How do I Identify a Ford Cylinder Head by the Letters on the Head?

by Chris Stevenson
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Auto Engine image by Andrew Breeden from

Identifying the Ford cylinder head code stamp can be quite easy, aside from the fact that certain makes must actually have the head removed to read the code, which appears on the underside of the head. During an engine rebuild, the process becomes simplified when the detached head can be easily read and interpreted. Some codes can be accessed by removing only the valve cover. Replacing cylinder heads correctly plays an important part in the rebuilding process. Whether purchased from a junk yard or from a dealer, there is no alternative for getting the exact duplicate replacement part.

Reading Ford Cylinder Head Code Numbers

Step 1

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Look for three different locations where your Ford cylinder head code number will be located: on top of the head under the valve cover; on the bottom of the head, requiring the head to be removed; and on the side of the head just under the valve cover lip. If you have the valve cover off, look for any code number at either end of the head. If the head has been removed, the code will appear on the top, bottom or side. Locate the code mark and write it down. Clean the area with carb cleaner and a rag to easily read the code number.

Step 2

Look at the first letter. It denotes the decade when the head was produced, ranging alphabetically from A to G and beyond. The letter A denotes the decade of 1940. The B mark indicates 1950 and a C mark indicates the decade of 1960. A code stamp of E7TE would identify this head as belonging to the decade of 1980.

Step 3

Look at the second figure, which is a digit. Use the above example--E7TE. This number indicates the year of manufacture. We know the decade is 1980; by adding the second digit you arrive at 1987. The number 9 would indicate a 1989. It will always be a single digit to indicate the year.

Step 4

Examine the third digit. It will be a letter. Using the previous example, the T represents the car line of the vehicle. In this case the T stands for truck. The corresponding numbers are A for Galaxie; F for outside the USA and T-A racing; J for industrial, O for Fairlane or Torino; R for Rotunda; T for truck; Z for Mustang; D for Falcon, 1960 to1969; G for Comet-Montego; M for Mercury; P for Autolite-Motorcraft; S for Thunderbird, and V for Lincoln, 1961 and on.

Another example might be C5AE. The C indicates 1960; the 5 makes it a 1965. The A identifies it as a Galaxie.

Step 5

Look at the fourth letter on the string. This will indicate the engineering department identity. For this purpose, the E stands for "engine." All heads contain the engine compartment connotation. Transmissions, chassis and interiors all have different code numbers for their engineering department identifier.

Step 6

Look for any additional number that follows the primary four-number string. They typically appear as single capital letters, which identify high performance models; performance high, medium and low risers; sport models, or thermactor-air pump engines, made of aluminum.

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