Engine

Asked by May 01, 2018 at 04:13 PM about the 1978 Ford Thunderbird

Question type: General

Was the 78 thunderbird ever made with a
390 engine?

3 Answers

1,345

I don't think so. I've seen them with mostly 351 and 400

150,275

I think 76 was the last year for the FE but those were in pickups. Medium and heavy trucks used them up to 78. The last year for the 390 in a T-bird was probably 1967.

7,905

The last year for an FE-390 in any car was 1971. Ford did use them in trucks thru 1978. The 351/400-M replaced the 390 in Ford pickup trucks in the 1979 model year. I bought a brand new F-250 4x4 in 1979 ($10,400 loaded) and wanted the 390 but had to settle for the 351-M. I opted for the 4 spd trans. so I couldn't get the 460 which was only available with the automatic transmission. The 351-M was a dog compared to the 351-C and most if not all had their 2-pc. rear seals blowing out early in life at highway speeds causing major loss of oil pressure and also usually causing a lower-end rebuild of the engine because of damage to the main bearings not getting sufficient oiling. Mine blew out at 37K miles at 55mph on the highway on the way to a car show when the truck was only a few years old. Worst engine Ford ever made. Contrarily the FE 390 was the strongest engine Ford ever made from 1958 thru 1978. So unfortunately no big block was ever available in any 1977 or newer T birds. Contrary to most belief, the 351/400 block was NOT a big block but was actually a Modified 351-Cleveland/5.8L small block with a much higher deck thus the "M" designation. Cylinder heads and lower end parts (ex. crankshafts, bearings, camshaft, timing chain, etc.) from all Ford small blocks will interchange with the "M" series engines. Intake manifolds on the other hand will not except with an adaptor kit which adds spacers between the cylinder heads and a 351-Clev. intake manifold if you want to run a high-performance "Torker" or a dual quad 351-Cleveland intake manifold. FYI, a Boss 351 used in the Mustangs in 1969 and 1970 (not to be confused with the 351-W) is actually a 302/5.0L small block with 351-Clev. cylinder heads on it from the factory. Everything else is basically a small block though the 351-C engine which was still considered a small-block, it actually used a slightly different block from the 302/351-W. Yes, I know, very confusing indeed. Back in the day and actually still now, Ford had way too many variations of engines and made everything quite confusing compared to Chevrolet that used the same small-block from a 283 to a 400 for years and years and everything interchanged. BTW, The last year for a 390 in a T-Bird was 1965. Though the same block as the 390, Ford only put the new 428 in the T-bird starting in 1966 thru 1968. In 1969 Ford again changed things around and put the new 429 385-series big block (completely different engine)in the T-Birds. This engine lasted thru 1973 and in 1974 Ford changed the bore and it went from 429 cubic inches to 460 cubic inch big-block which lasted into the mid 1990's when the new 4.6/5.4L modular engine came out in 1997 in the new more aerodynamic looking F-150 mid year. Ford a few months in '97 Ford actually had two different looking 1997 Ford F-150's. Yeah, I know, even more confusing. Ford was always good for do that kind of stuff. Remember the 1958 thru mid 1960 Edsel ???

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