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Ford Engine Number Identification

by Floyd Drake III

Ford uses an engine number system which provides key manufacturing information but neglects to identify the engine size. Although dates and location of manufacture are given, you must use other methods with it to positively identify the engine.


Generally, on both 8 and 6-cylinder Ford engines, the engine number is towards the rear of the block on the passenger side. On 8-cylinder engines, it is where the starter bolts onto the bell housing and the starter may have to be removed to locate it. On 6 cylinder engines, it will be below the exhaust manifold. The number will contain 4 letters and 1 number, for example: C4AE.


For the engine number C4AE, Ford's system is decoded as follows: "C" represents the decade manufactured, in this case, the 1960s (D for the 1970s, E for the 1980s, etc.). The number is the year in that decade--1964. The remaining letters represent various factory modifications.

Other Considerations

To positively identify a Ford engine, a combination of methods is required. These include comparing the engine number and the crankshaft casting number, or counting bolts on the valve cover and looking for the engine displacement stamped on the cylinder head, etc. Ford placed a tag under the coil-attaching bolt which contains all the necessary information to positively identify the engine, but it is easily lost or replaced with a fake tag.

About the Author

A native of New Haven, Conn., Floyd Drake III began writing in 1984. His work has appeared in the "New Haven Register," Medford's "Mail-Tribune" and the "Ashland Daily Tidings." Drake studied journalism at Southern Connecticut State University. After working as a reporter in Oregon, he is now based back home in New Haven.

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