533 Cubic-Inch Big Block Ford - Bodacious Big-Block Part 1

Fill your hands with 533 cubic inches of formidable Ford.

Alan HuberPhotographer, Writer

Some things in this world are just better if they're bigger. Burgers and fries get super-sized. Lotteries hold no interest unless their jackpots are well into eight figures. Hot rodders know there's no replacement for displacement, and Anna Nicole Smith has ... well, every theory has to have some limits.

Massiveness can sometimes be unwieldy and difficult to live with. Aircraft carriers take 20 miles to burn a "U." Too many super-size meals will cause you to do the same. And Anna Nicole Smith has...well, had way too much mention already. However, building a big-displacement engine by starting with a Ford 460 is easy.

Stroker engines are all the rage these days. Big torque numbers, seemingly without a horsepower penalty, draw in enthusiasts like a free summer Springsteen concert in Jersey. Many times, though, stroker motors take special pains to assemble. Out-of-the-ordinary machining, clearancing, and fitting of custom parts is off-putting to most. We wanted a stroker that didn't require 10 trips to the machine shop and could be assembled by us engine neophytes at home where we'd be close to the brews.

What follows is our plan in two parts. This month we'll start with a stroked short-block with standard machining and assembly done by a reputable shop (Speed-O-Motive) and bolt on a great suite of aluminum speed parts (Edelbrock Performer RPM) to make the long-block. In part two, we'll swap it all into our fullsize Bronco using quality, easy-to-find-and-get conversion pieces (L&L Products), and fire it up.

By the way, L&L Products happens to be in Texas where folks'll never let you forget that bigger is better.

Bigger and Better Blue Oval Big-Blocks
When Ford created the Boss 302 for 1969, it took its proven lightweight small-block and moved some water passages to match the canted-valve heads of the brand-new 351 Cleveland (known as the 335-series engine). This combination provided a lightweight powerplant with free-flowing heads. The Ford 460 (the 385-series engine) resembles a Boss 302 on growth hormones. The design of the 460 Ford block looks like a plus-sized 302, while the canted-valve heads mimic the 351C/351M/400/Boss pieces.

Ford introduced the big-block in 1968 cars in both 429ci and 460ci versions to replace the aging FE big-block and continued using them in luxo-barges up until 1978 (although the 429 was dropped after 1973). Trucks never saw the 429, but two-wheel-drive models received the 460 in 1973. In the mid-'80s the 460 was finally dropped into four-wheel-drive trucks and was in use until the V-10 was introduced in 1999.

And what about that 429? The two big-block displacements share the same blocks, bores, rods, heads, and intakes--the only difference being the crankshaft/stroke. Stroke on a 429 comes in at 3.59 inches, whereas the 460 measures 3.85. But the stock stroke on a 385-series engine is only a mere jumping-off point. These blocks have all sorts of room for long rods and big strokes with little-to-no grinding. Your pro-Chevy friends will turn blue-oval with envy.

There are even crazy-ass race parts available that allow building these things up to 815ci! Here are a few less-crazy big-block Ford displacements that are relatively easy to attain without the use of custom parts.

Stroke (in.)
Bore (in.)
Overbore (in.)
(cu. in.)


3.850 4.390
3.850 4.420
3.850 4.440

4.360 stock
4.140 4.390 0.030 501
4.140 4.420 0.060 508
4.140 4.440 0.080 513

4.360 stock
4.300 4.390 0.030 521
4.300 4.420 0.060 528
4.300 4.440 0.080 533

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