Ford and Mercury 390 CID V8: 1961 – 1969

Engine Articles, Ford, Mercury, Most Recent Technical Information, What’s Happening

by Society Staff – reprint with permission only

The 390 CID V8, which is actually 390.06 CID, had a bore of 4.05″ and stroke of 3.785″.

1961: The 390 was introduced for the 1961 year in Ford passenger cars. It became the most common FE engine as it was produced from that date until 1971. The engine was enlarged to meet the increased demand for more powerful V8s. The 390 CID was initially offered only in a four-barrel configuration as the premium V8 in the Ford line. 

1961-1965: The 390 was initially a medium performance engine only, equipped in 4-barrel form rated at 300 HP @ 4600 RPM and with a torque rating of 427 ft. lbs. @ 2800 RPM with a 9.6:1 compression ratio. This configuration continued in use through 1965. Next up in that first year was the more powerful version delivering 330 HP @ 5000 RPM and 427 ft. lbs. @ 3200 RPM. also with a 9.6:1 compression ratio. This 330 HP version was offered from 1961 through 1963, while the 300 HP unit was available through 1965. These were low-speed hydraulic lifter low-performance engines.

1961-1962: High Performance: Two ultra high-performance versions were also made available in ’61, in 375 HP and 401 HP tunes. Both featured an aluminum intake manifold with either a Holley 4160 Carburetor or three 2-barrel carburetors respectively. The 3-2 barrel version was dealer-installed in 1961. Both featured cast iron “header” style exhaust manifolds, 10.5:1 compression ratio, and a high-performance camshaft with mechanical lifters. As stated, the 401 HP version was not factory-produced but was the 375 HP 4-barrel version with a dealer-installed 3×2 manifold.

The two high-performance engines were rated as follows: 375 HP @ 6000 RPM and 427 ft. lbs. of torque @ 3400 RPM; 401 HP @ 6000 RPM and 430 ft. lbs. of torque @ 3500 RPM. Both engines were offered at the beginning of the 1962 model year and were rated the same. They were replaced by the 406 CID high-performance FE shortly after the 1962 model year began.

1963 “M” Series:  The 1963 “M” model was exclusive to the Thunderbird line. It utilized a hybrid version of the 3×2 barrel engine, with the 3×2 manifold installed on what was the 330 HP 390. This engine was rated at 340 HP @ 5000 RPM and 430 ft. lbs. of torque @ 3200 RPM. It also had a 10.5:1 compression ratio.

Eric White Digital Library

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