Jim Smart
August 1, 2003
’65 Mustang Engine Color Quick Reference
Engine/Part Color Brand
200ci valve cover Red Duplicolor 1605
200ci air cleaner Red Duplicolor 1605
200ci block, head, oil pan gloss black Duplicolor 1635 (semigloss black)
Duplicolor 1613 (gloss black)
289ci valve covers Gold Duplicolor 1604
289ci air cleaner Gold Duplicolor 1604
289ci block, heads, intake manifold,oil pan gloss black Duplicolor 1635 (semigloss black)
Duplicolor 1613 (gloss black)
289 High Performance valve covers Chrome N/A
289 High Performance air cleaner ChromeOpen Element N/A
289 High Performance block, heads,
intake manifold, oil pan
gloss black Duplicolor 1635 (semigloss black)
Duplicolor 1613 (gloss black)


For many years prior to 1966, Ford engines were color-keyed to specific applications and carlines. For 1966, this practice changed, when all Ford engines were painted Ford Corporate Blue. Instead of color-keyed valve covers and air cleaners, the entire engine would be Ford Blue, like the Ford Blue Oval and the Ford Blue offset dealer signs popping up in 1966. Ford's message for 1966 and beyond was simple-if it is blue, it is power by Ford.

As in 1964-'65, Ford continued to paint the valve covers separate from the engines. Engine long-blocks, which included block, intake manifold, heads, and oil pan, were all painted Ford Blue, a darker blue that covered all hardware except the valve-cover bolts. Valve covers were installed toward the end of engine assembly using natural metal bolts with integral lock washers. We've learned through observation and conversation with restorers that Duplicolor's Dark Ford Blue (1606) is an accepted color for '66 and later Ford engine restorations. An alternative, when Duplicolor isn't available, is Krylon's Dark Ford Blue, which is also the correct shade of dark blue. Plastikote is another paint brand, Royal Blue (1134) an acceptable color for '66 and later

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The engine lineup for 1967 didn't change much, with the exception of the optional 390ci High Performance big-block from the FE-series family. Ford Blue was again a mainstay for all Ford engines, including the base 200ci six, the base 289-2V small-block V-8, and the 225-horse 289-4V engine with a new carburetor design-the Autolite 4300. The 271-horse 289 High Performance returned for 1967 with mechanical lifters and a more radical camshaft profile than its 2V and 4V sidekicks. However, the biggest news for 1967 was the 325-horse 390, also clad in Ford Blue, with chrome stamped-steel valve covers and a chrome-topped high-performance air cleaner.


Base power for 1968 was again the 200ci six, with either Thermactor or IMCO emissions improvement systems. Although we tend to associate the 289ci V-8 with the beginning of the '68 model year, it was offered and produced for the entire model year. New for 1968 was the stroked 302ci small-block that would ultimately replace the 289. The optional 289 High Performance was dropped after 1967. Contrary to fantasies, there never was a 302 High Performance with a mechanical camshaft and special heads. The most we can dream about there is the 302 Tunnel Port High Performance V-8 Ford produced only for Trans-Am competition that year.

Back was the 390 High Performance with chrome-steel valve covers and air-cleaner lid. The 390 returned virtually unchanged for 1968. The biggest flash for 1968 was the 428 Cobra Jet introduced mid-year on April 1, 1968. One engine we rarely hear about is the X code 390-2V V-8 installed in a handful of Mustangs for 1968. What do all of these engines have in common? They're all blue-Ford Blue-from air cleaner to oil pan.

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In case you haven't figured it out, Ford became committed to Ford Corporate Blue after 1965. It was an engine color people could identify with; if it's dark blue, it must be a Ford powerplant.

The 1969 Mustang was redesigned from bumper to bumper, with twin-set headlamps and a mouthy grille. With that came a greater lineup of engines. Base power was, again, the 200ci six, with a taller deck 250ci six and 155 hp, added to the option list.

A bright spot for 1969-'70 was the standard 302ci V-8, 220hp work-horse. Spanking new for 1969 was the raised-deck small-block displacing 351ci. It was a wider small-block, with the 302's 4-inch bores but a longer 3.50-inch stroke. With optional four-barrel carburetion, the 351 made 290 hp. Back for 1969 were the 390 High Performance and 428 Cobra Jet V-8s-both producing more than 320 hp.

For 1969-'70, two high-performance V-8s debuted that would change the world of Ford performance forever-the Boss 302 with 290 hp, and the hemi-head Boss 429 with 375 hp on tap. Both were short-lived and available only in limited quantities before it all came to an end in late-'70.