Ford 428 CJ (Cobra Jet)

The Ford FE engine is a Ford V8 engine used in vehicles sold in the North American market between 1958 and 1976. The FE was introduced to replace the short-lived Ford Y-block engine, which American cars and trucks were outgrowing. It was designed with room to be significantly expanded, and manufactured both as a top-oiler and side-oiler, and in displacements between 330 cubic inches and 428 cubic inches.

"FE" derives from 'Ford-Edsel.' Versions of the FE line designed for use in medium and heavy trucks and school buses from 1964 through 1978 were known as "FT," for 'Ford-Truck,' and differed primarily by having steel (instead of nodular iron) crankshafts, larger crank snouts, different distributor shafts, different water pumps and a greater use of iron for its parts.

The FE series engines were used in cars, trucks, buses, and boats, as well as for industrial pumps and other equipment. Ford produced the engine from 1958 and ceased production in 1976. Aftermarket support has continued, with replacement parts as well as many newly engineered and improved components.

In Ford vehicles, the FE primarily powered full and midsize cars and trucks. Some of the models in which the FE was installed:

  • Ford Galaxie
  • Ford Custom 500
  • Ford Mustang
  • Ford Thunderbird - 3rd generation & 4th generation
  • Ford LTD
  • Ford Torino
  • Ford Ranchero
  • Ford Talladega
  • Ford Fairlane
  • Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
  • Ford F-Series trucks though typically only those 1 ton and lesser in capacity).

In addition to its use in Ford and Mercury branded vehicles, the FE was also sold to third parties for use in their own products such as buses, and boats. In addition, the FE was used to power irrigation pumps, generators and other machinery where long-running, low-rpm, reliable service was required.

Because the FE was never a completely static design and was constantly being improved by Ford, references to a particular version of the FE can become difficult.

The 428 CJ is part of the 'Generation 2' family of FE engines. 

The 428 Cobra Jet was a performance version of the 428 FE. Launched in April 1968, it was built on a regular production line utilizing a variety of cylinder heads combined with a 735 cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor. The Cobra Jet used heavier connecting rods with a 13/32 rod bolt and a nodular iron crankshaft casting #1UB. As was the case for all pre-1972 American engines, this engine's HP and Torque ratings were SAE Gross, and therefore don't reflect the "as installed" (SAE NET) outputs. While some sources suggest actual engine outputs of "410 HP," there is no detailed documentation attributing that output to an actual production line stock engine.

An abundance of historical road test data on actual production 428 CJ cars suggest peak output in the neighborhood of 275 SAE Net ("as installed") HP, using published trap speed and "as tested" weights, and Hale's trap speed formula. Period road tests revealed quarter mile performance in the very high high thirteen to lower 14 second range, with trap speeds in the 100 to 105 MPH range.

Chassis dynamometer information from well documented stock examples reinforces that estimate. It should be noted that a Holman and Moody specially prepared "stripper", which carried no sound deadener, undercoating, or any optional factory equipment, was used as the introductory press car in 1968.

The 428 Cobra Jet engine (modified to the NHRA "stock" and "super stock" technical specs) made its drag racing debut at the eighth annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Winternationals held from February 2–4, 1968, at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, California. Ford Motor Company sponsored five drivers (Gas Ronda, Jerry Harvey, Hubert Platt, Don Nicholson, and Al Joniec) to race six 428 CJ-equipped Mustangs. The Mustangs raced in the C Stock Automatic (C/SA, 9.00 - 9.49 lbs. per advertised horsepower), Super Stock E, and Super Stock E Automatic (SS/E manual transmission, SS/EA automatic transmission, 8.70 - 9.47 lbs per factored horsepower) classes. The engine lived up to expectations as four of the cars made it to their respective class finals. Al Joniec won both his class (defeating Hubert Platt in an all-CJ final) and the overall Super Stock Eliminator (defeating Dave Wren) title.

NOTE: Ford ALSO PRODUCED a 428 SUPER Cobra Jet (SCJ) engine.