1957-1959 Ford Styling

1958 Ford FE-Series Engines

Ford's big-blocks for 1958, designated the FE-series, boasted easier serviceability, from spark plugs situated above the exhaust manifolds to an oil filter mounted on the bottom left. Oil pumps now sat within the crankcase, and draft tubes were mounted at the rear. One of the FE's best features was a precision-molded crankshaft, which had a lot of production advantages over the former forged shaft and has helped keep thousands of these engines running to this day.

1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Club Victoria
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
This Ford Fairlane 500 Club Victoria was conservative next to some other 1958 cars.

Other highlights included bigger bearings with greater journal overlap, and fully machined combustion chambers located in the heads instead of the block, which sat at a smart right angle to the heads. Intake ports were greatly enlarged, valve lift was much higher, and no two exhaust valves were adjacent.

Newly designed valve rotators promised better lubrication and longer life. The valvetrain was lighter and less complex than in the Y-block design, Ford's first ohv V-8, with heavier new valve springs to decrease the likelihood of float at high rpm. Though FE cylinder heads were smaller than the Y-block family's, larger intake manifolds allowed engineers to make the manifold passages about equal length for more even fuel distribution.

Ford collectors like to boast about their old 292s and 312s, not realizing the FE-series' many milestone improvements. Principally the work of Robert Stevenson, who'd been named chief engineer at Ford Engine & Foundry in 1957, it was designed for displacements of up to 425 cubic inches, and proved extremely durable and trouble-free and was thus long-lived. In fact, production of the 390 version would continue all the way into the early Seventies.

There's still a lot of confusion surrounding the 332/352, the 390, and Lincoln 430 engines of this period. The 390, introduced in 1961, was built from the ground up for higher performance. As such, it looks much like the 352 and uses the same cam and heads, but required entirely different castings for its stronger bottom end and larger oil passages. The 430 isn't related at all, though it was designed primarily by Stevenson at the same time as the 352. It has pushrods coming up through tubes in the intake manifolds instead of through the heads, and its combustion chambers are housed completely within the cylinder bores.

On the next page, find out about the 1958 Ford line-up's features and specifications.

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