The 1958-1969 Ford FE V-8 - Versatility and Power for a Decade

The king of the customer available FE V-8s. The 425 Horsepower 427 CID twin 4-barrel. In single 4-barrel form, it was a player in NASCAR from its introduction until it was phased out in 1969.

by Society Staff -
reprint with permission only

The versatility and utilization of the Ford FE Series engines over so many Ford car and truck lines and its longevity - from 1958-1978, showed how well engineered an engine it was. The fact that the design was able to become a long-term super high performance engine with only minor tweaks - long surpassing the Chevrolet and Pontiac large CID engines designed in the same time-frame and staying equal to even the mighty Chrysler Hemi RB block.

It was the company's response to the rising weight of US cars in the late '50s and the demand for more horsepower and torque from Ford buyers saddled with a "Y-Block" that could not be expanded beyond its 312 CID without a massive redesign.

"FE" stood for "Ford-Edsel," which was where the engine was intended to be used at the time of introduction.

The FE filled the need for a relatively lightweight large CID engine set above the workhorse Ford small Y-block which had reached its maximum size potential at 312 CID. The FE series engine was very sturdy and versatile and was used in cars, trucks, buses, and boats, as well as for industrial pumps and other equipment.

The FE was available from 1958 through 1976. The same engine, with minor package changes, was designated the "FT" block, and was used in medium and heavy Ford trucks from 1964 through 1978. The FT differed by having a steel instead of nodular iron crankshaft, a larger crank snout, different distributor shaft, different water pumps and other minor differences added to increase strength and reliability. The FE was discontinued in 1976.

The FE and FT engines continued Ford's "Y-Block" design, called that because the block casting extends below the crankshaft centerline. It was designed to give great rigidity and support to the crankshaft and its bearings. It was also thought to help vibration and lower the sound quality of passenger car engines. In FE engines, the casting extends 3.625" below the crankshaft centerline, which is more than an inch below the bottom of the crank journals.

Unique to the FE was that a portion of the intake manifold mated to the head under the valve cover and included the access passage for the valve pushrod. The image at right showing the introduction of the FE has a red arrow indicating this alignment.

FE blocks were cast as either a "top-oiler" or "side-oiler". The top-oiler block, which was the first iteration, sent oil to the top center (camshaft) first, and the side-oiler block sent oil along a passage located on the lower side of the block – oiling the crankshaft, first. All FE and FT engines have a bore spacing of 4.63", and a deck height of 10.17". The main crankshaft journal diameter is 2.749".

Significant was that the FE block was perhaps the first to utilize what would later be known as the "thin wall" casting technique. Ford engineers developed a process that allowed greater control over the molds used to cast the blocks, and re-engineered the casting process to allow for consistent dimensional results in the metal pouring. This resulted in less metal being used, lower cost of materials for Ford, and notably lighter engines.

A Ford FE weighed 650 lbs. with all iron components installed. With an aluminum intake and aluminum water pump this weight could be reduced to less than 600 lbs. At the time, engines of similar displacements such as the 409 and 413 CID offerings from GM and Chrysler weighed over 700 lbs.

The FE began its life as a 332 CID engine and grew to 428 CID. Ford was able to enlarge the block to 483 CID, but that iteration never made it into production. The following breaks down the various displacement versions from 1958 through 1969:

  • 332 CID - The smallest FE block Ford was the 332 (331.8) CID version introduced in 1958. It had a bore of 4.00" and a stroke of 3.30". See Details HERE

  • 352 CID - The 352 was Introduced in 1958 as part of the "Interceptor" (high performance) line of FE engines. The 352 has an actual displacement of 351.9 CID. It is a stroked 332 with 3.50" stroke while retaining the 332's 4.00" bore. See Details HERE

  • 361 CID - The 361 CID was primarily used in the1958-59 Edsel and later in 1968-75-6 Ford Trucks. It has a bore of 4.046" and the 352 CID stroke of 3.500". See Details HERE

  • 390 CID - The 390 was introduced for the 1961 year in Ford passenger cars. The 390 CID V8, is actually 390.06 CID. It has a bore of 4.05" and stroke of 3.785". See Details HERE

  • 406 CID - The 406 engine was released in 1962 as a high performance engine replacing the 390 high performance engine. It used a 4.13" bore with the 390's 3.785" stroke, giving a displacement of 405.7 CID and called the "406.” See Details HERE

  • 410 CID - The 410 was a stroked 390 CID V-8. This new stroke of 3.98" together with the bore of the 390 at 4.05" resulted in 410 cubic inches. It was only used in Mercury vehicles from 1966-67. See Details HERE

  • 427 CID - Ford's 427 V8 was introduced in 1963 as a replacement for the 406 CID engine. Like the 406, it was only available in high performance applications. The stroke was the same as the 390 at 3.78", but the bore was increased to 4.23". See Details HERE

  • 428 CID - The largest FE-series engine was the 428 CID engine. The 428 CID V-8 was a stroked 406 CID V-8. Its bore and stroke was 4.13"x 3.98". It was a passenger car engine that was quickly turned into a medium -performance V-8. See Details HERE

  • Race Engine Only - The 427 CID SOHC - The Ford Single Overhead Cam (SOHC) 427 V8 engine, familiarly known as the "Cammer," was released in 1964 to maintain NASCAR dominance and to counter the Chrysler 426 Hemi engine. See Details HERE

Long after it's passenger car and racing days were over, it continued to give reliable and healthy strength to the Ford Truck line all the way through 1978.

To see road tests of various FE V-8s, please go to the Technical Section under Ford and then Road Tests, or simply click HERE.



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