Ford FE engine
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|Ford FE V8|
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Also called||Ford FT V8|
|Configuration||Big block OHV V8|
|Predecessor||Ford Y-block V8|
Ford 385-series engine
The Ford FE engine is a Ford V8 engine used in vehicles sold in the North American market between 1958 and 1976. A related engine, the Ford FT engine, was used in medium and heavy trucks from 1964 through 1978. The FE filled the need for a larger displacement motor than the "Y" block could accommodate.
"FE" is an acronym for 'Ford-Edsel.' Versions of the FE line designed for use in trucks and school buses were known as "FT," an acronym for 'Ford-truck,' and differed primarily by having steel (instead of nodular iron) crankshafts, larger crank snouts, different distributor shafts, different water pumps and a greater use of iron for its parts.
- 1 Usage
- 2 Description
- 3 Generation 1
- 4 Generation 2
- 5 Vehicles
- 6 Replacement
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The FE series engines were used in cars, trucks, buses, and boats, as well as for industrial pumps and other equipment. Ford produced the engine from 1958 and ceased production in 1976. Aftermarket support has continued, with replacement parts as well as many newly engineered and improved components.
In Ford vehicles, the FE primarily powered full and midsize cars and trucks. Some of the models in which the FE was installed:
Ford Galaxie, Ford Custom 500, Ford Mustang, Ford Thunderbird - 3rd generation, Ford Thunderbird - 4th generation, Ford LTD, Ford Torino, Ford Ranchero, Ford Talladega, Ford Fairlane, Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt, and F-Series trucks though typically only those 1 ton and lesser in capacity.
In addition to its use in Ford and Mercury branded vehicles, the FE was also sold to third parties for use in their own products such as buses, and boats. In addition, the FE was used to power irrigation pumps, generators and other machinery where long-running, low-rpm, reliable service was required.
Ford regularly made updates to the design of the FE which appear as engineering codes or variations in casting numbers of parts. In addition to production casting codes, Ford also made use of "SK" and "XE" numbers if the parts were one-offs or developmental designs not approved for production. Many parts attached to Ford's racing engines carried SK and XE numbers.
The FE block was cast using a thinwall casting technique. Instead of relying on large quantities of metal being poured into molds in unnecessary thicknesses, Ford engineers determined the proper amount of metal actually needed and re-engineered the casting process to allow for consistent dimensional results pour after pour. This resulted in less metal being used, lower cost of materials for Ford and lighter engines. A Ford FE from the factory weighed 650 lb (295 kg) with all iron components. With an aluminum intake and aluminum water pump this weight could be reduced to under 600 lb (272 kg). At the time, engines of similar displacements, such as the seven-liter offerings from GM and Chrysler, weighed over 700 lb (318 kg). This weight saving was significant to boaters and to racers. For marine applications, the FE became popular in V-drive applications and was available in Chris Craft boats as a factory option.
Beginning in 1968, the U.S. Navy SEALS used twin 427 FEs to power their light SEAL support craft (LSSC). With a low silhouette, it was usually staged from shore bases, but design parameters required that it also be able to be inserted by helicopter behind enemy lines, dropped from a height of 15 feet with a full load. It was capable of speeds in excess of 50 mph. The craft, with a shallow 9" draft on plane with a full load, powered by water-jet pumps, with a silent three-chamber exhaust system that exited underwater, was designed for silent high-speed missions in shallow waters, such as those found in and around the muddy Mekong River delta.
In the 1960s, most organized racing events required either stock components or components that were readily available to the general public. For NASCAR racing, rules required that at least 500 vehicles be sold to the general public equipped as raced. Many drag racing and road racing organizations had similar rules, which contributed to a wide range of performance parts being made available through Ford dealership parts counters. In addition, aftermarket suppliers produced performance parts and accessories.
The use of the FE by Ford itself as the powerplant in many of its racing programs and performance vehicles resulted in constant improvements and engineering changes over the course of its life. Racing-inspired changes to the FE which later made it to production engines included the side-oiler block, which directed oil first to the lower portions of the block.
Road and track racing
In 1963, the 427 Galaxies dominated NASCAR. Tiny Lund won the first and biggest race of the year, the Daytona 500, with 427s finishing first through fifth. Ford won 23 races to Plymouth's 19. The Plymouths earned all their victories on the short tracks while Ford dominated the super speedways, Chevrolet finished with eight wins and Pontiac had four.
