The iconic big-block V8 began life as a gas-guzzling beast used to power large cars, but it has gained a loyal following in the performance world.
You would be hard-pressed not to find someone who mentions the “Lima” engine family when discussing the history of Ford Motor Company. The term Lima comes from the fact that these engines were built at the Ford plant in Lima, Ohio.
Within the Lima family is Ford’s legendary 460 cubic inch big block V8. In modern terms, it should be noted that this equates to a massive displacement of 7.5 liters. The term “big block” almost sounds like a euphemism.
Although the motor days in Lima ended more than 20 years ago, you can still find Ford 460 enthusiasts using the old-school big blocks for everything from daily driving of old trucks and vans to high compression, nitrous breathing, spitting. fire, rapid lighting drag constructions.
While the small-block V8 format has mostly taken the automotive world by storm, there’s still plenty of love for the big old-school bruiser. In fact, there are still companies producing race-ready engines based on the Ford 460.
The history of the origin of the big block
Another name you may see when referring to Lima engines is the Ford 385 series engine. However, the name does not come from the displacement of any of these engines. Instead, it comes from the 3.85-inch crankshaft stroke of the 460 engine. You can easily see why many choose to call them Lima engines. It makes things a little less confusing when all kinds of numbers are thrown around.
The 460 is not the only Lima engine. In fact, it is not even the mos
There was also a smaller displacement engine in the Lima family. The 370-cubic-inch big block was found under the hood of medium-duty trucks like the F600 and F700.
Additionally, a high-performance version
is available through Ford SVO with a displacement of 514 cubic inches. While all of these engines are great on their own, we’re here to focus on the 460.
Ford 460 V8 through the years
famous Lima locomotive. That honor goes to the 429 cubic-inch V8. If this sounds familiar, it should. The 429 is one of the most emblematic engines of the Ford Mustang. It was found under the hood of Boss 429 Mustangs in 1969 and 1970. It was also used on the 1971 Mercury Cougar.
The 460 made its first appearance in 1968 under the hood of the Lincoln Continental Mark III. While initially exclusive to the Continental Mark III, in 1972 it was introduced to Mercury vehicles and the Ford Thunderbird.
The engine would remain a staple in the Thunderbird until 1976. It also saw its final year in the Mercury Cougar in 1976, although other Mercury vehicles continued to use the 460 until 1978.
This, however, marks the end of the 460’s use in standard passenger vehicles. The Arab oil embargo of the 1970s caused manufacturers to turn to more fuel-efficient options as the price of gasoline soared.
However, that’s not all he wrote for the 460. While it fell out of use in everyday passenger cars in 1978, the 460 continued to be used in light trucks like the F-150 and standard F-250.
Additionally, the 460 can be found in Econoline vans and heavy-duty trucks. The 460 could even be found in many production motorhomes and campers throughout the ’70s and ’80s.
However, all good things must come to an end. Production of the 460 and the Lima engine platform as a whole ended in 1998. It wasn’t a bad run, however. Facing tougher emissions restrictions and more powerful but smaller-engined competitors, like the Ford Modular V8, makes it even more impressive that the old-school pushrod big block did a healthy thirty years.
Ford 460: technical details
When they say big block, they mean it. The 460 engine is a huge piece of metal that almost requires a shoehorn to get in and out of a car. The motor measures 34 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 30 inches high.
That means you need almost 27 cubic feet. feet of real estate under your hood. While you’re grabbing the shoehorn, also get yourself a decent motor winch. These monsters weigh 720 pounds without oil. As we mentioned earlier, big block almost seems like a euphemism.
By today’s standards, the power of these big-block V8s isn’t all that impressive. Especially considering the post-embargo changes that have been made. However, it should be noted that these numbers were nothing short of substantial when they were first published.
From 1968 to 1972, the pre-embargo 460 big blocks produced 365 horsepower and an impressive 388 lb.-ft. of torque, Maximum power was achieved at 4,400 rpm, while maximum torque was achieved at 2,800 rpm. This is why the big block has a stigma for low-end grunts. All the torque hits almost instantly when you put your foot down. It’s a great feeling!
