390 Build-Up the Old Way


I put this together with the help of the old ford muscle
parts program that was out in the 70's. You should still be able to find
some of these parts at swap meets or use up to date new parts.
At any rate, there is some good information in these pages.

Page 1 of 9 (use the NEXT at the bottom of each page)


Meet the durable one. The quiet, powerful workhorse of Ford engines . . . the 390. It came on the scene in 1961 and has been used in virtually every Ford Motor Company vehicle since that time. Because of its inherently good design, later engines such as the 427 and 428 were built around the basic 390. The 427 "wedge" is essentially a bored-out, beefed-up 390. The 428 is a bored and stroked 390 with some added engineering refinements.


390 4.05" 3.78"
427 4.23" 3.78"
428 4.13" 3.98"

Each engine was designed for a particular job. Now you can design your 390 to do your job-by using
the interchange-able parts that have come with these later engines.


Deep-Block Construction-Cylinder block cast of durable, reliable, chrome-alloy iron extends well below the crankshaft center line for extra strength and rigidity. The 390-cubic-inch V-8's are a low-friction design with well "over-square" dimensions in which the piston stroke is shorter than the cylinder diameter. This makes for a slower piston speed resulting in less wear, yet allowing maximum power output in the medium to high rpm range.

Crankshaft-Crankshafts are precision-molded nodular iron castings with large bearing surfaces. The unusually large overlap of main and crankpin journals contributes to greater rigidity. Torsional vibration damper, rubber-floated and mounted on front end of crankshaft, counteracts torsional vibrations.

Slipper-Type Pistons-Piston sides are cut away for reduced friction and more rapid dissipation of heat. Pistons are aluminum-alloy with embedded expansion struts. Tin-plating of pistons prevents scuffing during initial break-in.

Connecting Rods-Connecting rods are high-strength pyramid type, spreading at the base, with forged I-beam construction and separately forged caps.

390 4V AND 4V GT

Since the 390 has been in production several years, many minor changes have been made. The basic engines we are talking about modifying in this section are the 390 4V and 390 4V GT produced since 1966.

The standard 390 4V engine is rated at 315 bhp @ 4600 rpm. Carburetion is through a Ford 446 cfm 4-barrel and a cast iron, low-profile manifold. The compression ratio of 10.5:1 requires premium fuel. Any high performance cam modification to this engine requires new valve springs, retainers and keepers as the stock valve train is not designed for the high rpm's encountered in performance mills.

The 390 4V "GT" engine is rated at 325 bhp @ 4800 rpm. It is a cross between the standard 390 and the 428 Cobra Jet. Carburetion is through a big Holley 4V, rated at 600 cfm, and a cast iron, medium rise manifold. It uses the same cam and valve train as the 428 CJ.

The standard 390 2V engine is not specifically discussed for modifications because it's primarily an economy engine. It's Ford 2-barrel carburetor flows 351 cfm and uses regular fuel because the pistons give a lower compression ratio (9.5:1) than 4V engines. That's why the 390 2V is only rated at 265 bhp @ 4:100 rpm. If modified for performance, 4V pistons and other pieces from this engine must be installed. Note: A few premium fuel 2V 390's have been built with the higher 10.5:1 4V pistons installed.


Bore & Stroke (inches)
Compression Ratio

Brake Horsepower

Maximum Torque (lb.-ft.)



Connecting Rods


Intake Valves (2.037")
Exhaust Valves (1.566')

Standard 4V

390 Cu. In.

4.05 x 378


315 (~ 4600 rpm

427 (ยข, 2800 rpm

Ford 4V 446 cfm

Nodular Iron

Forged Steel

Aluminum Autothermic

Steel w/Aluminized Head

Cast Austenitic Steel

4V "GT"

390 Cu. In.

4.05 x 3.78


325 (,] 4800 rpm

427 (~ 3200 rpm

Holley 4V 600 cfm

Nodular Iron

Forged Steel

Aluminum Autothermic

Steel w/Aluminized Head

Cast Austenitic Steel


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