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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Dyno Results
Before installing the engine, the owner trucked it to Dyno Motive for testing. Here are the results using the dyno’s Hooker Super Comp headers and the Ford dual-quad intake with a pair of 600-cfm Demon carburetors.

RPMTQHP
3,000519.9297.5
3,100521.9308.1
3,200522.1318.8
3,300523.9329.2
3,400522.9377.9
3,500521.3347.4
3,600519.6356.1
3,700518.1364.9
3,800518.9375.0
3,900520.0386.1
4,000521.8397.4
4,100528.8412.8
4,200536.8429.3
4,300541.4443.2
4,400540.4452.7
4,500538.7461.6
4,600535.8469.3
4,700529.8474.1
4,800524.1479.0
4,900515.1480.6
5,000504.9480.6
5,100494.3480.0
5,200487.2482.3
5,300478.1482.5
5,400466.1479.2
5,500453.8475.2

The 482hp level is almost one per cubic inch—this is a good start. Once the engine is broken in and the carburetion fine-tuned, we’re confident that 500 hp is easily within reach. How must it feel to have over 500 lb-ft of torque at just 3,000 rpm in such a light car? (Absolutely incredible! —Ed.)

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What Did It Cost?
CS 427 aluminum block$5,622
Machine preparation$559
4.250-inch stroker crank $399
Main bearings$68
H-beam rods$626
Rod bearings$62
Ross pistons$712
Moly rings $68
Edelbrock bare heads$1,279
CNC porting and components$1,157
Head studs$131
Camshaft$288
Lifters$540
Shaft rockers$903
Harmonic balancer$184
Canton oil pan$279
Oil pump$109
Total$12,991

All of the prices seen earlier are totaled here.

This cost does not include taxes or labor for assembly or installation. The intake manifold is an item you would have to hunt for and could cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000.

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