The Ford 385-series V-8 engine line was named after the crankshaft stroke of the 460 cubic inch V-8, which was 3.85 inches. Replacing the Ford MEL (Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln) engine, this series of engines also later replaced the Ford FE engine. To reduce weight, the 385 utilized a skirtless block and thinwall casting techniques.
The 385 engines were available from 1968 through 1997 and were produced at the Ford Lima engine factory in Lima, Ohio—replacing the previous generation MEL motors made there. FE engines, which remained in production at Ford’s Dearborn facility, continued to be used in some vehicles until 1976, at which time the 385 became Ford’s only “big block” motor. (The 429 cubic inch version of the 385 replaced the 401, 477, and 534 Super Duty engines in 1982, and the 370 cubic inch edition replaced the 361 FE in 1978.)
These power plants came in three sizes: 370 cubic inch, 6.1 liter; 429 cubic inch 7.0 liter; and 460 cubic inch, 7.5 liter. They were used as the standard engine in Ford F-series trucks. (The 370 cubic inch 385 was used in medium-sized trucks only.) The engines were also used in boats, motor homes, for industrial applications, and installed in Ford’s big luxury automobiles of the 1970s.