As America entered late 1950s, it became apparent there was consumer demand for smaller economical automobiles. With the Falcon and Comet in 1960 came a family of small lightweight six cylinder engines—which led to a family of small lightweight V8s. Ford realized at the cusp of the 1960s there was also a need for midsized cars, which resulted in the intermediate Ford Fairlane and Mercury Meteor for 1962.
A Brief History of the Ford 90° Fairlane Small Block V8
Ford’s small block V8 debuted in the all-new downsized 1962 Fairlane and its corporate cousin Mercury Meteor in displacements of 221 and 260ci. Known as the “90 degree Fairlane V8,” the small block Ford grew to 289ci in 1963 and 302ci later on in 1968.
Because Ford needed a fast-quick answer to midsized 350ci competition in the late 1960s, it raised the 302’s deck one inch to conceive the 351ci small block ultimately known as the 351 “Windsor” for 1969. Ironically, the 351W was conceived as a short-term answer to this mid-sized challenge, yet it has endured and the 351 Cleveland faded away. The 351C was dropped after 1974 in North America, yet it remained very popular in Australia through 1982 and a smash hit with enthusiasts for decades.
The small block Ford V8 was an engine with enormous potential when it debuted. The low displacement grey wall iron V8s offered buyers economy and power over the more mundane inline sixes. Ford’s petite V8 was a learning curve that led to Le Mans wins in the late 1960s. Carroll Shelby copped the 260/289ci engines for his two-seat Cobras.
The small block Ford only got better with time—ultimately becoming the world class 5.0L roller tappet High Output in the 1980s.
This engine family has been nothing short of success for six decades.
Understanding Ford Small Block V8 Cylinder Heads
There are a lot of misconceptions about small block Ford cylinder heads—including the age old 351W head swap on a 289/302. There’s virtually nothing to be gained from the 351W castings despite what you’ve heard over the years, especially when you consider what’s available from the automotive aftermarket today. What you might gain in airflow, you lose with a larger chamber and resulting compression loss.
Despite everything you’ve been told, there are very few differences in small block Ford head castings across time. Valve and port sizing was always modest even with the GT-40 cylinder heads of the 1990s. Prior to 1968, chamber, port, and valve sizing was virtually the same—with 53-57cc chambers and intake/exhaust valve sizing remaining constant up until 1968. Port sizing virtually never changed much in that time.
It is best to stay away from post-1967 cylinder heads because chamber size increased in 1968, sacrificing compression. The one exception is the rare 302-4V cylinder head for 1968 only with a 53cc chamber, which makes power via increased compression. Good luck finding a pair of these rare heads anywhere.
One endless debate is 1963-67 289 High Performance heads. The only elements that made them “high-performance” were screw-in rocker arm studs and valve spring cups cast into the head for valvetrain stability at high rpm. Port, valve, and chamber sizing is the same with the exception being the 1963 Hi-Po head, which has a smaller chamber and—therefore—greater compression.
You can take regular 289-2V/4V heads (1963-67) and install screw-in rocker arm studs along with valve spring cups, and have a pair of homemade 289 High Performance heads. Do a little port and bowl work and the news gets even better.
Cleveland heads on a 289/302/351W block (known as a “Clevor”) is one of the most doable modifications you can accomplish in your pursuit of power—and with off-the-shelf parts available from the aftermarket. Edelbrock has the heads and induction for this modification. Cruise SummitRacing.com for piston options—either custom or off-the-shelf. All you need is a savvy machine shop and the knowledge of what to order for your Clevor build. Building a Clevor small block gets you what is fundamentally a BOSS 302 engine, which can also be stroked to 331 and 347ci.
The (Technical) Truth Behind the Windsor Name
And one more thing before we go. The 221/260/289 and 302 are not “Windsor” engines—Ford never called them that.
Technically speaking, the only Windsor is the 351, which got christened in 1970 when Ford introduced the 351 “Cleveland” engine and wound up with two 351ci engines—confusing Ford service technicians in the process.
To clear things up, Ford issued a Technical Service Bulletin differentiating the two 351ci engines by identifying their engine plants: Windsor, Ontario and Cleveland, Ohio.
The 221/260/289 and 302 engines were cast and manufactured at Ford’s Cleveland engine plant, with some being cast and manufactured at Windsor. And did you know some early BOSS 302 blocks and heads were cast at the Windsor Iron Foundry (WIF)?
At any rate, Ford’s versatile small block has been a mainstay for six decades and left an indelible mark on automotive history. You can bet it will remain a constant for decades to come
Very good read, I loved reading every word. Time stood still for me when reading this article. I am thinking of now going for a Clevor engine. I will try the 351W with 351C heads with the 2V code.
What about the 400C small block? . Produced in ’71 to ’73.
Aren’t they the big block, similar to 429 and 460, nothing interchanges with the 289-351 w series, same as 351midland series
The Ford versus Chevy argument has 5 head bolts per cylinder versus 4 head bolts per cylinder. Equally spaced intake ports versus paired intake ports. Front mounted oil pump versus rear mounted oil pump.
The size of the intake and exhaust ports.
The diameter of the intake valves.
The size of the stock connecting rod bolts on the 289/302 was 5/16 inches.
Ease of adjustment of the points dwell.
Motorcraft versus Rochester carburetors.
Many other comparisons.
I had a 1983 f150 302 blew up . Went to junkyard to replace wound up with a 351 Windsor!! Ohhh no. Everything fine Except exhaust pipe had to be moved out to meet up with WIDER engine look twice measure how WIDE intake manifold is ?? 351 . Much wider 260,289, 302 narrow. Very good engine.
Hi, I have a 1969 Galaxie with a stock 302-2v engine that has 5/8” plugs in it.
This was a one owner car and he said it is is completely stock.
This very unusual, what are your thoughts?
Building a 302 for my mustang, will the 1966 289 timing chain cover and water pump fit the 302?