As we mentioned above, the 460 stroke is 3.85 inches. Additionally, the cylinder diameter is 4.36 inches. Most of the 1968-72 460’s horsepower numbers came from its 10.5 to 1 compression ratio. In their original form, these engines were not to be overlooked.
Unfortunately, 1973 brought substantial decreases in all of the 460’s fun numbers. Bore and stroke remained the same. However, the compression ratio was reduced to 8.5 to 1, resulting in a massive drop in power to meet emissions standards.
The compression ratio remained this low for the rest of its production cycle. There have been many different variations of emissions control devices, carburetor configurations, and fuel injection systems over the years. Typically, post-embargo 460s produced between 205 and 275 horsepower, with torque figures between 345 and 375 lb-ft.
There was also a variant of the 460 produced specifically for use in Police Cruisers. However, it did not differ in power output from the standard road versions.
Unleash the full potential of the 460
However, the decrease in power did not deter hot rodders and racers. Despite being revved up from the factory to meet emissions and fuel economy standards, the 460 still had enormous untapped potential that could be unearthed with a few hand tools and a little know-how. To this day, if you venture out to a race track, you’re likely to see a Foxbody or an older Mustang with a carbureted big-block 460 and posting monster horsepower numbers.
According to Hot Rod magazine, a 460-bone block can produce up to 900 horsepower. It is very common to see 460 blocks undergoing a little mechanical work, such as enlarging the cylinder bore and lengthening the crankshaft stroke.
Combined with high-compression pistons, it’s a winning formula for monumental power output. Even if you’re an avid fan of turbocharged small-block V8s with electronic fuel injection, like most high-performance versions; Good old-fashioned big-block construction is easy to appreciate.
There remains so much love for the old-school Ford big block that you can still buy 460 crate engines from performance suppliers like Summit Racing. Most available crate engines are genuinely rebuilt for the 460. There’s even a 460-based Ford Performance engine available with a massive 572 cubic inches of displacement. There’s also a virtually unlimited supply of aftermarket performance upgrades for them.
This includes high-compression forged steel pistons, performance connecting rods, cast iron and aluminum replacement cylinder heads, performance intake manifolds, and the list goes on and on. Again.
Plus, finding parts in stock is not a problem. Many parts are still available at your average parts store, and finding a 460 in a junkyard is not at all unusual.
Big Block V8 and the future
Even though the Lima engine was discontinued in 1998, love for the 429 and 460 engines seems to have increased since they were taken off the market.
Despite the move to smaller engines that produce more power, there are still many old-school fans across the spectrum of automotive enthusiasts. It’s not just the racing crowd that’s in love with the 460. There’s a whole network of Ford truck enthusiasts who still drive their 460s daily and use them for things like towing motorhomes.
It’s easy to see why the world has turned its back on big blocks. Ask anyone who uses a 460 as a daily driver or work truck what their average fuel economy is, and you’ll find that most of them don’t want to talk about it.
Overall, seeing a double-digit number on a large truck or van is a celebration worth breaking out the champagne. Although it is relatively affordable to maintain, driving one is not.
Its enormous weight is also an important deterrent. Ford’s modern Ecoboost engines found in today’s F-150s make nearly twice the horsepower of a 460 and weigh nearly 300 pounds less than the legendary big block. It seemed like the big block was gone forever and would never return.
The year 2020 has been a great shock for many reasons.
However, the biggest reveal for Ford fans was the announcement of the Godzilla engine. After nearly a decade of Ford’s focus on smaller-displacement, more efficient engines, it has surprised us all with the launch of a 7.3-liter big-block V8 as an alternative to the Powerstroke turbodiesel engine. F-250 and F-350.
So it looks like the world isn’t done with the big-block V8. It’s now more efficient than ever, and we’re excited to see what Ford and enthusiasts are doing with this engine.
Overall, the spirit of the 460 is alive and well. Not only that, the 460 engines are still alive and well. After more than fifty years, it looks like these big blocks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.