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Old 04-23-2008, 12:47 AM
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1964 Ford Thunderbird FE 390 Performance?

Ok where do I start? First off the search feature for this site is real nice. I have been reading up on this site on the 390 engine for the past six hours. I have learned a great deal already, but still have questions after going through all eight pages of my search results. It all has to do with possible performance upgrades for a Ford 390 out of a 64 Thunderbird. First your all probably wondering what I possibly want to do with this car, and it will be a weekend toy for street/strip. With the research I have done I'm thinking I want to upgrade the following:

Holley model 4160 600cfm Non-Adjustable Float Carbureator

Weiand Action+Plus Intake Manifold

Edelbrock Performer RPM Cylinder Heads

Some sort of headers be it Hooker or what ever brand I can find, 3" dual exhaust, and a Cam/Lifter kit. I'm still a little lost on what cam/lifter kit to choose from. Because I can't find the specifications on the OEM cam. I'm guessing for with what I have listed above I don't need a hopped up cam, just something mild that will allow the engine to breath and flow better than stock. That is why I was looking possibly at:

Edelbrock Performer-Plus Cam and Lifter Kit

Is this in the ballpark for what I'm looking for? I guess my goal with the car is to possibly hit mid to low 13's in the 1/4, if that is at all possible on what I have planned above. Also I'm open to any suggestion, and will take all the advice I can get. If what I have posted above would never work together at all, please tell me why as so I can understand and learn why so I don't make the mistakes again in the future. Thanks ahead of time for all the help.

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Old 04-23-2008, 09:36 AM
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OK, I did more research and talked to the guy at work that has the car and came up with a new list of parts that will over time be bought and installed on the T-Bird. I would like the opinion of anybody on the board, but I think I might have a winner.

Heads "60069"
Cam/Lifter Kit "EDL-2106"
Intake Manifold "EDL-2105"
Carburetor "HLY-805085"
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Old 04-23-2008, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nubrodder
Ok where do I start? First off the search feature for this site is real nice. I have been reading up on this site on the 390 engine for the past six hours. I have learned a great deal already, but still have questions after going through all eight pages of my search results. It all has to do with possible performance upgrades for a Ford 390 out of a 64 Thunderbird. First your all probably wondering what I possibly want to do with this car, and it will be a weekend toy for street/strip. With the research I have done I'm thinking I want to upgrade the following:

Holley model 4160 600cfm Non-Adjustable Float Carbureator

Weiand Action+Plus Intake Manifold

Edelbrock Performer RPM Cylinder Heads

Some sort of headers be it Hooker or what ever brand I can find, 3" dual exhaust, and a Cam/Lifter kit. I'm still a little lost on what cam/lifter kit to choose from. Because I can't find the specifications on the OEM cam. I'm guessing for with what I have listed above I don't need a hopped up cam, just something mild that will allow the engine to breath and flow better than stock. That is why I was looking possibly at:

Edelbrock Performer-Plus Cam and Lifter Kit

Is this in the ballpark for what I'm looking for? I guess my goal with the car is to possibly hit mid to low 13's in the 1/4, if that is at all possible on what I have planned above. Also I'm open to any suggestion, and will take all the advice I can get. If what I have posted above would never work together at all, please tell me why as so I can understand and learn why so I don't make the mistakes again in the future. Thanks ahead of time for all the help.
First off I have tons of data on the FE, it's just 30 miles from where I am so tonight I'll check some options out for as Ford made 390s from mild 250 hp to wild 401 hp at different times. While a lot of the factory parts aren't available any more, the aftermarket still keeps the FE block well supplied right up to complete new crate engines in aluminum.

By 1964 the 390 was getting a bit too small to cope with the ever-growing T-Bird and the 428 was being readied as a replacement. I would highly recommend that you consider a stroker kit as the additional 38 cubes makes a world of difference in torque development which a heavy car like the 'bird really needs more than upper end horsepower.

You need to check the transmission, 64 is a change-over year for the automatic from the Borg-Warner 3 speed to the Ford built C6. Early production will have the B&W and later will have the C6. The C6 is a significant improvement. The B&W has a bolted on, overhung band servo which tends to crack the case, ever-after that happens the servo can't clamp the band as tight as it needs to be, so the car never has the omph when you get on it that it should have 'cause the band slips. The C6 solves these problems.

If it were mine, I stick a Lincoln 430 or 462 with a C6 or an AOD and call it good. But that's just me.

