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How to Tell the Difference Between a Ford 360 & Ford 390

by Faith Alessio

The Ford FE series engines were manufactured and installed in Ford cars and trucks starting in the 1950s and going until 1976. There were many models of FE engines, wuth the numbers corresponding roughly to the displacement in cubic inches. Although there are several differences between the Ford 360 and Ford 390 engines, it can often be hard to tell which is which without taking apart the whole engine.

Check what type of vehicle the engine was taken out of. If the engine came out of a truck or pickup, it is very likely a 360 engine, as 360s had a higher torque rating and sturdier internal parts, making them ideal for trucks. If the original vehicle was a car or other smaller, lighter vehicle, then the engine very likely is a 390. 390 engines had less torque, but higher horsepower, making for better performance in cars. The 390 became the standard engine for many Ford cars, as well as some trucks.

Take off any valve cover from your engine. Look on the head, and write down the number code stamped on it. Look on the engine block for a similar code, and write it down as well. Look up the number pair in an interchange book. This will tell you all of the information needed.

Take the engine apart if you have some mechanical or engineering experience, and look for signs that would tell the two engines apart. The bore size is the same between a 360 and a 390, but the stroke in a 390 is larger by a small amount, about 0.29 inches (7.24 mm). Also, in trucks, the 360 usually had a Holley 4 barrel carburetor, whereas the 360 came equipped with a Ford 2 barrel carburetor.


  • Only take apart an engine if you have previous mechanical experience in similar areas. Otherwise, the engine could become permanently damaged and unusable.

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