After preaching the value and performance/mileage advantages of the 305 Chevy, I felt it only right and propper to give the small block Ford it's fair share of attention from the perspective of low-buck, back yard, REAL world performance! First arriving on the scene in the early 60s as a 221 cubic inch overhead valve engine in a lightweight package, the "Windsor" engine has been around a while. It soon grew to 260 cubes, then 289 and finally 302. In the late 70s and early 80s, Ford issued a 255 cubic inch variant, but that was a desperate measure to bump up fuel economy figures, and the 255 is a forgotten oddity in the small block Ford ranks. There is also the 351 Windsor engine, which is essentially the same design as a the smaller motors, although it does feature a raised deck height to accomodate the longer stroke, so it uses a different (wider) intake manifold. Valve covers, valvetrain components, and many other parts interchange between the 351 and 302 small blocks, but blocks and manifolds are unique. I feel that a quick note on identifying these engines is in order, since Ford managed to create a little confusion with all of their V8 engine designs. The Windsor small blocks use a "wet" intake manifold...that is to say, that coolant flows through it, and that the thermostat housing bolts to the intake facing straight out in front. (Cleveland engines use a 'dry' intake...no coolant flows through them.). In addition, Windsor engines also use intake manifold bolts that go in vertically, rather than angled towards the head as most V8 engines do. When all else fails, of course, you can resort to the age old 'count the valve cover bolts' trick: 5 bolts per cover = FE series big block 6 bolts per cover = Windsor small block 7 bolts per cover = Lima series (429/460) big block 8 bolts per cover = Cleveland or M series The small block Ford is a fairly compact engine design, and it is pretty light to boot. However, the front sump oil pan design and the length of the engine when equipped with all accessories can make for a tricky fit in some chassis. There are dual sump oil pans available for factory applications such as the Fox chassis platforms that have a small sump in front, with a larger sump in the rear. These pans will bolt onto older small blocks, but will also require the proper oil pump pickup for the given pan. The angle of the oil filter coming off of the block in the front of the engine can also complicate fit issues, but shorter filters or re-location kits are an easy answer there. Any honest Ford engineer will tell you that you just can't coax the mileage figures out of a small block Ford that you can get out of a similar sized small Chevy. They know it, and it's been proven dozens of times. It was one of the contributing factors that lead Ford to push for an all new engine design to replace the small block. Part of the hurdle that stands between performance and mileage gains in the small block Ford and you is the cylinder head design. This is true of most older Ford V8s. The intake side of the head flows pretty well, but the exhaust side is quite restrictive. This is due in large part to the fact that these engines had to fit into vehicles that used shock towers which made for a very tight squeeze under the hood. The exhaust port and exhaust manifold designs had to be compromised to allow the engines to fit these cars! Although a small Ford will respond favorably to basic bolt-on performance mods, the real key to making them run lies in maximizing cylinder head flow, especially on the exhaust side. Years ago, the "hot set-up" was to install 1969-70 351 Windsor heads on a 289 or 302. It was a good performance upgrade at the time using available factory parts. Carefull porting on the exhaust side with the aid of a flow bench does wonders for these engines, even with stock 302 or 289 heads. Also, in hot rods where header design is far more open, a good set of pipes is a big help! Selecting a good dual pattern cam which favors the exhaust valve is also vital to getting the most out of your small Ford. The older Isky Mega Cams series feature a good set of specs in a few different options from street/strip friendly to more competition oriented. A good place to look! Also, be aware that there is an "early" and a "late" firing order for small block Fords. It used to be that 221/260/289 and 302 engines used one firing order, and 351 Windsors used another. Later small blocks all used the same firing order. You CAN change and swap cams in the earlier engines to change the firing order...nothing else needs to be changed...just the camshaft and the resulting wiring change to the firing order you are using. The cam determines which. A stock 351 Windsor cam was a popular low-buck performance gainer for 289 and 302 engines once upon a time. It smoothed out the engine and gave a better feel throughout the useable rpm range. Once you've selected a cam and paid some heed to the restrictions in the exhaust ports and added some good headers, you need to think about intake manifolds. In the case of most small block Fords, the factory four barrel intakes really work quite well. Cast iron versions were available, but the most popular ones are the later 1983-86 Mustang GT intakes made from aluminum. They are a dynamite low-buck street intake for stock small blocks. That said, the 289/302 engine really prefers a good dual plane design such as the old Cobra intake, or the various aftermarket examples. The Performer works about on par with a Mustang GT intake, but the Performer RPM works REALLY well with a little more cam and good headers. A 600cfm carb is sufficient for most milder engines, but the 750 Holley does it on the Performer RPM intake. Single plane intakes work on small Fords only if