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Why are there so many big block fords?

I have a question about ford vs. chevy. Not on which is better, but why they did what they did.

So I am into the 1960-1979 ford pickups and I keep an eye on chevys. However, I have noticed that ford put big blocks in pretty much everything, and chevy put small blocks in pretty much everything. (speaking of the 1/2 and 3/4 ton family). was there a reason why this was so? I am a big block guy myself, so this has puzzed me for some time.

Ford was really into stock car racing and trucks. They also had to compete; meaning, try harder and the place they chose to do that was in station wagons and the LTD. GM wagons were trash for years. The big blocks that Chevy made were kind of expensive. GM had too much politics in the company to do anything right. There was also a lot of Ford luck mixed in there.



…maybe because Ford had to use a big block to generate as much HP as GM’s small blocks? Who cares. I’m a Mopar fan anyway :slight_smile: (let the flames begin!)

I remember seeing a lot of Ford trucks in the 1960’s equipped with a 360 cubic inch V-8 engine which I think may have been derived from the 352 cubic inch Ford engine. The more modern Ford small block V-8 didn’t appear in Ford cars until 1962 when Ford introduced the intermediate size Fairlane. This engine displaced 221 cubic inches. The next year, the engine went to 260 cubic inches, then 289 cubic inches and then 302 cubic inches. My first wife’s father had a 1969 Ford truck with the 302 V-8. It was a half ton with a short bed and a 3 speed transmission with overdrive. It was a great truck.

Through the 1960’s a lot of trucks had 6 cylinder engines, even the 3/4 ton models. Ford had a 223 cubic inch 6 until 1965 when it was replaced with a more modern 6 of 240 cubic inch displacement and 300 cubic inch displacement.

Before the more modern small block Ford V-8 was available in pickup trucks, Ford used the older 292 cubic inch V-8. This didn’t offer a lot more torque than the 6 which may explain why the big block was the V-8 of choice.

One more point: The Chevrolet small block V-8 first appeared in 1955 and was available in the pickup truck line. This engine weighed less than the “stovebolt” 6 that had been used for a long time. This engine made its way into the Chevrolet pickup trucks that year. Interestingly, the GMC trucks used a version of the newly introduced Pontiac V-8. There were many of us who liked the old stovebolt 6 in the truck. In 1963, Chevrolet replaced this engine with a 230 cubic inch 6 that was a variation of the 194 cubic inch 6 that appeared in the 1962 Chevy II. By this time, the virtues of the Chevrolet V-8 were well known, while the newly developed Chevrolet 6 was an unknown. This may partially explain why the Chevrolet small block V-8 became so popular. GMC meanwhile, developed a V-6 engine for the truck line. It was a good engine, but many prefered the Chevrolet V-8 and this eventually went into the GMC pickups as well.

Ford used its 216 cubic inch 6 which was later increased to 223 cubic inches in the pickup trucks starting in 1952. This engine replaced a flathead 6 and in many ways outshown the Ford flathead V-8 in truck use. In fact, the flathead 6 was prefered by many pickup owners over the flathead V-8 at that time. The overhead valve Ford V-8 which appeared in 1954 wasn’t as popular as the 6 and never performed as well as the small block Chevrolet V-8. The really good small block Ford V-8 that came along about 1963 did rival the Chevrolet V-8, but the big block Ford V-8 was there first.

Also remember in this time period that most pickup trucks were what we call “work trucks” today. Though GMC and Ford introduced automatic transmissions in trucks in 1953 and Chevrolet followed in 1954, most pickup trucks through the 1960’s had manual transmissions. Six cylinder engines were very common in pickup trucks.

The 260, 289,302 engines seemed very weak on low end torque. The 300-I6 was by far a better stump puller than the 302 and nearly equaled the 351W. All non Winsor engines are often referred to as Big Blocks and there were several variations, all of which were used in pickups. There are so many television ads bragging about the horsepower of various trucks but I find it hard to believe that any current pickup engine will out pull a 460. An old customer used an F350 flat bed truck with a 460 in his landscaping business. He carried a front end loader on the truck bed and often pulled a small bull dozer along behind, also and could keep up with traffic.