In 1964, Ford had their best season ever, with 30 wins. Dodge was second with 14, while Plymouth had 12. Adding the five wins that Mercury had, the 427 had a total of 35 NASCAR Grand National wins for the 1964 season. Fred Lorenzen won the Atlanta 500 and proceeded to beat Dodges and Plymouths, which were using 426 Hemi engines, contrary to stated NASCAR rules, in six of the next seven races. Ford was using the high-riser intake and matching heads, which were allowed by NASCAR for one season (1964).
In 1965, NASCAR banned Ford's high-riser engines  claiming they did not actually fit under "stock" hoods, allowing Chrysler to continue racing its 426 Hemi, which had never been installed in a production vehicle until that year. Also in 1965, Ford developed its own version of a hemi-chambered engine. The 427 "Cammer" used a pair of overhead cams to operate the valves in its hemi. NASCAR banned the engine. Then Ford developed the medium-riser intake and head, which did fit under stock hoods, and was accepted by NASCAR. During that same year, Chrysler installed its first 426 Hemis in production cars, and the race was on. Ned Jarrett, driving for Ford, was the 1965 Grand National champion and Ford won the NASCAR crown.
Also in 1965, Ford, in conjunction with Carroll Shelby, began production of a new and improved Cobra, meant for racing. This version utilized a 427 cubic inch side-oiler version of the FE in place of the original's 289 cubic inch smallblock. A new chassis was built using 4" main chassis tubes (up from 3") and coil spring suspension all around. The new car also had wide fenders and a larger radiator opening. It was powered by the "side oiler" Ford 427 engine (7.0 L) rated at 425 bhp (317 kW), which provided a top speed of 164 mph (262 km/h) in the standard model and 485 bhp (362 kW) with a top speed of 185 mph (298 km/h) in the competition model. Cobra Mark III production began on 1 January 1965, and it was used for racing continuously into the 1970s. A street-legal version was sold by Ford, called S/C for semi-competition, an original example can currently sell for 1.5 million USD, making it one of the most valuable Cobra variants.
In 1966, the 427 cubic inch GT40 Mk II dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, with a one-two-three result.
In 1967, Parnelli Jones, in a Holman-Moody prepped Fairlane, won the season-opening Riverside 500 road race. Then, Mario Andretti captured the Daytona 500 in a Fairlane, with Fred Lorenzen a close second in his Holman-Moody Ford. The FE again powered the 24 Hours of Le Mans winner. In 1968, the rules of the race were changed, limiting displacement to 302 cubic inches under certain circumstances. Ford won the following two years using its smallblock in the GT40.
Ford's racing partner, privately owned Holman-Moody, also developed a version of the FE for the Can-Am racing series. This version of the FE used factory supplied tunnel port heads, a mechanical fuel injection system mounted on a crossram intake manifold, and a revised dry sump oiling system. Only limited success was achieved in this series.
Organized drag racing (NHRA, AHRA and even NASCAR dabbled in drag racing in the mid-1960s) was a major venue for the FE in its various forms. Many of the most innovative products were developed and used for 1/4 mile drag racing as aftermarket suppliers eagerly supported the engine design with products such as special intakes, camshafts, superchargers, manifolds, cylinder heads, water and fuel pumps, and exhaust headers. But it was the Ford company itself which developed the most potent products and platforms for the drag-racer. Beginning in 1962 and continuing through 1964, Ford made lightweight versions of its popular Galaxie model using aluminum, fiberglass and specially chosen components emphasizing light weight over comfort or style. Many parts were simply not put on the vehicle, such as a passenger side windshield wiper, sound deadening, armrests, heater, and radio.
In late 1964, Ford contracted Holman & Moody to prepare ten 427-powered Mustangs to contest the National Hot Rod Association's (NHRA) A/Factory Experimental Class in the 1965 drag racing season. Five of these special Mustangs made their competition debut at the 1965 NHRA Winternationals, where they qualified in the Factory Stock Eliminator Class. The car driven by Bill Lawton won the class.
For the 1964 model year, Ford introduced the Thunderbolt. Based on the smaller 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 two-door sedan, it was modified to accept a 427 high-riser engine (including a teardrop-shaped bubble hood to clear the induction system), and drivetrain components from the larger Galaxie model. The two inner headlights were eliminated and replaced with air inlets ducted directly to the two four-barrel carbs. The Thunderbolt was an industry first, the only time that a complete turn key drag car was made available to the general public.
