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Ford has produced some of the most powerful engines to ever come out of Detroit. With the V8 engine sizes ranging from 221-460, there is an engine size and configuration to cover just about any need or application. Ford engines do have some unique characteristics not found in any other make, so in this section we will try to familiarize you with some of the more common differences. This valve train related information should help you when choosing parts or assembling your engine.

Engine Types

Small Block, Uses "31" and "35" Prefix
This is the standard engine in most V8 applications. It has been around since the early 1960’s and remains very popular today in many configurations. The Small Block Ford engine is commonly referred to as the 5.0 engine found in the Mustang for many years. This engine has become one of the most frequently modified engines Ford has ever produced. There are a few differences in the valve train of this design, but for the most part, they are the same. One thing to remember is that the 221-302 engines have a very short deck height, requiring a short pushrod. The 351W engine, on the other hand, has a tall deck and a longer pushrod. The 1985-1995 5.0 blocks differ from the earlier blocks in that the lifter bosses are taller to accommodate the hydraulic roller lifters. The base circles of the cams for these blocks are larger because of the higher position of the lifters. These engines use either a prefix “31” (302) or a “35” (351) camshaft, depending on the firing order.

SVO V8 Race Engine, Uses “35” Prefix This engine is almost always found in all out racing, and is a cross between the Windsor and Cleveland designs. It utilizes a Windsor type block and a Cleveland type head. The newest of the head designs is referred to as the “Yates” head.

Cleveland/Modified, Uses “32” Prefix
This design was introduced in 1969 and was available as a 351 Cleveland, a 351C Boss or a 351/400 Modified. The easiest way to tell these engines from the standard small block is by looking at the front covers. The small block / SVO engines have a cast aluminum front cover and water pump housing. The Cleveland/Modified engines have a stamped steel flat front cover. Other than a few rocker arm differences, the valve train in all of these engines is very similar.

Big Block “FE”, Uses “33” Prefix
Ford’s “FE” engine family was introduced in 1958 and was available as either a 332 or a 352 version. Later, the range was expanded to include 390-428 versions. They have been out of production since the mid seventies but remain popular today. These engines utilize a shaft rocker arm system and can be most easily recognized by the fact that the intake manifold is very wide and extends part way under the valve covers. Almost all of the parts in the “FE” series are used only in this engine and are not interchangeable with other engine families.

Big Block “FF”, Uses “34” Prefix
The engine commonly referred to as the Ford Big Block is the 429-460 and was used in light trucks and motorhomes. It is an outstanding engine for boats, bracket racing or towing. It typically has a similar but larger “Cleveland” style valve train.

Modular Type Engines
The Ford “Modular Engine” was introduced in the early 1990’s, with the idea of designing a new generation of engines from scratch, rather than basing them on then-current production engines. They were developed to replace all existing Ford V8 pushrod engines. The “Modular” term came about because of the many interchangeable components between the SOHC and DOHC engines, as well as the ability of Ford to machine and assemble the various engines on the same assembly lines.

The design focuses on low friction, excellent sealing and increased block stiffness. With a modern block and head design in 2 valve, 3 valve, and 4 valve configurations, the engines are both versatile and powerful. They have a sophisticated overhead cam design in both single and dual overhead cam versions that utilizes a roller finger follower to reduce friction, increase rpm potential and eliminate maintenance.

All of the cylinder blocks have deep skirts, and nearly all of the main caps are cross-bolted. SOHC engines have cast iron blocks; DOHC engines have aluminum blocks. All cylinder heads are aluminum, with very long head bolts to reduce distortion of the cylinder bores and improve sealing. The new design also allows the accessories to be rigidly mounted directly to the block.

4.6L & 5.4L 2 Valve SOHC, Uses “102” Prefix
The 4.6L version of this engine first came out in the 1991 Lincoln Town Car and later was installed in the Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, Thunderbird and Cougar. This engine has grown to become the popular 5.0 Mustang replacement.

In 1997 the 5.4L version of the 2 valve SOHC engine was introduced. This engine, known as the "Triton" truck engine, has numerous parts that are interchangeable with the modular car engines. However, not all are identical since the truck engines are built to handle more severe duty.

4.6L & 5.4L 3 Valve SOHC, Uses “127” Prefix
The 4.6L SOHC 3 valve engine is available in today’s Mustangs. The engine features variable cam timing, allowing the valves to open and close earlier or later as needed for optimum power.

This technology was first introduced in 2004 in the 5.4L 3 valve DOHC engines. This engine, also known as the "Triton", is primarily in the F-150 trucks.

4.6L 4 Valve DOHC, Uses “106” Prefix
This engine showed up first in the 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII and later in the front-wheel drive Continental. It has since been put in performance cars, such as the Mustang Cobra.

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