How to Identify a Big Block Ford

by Christopher Ficco

Used in sedans, trucks, race cars, police cruisers, generators and boats, the Ford big block motor is a mainstay in U.S. automotive engineering. Generally, Ford big block motors include the following displacements in cubic inches: 332, 352, 360, 361, 390, 406, 410, 427, 428, 429 and 460. If you're buying a classic car, rebuilding a vehicle from the ground up, or dealing with a heavily modified engine, knowing what you have is vital for establishing price and performing maintenance.

Locate the engine identification tag on the block. It is usually located on the passenger side of the block near the second cylinder from the front. There are variances to its location, especially in earlier models. You may need to search to find it.

Clean the tag with a degreaser and rag so you can clearly identify each character.

Log the entire code. Character location on the tag is vital, so copy precisely the position of each character in relation to others.

Find the appropriate engine identification tag reference on the Internet or in a manual based on the character layout and approximate year of the motor.

Look up the cubic-inch displacement and compare it to the list of known Ford big block motors.

Tip

  • check After-market parts may have been installed on the motor you are working with and Ford-made parts are interchangeable between small and big block engines. Be certain to refer to the tag directly on the block.

Warning

  • close Never work on a hot engine. Make sure it is completely cool before doing anything under the hood.

About the Author

Christopher Ficco first wrote for the University of Northern Colorado in 1991. There he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English and did graduate work in world literature and speculative fiction. He’s produced technical, policy and process documentation for IT firms since then, writing poetry and prose on the side.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Auto Engine image by Andrew Breeden from Fotolia.com