How To Choose The Correct Paint For Your Vintage Mustang Engine
The Right Color For The Year And Engine Makes The Difference In Your Ford's Restoration
Whether your '69 engine is a Boss 429 or a short-stroke six, it has to be Ford Corporate Blue in color.
For 1970, a new 351 thundered onto the scene with plenty of torque and the largest ports ever from a Ford powerplant. The 351ci V-8 introduced for 1970 was a completely different small-block from the '69 351ci. Place the two engines side by side and you can see the differences. The '69 351 looks like a 302 on steroids. It's wider, yet sports the same valve covers and valvetrain. The newer 351 has wider cylinder heads with poly-angle valves and wedge chambers. It's clearly a different engine.
Because Ford introduced two different 351 engines just one year apart, things were a tad confusing. To identify them, Ford gave each an identifying name. The '69 351 would become known as the 351 Windsor, named for its foundry and plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. By the same token, the 351ci V-8 engine introduced for 1970 would become known as the 351 Cleveland, named for its foundry and plant in northeastern Ohio.
What do the 351 Windsor and 351 Cleveland have in common with the 200ci and 250ci sixes, 302ci small-block, 390 High Performance, 428 Cobra Jet, Boss 302, and Boss 429? Yep, they were all painted Ford Corporate Blue.
1971-'73We are grouping these model years together because they have a lot in common. When the Mustang grew in size for 1971, it needed greater amounts of power. Standard power was the 250ci six, as the the smaller 200ci six was deleted from the lineup. Base V-8 power remained the same-a 302ci with two-barrel carburetion. From 1971-'73, you could expect to find a 351 Cleveland two-barrel underhood, although there is evidence that 351 Windsor 2-Vs were installed in some cars. If you had to have four-barrel power, Ford sent you a 351 Cleveland with Autolite 4300 carburetion for 1971, followed by Motorcraft 4300 atomization in 1972-'73. In 1971, when Ford fitted the 351 Cleveland with a mechanical high-performance camshaft and 4300D Autolite carburetion, it became the Boss 351 with 330 hp.
The last year for a big-block Mustang was 1971, the year of the 385-series fat-block 429 Cobra Jet. With a mechanical camshaft and Holley carburetion, it became the 429 Super Cobra Jet. Both were fitted with cast-aluminum valve covers.
As you might have guessed by now, all these '71 Ford engines have one thing in common: They're all supposed to be the darker Ford Corporate Blue.
For 1972, Ford dropped most of its heavyweight powerplants. The Boss 351 disappeared, replaced for a short time by the 351 High Output with lower compression. In 1973, the era of mighty Mustangs drew to a close, with snappy 351 Cleveland power remaining a valuable option. The Ford engine color that year was again Ford Corporate Blue, with all engine hardware, including valve-cover bolts, in the blue hue.
Blue Be GoneThe traditional Dark Ford Blue engine color was discontinued after 1981. Beginning in 1982, all Ford V-8 engines were painted a battleship gray color, known at Duplicolor as Ford Gray (1611). Later, Ford stopped painting engines entirely, leaving them in bare iron, except valve covers, which were either semigloss black or cast aluminum.
How To Paint Your EngineFew restoration tasks are more challenging than painting an engine, especially if you intend to leave the engine installed. To do your best engine painting, you must be patient, and you must be prepared. All vulnerable areas, like the ignition system, carburetor, and the like, should be either removed or masked to protect them from the cleaning process. You don't want water inside the engine either. Completely degrease and clean the engine before removing valve covers and the like.
All engine surfaces to be painted must be clean and void of grease and dirt. This involves an engine spray-can degreaser, like Gunk, to do the initial cleaning, followed by a scrub-brush cleaning with dishwasher detergent and water. Dishwasher detergent is a great grease cutter. Use a toothbrush to get into those nitty-gritty locations. Mask areas you don't want painted, such as engine mounts, distributor, brackets, and other bolt-on engine hardware. Accessories like the alternator, power-steering pump, and air-conditioning compressor should be unbolted from the engine and masked for protection. Disconnect the battery before getting started.
We're going to show you how to clean, prep, and paint visible engine parts with the help of Dave Toth of John's Mustangs and Classics in San Diego. These folks have a number of outstanding restorations to their credit. Dave is going to show us how to get it right.