Just going by my fading memory of the 60’s and 70’s it seemed that I knew many more people with 460 Ford equipped pickup trucks (even to the point of swaps from smaller Ford engines to the 460) than I ever knew with GM pickups and big blocks.

I had a boss that had a new Ford pickup in 1978 and we used it to haul around our class 2 off-road car (around Southern Ca and Mexico) and it was popular with the off-road bunch to use the 460 Ford foe towing (he made the swap).

Another populat big block use was the 455 Olds in ski boats. I know that GM had a 455 with Pontiac and Buick had a 455 also but it was the Olds engine of this displacement that was popular with the jet boat crowd.

Flames coming from your engine compartment are not a good thing. (they are INTERNAL cobust, not external) :smiley:

I had a 300-I6 in an old van I had. It moved the van great from a standstill, but you’d be hard pressed to keep up with traffic moving at 70MPH, especially if you were heading into the wind. It was a good motor and I had no trouble with it, ever, but it just didn’t breathe well enough to make much power over 3,000 RPM.

You can’t beat displacement for low-end torque. Old 500 CID Caddy motors are still sought after and built up for many applications even today.

But it’s hard to imagine that the venerable 460s are in the same class as Ford’s V10, Chrysler’s Hemi motors, or GM’s 6-liter V8s in pickups. (The V8s in the Nissan Titan and Toyota are pretty nice too)

Look at the size of the 60’s LTD’s, Ford needed a big engine to push those around. The FE 390 was used in a lot of vehicles especially trucks. The Police Interceptor FE 428 was used for police vehicles & also put in the 1967 Shelby GT500 which was just a 67 Mustang. It was Bob Tasca Ford - Prov RI that blended FE parts together (427 & 428) to create a serious FE big block. Ford used some of Bob Tasca’s Ideas to create the FE 428 Cobra Jet for 1969. When Ford put the 428CJ into the 1969 Mustang they made a drag car one could purchase off the lot. Additionally Ford made a 428 Super Cobra Jet. It was an option when ordering a big block Mustang. 13192 FE 428CJ motors were made for 1969. The question is what Ford vehicles did they go into?

The LTD’s were big, but the impalla was huge as well. many of those got the 307-327-350 sbc setup.

In stock trim the 460 put out about 375 hp and lots more trq. There are few gas engines in P/u that can match that. the 460 two bolt main block can be built safely to 800 horse for under ten grand. (starting with nothing, buying the block machine work, heads, everything). 7.5L is a lot of boom. Most of these motors are stroked to WELL over 500 inches when built (and a few go over 600).

Well Red-Tail were you on a fishing expedition (also called trolling in internet speak) by posting a question you already knew the best answer too?

Chevrolet came out with a “big block” V-8 in 1958 that displaced 348 cubic inches. There was a version of this for trucks as well. However, the small block Chevrolet V-8 could be had in a 327 cubic inch version by 1962. I think that the big block engine made it past 400 cubic inches. However, the small block V-8 worked so well that this seemed to become the V-8 engine of choice in the Chevrolet pick-up trucks.

Nope, I didn’t know why sbc was the 1st choice in v8’s for chevy p/u. It still confuses me why more BBC’s were not put in to the lighter duty pu’s.

You probably know more about both the big block/small block FORD’s/Chevrolets than the people you are asking.

But perhaps you are overlooking the fact that the small block Chevrolet got the job done at much less expense than either the BB Chevrolet and either type of FORD. When people saw this demonstrated they made a choice based upon their need and pocketbook.

Good point about the small block p/u’s costing less. However I can smell that you are a bowtie man yourself.

“In stock trim the 460 put out about 375 hp and lots more trq”

–yeah, but that was the old SAE rating, at the crankshaft, wasn’t it? Wasn’t the power at the rear wheels considerably less?

either way, it’s still a lot for a stock workhorse.