Ford FE V8 Engine

THE FORD FE V8 ENGINE FAMILY
The FE-series big block V8 went into production in 1958 as an improvement on the Y-block V8 that had launched in 1955 and was already being phased out by 1960. The Y-Block had limited growth potential, with a practical limit of around 348 cubic inches of displacement. The largest production Y-Block was the 312, used as Ford’s and Mercury’s premium engines. The FE used a similar deep-block design with extended skirts running below the crankshaft’s centerline, like the Y-Block, but was intended to have near-unlimited expansion possibilities. Indeed the factory took it all the way out to 428 cubes, with privateers taking it much farther than that. “FE” stands for Ford-Edsel, as the engine was originally intended for Ford’s star-crossed and short-lived Edsel brand. Ford engineers employed thin-wall casting techniques to keep the weight of the enormous cast iron block to a minimum. However, it was still one huge chunk of engine, and built like a tank. But, when compared to other cast iron 7.0-Liter big blocks from GM and Mopar, Ford’s FE Big Block 428 weighed from 50 to 100 pounds less, at around 650 pounds with a cast iron intake manifold, and around 600 pounds with an aluminum intake and water pump. Over its life, the FE came in no less than 10 different displacements (see chart below), with the most common being the 352 (mostly in trucks), the 390 (in Fords and Mercury passenger cars), and the mighty 428, the most famous of which being the 428 Super Cobra Jet from the Shelby Mustangs. But there was also a 427 racing motor in there with exotic side-oiling. All in all, Ford got a good run out of the FE V8 Engine Family, powered countless trucks, T-Birds and hot-rod Mustangs, and won more than their share of races along the way.

BELOW: The rowdiest member of the Ford FE V8 engine family is the 428 Super Cobra Jet. This one's in a '68 Shelby GT500KR.
FORD FE V8 ENGINE FAMILY DESCRIPTION
Technically, the FE V8 was the passenger car engine, and its truck counterpart was called the FT for Ford-Truck. FT V8s were substantially beefier than FEs, to endure the rigors of truck life. FT crankshafts were forged steel instead of nodular iron like the FE, and with larger crank snouts, a bigger distributor shaft and larger capacity water pump. Both engines are Y-block designs similar to Ford’s Y-Block V8 Engine Family in that the sides of the block extend 3.625 inches (92.1mm) below the crankshaft centerline, making for a much stronger, more rigid structure to support the main bearings. They were cast in two major groups: top-oiler and side-oiler. Top-oilers have conventional oil galleys running above the crank (and below the cam), supplying oil to the main bearings from the top. Side oilers position the oil galley along the lower side of the block feeding the main bearings from the side. Side-oiling was more expensive to produce and had dubious advantages over top-oiling, so it was soon abandoned in favor of the simpler, cheaper, more common top-oiler. All FEs have the same 4.630-inch bore centers. Below is a breakdown of all the different displacements, with bores and strokes of all members of the Ford FE V8 Engine Family.

DISPLACEMENT       

330ci / 5.4L

332ci / 5.4L

352ci / 5.8L

359, 360, 361ci / 5.9L

389, 390, 391ci / 6.4L

396ci / 6.5L

406ci / 6.7L

410ci / 6.7L

427ci / 7.0L

428ci / 7.0L

TYPE

FT

FE

FE

FT, FE

FT, FE

FE

FE

FE

FE

FE

BORE               

3.875" / 98.43mm

4.000" / 101.6mm

4.000" / 101.6mm

4.050" / 102.87mm

4.050" / 102.87mm

4.2328" / 107.51mm

4.130" / 104.90mm

4.050" / 102.87mm

4.2328" / 107.51mm

4.130" / 104.90mm

STROKE             

3.500" / 88.9mm

3.300" / 83.8mm

3.500" / 88.9mm

3.500" / 88.9mm

3.784" / 96.1mm

3.514" / 89.3mm

3.784" / 96.1mm

3.984" / 101.2mm

3.784" / 96.1mm

3.984" / 101.2mm


428 FE-SERIES V8
Ford's first 7.0-Liter V8, the FE-series 427, was expensive and complicated to build, with many 427 blocks rendered useless due to slight flaws in the casting process. They wisely decided to seek another means of acquiring a 7.0-liter V8. Building on their prior FE experience, Ford combined the 4.130-inch bore of the 406 V8 with the 3.984" stroke of the 410, both fellow FE's, they found another way to reach the desired 7.0-liters of displacement. Although this time, the different bores and strokes worked out to 428 cubic inches, instead of the earlier 427, and it was much easier to build. The 428 used a nodular iron crankshaft riding on 5 main bearings buried deep inside the skirted block. The non-Cobra Jet 428s were used in Ford Thunderbirds, Galaxies, Mustangs, Mercury Cougars, and some Cobras.
428 COBRA JET V8 (428CJ)
One of the high-performance versions of the 428 FE came with a variety of different cylinder heads, heavier connecting rods with larger 13/32 rod bolts on a nodular iron crank (casting # 1UB). While the 427CJ was advertised to have 335-horsepower, insiders claim this was grossly understated and that the real output was more like 410 horses. With the advent of SAE "Net Horsepower" in the early 1970s, it measured just 275 net SAE hp, but different versions ranged in advertised horsepower from 335 to 360. Either way, quarter-mile times ranged in the high 13's at around 103 mph

428 COBRA JET V8                                           

Engine type

Engine family

Bore & Stroke

Bore centers

Displacement

Compression ratio

Fuel system

Power output @ RPM

Torque output @ RPM

_______________________________________

OHV 90-degree V8

Ford FE V7 Engine Family

4.13" X 3.98"

4.63"

428 ci / 7501 cc

10.6:1

1X 735 cfm Holley 4-barrel 

 * 335 hp @ 5600 rpm

440 lb/ft @ 3400 rpm


428 SUPER COBRA JET V8 (428SCJ)
The Super Cobra Jet wasn't any faster or more powerful than the standard 428 Cobra Jet. The differences were more designed to strengthen it for drag racing. Heavier 427 "LeMans" connecting rods with bigger, better rod bolts were used, and the center counterbalance was removed from the nodular iron 428CJ crankshaft, necessitating the use of an external balancer. The 428 Super Cobra Jet also got an oil cooler, but its location made it impossible to get AC on a 428SCJ.

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Last updated 4/13/17

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