Wayne Cook
March 1, 2009

Before there was a Fairlane V-8 or tall-deck Windsor, the Ford world was ruled by the FE V-8 engine. Introduced in 1958 as a 332, it was quickly opened up to displace 390 ci. The FE was destined to replace the MEL (Mercury/Edsel/Lincoln) V-8 engine, which had been a mainstay powerplant for the larger Ford offerings. The 390 became standard issue for the luxury Thunderbird, and the FE was later opened up to a maximum displacement of 428 ci.

The 390 and 428 were similar in that they both utilized a two-bolt main cap cylinder block. Even the Cobra Jet version of the 428 utilized two bolt mains on the crank saddle. However, the 427 Ford is different from either the 390 or 428 in that it used an unusual four-bolt main cap arrangement. The FE 427 featured four-bolt mains on journals two, three and four. The engine had a unique cross-bolted configuration where horizontal main-cap bolts entered from the outside through the block skirt and secured the central caps from both sides. The cross-bolting proved to be very effective in preventing main cap walk or wobble at higher rpm.

The extra durability this block offered made it the racer’s choice because the additional support at the crankshaft meant that the engine held together when the two-bolt design might fail. When the time came for Shelby to power the big-block version of his Cobra sports car, he chose the 427 because of the enhanced durability factor. However, some of the big-block Cobras came equipped with the 428.

Ford Performance Solutions had a customer who had been working on a big-block Cobra replica and wanted an authentic FE engine to go with his project. He had no interest in a stroked Windsor, so a brand-new Carroll Shelby FE 427 aluminum cylinder block was procured. This way there would be no guessing about the history or condition of a used block, and the aluminum material would put the finished engine in the same weight category as a garden-variety Windsor. Join us as we have a look at the collection of hardware that will be used to construct what amounts to a brand-new all-aluminum Ford FE engine. We will then observe some of the more important aspects of the exacting assembly. Finally, follow us to Dyno Motive in Placentia, California, where we join owner Eric Weinrich for a dyno session that tells us what the combination is worth torque and horsepower-wise.

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