Jim Smart
September 1, 2004

Do you remember when displacements above 400 ci were considered big-blocks? do you remember the overwhelming aura surrounding a big-brute Cobra Jet Mach 1 or Torino? When it comes to making power, there really is no replacement for displacement. In our quest to go faster, we've tried to shoehorn more displacement into big-blocks, arriving at nearly 600 ci with some of them. We've done the same thing with small-blocks, pumping as many as 429 ci into a 351W-based block. Aftermarket small-blocks allow even greater numbers, pushing 460 ci. The bonus here is mega-cubes without the penalty of weight. Translated-that's lots of available power from a lightweight package.

So why is it we don't just build a lot of big-inch small-blocks and throw away those old rotund big-blocks. Why do we even mess with an FE- or 385-series big-block anymore when we can stuff a boatload of displacement into something the size of a 351W? We asked Coast High Performance (CHP) this question.

Chris Huff of CHP suggested we build two engines using a nice combination of Coast High Performance and Edelbrock parts, and throw them on one of Vic's dynos. Two engines of similar displacement-a 351W bored and stroked to 427 ci, and a 390ci FE bored and stroked to 428 ci. Which of these engines will make more power and how? Let's find out.

Windsor Castle
Coast High Performance prides itself on building powerful Ford small-blocks. Truth is, CHP pioneered the modern stroker small-blocks-the legendary 347 and 427ci stroker small-blocks that have stood the world of drag racing on its ear over the past decade. Coast calls its line-up of powerful strokers the Street Fighter and Pro Street Fighter series. These engines were born for the lightweight, FOX-body Mustang crowd, but they're at home in any Ford engine compartment. As the Street Fighter name implies, these potent sticks of dynamite in small packages make all kinds of power right out of the box. Mix in nitrous or a healthy supercharger and numbers become staggering.

So how do we get 427 ci (or 8 liters) into a block designed for 351 ci? First, we increase the bore size a pinch or two. Next, we lay in a crankshaft with a greater rod journal throw, which really pumps up the displacement. Big-cube displacement comes from running the piston deeper into the cylinder bore for greater amounts of air and fuel. With that deep lungful, we also get the mechanical advantage that comes from greater leverage. The longer stroke gives our 351W greater leverage, just like we learned in high school physics class. With a long enough lever, you can move the world.

So what does shoehorning 427 ci into a Windsor block do for performance? It means as much as 500 hp and more than 500 lb-ft of torque when the go pedal is mashed. Depending on how you build your CHP 427W, it can be anything you want it to be. Pick the right camshaft, cylinder heads, and induction for trailer towing with your vintage Ford F-100 truck or Ranch Wagon. Opt for a more radical camshaft and deep-breathing heads for spine-decalcifying performance out of the traffic light. The beauty of a 427W Street Fighter is the versatility. You can build it anyway you desire and without the weight penalty of a big-block.

The 351W block sports five main bearings, just like the FE block. The advantage here is less weight because there is less iron. The FE's main bearing saddles wrap around the crank for better support.

The CHP 427 Street Fighter is available in two overbores: .030- and .060-inch oversize. We strongly suggest going with the standard 4.000-inch or 4.030-inch bore sizes for best results. Even though the 4.060-inch bore is available, we discourage this selection in the interest of solid engine integrity with a 351W small-block.

What Did It Do?
Bore: 4.040 inch
Stroke: 4.170 inch
  • Cast Steel Crankshaft
  • Probe SRS Forged Pistons
  • Optional Dished & Blower Pistons
  • CHP Beam Forged Steel Connecting Rods
  • Flat Tappet High-Performance Hydraulic Camshaft
  • Edelbrock Victor Jr. Induction System & Heads
  • Edelbrock 750-cfm Carburetor
  • MSD Ignition System
  • High-Volume Oil Pump
  • Dynamic Balanced
  • Vintage or Late-Model Ford Applications
  • Horsepower Tip: a roller camshaft would have pushed the 427W over 500 hp with over 500 lb-ft. of torque.

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    Doing It FE - The Old Gun SlingerWhen we think about the 427/428ci Windsor small-blocks, it is easy to define them as cocky, young upstarts ready to take on the old man. What the old man has on his side is wisdom and size. In the world of Ford, the old man couldn't be anything less than a big-cube FE-series big-block-the mill that won LeMans and kicked Ferrar's ass 40 years ago. It also spanked more than its share of GM and Chrysler musclecars in NHRA competition.

    So why an FE instead of a Windsor? The answer is simple-we like the massive demeanor of a vintage Ford big-block. It's like an elephant in the living room; you just can't ignore this beast. Aside from size, there is no ignoring the amount of momentum that exists across five main journals in the Y-block design.

    That's a lot of crankshaft married to larger connecting rods. It is going to make a lot of torque.

    We're about to show you why there really is a difference between small-blocks and big-blocks with identical displacements. You have to think of the big-inch small-block as the lean, but powerful tough guy down the block. By the same token, you have to think of the FE big-block as rotund as a Greyhound bus, but every bit the old football player who can still hold his own against the bad guys.

    CHP has topped the FE with an Edelbrock Performer induction system, cylinder heads, and an 800-cfm carburetor. These are good, healthy street heads with 2.09/1.66-inch valves and 72cc chambers. With some good port work, they work well. CHP does nice CNC-porting on these heads.

    The FE big-block has the weight and moment advantage here. Translated-more torque from a huge crankshaft. Lots of kinetic energy going on here.

    428 FE
    What Did It Do?
    Bore: 4.113 inch
    Stroke: 3.980 inch
  • Custom Cast Steel Crankshaft
  • Probe Forged Custom Pistons
  • H-Beam Forged Steel Connecting Rods
  • Edelbrock Performer Flat Tappet
  • Hydraulic High-Performance Camshaft
  • High-Volume Oil Pump
  • Dual-Roller Timing Chain
  • Edelbrock Performer RPM Induction & Cylinder Heads
  • Edelbrock 800-cfm Carburetor
  • MSD Ignition System
  • It Really Is All About Size Small-block versus big-block. Which is better? It depends on how you measure "better." The small-block has the advantage of less weight. But the big-block has the momentum and leverage advantage in a larger crank with larger counterweights and longer connecting rods. Each engine makes power in its own way. The small-block tends to make more horsepower. The big-block tends to make more torque. This doesn't always mean this will be the result on the dyno.

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