the heads can flow enough to take advantage of them. On a milder engine with little or no porting, or when using stock heads, a single plane intake like the Torker or others will actually HURT performance and economy. The curious exception is tunnel rams. When topped with small vacuum secondaries carbs, like the 390 or 450cfm Holleys, a tunnel ram works very well on a warmed over 289 or 302. Not the best mileage option, but a decent performer with a good cam and headers. The factory low-rise dual quad and tri-power set-ups also worked pretty well, but can be pricey. In addition Weber set-ups and cross-rams are available for these engines, but I've never had any personal experience with either of them. In this day and age, it is possible to get significant power gains out of small block Fords thanks largely to the popularity of the late model Mustang crowd. There are MANY good aftermarket cylinder heads on the market today that offer VAST improvements over the stockers, and can help you take your Windsor engine to the next level! With the better heads, a Victor Jr intake and a big Holley DO work well on the little engines! The 289/302 engine is a good buy for backyard hot rodders looking for a cheap, reliable engine in a light weight package that offers a break from the sea of small block Chevys at the typical cruise nights or shows. They take a little more finesse to get up to small block Chevy power levels, but in a light little coupe or roadster project, it's almost a non-issue! The little Fords will make enough power to have alot of fun...and they can do it for roughly the same cost as a mild Chevy. Transmission choices come into play when running a small block Ford. The C4 is a good, light and cheap tranny that offers a good performance aid in that it takes very little power to operate, but it isn't as tough as a TH350. There are small block C6 trannys out there, but they cost more and soak up more power in return for their increased strength. The rock-solid Top-Loader four speed is more than adequate behind a typical street/strip small block, and the T5 is also an attractive option for some rodders. Again, running a small Ford takes a little more planning, but it's still a viable option for low-buck rodders who want to go fast without spending a fortune! Some other notes: Small Block Fords like to run on the cool side. I found that my Chevy engines ran best at 180-190 degrees, but Fords like to run better in the 160-170 range. The proper thermostat and fan selection should keep you where you want to be. Spark plug selection makes a difference. I used AC/Delco plugs in all my Chevys, and even tried them out in some Fords. Following a suggestion from a friend, I tried a set of Autolite plugs in an old Mustang and they worked better than anything else I messed with. Just one of those funny quirks, but my buddy said that Autolites always worked better in his Fords. Vacuum advance...GM engines used manifold vacuum to provide full vacuum assisted advance at idle and part throttle cruise to promote smooth running and increased mileage. Some early Fords used ported vacuum to the distributor. Switching to a manifold vacuum source and making the appropriate timing adjustments will smooth out the small Ford's idle and make it more efficient around town and on the freeway. Be carefull to avoid spark knock, though. Use good fuel! Header design...in the 60s, the hot set-up for the 289 was a tri-y header design. This made big gains over stock manifolds, but the tri-y design is pretty rpm selective. It's still a good bet for chassis where it will work, and works wonders to boost midrange performance, but in a typical rod, you will either be using a chassis header, or an over-the rails design most likely. Just be sure to jet you carb accordingly, and ANY header will work better than stock manifolds! Balncing act...up to 1980 or so, small block Fords used one balnce, after that, they change somewhat. Be sure to use the right balncer and flexplate or flywheel for the year of your short block! Cleveland heads! The infamous Boss 302 engines were created by using a set of Cleveland style haeds on a beefed up 302 short block. This requires a unique manifold and Cleveland style headers. There have been many successfull attempts by home-brewed hot rodders at duplicating this set-up at home. The best results came from installing 2v Cleveland heads on a 289/302 with the "Street Boss" aftermarket intake designed for this particular swap. Strong in it's glory days, this option isn't nearly as popular now. It still makes for a screamin' small block, though...and if you can locate the intake manifold required, it offers a cool alternative to what most small block Ford guys are running! Not the cheapest way to go...but it really wakes up your Windsor! Intended as a basic overview, I offer this post to help share some of what I've learned in my experience with street small block Fords with you. I've had about an equal number of small block Ford and small block Chevy toys in my time, and these days, I kinda like the Fords a little more...if only because they're not as mainstream in the world of hot rods as the Chevy is...yet! Either one will provide you with a cheap, plentiful, reliable and stout performer for your hot rod project, even though there are a few more little quirks to learn about with the Ford. It's part of what makes them fun to me, though...I'm an engine guy...and I love tuning and tweaking them! Fords just don't get the mileage figures of their Chevy rivals...the BEST I ever coaxed out of a small Ford was 18mpg highway in a little Mustang 2 with a 351 Windsor...and that took carefull attention to detail! But still, that factor alone isn't enough to keep me from running one in my Vickup project!