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Ford 385 engine

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Title: Ford 385 engine  
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Subject: Ford 335 engine, Ford Torino, Ford Mustang (first generation), Ford FE engine, Ford MEL engine
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Ford 385 engine

The Ford 385 engine family (the name coming from the 3.85 inch crankshaft stroke of the 460 V8) was the Ford Motor Company's final big block V8 engine design, replacing the Ford MEL engine and gradually superseding the Ford FE engine family. This design was a departure from the paradigm utilizing thinwall casting methods and a skirtless block to reduce weight.

It was available in three sizes in production vehicles; 370 cu in (6.1 L) in medium-duty trucks only, 429 cu in (7.0 L) and 460 cu in (7.5 L). A 514 cu in (8.4 L) crate engine was also available from Ford SVO.

The engines were sold between 1968 and 1997. It was introduced in the Lincoln Continental (460) and Ford Thunderbird (429) in 1968 and replaced the FE in Ford's full-size cars in 1969. Production ended with the ninth generation Ford F-Series truck in the 1996/7 model year. They were manufactured at Ford's Lima Engine plant at Lima, Ohio. This manufacturing line replaced the Ford MEL engine line in the Lima plant. The FE engines, manufactured in Dearborn, continued in production but saw reduced applications and volume as the 385 engine gradually took over in the Ford line up. The FE went out of production in 1976, leaving the 385 as the only big block. The 370 replaced the 361 FE in 1978 and the 429 replaced the Super Duty (401/477/534) engines in 1982.

Besides service in large luxury cars in the 1970s and in trucks throughout its life, the 385 series engine was also popular in motorhomes, marine, and industrial applications. Over 50 varieties were produced in any given year.

As with the FE line of engines, Ford also offered Cobra Jet, Cobra Jet - RamAir, and Super Cobra Jet versions of the 429. The Cobra Jet, rated at 370 hp (280 kW), was equipped with a Rochester Quadrajet 700 cfm 4 BBL carburetor, larger camshaft, 11.3:1 compression ratio and a special set of cylinder heads. It was available with or without a hood scoop, and came with a 3.25 rear axle ratio. The Cobra Jet - RamAir came with the shaker scoop, which was attached to the engine, and a 3.50 rear axle ratio. The Super Cobra Jet, rated at 375 hp (280 kW), had a 4-bolt main block, a Holley 780 cfm 4BBL carburetor, and a larger mechanical camshaft. It was only available with a 3.91 or 4.30 rear axle ratio. In 1971, the CJ engine also used a 4-bolt main block. However, these engines were actually derated and produced power in the 440–460 hp range. This was done to deceive insurance companies (common practice in that era), so that buyers did not have to pay higher insurance rates.

Ford also offered Police versions of the 429 and 460. Horsepower, for the Police version, ratings ranged anywhere from 240 BHP to 375 GROSS. The 1971 429 Police Interceptor, with 11-1 compression (which is basically a very slightly beefier version of the 429 Cobra Jet) rated at 375 Horsepower (295 Net).

From 1973 to 1978 Ford offered two versions of the 460 Police Engine. The 460 Police Cruiser "460 PC" and 460 Police Interceptor "460 PI" were commonly confused with each other. One being a basic, stock flowing 460 with additional cooling bolt-ons, Block mounted Fuel Pump. And the more powerful 460 Police Interceptor, with its higher lift camshaft and better flowing heads and exhaust, high flow In-Tank Electric Fuel Pump. The Electric fuel pump was used as the stock pump would starve the motor for fuel above 100 mph. The Basic 460 Police Cruiser was recommended for light duty use i.e.: city/township, while the 460 Police Interceptor was built for Highway use for State Police Agencies/Highway Patrol. The 1974 460 Police Interceptor, with its 8.8-1 compression was rated at 260 Horsepower. This combo combined with a 1974 Ford Torino was considered one of the fastest Police Cruisers of the 1970s. The Ford 460 Police motor was the biggest motor used by Police Agencies, followed by Pontiac's 455 "Enforcer" Police Chevy's 454 "Apprehender" Police, and Dodges 440 "Pursuit" Versions.

The 385 series of engines, along with virtually every other Ford production engine saw a significant dropoff in HP and torque ratings for the 1972 model year. This was due to a few reasons. Federal mandates came into effect about how HP claims could be advertised by auto companies. Instead of listing gross horsepower, they had to list the SAE net horsepower which takes into account the power reduction of the accessories and exhaust system. The second was newly enforced air pollution regulations which caused Ford to have to redesign the cylinder heads (resulting in a drastically lower compression ratio ~8.2), and retard the camshaft timing 8 degrees, among other power sapping, but smog reducing modifications. The 1971 460 which was rated at 365 GROSS HP, dropped to as low as 208 NET HP in 1972. 1973 saw the release of an improved cylinder head design, bringing the 429 and 460 back into the 225 NET HP range, but it would never return to its glory days as a performance engine, at least in its stock form.

The 460 was phased out for use in passenger cars in the late 70s, but continued to be produced with minimal modifications in trucks, RVs, and Boats until its production ceased in 1997. The 460 is a great towing engine. The 460 actually had higher horsepower and torque ratings than the IDI 6.9 liter and later 7.3 IDI diesel engines, though fuel economy was significantly better with the diesel. The 460 began using fuel injection in 1988, leading to a slight increase in horsepower and torque ratings. 1993 and up 460s saw an improved cylinder head design that further improved power. While perhaps best known for its poor gas milage, the later 460 is considered by most to be a reliable, long-lasting, heavy-duty, and powerful engine for towing and hauling purposes, as well as a good starting point for engine builders building dragsters. Due to its mass production and relatively minimal changes during its 30-year production run, parts are generally cheap and easy to find for the 385 series engines.


Deck height (early block): 10.300" or 10.310"
Deck height (late block, D9TE): 10.322"
Rod length: 6.605"
Bore spacing 4.900"

The 370 and 460 engines have different bores and strokes; the 429 utilizes the 460's bore with the 370's stroke:


Bore: 4.050"
Stroke: 3.59"


Bore: 4.360"
Stroke: 3.59"
Chamber size (C8VE/C9VE/D0VE): ~72-75cc


Bore: 4.360"
Stroke: 3.85"
Chamber size (C8VE/C9VE/D0VE) 75cc
Chamber size (D2VE) ~99-100cc
Chamber size (D3VE/E6TE): ~93-95cc

See also

External links

  • Short descriptions of Ford overhead valve V8 engines
  • - 460 Great site with info on the 385 Ford engine
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