Ford’s timeless FE series big-block has been making legendary amounts of power for nearly 60 years with those first examples showing up for ’58 in Ford, Mercury, and Edsel. Early on, displacement wasn’t much to write home about with its 332-, 352– and 361-cubic-inch options. However, Ford engineers and product planners quickly went to work infusing more displacement into this history-making big-block series, ramping up displacement to 390, 406, 410, 427, and 428 cubic inches. There was also the 360 FE for trucks.
Of all the FE series big-blocks produced during the type’s 18-year production run, the 390 is easily the most common. With a 4.050-inch bore and 3.780-inch stroke there’s plenty of room to grow this engine into a 430-plus cubic inch beast without spending a lot of money. And once you have the increased stroke from Eagle Specialties and resulting displacement from a cast steel crank and I-beam rods, Summit can help get you into real power with Edelbrock Performer series cylinder heads and induction, a COMP Cams roller hydraulic camshaft and Crane Cams roller rockers, Pertronix or MSD ignition, Holley carburetion, and more. You can scarf it all up in one stop and wait for UPS to knock on your door with the goods.
We stopped by JGM Performance Engineering in Valencia, CA, which was building a 390 FE stroker for a Pennsylvania customer with a Mustang. We were astonished by the power JGM was able to get from a modest increase in stroke using cast iron 390 GT heads and 428 Police Interceptor induction topped by a Holley HP. JGM was able to get 450-plus horsepower and roughly 400 ft.-lbs. of torque using Ford heads and induction, a hot Crane roller hydraulic cam, and a very detailed approach to tuning on the dyno.