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Ford 400M vs. Chevy 400

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Old 08-11-2009, 12:39 AM
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Ford 400M vs. Chevy 400

Hello all after reading the arguments about the 460 vs. the 454 I got to thinking about this match up. A Ford 400M (true displacement 402) vs. a 400 sb chevy. Now I know for sure the 400 ford wasn't a racing motor by all means more of a truck/big car motor but how does it compare to the 400 chevy. I figured to do this comparrison because I haven't seen it done plus the displacement is pretty close to each other.
 
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:21 AM
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One is a big block & the other is small block so what are you comparing? Now if you want to campare a Chevy 400 BB to a 400 M then your comparing apples to apples.
 
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:34 PM
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The comparison is somewhat valid because they were both created for a similar mission. Due to the unfortunate combination of "low-priced" Fords, Chevy's and Plymouths becoming ever more bloated (sound familiar today) and lowered compression ratios due to the introduction of cat converters that require unleaded gas, the simple solution was more cubic inches in a cheap-to-build, low-performance package. Gobs of torque, three-speed automatics and 2.56-3.08 axle ratios in an era of 50 cent a gallon gas.

From allpar.com article about Chrysler "B" engines:

"The 400 engine was introduced in 1972 in standard and high performance versions; it was a large (4.34) bore version of the 383 B engine, but we’ve been told that practically nothing was interchangeable. The 400 was brought out when interim smog controls, which varying degrees of efficiency, were lowering power, and may have been considered a cheaper way to regain some performance; though the base version produced less power than the high performance 340 had, using a two-barrel carburetor."

Ford went with a longer stroke, Chrysler and GM bigger bore.

Jim
 
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:34 PM
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The Chevy 400 Small Block had such a big bore that coolant no longer flowed between the cylinders. This had to be the lightest and cheapest to build, but weakest 400 of the three, perfectly suited to a non police car Impala or Caprice.

Yes, there was a Chevy BB 400 (actually 402), but I think it was used only in trucks. The Ford was sort of a "mid block", maybe? The Mopar was a low deck "big block".

Jim
 
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by jimandmandy View Post
The Chevy 400 Small Block had such a big bore that coolant no longer flowed between the cylinders. This had to be the lightest and cheapest to build, but weakest 400 of the three, perfectly suited to a non police car Impala or Caprice.

Yes, there was a Chevy BB 400 (actually 402), but I think it was used only in trucks. The Ford was sort of a "mid block", maybe? The Mopar was a low deck "big block".

Jim
siamesing the bores actually strengthens the block. to not do this, the cylinder would have had to have a liner - a maint and longevity nightmare.

while chevy never built a 'performance version' of the 400 (hell a 4bbl didnt even show up till much later), everyone else did.

the 400 became the base engine on the caprice for owners who needed it to move 0-50 in a timely fashion, and never much faster. It was also the large cube answer for the van at the time.

the '402' chevy was a bored 396 (and corresponding compression loss) and was in cars and trucks (the chevelle heavy chevy had the 402). I just saw one this last weekend at carlisle in a C10 with the V8-400 emblem. I was expecting a 511 block but instead found a big block....

since neither manu made performance versions, any hot rodding comparo would have to come from the outside. the chevy would win hands down - there is just too much out there AND some makers are still casting 4.125 blocks with 2.45 mains to use even more stuff.
 
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Old 08-11-2009, 05:23 PM
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First off, the Ford 400M vs. Chevy 400 SB is a good comparison. The Cleveland/Midland engines are most definitely small blocks, going by cylinder bore spacing. Remember that the 351M was basically a Cleveland with a Windsor crank. 'jimandmandy' has it right, these engines were created to have good torque and emissions characteristics, not much else. Both showed up in light trucks during the 70's, and since neither Ford or Chevy saw fit to offer big block (454 or 460) 4X4's during those days, both of these 400's were pretty common.The Chevy 400 SB tended to run a bit hot, and the proximity of the head bolts to the cylinder wall caused a bit of distortion at the top of the cylinder, leading to more oil consumption than other SBC's. The Ford 400M had head cracking issues, core shift was common in the blocks, and of course it had the infamous Cleveland 'lifters first' oiling system. Neither engine rated too high in my book!
 
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by quaddriver View Post

since neither manu made performance versions, any hot rodding comparo would have to come from the outside. the chevy would win hands down - there is just too much out there AND some makers are still casting 4.125 blocks with 2.45 mains to use even more stuff.
I guess you have never seen the engine masters challenge
done by Hot rod magazine. From a cost standpoint, the Chevy is better, but with what john Klasse can do with 400" Fords, you would be surprised. The 400 can be built to dominant with the canted valve heads and the square dimensions with yield better torque, not to mention that the 400 chevy blocks are weak compared to other small block chevys as well.
 
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:09 PM
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In high performance use, the SBC 400's rods were potentially more of a problem than the block ever was. The SBC 400 rod was made to clear the oil pan rail. I don't think the SBC 400's block was any worse than the thin-walled 400 Ford. .030" is about the limit for boring both of them.
 
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Old 08-12-2009, 01:16 AM
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Anyway you look at it the 400M Ford is considered a big block. The family was 351M 400M & 351 Cleveland. All of these motors will bolt a 460 bellhousing to them. You can't do that with any other series.
All Big Block Chevy motors got there start in trucks.
Since the 400 Chrysler was brought up that was by far the best of any of the 400s. Performance increases were much broader than the 400M. But not so much to the 400 Chevy BB which as stated earlier was a 402.
To me comparing any BB block to a small block is two different things. Lets throw the 402 Chevy Big Block in the mix. But if we do that the 400M looks real weak in stock form. Then if you want to build these it still is in third place.
If you want real world facts in 1979 I owned a 1979 CK 20 4x4 Chevy 350 4speed 3:73 gears & a friend owned a 1979 Ford F250 4x4 400M 4speed 3:55 gears & we raced 90 miles wide open & after 10 miles I couldn't see him behind me. These trucks were brand new with about 10,000 miles on them. We ran similar sized tires. Can't get much closer of a match than that & the 350 SBC smoked the 400M. I drove that Chevy to 300,000 miles before I sold it.
 
