Exhaust systems remain an area of interchange with the most performance potential. Ford big-blocks are no exception to this time-proven rule. If restoring to stock, then your answer is clear. You need stock exhaust manifolds and a stock exhaust system. Sometimes your goal falls somewhere between stock and modified, in an area called “restomod,” which keeps the stock exterior appearance while warming things up inside. When your goal includes enhancing performance, there are original equipment and aftermarket choices.
FE engines were packaged with a wide variety of exhaust manifolds, depending upon application. Only the 406 and 427 High Performance exhaust manifolds flowed well, thanks to their cast-iron header design. The thing is, these huge “bananas” don’t always fit every application. They fit a Galaxie or Marauder well, which is what they were designed for. But they won’t always fit a Mustang or Cougar due to space limitations. This is an issue you have to figure out for yourself.
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The 428 Cobra Jet engines weren’t blessed with the 427’s abundant exhaust headers from the factory. Cobra Jet manifolds didn’t differ much from the 390 High Performance manifolds since they were installed in similar vehicles (Mustang, Cougar, Fairlane, Torino, and Cyclone) with limited space. This means extra care is necessary when shopping for manifolds. Pay close attention to casting numbers and the part numbers the Ford Master Parts Catalog requires.
A good rule is to remember the cylinder-head exhaust-port bolt pattern when searching for manifolds. Most FE engine cylinder heads employ an eightbolt exhaust-manifold mating pattern, which is common to full-size Fords and Mercurys. Here, exhaust-manifold bolts run 12-o’clock and 6-o’clock positions at each exhaust port. A diagonal bolt pattern (14-bolt on the head itself, not the manifold) was common to Mustang, Cougar, Fairlane, Comet/Cyclone, and Torino FE heads. If you find the diagonal exhaust-manifold bolt pattern, you’ve found a 390 High Performance or 428 Cobra Jet piece designed for an intermediate or compact. Although the 390 High Performance and 428 Cobra Jet exhaust manifolds may look the same, they are not the same casting.
Exhaust-manifold selection for the 429/460 engines is limited. Even the Cobra Jet manifolds are not impressive because they offer limited breathing capability. Unless restoring to stock, our suggestion is to review what’s available from the aftermarket. Stock exhaust manifold applications hinge on the vehicle type. Because the 429 Cobra Jet and Super Cobra Jet were available only in Mustang, Cougar, Torino, and Cyclone, only a handful of casting numbers are found. Most common are D0OE-9430-A (right-hand) or D0OE-9431-A, D1ZE-9431-AA, D1ZE- 9431-CA1, D1ZE-9431-CA2 (left-hand). More left-hand types are listed due to different applications.
The aftermarket has options for the performance enthusiast. Shorty headers improve performance and they’re easy to install and live with. Long-tube headers are suggested more for off-road applications, though they are used successfully on the street. Long-tube headers radiate an abundance of heat, which is great if you’re motoring around Minnesota in January. This becomes a serious problem in Florida during the summertime. Ground-clearance problems also plague long-tube headers. “Shorty” headers are a compromise.
Noise is not fashionable these days. But performance always remains in style. You want a muffler that flows well, with the soft, throaty burble of a highperformance dual-exhaust system. Our pick for the “throatiest” sound is the Flowmaster three-chamber muffler. The Flowmaster three-chamber gives you cabin quiet with a throaty note at the exhaust tip. These mufflers offer outstanding flow characteristics without offensive noise levels.
If your desire is a stock appearance, then opt for Walker Dynomax mufflers, which offer a stock appearance yet yield outstanding flow. Pipe size is just as important as muffler type. Pipes that are too large lose low-end torque. Keep pipe size conservative and keep the torque.
Written by George Reid and Republished with Permission of CarTech Inc