The 1964 NHRA Super Stock title was captured with a Thunderbolt. Forty-nine years later, in 2013, a Thunderbolt set a new SS/A record of 8.55 seconds in the quarter mile, with a closing speed of 154 mph, however, the modifications to the car did not meet Ford's appearance quality standards.[nb 1]
In 1963, Dick Brannan set the NHRA Super/Stock National record at 12.42 on a hot July day. In the biggest race of the year, the INDY Nationals, Ed Martin's lightweight Galaxie lost the Super Stock trophy run to John Barker's Dodge but at the teardown, the Dodge was found to have an illegal cam. In drag racing, the 427 Ford Galaxie was a winner in three consecutive National Events: the '64 Indy Nationals, the 1965 WinterNationals and the 1965 Indy Nationals. It was Mike Schmitt driving the Desert Motors Galaxie to the AA/SA Class win at the 1964 Indy Nationals. At the 1965 Winternationals it was a clean sweep as Doug Butler's four-speed took the win in AA/S with a 12.77 @ 114.21 and Bill Hanyon won on the automatic side with a 12.24 @ 117.95. Additionally, Bud Schellenberger's "Double A Stock" 1964 Galaxie was the 1965 Indy Nationals Top Stock Eliminator with a 12.16 @ 114.21. The Shelby Super Snake top fuel dragster, powered by a 427 supercharged SOHC, became the first car in NHRA competition to break the six-second quarter-mile time barrier. It was the winner of the 1966 NHRA Spring Nationals. In every decade since, the FE has held drag-racing records. In 2011, the new decade opens with the NHRA SS/F (class rules include stock compression ratio, stock valve sizes, stock carb sizing and other OEM-type equipment limitations) national record: the quartermile in 9.29 seconds, with a closing speed of 143.63 mph.
Other closed course racing
In 1970, an FE-powered vehicle set the land speed record for the U.K. Tony Densham set the new British land speed record of just over 207.6 mph (334.1 km/h) over the flying kilometer (the average of two runs in opposite directions within an hour) and then held onto the record for over 30 years. The FE-powered vehicle beat the official British wheel-driven record over the flying 500 and kilometer distances, until then held by Sir Malcolm Campbell, of 174.883 mph
The FE engine is used extensively in custom installations. Relatively lightweight and compact in overall size, it is easily installed in non-standard, custom, situations. The extensive availability of multi-carburetor and other exotic intakes, as well as many other "dress-up parts", has also contributed to its use where the engine would be visible or shown off. FE's powered the original Batmobiles built by George Barris for the 1966 TV series. It fit under the hood along with the Bat-ray, Bat-ram, a nose-mounted aluminum chain slicer and all the associated support hardware, and still provided power needed to drive the 5,500 pound vehicle. One version of the Batmobile built by Barris, which was equipped with a Holman-Moody prepped 427 FE with dual quads, toured dragstrips where it would be launched in second gear and spin its tires the entire quarter-mile length of the track. Carroll Shelby created a custom Mustang using a California Special model as its basis and an experimental Ford 428 FE (known as a CJX, precursor to the 428 Cobra Jet) powered it. Confusingly, this Shelby creation was called the "Green Hornet". It had a custom independent rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and an electronically controlled port fuel injection system manufactured by Conelec. The Green Hornet was clocked at 157 mph, and had a 5.7 sec 0-60 time, in 1968, a year in which a Shelby GT500 from the factory had a 128 mph top speed and did 0-60 in 6.5 seconds.
Pair of FEs used in a customized vehicle by Ed Roth
The FE and FT engines are Y-block designs—so called because the cylinder block casting extends below the crankshaft centerline, giving great rigidity and support to the crankshaft's bearings. In these engines, the casting extends 3.625 in (92.1 mm) below the crankshaft centerline, which is more than an inch below the bottom of the crank journals.
Blocks were cast in two major groups: top-oiler and side-oiler. The top-oiler block sent oil to the top center first, the side-oiler block sent oil along a passage located on the lower side of the block first.
All FE and FT engines have a bore spacing (distance between cylinder centers) of 4.630 in (117.6 mm), and a deck height (distance from crank center to top of block) of 10.170 in (258.3 mm). The main journal (crankshaft bearing) diameter is 2.749 in (69.8 mm). Within the family of Ford engines of the time, the FE was neither the largest nor smallest block.