Bogie
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:34 PM
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Thanks for the info, how would I tell if it has the C6 or not, and what rear-end came in this model of T-Bird? The guy that owns it at the moment said he is pretty sure it is a Ford 9-inch rear end? Also everywhere I read up on the 390's the version that came in the 64 T-Bird was rated from factory at 300bhp. Any clue as to what the whp rating on this car would of been? My guess is around 215whp, and also how much did these cars weigh? Thanks again for all the info and help, I look forward to your next bit of info.

Last edited by nubrodder; 04-23-2008 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 04-23-2008, 01:32 PM
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nubrodder,
seriously...
if you want to have a decent strip car....
pick something lighter than the bird to build....

food for thought:
the 0-60mph for the 390 motor in the 64' bird was 11 seconds!!!!
the 0-60 mph for the 428 was 9 seconds!!!!
(and you want 13.5 seconds in the 1/4!!!! when 60mph takes 11 seconds)

if you use just a performer cam...0-60 might possibly be 10.8 seconds (whoppeee)

my $.02
keep it all stock and just swap to lower gears ($600? installed) for alot more "push you back in the seat fun" with more TQ at the tires to overcome the weight...
(and just upgrade the ign)....
or...
drop in the Lincoln as old boogie said....for more TQ from more cubes

it's a beautiful, head turning, comfortable cruiser...
enjoy it for what it's meant to be

with enough money anything is possible....
my guesstimate is $6000+ to hit a mid-thirteens with that car which I remember as darn close to 5,000 lbs

I did chuckle, sounds like you don't own it yet, and your already hot to spend bucks for more power....
you should budget about $2500 for very very likely needed repairs (brakes/lights/starter/etc) during the first year of driving...
just to get it reliable to drive....
unless you get receipts that everything(!) has been replaced....
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Old 04-23-2008, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by red65mustang
nubrodder,
seriously...
if you want to have a decent strip car....
pick something lighter than the bird to build....

food for thought:
the 0-60mph for the 390 motor in the 64' bird was 11 seconds!!!!
the 0-60 mph for the 428 was 9 seconds!!!!
(and you want 13.5 seconds in the 1/4!!!! when 60mph takes 11 seconds)

if you use just a performer cam...0-60 might possibly be 10.8 seconds (whoppeee)

my $.02
keep it all stock and just swap to lower gears ($600? installed) for alot more "push you back in the seat fun" with more TQ at the tires to overcome the weight...
(and just upgrade the ign)....
or...
drop in the Lincoln as old boogie said....for more TQ from more cubes

it's a beautiful, head turning, comfortable cruiser...
enjoy it for what it's meant to be

with enough money anything is possible....
my guesstimate is $6000+ to hit a mid-thirteens with that car which I remember as darn close to 5,000 lbs

I did chuckle, sounds like you don't own it yet, and your already hot to spend bucks for more power....
you should budget about $2500 for very very likely needed repairs (brakes/lights/starter/etc) during the first year of driving...
just to get it reliable to drive....
unless you get receipts that everything(!) has been replaced....
Thanks for the honesty, I found out the curb weight of the car is 4,431lb yikes that is pretty heavy. So my initial mid 13's was WAY out of the ball park lol. Even with the list of parts I posted, and after a proper tune I think I would be lucky to hit 16's in the 1/4. And very true a 44 year old car that has been sitting for as long as it has will probably need to be rewired, suspension, brakes, bushings, motor mounts the list goes on and on. Then an engine/tranny rebuild would be the first thing. So might as well start saving up a couple grand to find a 430/462 with a C6 to buy and rebuild. Because if that engine only came out in a Lincoln for only a few years. My guess is it will be pretty expensive if I'm able to find one. This is your simple case of a young kid getting in over his head and dreaming big. I need to chill out and slow down lol. Thanks for the reality check!
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:01 PM
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doesn't have to be the MEL Lincoln...
just more cubes for more available TQ....
but just lower gears will do the same thing...

illustration:
390motor=380ft/lbs x 3.73 gears=1417ft/lbs of force twisting the hides to accelerate the 4400lbs
460motor=450ft/lbs x 3.08 gears=1386ft/lbs
if the stock gears are 3.00 it's only 1140ft/lbs of force at the tires trying to move the 4400 lbs

that's roughly a 25% acceleration force increase for either but gears are way cheaper

