How to Identify a Ford 428 Engine

by Barbara Stanley
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Classic Car Engine Refurbished image by Janet Wall from

The FE series of Ford engines has not been produced since early 1970. FE engines look the same when viewed from the topside, so inspecting the bottom and sides is essential for a positive identification, according to ERA Replicas: Engines. Using the engine casting number will help you identify the 428 FE series engine. The decade in which it was manufactured is noted by a letter. A 1960-era Mustang is denoted by a 'C,' and one built in 1966 would be a C6. A letter also denotes the make, so a 1966 Ford Mustang is a C6Z.

Step 1

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Examine the cylinder head of the engine. All factory FE series heads have a unique, cathedral-shaped exhaust port and split rocker cover rail. The exhaust manifold attachment bolt pattern will differ among engines in the series, according to Mustangs and Fords: How to Identify Classic Ford V-8 Engines.

Step 2

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Look at the cylinder's bolt pattern. The 428 Cobra Jet engine has a unique, 16-bolt pattern exhaust face. It will also have a chamber of 73 to 76 cc that was rough cast, making it less accurate than if it had been machined.

Step 3

Measure the intake valve diameter. The 428 should be between 2.022 and 2.037 inches, with the CJ engine measuring 2.080 to 2.097 inches. The exhaust valve diameter should be 1.551 to 1.566 inches, with the CJ engine measuring between 1.652 and 1.660 inches. The valve stem diameter is 0.371 inches and the valve lifters are hydraulic.

Step 4

Look for extra main-bearing webbing. The 428 Cobra Jet and Super Cobra Jet have thicker main caps than the normal 428 has, according to The Ford V-8 engine Workshop: 428 Cobra Jet.

Step 5

Examine the crankshaft. On the Cobra Jet engine, a special front oil seal sleeve with a cast-on counterweight is used for high-speed reliability.

Step 6

Look for the reinforcement plate for the horn bolts behind the radiator core support. If this is missing, you are probably looking at a fake 428 engine.

Step 7

Examine the camshaft. All 428 CJ engines were originally equipped with hydraulic camshafts. If all three screw-in or press-on plugs are not there, it is not a CJ or SCJ block.

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