|330 cu in (5.4 L)||FT||3.8750 in (98.43 mm)||3.500 in (88.9 mm)|
|332 cu in (5.4 L)||FE||4.0000 in (101.60 mm)||3.300 in (83.8 mm)|
|352 cu in (5.8 L)||FE||4.0000 in (101.60 mm)||3.500 in (88.9 mm)|
|359 cu in (5.9 L)||FT||4.0500 in (102.87 mm)||3.500 in (88.9 mm)|
|360 cu in (5.9 L)||FE||4.0500 in (102.87 mm)||3.500 in (88.9 mm)|
|361 cu in (5.9 L)||FE||4.0500 in (102.87 mm)||3.500 in (88.9 mm)|
|361 cu in (5.9 L)||FT||4.0500 in (102.87 mm)||3.500 in (88.9 mm)|
|389 cu in (6.4 L)||FT||4.0500 in (102.87 mm)||3.784 in (96.1 mm)|
|390 cu in (6.4 L)||FE||4.0500 in (102.87 mm)||3.784 in (96.1 mm)|
|391 cu in (6.4 L)||FT||4.0500 in (102.87 mm)||3.786 in (96.2 mm)|
|396 cu in (6.5 L)||FE||4.2328 in (107.51 mm)||3.514 in (89.3 mm)|
|406 cu in (6.7 L)||FE||4.1300 in (104.90 mm)||3.784 in (96.1 mm)|
|410 cu in (6.7 L)||FE||4.0500 in (102.87 mm)||3.984 in (101.2 mm)|
|427 cu in (7.0 L)||FE||4.2328 in (107.51 mm)||3.784 in (96.1 mm)|
|428 cu in (7.0 L)||FE||4.1300 in (104.90 mm)||3.984 in (101.2 mm)|
|Small block||Medium block||Big block|
|4.38"||239 in³||Y-block||4.63"||332 in³||FE||4.90"||383 in³||MEL|
|4.38"||272 in³||Y-block||4.63"||352 in³||FE||4.90"||410 in³||MEL|
|4.38"||292 in³||Y-block||4.63"||360 in³||FE||4.90"||430 in³||MEL|
|4.38"||312 in³||Y-block||4.63"||390 in³||FE||4.90"||462 in³||MEL|
|4.38"||260 in³||Windsor||4.63"||406 in³||FE||4.90"||429 in³||385-series|
|4.38"||289 in³||Windsor||4.63"||410 in³||FE||4.90"||460 in³||385-series|
|4.38"||302 in³||Windsor||4.63"||427 in³||FE|
|4.38"||351 in³||Windsor||4.63"||428 in³||FE|
|4.38"||351 in³||335-series||4.63"||330 in³||FT|
|4.38"||351 in³||335-series||4.63"||361 in³||FT|
|4.38"||400 in³||335-series||4.63"||391 in³||FT|
Because the FE was never a completely static design and was constantly being improved by Ford, references to a particular version of the FE can become difficult. Generally though, most FEs can be described using the following descriptors:
1) Carburetor count, i.e. single 2V (two-barrel), single 4V, dual quad (two 4V carburetors), tripower (three 2V carburetors) or weber (four 2V weber carburetors).
2) Top-oiler or side-oiler block (though there are known instances of side-oiler blocks drilled at the factory as top-oilers; perhaps to salvage blocks with quality control issues that prevented them from being completed as side-oilers).
3) Head type: low-riser, medium-riser, high-riser, tunnelport, or SOHC. These descriptions actually refer to the intakes used with the heads...a low-riser intake, designed to fit under a low hoodline was the earliest design. The high-riser intake required a bubble in the hood of cars it was installed in for clearance. While the low and medium riser heads could be used in combination with either low or medium riser intakes, the high riser head required a high-riser intake due to the increased height of the intake port. The medium riser's intake port is actually shorter in height, though wider, than the low-riser's port. The high-riser's ports are taller than either the low or medium-riser ports. Low-riser intakes have the carburetor placed relatively low so that the air-fuel mix must follow a more convoluted path to the chamber. A high-riser's intake places the carburetor approximately 6 in (152 mm) higher so the air-fuel mixture has a straighter path to the chamber. The tunnelport and SOHC heads both bolted onto FE blocks of either variety but required their own matching intakes. Within the major head groups, there were also differences in chamber designs, with small chambers, machined chambers and large chambers. The size and type of chamber affected the compression ratio, as well as the overall performance characteristics of the engine.
The smallest displacement FE engine was the "332" of 331.8 cu in (5.4 L) actual engine displacement, with a 4.0 inches (101.60 mm) bore and 3.3 inches (83.82 mm) stroke. It was used in Ford-brand cars in 1958 and 1959, domestically marketed U.S.- and Canadian-built Edsel-brand cars in 1959, and in export-configured 1958 and 1959 Edsels. A two-barrel version produced 240 bhp (179.0 kW), while a Holley or Autolite four-barrel version produced 265 bhp (197.6 kW).
