Ford MEL engine

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Ford MEL V8
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Also called Marauder V8
Combustion chamber
Configuration Big-block OHV V8
Predecessor Lincoln Y-block V8
Successor Ford 385 V8

Ford developed the MEL ("Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln") engine series as the replacement for the Lincoln Y-block V8 engine for use in large passenger car applications. These engines were produced in Lima, Ohio at Ford's Lima Engine plant. They were in turn replaced by the 385 series engines.

All MEL engines had wedge-shaped combustion chambers formed between a flat head surface and an angle milled block deck (10 degrees off square with the bore axis), with the piston top determining the compression ratio and combustion chamber shape, similar to the Chevrolet Big-Block 348 combustion chamber, also introduced in 1958, and the later 409. Unlike the Chevrolet, which had staggered valves and scalloped or M shaped valve covers, the MEL valves were inline with shaft mounted rocker arms like the FE model Ford engines which were introduced at the same time. As with the previous generation V8's, an open runner intake manifold was used, requiring the use of a stamped steel lifter valley cover similar to that of the Pontiac V8 engines. Also, the intake manifold provided no exhaust crossover passage to warm the air/fuel mixture.

The MEL was similar to the Ford FE, with the same oiling system, bolt patterns, and valve stems, but was even larger. The main bearings were 2.9 in (73,66 mm), while the rod bearings were huge at 2.6 in (66,04 mm). The connecting rod beam had a unique triangular shape with the shoulders for the bolts sitting low toward the cap mating surface (1/2 in.).


The 383 cu in (6.3 L) Marauder was the smallest member of the family. Produced from 1958 through 1960, it was only used in Mercury vehicles. It used a 4.3 in (109.2 mm) bore and 3.3 in (83.8 mm) stroke. Output began at 312 or 330 hp (233 or 246 kW), both with a four-barrel carburetor. The 322 hp (240 kW) was the only output for 1959, and power dropped to 280 hp (209 kW) for the final year.



First produced in 1961 to replace the 383. The MEL 390 differed from the FE engine in that it had the same combustion chamber in the block design as the 352, 383, and 430 MEL blocks. The MEL 390 was rated at 300 hp @4600 rpm-427 ft lb of torque at 2800 rpm with 9.6 compression.[1]


The 430 cu in (7.0 L) engine was produced from 1958 through 1965. It was primarily used on Lincolns and upper level 1959-60 Mercurys although it was also optional on 1959-60 Ford Thunderbirds and was commonly referred to[who?] as the "Bulldozer" of the MEL series engines. The Super Marauder used three two-barrel carburetors. The 430 had a 4.30 in (109.2 mm) bore (same as the 383) and shared the 3.7 in (94 mm) stroke of the 410.

The 1958 Super Marauder was the first American production automobile engine to attain a 400 hp (298 kW) advertised rating. This engine featured the tripower intake manifold, which was cast for Ford by Moon products. Three Holley 2300 carburetors were used.

The compression ratio started at 10.5:1 for 365, 375, and 400 hp (272, 280, and 298 kW), but was reduced to 10.0:1 in less than a year. These 1959 engines produced 345–350 hp (257 to 261 kW), but power was down to 315 hp (235 kW) for 1960.

Some 1958 Lincoln Continental Mark lll came brand new with the Holly 4150 4 barrel carburetor, list1405 rated at 590 flow rate. I bought the car brand new and still have.

New pistons and a four-barrel carburetor were added for 1963; the 10.1:1 compression brought output back to 345 hp (257 kW).


The 430 engine in particular had a limited but storied history in hotrodding. The first Miami to Nassau race won by Bertram Yachts (which subsequently helped establish their name) featured a boat powered by twin 430 MEL engines. In the 1959 NASCAR season, Holman Moody campaigned a number of Thunderbirds, at least some of which were powered by 430's. At least one car still survives intact.The cars were ponderous handlers because of the heavy engine, but successful runners. The Holman Moody 430 Thunderbirds caught the attention of Ford after one of them driven by Johnny Beauchamp finished a photo second to Lee Petty at the 1959 Daytona 500. Houston's Rodney Singer and crew chief Karol Miller used a GMC supercharged Lincoln-powered dragster to win the 1959 NHRA Nationals Top Eliminator. Theirs was the first supercharged TE in NHRA history, starting a string which has continued through the present.[1]

Because of the changing nature of heads, intakes and piston designs, as well as a limited life span, not many aftermarket speed parts were made for the MEL line of engines. Edelbrock made a 6X2 intake manifold and a set of water-cooled marine exhaust manifolds (M4) and Weiand made a drag start 8X2 manifold as well. Oversize pistons for early drag racers or blown 430's were made, including sets by Jahns Pistons at 13:1 and .150" over standard bore. Other speed parts have been rumored, but they are difficult to find.


The 430 was replaced by the 462 cu in (7.6 L) engine in 1966. Bore and stroke were entirely different at 4.38 in (111.3 mm) by 3.83 in (97.3 mm) and the 462 MEL engine produced 340 hp (254 kW) and as much as 485 lb·ft (658 N·m) of torque. This engine was fitted with hydraulic lifters and a Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor. This large torquey engine was used only in Lincoln Continentals, from 1966 until mid-year in 1968 when it was replaced by the 385-series 460. Production ended after 1968. The production facilities in Lima were converted to produce the new Ford 385 engine family.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Motor's Manual 1962 C. The Hears Corporation. Page 806