LOL...460 motor and 3.73 gears= 1678ft/lbs= it will likely just sit there and burn the hides to the cords!!!!
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:39 PM
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Id skip the intake swap unless you go performer RPM, the stocker will perform better than the Offy or the standard performer. For headers I think the only company is going to be FPA. The Edelbrock heads will help a bunch but to get that car which is very heavy in the 13's is going to require way more than the mods you are planning. If it's a fun cruiser your looking for then haders and bigger carb. I'd go with a bigger cam than the performer, it's pretty mild for a big engine. For 64 you wont have a C6, it will be a cruiseomatic or something like that. Headers will be pricey, I'd start with a good dual exhaust and a carb, a 750 vacuum secondary would be a good choice, even better would be a factory Ford Holley, either 600 as came on the 390's or a 735 carb from a 428. Then decide if you want more, cam would be my next choice simply because of availability.
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:05 PM
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Thanks for all the help guys I really am lost when it comes to muscle cars. Maybe instead of making all of these plans for upgrades I need to spend some time learning about these cars, the engines, and see what options open up to me.
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by red65mustang
doesn't have to be the MEL Lincoln...
just more cubes for more available TQ....
but just lower gears will do the same thing...

illustration:
390motor=380ft/lbs x 3.73 gears=1417ft/lbs of force twisting the hides to accelerate the 4400lbs
460motor=450ft/lbs x 3.08 gears=1386ft/lbs
if the stock gears are 3.00 it's only 1140ft/lbs of force at the tires trying to move the 4400 lbs

that's roughly a 25% acceleration force increase for either but gears are way cheaper

LOL...460 motor and 3.73 gears= 1678ft/lbs= it will likely just sit there and burn the hides to the cords!!!!

Roasting tires can be fun .
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregb
Id skip the intake swap unless you go performer RPM, the stocker will perform better than the Offy or the standard performer. For headers I think the only company is going to be FPA. The Edelbrock heads will help a bunch but to get that car which is very heavy in the 13's is going to require way more than the mods you are planning. If it's a fun cruiser your looking for then haders and bigger carb. I'd go with a bigger cam than the performer, it's pretty mild for a big engine. For 64 you wont have a C6, it will be a cruiseomatic or something like that. Headers will be pricey, I'd start with a good dual exhaust and a carb, a 750 vacuum secondary would be a good choice, even better would be a factory Ford Holley, either 600 as came on the 390's or a 735 carb from a 428. Then decide if you want more, cam would be my next choice simply because of availability.
Yeah the more I look into performance mods for the 390, the more I realize that the list I have so far would not do to much for the car with as much as it would cost to do all of that. I think after I get it all cleaned up, and running good with what it has. I will do headers, exhaust, and probably a 750cfm carb for starters. Then after that the Cam if I'm looking for more, and after that probably the heads and call it quits. I know I stated that I wanted 13's but with a car this heavy I don't think 13's is going to be possible without a lot of weight reduction, a bigger beefed up engine, and all the supporting mods. I really just want to keep this a nice cruiser with a mean sound, and a nice tourqie feel to it when I get into it.
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:15 PM
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460?

I had a 65 with a 460 thunderjet, the guy that did the swap had to trim the fender wells for the ps pump...lthere are lots more parts for a 460 or buy a new crate 500 plus motor.
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:31 AM
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nubrodder,
I was wrong,
the ET numbers aren't that bad based on this basic calculator at the top...

http://www.tciauto.com/Products/Tech...ulators.asp#12

"listed" car weights are never correct so find some truck scales (concrete plant/the dump/interstate/etc) and get the car weighed....

I plugged in 4600lbs and 325hp=14.25 stock with just a tweeked tune up
4600 and 375hp=13.99...about what you will gain with $$$$ headers/intake/carb
4600 and 400hp=13.33....about what you will gain with Edelbrock RPM "power package" (cam/heads/intake)
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:58 AM
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I'd go 428, Edel heads, an Isky solid cam, RPM manifold, headders, 750+ carb... the basics. And go with a rebuilt AOD and a 3.73 rear gear. You'll probably only get about 10MPG, but it could hit the 1/4 in high 11's (depending on cam and compression) and be a blast to drive on the street.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by red65mustang
nubrodder,
I was wrong,
the ET numbers aren't that bad based on this basic calculator at the top...

http://www.tciauto.com/Products/Tech...ulators.asp#12

"listed" car weights are never correct so find some truck scales (concrete plant/the dump/interstate/etc) and get the car weighed....

I plugged in 4600lbs and 325hp=14.25 stock with just a tweeked tune up
4600 and 375hp=13.99...about what you will gain with $$$$ headers/intake/carb
4600 and 400hp=13.33....about what you will gain with Edelbrock RPM "power package" (cam/heads/intake)

Wow... I didn't think it would of been that good. Thanks for doing that research, never expected anybody to go out of their way to do such things. I'm starting to think that joining this board was the best thing I could of done thus far. Those are some pretty nice numbers for how heavy the car it, and my goal for a 13's T-Bird was not to far off from what I listed. That makes me happy.
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