Introduced in 1958 as part of the Interceptor line of Ford V8 engines, the Ford 352 of 351.9 cu in (5.8 L) actual displacement was the replacement for the Lincoln Y-block. It is a stroked 332 with 3.5 inches (88.90 mm) stroke and a 4 inches (101.60 mm) bore, and was rated from 208 bhp (155.1 kW) with a 2-barrel carburetor to over 300 bhp (223.7 kW) on the 4-barrel models. When these engines were introduced, they were called Interceptor V-8 on the base models and Interceptor Special V-8 on the 4-barrel models. The 1958 H vin coded 352 was designated as Interceptor V-8 Thunderbird Special according to the 1958 Ford V8 Cars & Thunderbird Service Manual pg 483. The Interceptor was the base-performance engine in 1958. For the 1959 model year, the FE engine series was renamed the Thunderbird V-8 and the Thunderbird Special V-8. When installed in Mercury vehicles, these engines were named "Marauder". This series of engines usually weighed over 650 lb (295 kg). In 1960 Ford created A High Performance version of the 352 rated at 360 horsepower (270 kW) it featured an aluminum 4bbl intake manifold, A Holley 4160 Carburetor, cast iron "header" style exhaust manifolds, 10.5:1 compression ratio and A solid lifter valve train.
Edsel 361 engines were assembled in Cleveland Ohio, and Dearborn Michigan. They were standard equipment in the 1958 Edsel Ranger, Pacer, Villager, Roundup and Bermuda. The Edsel 361 was the very first FE block engine to be offered for sale in any market, having been introduced to the public in the U.S. on September 4, 1957, almost two months before any 1958 Fords were sold. The 361 cid 4V FE engine was also sold on 1959 Edsels in the U.S. and Canada, and 1958 and 1959 Ford and Meteor brand automobiles in Canada in place of the 352 cid, which was not available with any Ford Motor Company of Canada brand until the 1960 model year. Edsel 361 engines were available to U.S. law enforcement agencies and state and municipal emergency services purchasing fleet Fords as the 1958 Ford "Police Power Pack."
The 360, of 360.7 cu in (5.9 L) actual displacement, was introduced in 1968 and phased out at the end of the 1976-year run; it was used in the Ford F Series trucks and pickups. It has a bore of a 390 (4.05 inches (102.87 mm)) and used the 352's 3.5 inches (88.90 mm) rotating assembly. 360s were also constructed with heavy duty internal components for truck use. Use of a standard 352/390 cam for use in passenger cars along with carburetor and distributor adjustment allowed the 360 to give performance similar to that of the 352 and 390 car engines. Rated at 215 bhp (160.3 kW) at 4100 rpm and 375 lb·ft (508 N·m) of torque @2600 rpm (2-barrel carb, 1968). The 360 used the same block, heads and other parts as a 390, this makes them indistinguishable from each other unless the stroke is measured.
The 390, with 390.06 cu in (6.4 L) true displacement, had a bore of 4.05 inches (102.87 mm) and stroke of 3.785 inches (96.14 mm). It was the most common FE engine in later applications, used in many Ford cars as the standard engine as well as in many trucks. It was a popular high-performance engine; although not as powerful as the 427 and 428 models, it provided good performance, particularly in lighter-weight vehicles. The 390 cu in (6.4 L) 2v is rated at 265 bhp (197.6 kW) @ 4,100 rpm, while the 4v version was rated at 320 bhp (238.6 kW) @ 4,100 rpm in certain applications. Certain 1967 & 68 Mustangs had 390 4v engines rated at 335 horsepower (250 kW), as did some Fairlane GTs and S code Mercury Cougars. When the 390 was first offered for 1961 model there was a 375 horsepower (280 kW) High Performance version that featured an aluminum 4bbl intake manifold, cast iron "header" style exhaust manifolds, 10.5:1 compression ratio and a solid lifter valve train. Many of these cars came with an aluminum 3x2bbl intake manifold in the trunk that was meant to be installed by the dealer and raised the engine's output to 401 horsepower (299 kW).
The 406 engine used a new 4.13-inch (104.90 mm) bore with the 390's 3.785-inch (96.14 mm) stroke, giving a displacement of 405.7 cu in (6.6 L), rounded up to "406" for the official designation. The larger bore required a new block casting design allowing for thicker walls, but otherwise was very similar to the 390 block.
It was available for less than two years before it was replaced by the 427.
Testing of the 406, with its higher power levels, led to cross-bolted mains – that is, main bearing caps that were secured not only by bolts at each end coming up from beneath, but also by bolts coming in from the sides through the block. A custom fit spacer was used between the cap and the block face. This design prevented the main bearing caps from "walking" under extreme racing conditions, and can be found today in many of the most powerful and modern engines from many manufacturers.
