Heads Up!You might be inclined to think the 428 head is the best head we could top this engine with. But, you'd be wrong. Garrett has not chosen the 428 head or the 428 Cobra Jet head. He has chosen the '61 390 High Performance head casting for his 428 project. The 390 High Performance has the same 2.02/1.55-inch valves and, virtually, the same port sizes. However, the 390 Hi-Po head has smaller chambers for greater compression. We're going to have Valley Head Service work these heads and make them better with some mild port work, new guides and valves, and hardened valve seats for greater reliability.
Head WorkIf you are ever in doubt about head gasket installation after cylinder heads have been installed, remember this: properly installed head gaskets always stick out at the outer, front corners of the heads and block. If they're backwards, the gasket won't be visible here.
What We Would Do DifferentlyQuite frankly, our 428 FE buildup is capable of greater levels of power than we have shown you here. We have built a rather conservative 428-inch mill. What does our FE big-block need to push power levels beyond 393 hp and 466 lb-ft of torque?
First, we would remove the tri-power setup. It looks terrific and, properly tuned for a racing environment, will make brute power in an FE big-block. All our 428 needs is an Edelbrock Performer 390 intake manifold and 750-cfm Holley, Edelbrock or Demon carburetor to improve horsepower and torque figures considerably. If we want to push the numbers closer to 450-500 hp and, at least, 500 lb-ft of torque, we opt for Edelbrock Performer heads, which offer us greater port and valve size for better performance. We would also step up our camshaft specs to something a pinch more radical, with more valve overlap and greater duration from Crane. Finally, we fit the 428 with an MSD ignition system and a 6A box for maximum ignition performance. These are all simple bolt-on modifications that will make a difference.