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Old 08-28-2006, 01:23 PM
radramrod2 radramrod2 is offline
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Talking Is a 390 a good truck engine?

Hey guys/gals,

Recently I bought a pickup (76) with a 390/4spd and it seems like a powerful engine, but I was wondering is a 390 better suited for car or pickup? I'm used to the newer pickups (90's) and I thought I'd ask a few of you "seasoned" owners/mechanics/weekend warriors..etc, out there what you all thought?

Also, which engine would I be better off having in this pickup, it is four wheel drive, a 400/351M, 351W, or this 390? I'm not interested in a six-cylinder, nor anything over 400 cubic inches.

Just want your opinions on power and reliablitiy (durability), not concerned too much on gas mileage since it really won't matter with this truck, I think either engine will get reasonably the same no matter what.

I'm just curious to know all your opinions/thoughts about the 390, that's all.

- Rad
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Old 08-28-2006, 01:46 PM
rusty70f100 rusty70f100 is offline
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Assuming all the motors you're comparing are in good working order, I'd go with the 390 every time. The 351w equipped trucks that I test drove seemed, well, anemic. The 351M/400 motors have a poor head design, low compression, and relatively weak internals.

With a 390, you're getting a motor with a good head design, a decent compression ratio (varies with type of 390, truck is lower than car), and a bulletproof bottom end.

The thing about the FE series (and VERY similar FT series) in general is, you can build 'em for pretty much any purpose imaginable. They were used in everything from the 427 Cobra, to F750 dump trucks. You can build 'em for any purpose imaginable. All the parts are out there. Granted, some of 'em cost a little more than they would for, say, a 350 chevy. Where the FE series shines is, they came with a LOT of good parts, so you wont need to buy as many aftermarket parts.

So yeah, definately keep your 390.

Last edited by rusty70f100; 08-28-2006 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 08-28-2006, 02:35 PM
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76supercab2 76supercab2 is offline
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Plus, if you swap out the 390 for another family of engine, you'll need to change the tranny/bellhousing.
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Old 08-28-2006, 02:40 PM
fordraceboy fordraceboy is offline
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the only other motor to consider if you were willing to change engine families would be the 400- as it is of comparable size. I've had both but still prefer the 390- call me sentimental. LOL If you already had a 400 in the truck you be better off to stay with it, it can make decent power and it has a longer (4" versus 3.78") stroke than the 390- but was a dog for compression and induction from the factory.. JMHO
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Old 08-28-2006, 03:30 PM
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Is the 390 a good truck motor?

Hmmmm, let's see. Does a bear crap in the woods?
Why yes!


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Old 08-28-2006, 03:44 PM
PROSTOCK PROSTOCK is offline
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Asking a quesion like that in this forum and you can expect answers like stryder's.
Forget the 351W. The 400 can be made to run well, but is limited in the performance parts dept. For simplicity's sake, stay with the 390, although I'd verify that it is truely a 390, could be a 360. The fact that it is 4wd means that it is most likely a 390 though. Rusty's comments about a 390 are pretty much right on.
However, I know you said less than 400 cu inch, but if you have the $$ and time, your other good option would be a 460.
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Old 08-28-2006, 04:24 PM
radramrod2 radramrod2 is offline
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I'm not a real huge fan of a 460, never really had the use or desire for one.

I didn't mean for the question to be sarcastic, I've never owned an FE engine before and was curious to know how the 390 compares, that's all.

Nice reply stryder...hahaha...I'm just curious though, what if the bear was born and raised in a circus and has never seen the woods? What then?!!!

Maybe I'd find out a few pointers/not-so-good things to know about a 390 and all relavent and irrelavent information.

Last edited by radramrod2; 08-28-2006 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 08-28-2006, 04:51 PM
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Sorry, I couldnt help myself. I'm in a mood today!