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Old 08-12-2009, 09:25 AM
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I have seen a 402 (400BB) Chevy in a 72 Camaro, it had a Q-jet on it. I would have to give the Chevy the kudos in this match as it was derived from the 325/360 396 engine (AKA oval port) In my experiance the Ford 400 is a real good boat anchor, give me a 390 any day. Built up, with a decent manifold an 4 barrel, maybe. If you really want to get away from engines used in trucks, 401 Buick nail valve, 400 Pontiac, 403 Olds to throw some in the pot, even the AMC 401 used in the later AMXs, etc. after AMC raised their displacement on the 3 V8s. Of these, the Buick was the stump puller, 445 ft-lbs of torque at a relativly low RPM, had to, the Dynaflow needed it.
 
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:01 AM
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The problem with bringing the Buick 401 "nail head" into the comparison is that it was long gone by the time the other 400's came out. Buick handled the new California and upcoming Federal emissions standards by starting with a clean sheet of paper and designing a new family of V-8's introduced as a 400 in 1967 with optimum combustion chambers and breathing.

The ultimate result was in 1970, just before compressions were lowered for unleaded gas. A 13.38-second pass at 105.5 mph prompted Motor Trend to crown the GS 455 Stage 1 "the quickest American production car we had ever tested."

Jim
 
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:08 AM
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I'm not a Chevy man, but the 400 is a good engine, many circle track guys swear by them.

Originally Posted by jimandmandy View Post

The ultimate result was in 1970, just before compressions were lowered for unleaded gas. A 13.38-second pass at 105.5 mph prompted Motor Trend to crown the GS 455 Stage 1 "the quickest American production car we had ever tested."

Jim
Back in 1970 I was helping a buddy at the track tune his car. Guy we vaguely knew pulled up in a new Skylark GS. We were laughing at the Grandma vinyl top, the column shifter, bench seats and the fact it had air conditioning as it looked more like a luxury car. We didn't think anything of the Stage 1 as we had never seen or heard of the earlier Stage 1 400s. Bone stock he made several low 13 sec passes. By the end of the night he played with the ignition and had his petite girlfriend up to the lanes and she ripped a 13.00 flat ! Our jaws dropped as this car still had the factory window sticker on it. My buddies CJ 428 Torino at the time was running low 14s.
 
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Old 08-12-2009, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by kermmydog View Post
Anyway you look at it the 400M Ford is considered a big block
You must be high. The 351M/400 are "small blocks". Saying they are small/big block is incorrect as well. Ford does not determine engines by small/big but by series or initials. Ex.- 335 Series-351M/400. FE-390/360. They were based on the 351C which is a "small block" and given a taller deck height. The only reason they share 385 Series bellhousings is because they were created to phase out the 390/360's. Also another flaw in your "idea" is carrying the M with the 400. The only ford engine to carry the M is the 351 from the 335 series. It stands for modified, not midland, not Michigan, its Modified. Don't fight it either, ford literature proves it. Contact NumberDummy if you don't believe me.
 
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Old 08-12-2009, 01:04 PM
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I thought it was Chevrolet that called their bigger engines "big blocks" to differentiate them from the small block family. Ford differentiated their engines as Y blocks, FE's, 385s, Windsors, and Clevelands. Did Ford ever call the 460 a big block ? Technically I guess you could say yes it is, but they always called it the Lima or 385 series I thought.
My guess as to why Ford went with the 460 bolt pattern for the 400 is where did the 400 get dropped into before trucks ? Big, heavy station wagons and passenger cars. And they probably planned it would eventually go into the pickups, so why not have a stronger transmission (C6) for that application ?

You can compare a big block to a small block, so what if the block is physically larger ? If the displacement is the same a physically lager block will not give it any more power.
Adding more cast iron for a bigger block doesnt make more power.
The power aside from cubes is in the cylinder heads (the breathing)
 
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Old 08-12-2009, 07:23 PM
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Ford 400 vs Chevy 400 SB

Originally Posted by Holiver31 View Post
You must be high. The 351M/400 are "small blocks". Saying they are small/big block is incorrect as well. Ford does not determine engines by small/big but by series or initials. Ex.- 335 Series-351M/400. FE-390/360. They were based on the 351C which is a "small block" and given a taller deck height. The only reason they share 385 Series bellhousings is because they were created to phase out the 390/360's. Also another flaw in your "idea" is carrying the M with the 400. The only ford engine to carry the M is the 351 from the 335 series. It stands for modified, not midland, not Michigan, its Modified. Don't fight it either, ford literature proves it. Contact NumberDummy if you don't believe me.
Well, it is interesting that the 351M and 400 share the 385 series mount design and bell housing. That basically gave Ford an easy setup, 351M, 400, 429, 460 all could use the same transmission case and starter. See a pattern here? That and the physical size of the beasts compared to true small blocks such as the 221, 260, 289, 302, 351W. The 351C is sort of it's own breed kind of like the USS Enterprise (CVN65) is a one ship class. Ford may not call them big blocks, but anything that big and heavy is a big block in my book. Trivia question, did Pontiac ever make a small block or big block?
 
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