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335 Ford Engine is Still Alive

In the ‘80s I rebuilt a myriad of 335 Ford engines for daily use, mostly for farm pickup trucks. Most of those trucks had the 351M and the 400M that sported the 1˝ taller deck.

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As many of you may know, during my early days of Pro Stock, I raced 351 Cleveland engines in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. I have written about those engines, and supplied pictures, several times in past articles.

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What many may not know, in the ‘80s I rebuilt a myriad of 335 Ford engines for daily use, mostly for farm pickup trucks. Most of those trucks had the 351M and the 400M that sported the 1˝ taller deck. Other than 3.000˝ mains and the generous deck height, the Ms were basically the same as a 351C 2V engine. 

Back in the late-‘70s and early ‘80s, some trucks did have the optional 351 Windsor. Ford’s thinking sometimes amazes me. Ford offered three different 351 small blocks during the same period: the 351 Windsor, the 351 Cleveland and the 351M.

And why was there ever a 351M with a 3.500˝ stroke when they had the 400M with a 4.000˝ stroke? Almost every 351M I rebuilt was turned into a 400M. They all needed bored, so at 4.030˝ bore the cubic inch with a 4.000” crank netted 408.172˝. I called them 409s. My 351M customers jumped on the 400 cid conversion deal.

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All those engines needed bored and a crank kit, so I would get a 400 crank kit and pistons. The only extra cost was a $75.00 surcharge due to trading in a 351M crank instead of a 400M. For 50 more inches, that was a hell of a deal.

Like all my engines, after reconditioning the rods and installing ARP bolts, the whole assembly was balanced, counter weighted damper and flywheel/flex plate included. All Ford small blocks are Detroit balance.

For high-level racing, the crank can be changed to neutral balance, but it is expensive due to the amount of mallory needed. Another option, which is also expensive, is to use an aftermarket crank that is made for neutral balance.

I had an Animal Jim performance package for the 400s I did back then. I would use a COMP 260 cam and then, using the Cloyes True Roller 4A keyway, I dialed the cam ahead.

Along with appropriate cam hardware I used Crane’s 52655 rocker stud conversion to fine tune the hydraulic lifter adjustments. One great attribute of that kit was that you did not need special hardened pushrods. The guide plates had a Teflon insert. The top of the Grade 8 Crane stud was 7/16˝, but the lower was still 5/16˝. This kit was limited to 300-lb. open spring pressures (I used this kit on my own truck for years, and on many customers’ 335 and even 385 engines with never a failure.).

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I did a little bowl and port work on the heads, bronze walled the guides with new stainless stock size valves and did a common sense three-angle valve job with posi-fit valve seals. 

Included in an Animal Jim 409 cid 335 package was an Edelbrock Street Master 4V intake manifold, a Carter 9625 625 cfm carb, and the distributor tuned or replaced with aftermarket. Some customers would include headers.

Judging by customers’ responses, and especially my own experience, those Animal Jim 409 Cleveland truck engines ran damn well.

It seems today those 409s would make a good street hot rod or bracket engine. Imagine a 409 with today’s parts, like Edelbrock heads, strokers and cam choices.  Reasonably priced cores should still be found at the junk yards.

To help identify an M block, measure the front intake manifold seal area. The width between the heads on a 351 Cleveland is 6.9688˝ – on an M block it’s 8.5313˝.

Speaking of strokers, here’s one story I need to tell about the tall deck 335 blocks. In ‘81 to mid-’83, I was sponsored by NOS and was running small block Clevelands in AHRA Pro Stock with nitrous oxide assist.

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Nitrous was legal for AHRA Pro Stock small blocks from 1981 to the association’s end in ‘84. The concept was contrived to level the playing field for SB vs. BB engines when AHRA changed Pro Stock rules in mid-’80 from factoring pounds per cubic inch to unlimited cubic inch at a specific weight. The small block cars could not go light enough to take advantage of their minimum weight, but the BB cars could reach theirs. So the nitrous companies, with NOS leading, lobbied AHRA to allow nitrous for the small block cars starting in the ‘81 season. The rule was 250 lbs. had to be added to nitrous SB Pro Stock cars. Fords with canted valves (Clevelands) had to add an additional 50 lbs.!

By ‘82, we had a Cleveland maxed at 430 cid. One day at Jack Roush’s place in Lavonia, I spotted an engine not assembled on his shelf. I looked close and realized it was an M block. Jack told me it was a 477 cid stroker for a puller. They took advantage of the 1˝ taller deck.

I contacted AHRA about using an M block – their answer was NO! Amazingly, AHRA overwrote Ford’s definition of the 335 design engine: because the M took a 385 bell housing, AHRA deemed the 351M and 400 M as big blocks!

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Well, on the upside, I guess it saved me from buying a new 385 Lakewood bell housing and using intake adaptors.

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