For many classic truckers the term small-block means just one thing: the venerable little V-8 from Chevrolet. Certainly one of the most popular performance engines ever produced, the small-block Chevy has been a favorite of hot rodders for nearly 50 years. And much to the chagrin of loyal fans of the Blue Oval, lots of them have found their way under the hoods of early Ford trucks. But while the SBC has a host of attributes, and will always remain popular, there are growing a number of rodders looking for an alternative to small-block sameness. Some of the best of the alternatives around are Fords--the other small-blocks.
You Can't Tell Who the Players Are Without a Program
When it comes to identifying Ford engines there has always been a fair bit of confusion due to the variety of basic engine designs and the overlap of displacements. Since production of the flathead stopped in 1953, Ford has offered roughly 60 different engine configurations.
Some examples of the variety have been the three entirely different engines all displacing 351 ci, while there have been engines with cubic inch displacements of 427 and 428 in the same FE engine family with a 429 incher in another. And just to keep things interesting, along with the variety of displacements and designs, bellhousing patterns differ too.
Variations on the Small-Block Theme
Now that we've got all the other engines out of the way, lets look at Ford's small-block offerings over the years. Small-block Fords have been produced in displacements ranging from 221 ci to 400 ci, but as you might guess by now, there were a number of different series of these engines. The 221, 260, 289, and 302 engines are the Fairlane series, and then there are the 351 Windsors, 351 Clevelands, and finally the 351M and 400s. Interestingly, some aftermarket suppliers don't classify the 351 Cleveland or the 351M/400 engines small-blocks, presumably due to the large, canted-valve heads. But since they feature the same 4.380-inch bore spacing as the Fairlane and Windsor engines, and Ford Racing Performance Parts classify them as small-blocks, that's good enough for us.
Now that we know what to call all of them, lets take a look at the various Ford small-blocks:
221/260/ Early 289
Although the 221 served duty as a reliable grocery-getter and was never known as a performance engine, the 260 and 289 engines changed how small-block Fords were viewed, first in the Falcon Sprint and later in Hi-Po Mustangs. These early engines can be identified by their unique five-bolt bellhousing pattern.
The small-block that solidified Ford's reputation for performance was the Hi-Performance 289 4V. Produced from 1963-67, its distinctive idle, and the cacophony of its mechanical valvetrain coupled with ferocious rear tire shredding potential, made its presence known. However, of all the small-block engines Ford has produced, the most popular and frequently modified are the 302, or the 5.0L, small-blocks.
Introduced in 1968, the most desirable of these for street rod use are the hydraulic roller tappet engines. First seen in the '85 GT Mustangs, roller blocks have taller lifter bosses, and the cam bearing bores are bigger to accommodate the shaft's larger diameter bearing journals and base circle. But the real icing on the cake came the following year when electronic fuel injection was added. Unquestionably, for street rod applications, these are the most desirable of the Ford small-blocks.
One of Ford's most famous engines, the 302 Boss was a hybrid produced in '69-70 to compete in Trans-Am racing. They featured canted-valve heads (Cleveland style) solid lifter cams, stamped rockers with threaded, adjustable studs and guide plates, four-bolt mains, special rods, and forged pistons.
Because they look virtually identical, 351W engines (so named because they are built in the Windsor engine plant) are often mistakenly identified as a 289 or 302. In fact, the 351W is based on an entirely different block that is stouter and has greater deck height than the 289/302 (289/302 is 8.206 inches while the 351 is 9.480 inches for '69-70 and 9.503 for '71-current). However, both series of engines use the same bore spacing and the bolt patterns are the same, so 289/302/351 heads will interchange. But, because the increased deck height puts the heads further apart, the 351W requires a unique intake manifold.
Other differences between these similar-looking engines are main bearing diameters (289/302s measure 2.25 inches, 351Ws are 3 inches); slightly larger rod journals (2.1232 inches compared to 2.311 inches), and the the fact that the 351W uses a longer connecting rod (5.956 inches compared to 5.1550 inches for the 289 and 5.0900 inches for the 302).
When swapping parts between these engines, the most confusion surrounds the camshafts. Camshafts will interchange, but the 351W has a different firing order (1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8) compared to the 289/302 (1-5-4-2-6-3-7-8). Compounding the situation, the '82-and-later 302 HO engines use the 351W firing order.
The 335 Series Small-Blocks
These unique engines were only produced for four years. They featured canted-valve heads that provided excellent breathing. Heads for the 2-V engines were open chamber with round ports, while the 4-V heads had a quench chamber and huge ports.
351C Cobra Jet
Appearing in 1971 and carrying through to 1972, these engines were an improved Cleveland design with four-bolt main caps. Heads were the 4V open chamber design.
Also debuting in 1971, these engines had four-bolt mains, 4V heads with quench chambers, and Boss 302-style valvetrain components including solid lifter cams. For 1972 open chamber heads were used and the name was changed to 351C H.O.).
Clevelands and 351M (Modified) and 400 engines are similar in appearance because they all use canted-valve heads, but there are some significant differences in the blocks. The deck heights of the 351M and 400 are 1.100 inches greater than the Cleveland's, and while the heads will interchange, the intake manifolds are different. In addition, the main bearing journals are larger, the engine mounts are unique, and the bellhousing bolt pattern is the same as the Lima series.
If you're looking for a small-block of a different color, consider one from the Blue Oval.
A bigger brother to the 5.0L 302 is the 351. This example from Ford Racing Performance Par
Fairlane and Windsor small-block heads have improved greatly over the years. This is the c
Small-block Fords in the Fairlane and Windsor series are identifiable by their narrow valv
Although this is a "High Port Yates" racing head, it has the typical canted-valve arrangem
Due to their canted valves, Cleveland and 351M/400 heads have a wider valve cover that use
In contrast, a big-block 460 uses canted-valve heads and a wide valve cover, but each has