 Cobra Jet actually produced 400 to 410 hp (299-306 kW).

428 Police Interceptor

Similar to the 428 Cobra Jet, except with an aluminum intake, rather than a cast iron.

428 Super Cobra Jet

Very similar to the 428 Cobra Jet, but used high-performance pistons and connecting rods for greater durability. The 428 SCJ was standard with the Drag Pack and certain rear end gear ratios.


With the 428 the FE series block had been taken to the extremes of its capacity; no more growth was possible, and advances in engine technology had rendered the FE series rather outdated. A new block was needed, and this came in the form of the Ford 385 engine series. These began to be fitted to cars starting in 1968. The FE engines were gone from Ford cars by 1969 but lingered in trucks into the mid 1970s. In the late 1970's the Dearborn Engine Plant that produced these engines was completely retooled to produce the 1.6L engine introduced in the Ford Escort in 1981.

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