How to Identify Engine Year for a Ford 302

by Thomas West
mustang gt tail light image by Jorge Moro from

The Ford Motor Company has been making V-8 engines to power its vehicles since the 1930s. The Ford V-8 went through many transformations, but the 302 cubic inch V-8 can trace its roots to the 90-degree 221 cubic inch V-8 introduced in the midsized Ford Fairlane in 1962. The 221 V-8 grew in size to 260, 289, and finally to 302 cubic inches in 1968. The 302 powered everything from Mustangs to pickup trucks and remained in production until the mid 1990s. The 302 went through many changes over its lifespan, so when you search for a replacement engine block, knowing its production date is advisable.

Step 1

Open the hood of your Ford. Allow the engine a cool off if it has been run recently.

Step 2

Locate the casting numbers on your engine block by checking above the starter on the right hand side of the block. Use a spray degreaser and a rag to clean the area if it is covered with dirt and grease.

Step 3

Be aware that the casting number is a four digit alphanumeric code, followed by a dash and another four-digit number. When determining the year of your 302 cubic inch engine, only the first two characters of the first four-digit alphanumeric code are needed.

Step 4

Look at the first letter in the alphanumeric code, which indicates the decade of manufacture. A "C" indicates the 1960s, "D" the 1970s, "E" the 1980s and "F" the 1990s.

Observe the second number in the four-digit alpha-numeric code. This number indicates the year of the designated decade of manufacture. For example: if your code starts with D4, your 302 engine was manufactured in 1974.


  • When you purchase a vintage Ford, it may be helpful to know its engine production date to verify the car's authenticity. If the engine was replaced with a later model engine, it may decrease the value of the car.
  • Some 302 cubic inch engines have the designator "302" cast into the block in the valley between the cylinder banks at the top of the engine.
  • If you wish to further pinpoint the date of your Ford 302 engine, look at the four-digit alphanumeric date code stamped into the engine block just below the distributor at the front of the engine. The first character is a number and indicates the year. The second character is a letter and indicates the month, with "A" standing for January, "B" for February, and so forth up to "H" for August. The letter "I" is not used, so "J" stands for September, and so forth up to "M" for December. The last two digits of the code are the day of the month.

Items you will need

  • Spray degreaser
  • Rag

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