The 410 engine, used in 1966 and 1967 Mercurys (see Ford MEL engine regarding 1958 senior series Edsels), used the same 4.05 inches (102.87 mm) bore as the 390 engine, but with the 428's 3.98 inches (101.09 mm) stroke, giving a 410.1 cu in (6.7 L) real displacement. The standard 428 crankshaft was used, which meant that the 410, like the 428, used external balancing. A compression ratio of 10.5:1 was standard.
Ford's 427 V8 was introduced in 1963 as a race-only engine. It was developed for racing. The true displacement of the 427 was actually 425.98 cubic inches, but Ford called it the 427 because 7 liters (427 cu in) was the maximum displacement allowed by several racing organizations at the time. The stroke was the same as the 390 at 3.784 inches (96.11 mm), but the bore was increased to 4.2328 inches (107.51 mm). The block was made of cast iron with an especially thickened deck to withstand higher compression. The cylinders were cast using cloverleaf molds—the corners were thicker all down the wall of each cylinder. Many 427s used a steel crankshaft and all were balanced internally. Most 427s used solid valve lifters with the exception of the 1968 block which was drilled for use with hydraulic lifters.
As an engine designed for racing it had many performance parts available for it, both from the factory and from the aftermarket.
Two different models of 427 blocks were produced, the 427 top oiler and 427 side oiler. The top oiler version was the earlier, and delivered oil to the cam and valvetrain first and the crank second. The side oiler block, introduced in 1965, sent oil to the crank first and the cam and valvetrain second. This was similar to the oiling design from the earlier Y-block. The engine was available with low-riser, medium-riser, or high-riser heads, and either single or double four-barrel carburetion on an aluminum manifold matched to each head design. Ford never released an official power rating. Other models were rated at over 400 horsepower (300 kW).
In addition, Ford also produced tunnel-port heads and matching intakes for the FE engine. These lacked the limitations imposed by the other intakes' need to squeeze the intake port between two pushrods by running the pushrods through the intake's ports in brass tunnels.
The 427 FE engine is still a popular engine among Ford enthusiasts, some 40 years after winning Le Mans.
427 SOHC "Cammer"
The Ford Single Overhead Cam (SOHC)-valvetrain 427 V8 engine, familiarly known as the "Cammer", was released in 1964 to maintain NASCAR dominance and to counter the Chrysler 426 Hemi "elephant" engine with its extremely large block casting. The Ford 427 block was closer dimensionally to the smaller 392 cu. in. early Hemi; the Ford FE's bore spacing was 4.63 in (117.6 mm) compared to the Chrysler 392's bore spacing of 4.5625 in (115.9 mm). The Ford FE's deck height of 10.17 in (258.3 mm) was lower than that of the Chrysler 392 at 10.87 in (276.1 mm). For comparison, the 426 Hemi has a deck height of 10.72 in (272.3 mm) and bore spacing of 4.8 in (121.9 mm); both Chrysler Hemis have decks more than 0.5 in (12.7 mm) taller than the FE.
The engine was based on the high performance 427 side-oiler block, 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 were newly designed cast-iron items with hemispherical combustion chambers and a single overhead camshaft over each head, operating shaft-mounted roller rocker arms. The valvetrain consisted of valves larger than those on Ford wedge head engines, made out of stainless steel and 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.
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. An additional sprocket on this shaft drove a second "serpentine" timing chain, 6 ft (1.8 m) long, which drove both overhead camshafts. The length of this chain made precision timing of the camshafts an issue to be considered at high rpms.
The 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. With a single four-barrel carburetor they were rated at 616 horsepower (459 kW) at 7,000 rpm & 515 lb·ft (698 N·m) of torque @ 3,800 rpm, and while equipped with dual four-barrel carburetors they made 657 horsepower (490 kW) at 7,500 rpm & 575 lb·ft (780 N·m) of torque @ 4,200 rpm. 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 lb (308 kg).
Ford's hopes were cut short, however. Although Ford sold enough to have the design homologated, NASCAR, after protests by Chrysler Corp., effectively legislated the SOHC engine out of competition. The awaited 1965 SOHC versus Hemi competition at the Daytona 500 season opener never occurred. This was the only engine ever banned from NASCAR. Nevertheless, the SOHC 427 found its niche in drag racing, powering many altered-wheelbase A/FX Mustangs (after NHRA banned it from stock classes), and becoming the basis for a handful of supercharged Top Fuel dragsters, including those of Connie Kalitta, Pete Robinson, and Lou Baney (driven by Don "the Snake" Prudhomme). In 1967 Connie Kalitta's SOHC-powered "Bounty Hunter" slingshot dragster won Top Fuel honors at AHRA, NHRA and NASCAR winter meets, becoming the only "triple crown" winner in drag racing history. It was also used in numerous nitro funny cars including those of Jack Chrisman, "Dyno" Don Nicholson, Eddie Schartman, Kenz & Leslie, and in numerous injected gasoline drag racing vehicles.
