Professional Automotive Engine Application & Identification Guide 1930-2000 – Block, Crankshaft & Head Casting Numbers by Dirty Gringo Journals
published 2020 independently
122 pages, soft cover
purchased from Amazon.ca
Amazon has a decent little racket going on. I don’t begrudge their marketing, I mean they’re in business to sell and frankly I’m free to ignore the siren call of “spend a little more to get free shipping”. Sometimes I figure I may as well spend and get a couple items rather than spend it anyway as ‘dead money’ for shipping.
My throw-in is often a book, as it’s easy enough to find inexpensive books about cars. The most recent example was the Professional Automotive Engine Application & Identification Guide 1930-2000 – Block, Crankshaft & Head Casting Numbers, a Dirty Gringo Journal at a reasonable $12.
I am not a mechanic or real hot rodder. Yes, I’ve done some mechanical work on my vehicles, even to the point of cutting a hole in the perfectly good headliner of my Dodge Dakota to install an optional overhead console, or pulling the engine and transmission from a car I wanted to restore. I’m not an engine builder or anything like that.
I have mentioned my Pontiac Grand Prix, which I plan to upgrade. The thing I’ve come to know about Pontiac V8s is that, with some nuances, Pontiac V8s are basically the same across displacements. This means my mid-1970s Pontiac 350 2 barrel engine could potentially accept a 4 barrel set up or better heads from a much more potent Pontiac engine. Now, these parts don’t have plain-language ID – it’s not like it’s stamped “free-flow heads, 1968 GTO”. Or, is it? If you know about casting numbers, you can hunt down what you want, as these numbers tell you a lot about what parts where used where and for what. A book filled with casting numbers would be pretty handy I thought.
Well, what a disappointment this book was. I mean, it’s got a neat retro look and feel. It purports to cover the big-name American and Japanese makes. There’s room to make notes. It seems fairly organized in layout. Each manufacturer has engines sectioned by Passenger car 4 cylinder, 6 cylinder, V6, V8, and then Truck engines listed similarly. Lists are arranged in ascending order from smallest displacement and earliest year.
However, none of that makes up for the sheer amount of information that appears to be missing or incorrect. And I mean, glaring stuff. A summary of what I found, focused mostly on V8s (which I know the most about), but by no means exhaustive…
- The Chrysler truck 3.9L V6 is listed as 238 cubic inches. Having owned one, I know that all sales and service literature refers to this as a 239 cubic inch engine. A minor detail, but truthfully, a single cubic inch can be a major difference when talking about engines.
- The Chrysler Passenger car V8 section is missing any references to the FirePower/FireDome/RedRam and Polyspheric engines of the 1950s, as well as missing significant later engines including the 273, 413 and 426 Wedge and 426 Hemi (413s and a 426 are listed under the Truck section, however Wedge and Hemi engines appeared in numerous passenger cars). These were not ‘one-off’ or specialty engines. Chrysler sold thousands of these.
- An 8.0L Chrysler V10 is listed under the Truck section. However the Dodge Viper also used this engine, but with significant differences. The truck’s iron-block V10 wouldn’t likely share casting numbers with the Viper’s aluminum block, and the engines differed in other respects also. There should be a separate listing for the Viper V10.
- Many Ford Motor Company engines missing, including the extremely well-known Ford flathead (found in pretty much every Ford from 1939 to 1954), the MEL family, the 221 and 260 members of the Windsor family, and the 406 and 410 variants of the FE family. Additionally, there are discrepancies with other engines, such as the 352 and 390 FE engines, whose years of manufacture are grossly misstated here.
- Missing from the Buick section are many notable engines such as the 340 and 430, and there appear to be no Nailhead engines.
- Pontiac section is missing any references to the 326, 421 or 428 engines.
- No references at all to any of the straight-8 engines from Chrysler, Buick, Pontiac etc., nor any listings for the Lincoln V12, or the Cadillac V12 and V16. These engines were all significant and produced after 1930.
Then there are the blank spaces in the listings. As an example, the listings for the 1989-92 and 1993-95 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 5.7L engines show only a single casting number – a block number for the early engine. This may be correct, as perhaps the early block is the only cast part, while the rest may be forged parts (which then wouldn’t technically have a casting number). However, some other engines note forged crankshafts and still have casting numbers listed. Bottom line, it’s very difficult to trust the information in this book.
Undoubtedly, some, perhaps even much of the information here is correct. The 1987-93 5.0L V8 lists the head casting as “E7TE”. Having had a 1988 Mustang, I know the E7TE are known as pretty decent stock heads. But the reference is lacking information. Ford’s parts numbering system is fairly easy to follow, and E7TE breaks down to E for decade (1980s), 7 for the year (1987), T for car line (truck), and E for department (engine). E7TE is used commonly among people who know late-model Ford pushrod engines, but it is not the complete casting number. In fact, ‘E7TE’ will apply to many parts that were cast in 1987 for any Ford truck engine, be they inline or V design, or any number of cylinders. Without the rest of the number, you won’t know what you’re getting.
While I’m tearing this book apart, I will also note there is no copyright page included. This is the page in most books where the publishing information is found. It’s only because ‘thedirtygringo.com’ is found on the back cover, and Amazon lists the author as Dirty Gringo Journals that we know that’s who produced this book.
I have to give this little book a failing grade. There’s just far too many issues. As stated, I am not an expert, but I am enough of an enthusiast to catch the above listed errors. And frankly, this book is only going to appeal to people who have at least as much knowledge as I do. The concept is great – a book that would serve as a reference for numbers geeks, hot rodders, even the backyard mechanic who wants to do some custom work on his cruiser. But with so much information missing or incorrect, there just isn’t any way this book is useful to anyone.
I might have been better off just paying for shipping.
Pros: a good concept, a fairly organized idea for presentation
Cons: simply too much missing and incorrect information to be trusted
Where to find it: Amazon