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Big-Block Ford Engine Build - Easy 500 HP From The Ford 460

Did you know that Ford built the same big-block for 30 years? They're everywhere, making them a simple score for an easy 500 hp from the Ford 460.

Photography by , Jim Grubbs

Heads You Win

The stock iron 460 heads are a tease. On the intake side, the oval-shaped intake offers an attractive cross-sectional area for solid torque and horsepower potential along with acceptable valve sizes of 2.19/1.76 for the early castings. But just like its small-block cousins, the 460 exhaust ports are some of the most restrictive we've come across. Exhaust port flow is so poor that using a big cam will only kill power across the board. The long duration will hurt low-end torque, while the restricted exhaust ports will choke any chance of making power at the higher engine speeds.

Choosing a decent iron production head is a quest to minimize the corks. It appears the iron '69 C9VE or '70 D0VE casting numbers are the best heads to use for a budget performance engine. All iron production heads from 1968 to 1971 were closed chamber and 76 cc's. These are becoming increasingly hard to find, and we won't even talk about the iron 429 Cobra Jet and Boss 429 aluminum castings-they might as well have been buried with King Tut. In 1972, Ford went to an open 95 to 100cc chamber, which should be avoided as the worst of all the iron 460 designs because it has no quench area and is therefore prone to detonation. The '73-and-later heads went back to a closed-chamber configuration but with deeper 95cc/100cc chambers.

You can open up the exhaust ports on a stock set of heads to improve horsepower potential. But also consider the time and money you will invest in new valves, guides, a valve job, screw-in studs, guideplates, and purchasing all those parts. With all that you'll easily have between $900 and $1,100 invested in ancient iron and all the porting effort. If it's purely a budget approach, this is still roughly half the price of a set of new Edelbrock heads, for example. On the plus side, you are also going to trim at least 60 pounds off the nose of your car with the aluminum heads. The iron castings each weigh roughly 73 pounds complete while the alloy Edelbrocks come in around 42 pounds each.

Besides the Edelbrock castings, there are other heads to choose from as well. Perhaps the best is the Ford Racing Cobra Jet head, designed by Ford big-block guru Jon Kaase. These heads offer the most promising flow potential of all the aftermarket 429/460 heads. Kaase moved the valves to unshroud flow and change angles, and this head is especially powerful with larger displacement engines like a 514 with a big cam. For more details on these heads, log onto Another good set of heads come from Trick Flow Specialties (TFS). The company offers both track and street versions that are also worth investigating and are priced competitively with the Edelbrock castings.

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