With its 4.235" bore size, the 427 block was expensive to manufacture as the slightest shifting of the casting cores could make a block casting unusable. Therefore, Ford combined attributes that had worked well in previous incarnations of the FE: a 3.985 inches (101.22 mm) stroke and a 4.135 inches (105.03 mm) bore, creating an easier-to-make engine with nearly identical displacement. The 428 cu in (7.0 L) engine used a cast nodular iron crankshaft and was externally balanced.
428 FE engines were fitted to Galaxies (badged simply as '7 Litre') and Thunderbirds in the 1966 and 1967 model years. It was also found in Mustangs, Mercury Cougars, some AC(Shelby)Cobras and various other Fords. This engine was also available as standard equipment in 1966 and 1967 in the Mercury S-55.
The 428 Engine is said to be more tractable and usable than its more famous and noted brother, the 427.
428 Cobra Jet
The 428 Cobra Jet, launched in April 1968, was a version of the 428 FE engine built for the performance market niche. The 428 Cobra Jet could be made on a regular production line, but used special cylinder head casting # C8OE-6090-N. This casting had larger intake ports and valves than the production FE; carburetor was provided by 735 cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor. The Cobra Jet used heavier connecting rods with a 13/32 rod bolt and a nodular iron crankshaft casting # 1UB. The engine was rated at 335 horsepower (250 kW) Gross at 5200 rpm, but true output approached 410 horsepower (310 kW), particularly in engines equipped with a functional hood scoop and unrestricted cold air induction. The low rating reflected management concerns with rapidly escalating insurance surcharges, which were hurting sales of high-powered muscle cars. This low rating also inspired the NHRA to factor Cobra Jet Mustangs to 360 horsepower (270 kW) for drag racing match ups.
Period road tests revealed quarter mile performance in the very high high thirteen to lower 14 second range, with trap speeds in the 101 to 103 MPH range. This suggests something on the order of 275 SAE Net HP, per Hale's formula. Wheel chassis dynamometer information from well documented stock examples reinforces that estimate. Similarly, this level of acceleration performance is on par with that of a production line stock, 2013+ V6/ speed manual transmission Accord (278 SAE Net HP), which has a very similar curb weight. It should be noted that a Holman and Moody prepared stripper, which carried no sound deadener, undercoating, or any optional factory equipment, was used as the introductory press car in 1968.
The 428 Cobra Jet engine (modified to the NHRA "stock" and "super stock" technical specs) made its drag racing debut at the eighth annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Winternationals held from February 2–4, 1968, at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, California. Ford Motor Company sponsored five drivers (Gas Ronda, Jerry Harvey, Hubert Platt, Don Nicholson, and Al Joniec) to race six 428 CJ-equipped Mustangs. The Mustangs raced in the C Stock Automatic (C/SA, 9.00 - 9.49 lbs. per advertised horsepower), Super Stock E, and Super Stock E Automatic (SS/E manual transmission, SS/EA automatic transmission, 8.70 - 9.47 lbs per factored horsepower) classes. The engine lived up to expectations as four of the cars made it to their respective class finals. Al Joniec won both his class (defeating Hubert Platt in an all-CJ final) and the overall Super Stock Eliminator (defeating Dave Wren) title.
428 Super Cobra Jet
The 428 Super Cobra Jet (also known as the 428SCJ) used the same top end, pistons, cylinder heads, camshaft, valve train, induction system, exhaust manifolds, and engine block as the 428 Cobra Jet. However, the crankshaft, connecting rods, and associated balancing were different in the interest of improved strength during drag racing use. A nodular iron crankshaft casting # 1UA was used as well as heavier 427 "Le Mans" connecting rods with capscrews instead of bolts for greater durability. The heavier connecting rods and the removal of the centre counterweight on the stock 428 Cobra Jet crankshaft (1UA), required an external weight on the snout of the crankshaft for balancing. A 428 Super Cobra Jet engine with oil cooler was standard equipment when the "Drag Pack" option (which came when selecting either a 3.91 or 4.30 rear end gear ratio) was ordered with cars manufactured from 13Nov1968. The SCJ engine was not available for earlier Drag Pack optioned cars. In addition, while the CJ and SCJ engines used the same Autothermic piston casting, the piston-to-bore clearance specification between the CJ and SCJ 428 engines is slightly different, with the SCJ engines gaining a slightly looser fit to permit higher operating temperature. All of these changes to the engine components were made to provide greater reliability for engines expected to be raced and abused. Horsepower measurements at a street rpm level remained the same, which isn't surprising because this version contained no power enchanting modifications. The 428 Super Cobra Jet engine was never offered with air conditioning from the factory due to the location of the included engine oil cooler.
