1963 HiPo heads

  • Anyone on here know when Ford started production of the 289 HiPo heads?

    I know they used them on the 1963 K code Fairlanes, but I'm not sure when production started on those?

    What is the earliest 1963 production date that people on here have seen?

    Also, weren't they used on the Cobras as well?


  • Regular production of parts, mid February 1963.

    Ford had preproduction engines in vehicles going through testing by September 1962. Parts and subassemblies unique to HP289 engines started being mass produced mid February 1963. Regular production of engine assemblies started the first work day of March 1963.

    1963-64 HP289s were used in Fairlanes, Cobras, GT40s, anything Shelby, Genie sports racers, Holman-Moody racers, and several other new cars street and race on both sides of the Atlantic ocean.

    From memory, Ford made and shipped about 400 engines a month March 1963 through around June 1964. The highest serial numbers I have listed was in a batch of late Cobras in the 646x range with 6469 being the highest five bolt serial number I have recorded to date.

    A lot of the early engines were raced to destruction and or parted out. Finding a loose block with a serial number and assembly date before about April 12, 1963 is tough. Finding anything dated in any way before mid March 1963 is tough. Mid March 1963 onward there are generally enough loose parts around to build up a date correct engine except maybe a fuel pump. June 1963 parts are rare as production slowed for the summer break. August 1963 onward parts are not super rare except fuel pumps.

    I don't remember the time of change from C3OE-E head castings to C3OE-F castings but "1963" heads were used March 1963 through part of April 1964.

  • Hey Dan,

    I really appreciate the info you provide. I've just recently discovered this site and look forward to more details that anyone is willing to share to keep this hobby we are all so passionate about alive!

    I have a set of the C3 HiPo heads both dated 3C6.

    Have had them for a long time, just now dawned on be about asking the question about the early dates for the HiPo.

    Anyway to determine if they were to be used on the Cobras, GT 40's or the 63 Fairlanes?



  • You are welcome.

    Street car, no.

    Shelby American race engine, slight maybe.

    Shelby American, Inc. contracted with three different cylinder head modification specialist companies. I suspect that the volume of work was too much for just one shop to handle. Each shop stamped heads with their own identification. Just because one finds a matched pair of heads with custom shop stamps doesn’t mean that Shelby American installed those assemblies into a race engine. It doesn’t mean they were ever Shelby in any way as several mail order companies also used these shops and of course some people could just take their car’s cylinder heads in person to one of these three shops for modification.

    Once “race” sets of heads were in stock at Shelby American they might be sold:

    • As a racing cylinder head kit to a retail customer or to a private racer or race team.
    • Assembled into a race engine and sold to a wholesaler or customer. Some mail order ‘speed parts’ businesses sold “Shelby” street and race goodies through at least 1971.
    • A set was assembled into Shelby Race Team racing engine. In that case heads were given serial numbers to go along with the race engine that they were fit to.

    The only semi-traceable sets were under category 3. To have any confidence in a set was “factory race” you must know complete ownership history from new.

  • This site has lots of coverage of 1965-67 HP289s. In general , to me, 1965-67 model year engines are not nearly as complicated to understand as 1963-64 models. In my Cobra engine notes (currently 101 pages in length) I call March 1963-June 1963 engines 1963½ model year engines as they were released pass the middle of Ford’s 1963 model year. 1964 model year engine date from August 1963 through early July 1964. There was also a 48 piece assembly run in August 1964 for new five bolt engines for Cobras that did not yet have engines when five bolt production stopped. Plus Ford assembled a few five bolt HP289 engines as required for service at least into 1971.

    1963½ wise there are engine assemblies March through mid April and revised assemblies from then through June 1963. The changes one can spot in road test pictures or new car pictures owners took are changes in carburetors and ignition distributors used.

    1964 a few changes were made around mid February 1964 and another group mid April 1964. The “1964” cylinder heads were cast in March 1964 and introduced into engines in April. Manual choke carburetors were introduced in April for manual and automatic transmissions. (A very rare end of the 1964 model year Fairlane High Performance 289 and High Performance C4 automatic transmission option package came out by May with its own manual choke HP289 carburetor assembly.)

    1963-64: Drilling down to things like changes in crankcase ventilation system designs and revisions in designs over time it is tough to buy one part as a time and build up an engineering number correct date appropriate complete engine. Some parts were dropped from service before “their” model year was over and replaced with something else. At least one engine plant part was never sold as a service part.

    I highly recommend buying a digital copy of Bob Mannel’s book. Having a copy loaded on your home computer has the answers to countless questions at your ready.

  • Dan

    Again Big thank you for your knowledge on this subject! Very interesting to me to say the least. I really enjoy reading about the history of the Ford stuff from the early 60's.

    Funny you mention Bob's book. I was just looking to purchase it a few days ago. so I will do just that. Thanks!

    On the C3 heads, did Ford and/or Shelby use these as stock castings on the cobra street cars? Were they used at all on the Tigers? Also, what was used on the GT 40's? I'm assuming something more performance driven?? Were all the Gt 40's race cars back then?

    Do you know what month Ford first started producing the 1963 HiPo Fairlane?


  • You are welcome.

    Stock street Cobras used stock Ford assembled engines except for ancillaries suited to Cobras. That includes both “1963” style stock head assemblies for most of Cobra production. Long ago I started a list of what small details went into preparing a stock Ford engine for a Cobra. All my notes fit on a single note card. As other engine questions arose that file grew to cover all the street and most race variants. The current notes fill 101 pages.

    Cobra race engines were for the most part blueprinted stock engines. For the 1963 season even the stock HP289 camshaft was used even with 4-2V Weber 48 IDM carburetors. Stock pistons were used all the way into 1967 but in some cases required having valve relief pocket sizes increased.

    “1963” HP289 heads in GT40s, probably but I have no proof. The Lola GT Ford bought and morphed into the GT40 started with High Performance 260 engines.

    “1963” HP289 heads in production Tigers, street no, race maybe. Street Sunbeam Tigers used Ford 260 Industrial Engines (Ford sold automotive, marine, and industrial versions of 260 2V engines.) “Tiger” 260s have differences from a “Fairlane” 260 including cylinder blocks I am told. Rootes Group (maker of Tigers before Chrysler bought the brand) bought a few HP289 engines from Shelby American but no one I know seems to know exactly what they were. A friend owns and races one of the factory Le Mans Tigers and he sent me a picture he found of a HP289 being prepared to go into a race Tiger by Rootes. It looked like a pretty stock engine on the outside. None of the HP289s in Tigers survived the Le Mans race I am told.

    Early GT40s were all show cars or racers as far as I know. The pure street cars were not made until 1966 I think.

    First production 1963 HP289 Fairlane? I have no idea. That would be a question for the Fairlane Club of America forum.

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