Ford 390 Big Block V8 Engine: The American Beast

Ford 390 Big Block V8 Engine

390 Big Block V8 engine, part of Ford’s FE engine family, is a notable powerplant that has powered a wide range of Ford vehicles from the late 1950s through the mid-1970s.

Renowned for its durability and performance, the 390 V8 remains a popular choice among classic car enthusiasts and hot rodders.

History and Development

Introduced in 1961, the Ford 390 engine was developed as a versatile and powerful option for a variety of Ford vehicles. It was part of the FE engine series, which included several displacements ranging from 330 to 428 cubic inches.

The 390 was designed to provide a balance of performance and reliability, making it suitable for both passenger cars and trucks.

Ford 390 Big Block V8 Design and Features

The Ford 390 V8 is a naturally aspirated, overhead valve (OHV) engine with a 90-degree V8 configuration. Here are some of its key design features:

  • Displacement: 390 cubic inches (6.4 liters)
  • Bore and Stroke: 4.05 inches (102.87 mm) bore and 3.78 inches (96.01 mm) stroke
  • Block Material: Cast iron
  • Cylinder Heads: Cast iron with wedge-shaped combustion chambers
  • Valvetrain: Overhead valve (OHV) with hydraulic lifters
  • Fuel System: Carbureted, with options ranging from 2-barrel to 4-barrel carburetors
  • Ignition System: Points-based ignition, with some later models featuring electronic ignition

Ford 390 Big Block V8 Specifications

Here are the detailed specifications for the Ford 390 Big Block V8 engine:

ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Production Years1961-1976
Configuration90-degree V8
Displacement390 cu in (6.4 L)
Bore x Stroke4.05 in x 3.78 in (102.87 mm x 96.01 mm)
Compression Ratio9.5:1 to 10.5:1 (varies by model)
Power Output265 hp to 401 hp (198 kW to 299 kW) (varies by model and year)
Torque401 lb-ft (544 Nm)
Fuel TypeGasoline
Carburetor2-barrel or 4-barrel

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Ford 390 Big Block V8

Ford 390 Big Block V8 Performance and Variants

The Ford 390 engine came in several variants, each offering different levels of performance to suit a range of applications:

  • Standard 390: Typically producing around 265 hp, used in full-size passenger cars and trucks.
  • 390 Police Interceptor: A high-performance version producing up to 330 hp, used in police and high-performance vehicles.
  • 390 GT: A higher-output version found in performance models like the Ford Mustang and Fairlane, producing up to 335 hp.
  • 390 High-Performance (HP): The top-tier variant producing up to 401 hp, used in the most powerful performance models.


The Ford 390 Big Block V8 engine was used in a wide range of vehicles, including:

  • Ford Mustang: Available as a high-performance option in the late 1960s.
  • Ford Thunderbird: Featured in luxury and performance models.
  • Ford Galaxie: Used in both standard and high-performance models.
  • Ford Fairlane: Equipped in performance-oriented variants.
  • Ford F-Series Trucks: Provided robust power for various truck models.
  • Mercury Vehicles: Used in several Mercury models, including the Cougar and Monterey.
Ford 390 Big Block V8

Maintenance and Performance Upgrades

The Ford 390 engine is known for its durability and ease of maintenance. Regular maintenance includes oil changes, tune-ups, and valve adjustments. For enthusiasts looking to enhance performance, there are numerous aftermarket parts available, including:

  • Performance Camshafts: To improve horsepower and torque.
  • High-Flow Carburetors and Intake Manifolds: For better air-fuel mixture and improved engine breathing.
  • Headers and Exhaust Systems: To reduce backpressure and increase performance.
  • Electronic Ignition Systems: For more reliable ignition and improved performance.
  • High-Compression Pistons and Performance Cylinder Heads: To increase power output.

Ford 390 Big Block V8 Price

The price of a Ford 390 Big Block V8 engine can vary widely based on its condition, whether it is new, rebuilt, or used, and any additional features or modifications. As of 2024, prices generally range from:

  • Rebuilt Engines: $3,000 to $5,000 – These engines have been disassembled, inspected, and rebuilt to factory specifications.
  • Used Engines: $1,500 to $3,000 – These engines are sold as-is and may require significant work to reach optimal condition.
  • Performance-Built Engines: $5,000 to $10,000+ – These engines have been rebuilt with high-performance parts and modifications.

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