Anyways, the FEs have some of the longest stroke Ford had available. Like Rusty said, they are a little more expensive to build. Parts have gotten cheaper though as many people are discovering the power potential of these motors...that and complete motors can usually be found for free or very little $$$.
Read the Freq. Question at the top of this forum if you havent. Some of they guys in here are FE Gods. They know just about anything you could possible ask. Just dont ask Scouder how much money he has spent on his FEs. It might scare you.


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Old 08-28-2006, 05:50 PM
George Frasier George Frasier is offline
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Thumbs up 390's rule

That's just my opinion, but as prior threads, the 390 is almost unbeatable. There were a few variants 390 - 390 Cobra - 390 Super Cobra - 390 Interceptor. The longer stroke will equate to better torque/bottom end. Open up the intake and exhaust will raise the top end/power. A LOT of options and aftermarket parts.
A 360 is basicly a de-stroked 390 and it will still out-pull a 350 Chubby p/u.
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Old 08-28-2006, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radramrod2
Nice reply stryder...hahaha...I'm just curious though, what if the bear was born and raised in a circus and has never seen the woods? What then?!!!
He'd be happy wit drivin the little shivees the circus gives to him...Poor guy!

Not so good things? They will pass anything but a gas station, electronic engine management is not a bolt on from the bone-yard, roller cams and lifters will cost your first-born male child. Some of the joys of having an engine series that was discontinued during the dark ages of emission carburetors.
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Old 08-28-2006, 07:41 PM
rusty70f100 rusty70f100 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stryder
Like Rusty said, they are a little more expensive to build.
That's not exactly what I said...

I said, performance parts are more expensive. If you read into my post though, the point I was getting at is you wont have to buy as many performance parts and therefore, you could actually save money!

I did like the comment about the bear! I was considering one involving both the bear and the pope, but, eh.

I didn't mention gas mileage before, but I have gotten a repeatable 15mpg on trips with my 390 eqipped F100 before. Other users have gotten more than that. You can build for mileage with the FE, and it's not really all that hard.
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Old 08-28-2006, 07:50 PM
radramrod2 radramrod2 is offline
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Mileage with an FE, hmmm, is there anything special a guy should know? Besides the usual tune-up, distributor recurve, and PROPER carburetor jetting, and the fact I should go see the doc about my "leadfootitis"...
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:06 PM
rusty70f100 rusty70f100 is offline
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Yes, there is, as a matter of fact.

1. Tune it right! A lot of these old carbureted, points distributor engines are not running nearly the right fuel / timing curve. Especially when you start changing pistons, cam, etc. This kills your gas mileage right there. Going along with this is, look at the truck it's in. A lot of these older vehicles have problems that will destroy gas mileage.

2. Run decent compression. Somewhere around 9.5:1. There are a wide variety of pistons available. Keep quench (distance between piston at TDC and cylinder head) between .040" and .060".

3. Run a sane camshaft that emphasizes fuel efficiency. This would typically be something like a 260 degree (adv.) single pattern. The stock cam really isn't that great, being 30+ year old technology.

4. The intake manifold with big ports or a single plane may be good for performance, but not so good for efficiency. You want to keep up port velocity. Probably the best comprimise would be a stock iron 4 barrel intake with a 600cfm vacuum secondary sitting on top.

5. Run headers, but look for ones with smaller primary tubes.

6. You can clean up the ports for more performance, but dont hog 'em out as that will reduce velocity.

7. Keep your foot out of it!
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:16 PM
radramrod2 radramrod2 is offline
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I know this is probably on the site somewhere, but do you know off the top of your head the approximate compression ratio for the average "truck" version 390?

I'm sure it's a stock cam in there, is there any brand/grind of cam that you all would recommend, for a truck application?

It's already got a 4brl intake and Edelbrock 600 cfm carb, which does run absolutely excellent.
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stryder
Is the 390 a good truck motor?

Hmmmm, let's see. Does a bear crap in the woods?
Why yes!


Stryder
I had the same answer when I saw the question.
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:18 PM
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