Selection of vehicles in which the FE was installed as original equipment:
The FE had been used in Ford vehicles extensively, across 3 decades. By the mid-1970s however, Ford had developed what it considered to be the successors to the FE: the 335-series engines, commonly referred to as Cleveland engines, and the 385-series engine. These new engines were produced in displacements ranging from 351 cu in (5.8 L) up to 460 cu in (7.5 L) and made the FE redundant within Ford's engine hierarchy. The last FE was installed in a production vehicle in 1976. In the late 1970s the Dearborn Engine Plant that produced the FE engines was completely retooled to produce the 1.6 L engine introduced in the Ford Escort in 1981.
Present-day interest in the FE engine supports the continued availability of parts and engine kits; small manufacturers as well as larger companies such as Edelbrock offer all the parts needed to build a brand new SOHC or other low-, mid-, or high 427 engine.
Its thinwall casting production method was innovative and forward-looking in the mid-1950s when it was first used by Ford. Thinwall casting resulted not only in a lower weight for the finished engine, but also in dramatically reduced costs of production. Casting methods used by Ford's competitors at the time required thicker castings to mask the flaws and defects that resulted from their processes. Improving quality and allowing thinner walls was accomplished through many engineering improvements, including reducing the number of cores required to cast an engine block. Fewer cores made it easier to assemble the overall mold for casting and reduced the number of potential problems. Overall, the goal was to ensure that the manufacturing process, from pouring the iron to controlling the cooling rate was consistent pour after pour, resulting in few defects and high quality. In the late 1980s when both Ford and GM revamped their V8 offerings, many of the FE's designs and engineering were incorporated in the new engines, including the deep skirt, cross-bolting of the mains and thinwall casting.
In 2010, after spending billions of dollars for engineering and tooling, Ford introduced a completely new and redesigned engine for use in its trucks. Referred to internally as the Hurricane during development, it is now being marketed as Boss. Using the same valvetrain geometry of the 427 SOHC, its cams were ground based on the older engine's design, modifying the ramps and creating a wasp-shaped lobe to help the rocker arms maintain contact with the cam at all engine speeds.
The engine initially displaced 379 cu in (6.2 L), though the potential for larger displacements was engineered into the design. It had SOHC's actuating the valves via roller-tipped rockers mounted on rockershafts flanking the centrally located camshaft. Just like the FE Cammer, this allows splayed valves. It has a bore spacing of 4.53 inches, a stroke of 3.74 inches, a bore of 4.015 inches, and a deep-skirted thinwall casting block with cross-bolted mains. The 1950s-designed 390 FE had a bore spacing of 4.63 inches, a stroke of 3.78 inches, a bore of 4.05 inches, and a deep-skirted thinwall casting block. The SOHC version of the FE with cross-bolted maincaps, developed in 1965, had single overhead cams actuating the valves via roller-tipped rockers. A 427 cu in (7.0 L) version of the new Boss engine was put together and tested. It produced 700 hp.
- Disclaimer about the 1964 Thunderbolt modifications for drag racing: "This vehicle has been built specifically as a lightweight competitive car and includes certain fiberglass and aluminum components. Because of the specialized purpose for which this car has been built and in order to achieve maximum weight reduction, normal quality standards of the Ford Motor Company in terms of exterior panel fit and surface appearance are not met on this vehicle."
"This information is included on this vehicle to assure that all customers who purchase this care are aware of the deviation from the regular high appearance quality standards of the Ford Motor Company."
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|Ford Motor Company engine timeline, North American market, 1950s–1970s — Next »|
|4-cylinder engines||Ford Pinto engine|
|I6 engines||Flathead I6||Thriftpower I6|
|Mileage Maker I6||Truck I6|
|V6 engines||Cologne V6|
|Small block V8||Flathead V8||351 Cleveland V8|
|Ford Y-block V8||335/Modified V8|
|Medium block V8||FE V8|
|Big block V8||Lincoln Y-block V8|
|MEL V8||385 V8|
|Super Duty V8|