big bell 200, worth the hassle?


Well-known member
I've got an 81 Fairmont, that i'm going to use as a donor for some parts for my 68 coupe. The engine in the fairmont was knocking when it was retired, I am curious if it would be worth it to rebuild for my coupe, so i could possibly go with a better transmission than a c4, and maybe go with a T-5 manual sometime in the future.

Also, what are some mild performance tricks i can do to the engine while its out and on the stand?
Heh 68coupe, The BB200 in your fairmont is a different creature unique to itself, they only made them from 80-83, when they discontinued the 200. Unless you want to modify the bellhousing and flexplate as Mike did in the tech section, you are stuck with the C5 tranny, as that was the only one Ford hooked to the BB200. When you modify the 200, the tranny is a hindrance as the stall speed is too low and you don't realize any power until you get moving and the RPM's up a little. You can have a tranny shop loosen the torque converter a little, but probably only gain 400-500 rpm's. Also there are centrifical weights in the TC to allow it to go into overdrive, and the tranny shop I went to said that they were a constant problem and they should be removed, therefore making the tranny a 3 speed without overdrive. I am pulling the C5 out of the comet in the next couple of weeks and I will check all the specs against a C4, which I plan on installing per Mike's instruction. Supposedly, the torque converter is deeper on the C5, the bell is deeper to accomadate this and the input shaft is longer. The C5 uses a 164 tooth flex, the C4's usually a 157, the pumps are different and the valve bodies also are different, The rest of the parts are all interchangable between C4 and C5. I will check all this out and post the differences
Thanks for the info, hm, I'm not looking for something really radical, so the c5 being a limiting factor really isn't a problem.

What else is unique about the BB200? I was hoping to find some flat top pistons, to help up compression, and i plan on having the block decked sometime in the future, and maybe a cam & carb swap.

Maybe by then, i'll be wanting to ditch the C5. 8) :D

Mustangsix is right, the AOD is a heavy beast unlike the C4 or C5, but you get the overdrive and a selection of aftermarket convertors that allows stepping up the ger ratio out back. I would redrill the upper two holes in the case flange to get bolts into the top of the 83' block, just because of the weight issue. There are 6 total and the bottom 4 match up, just the top two are off.

If you take apart a 68 200 short block and then take apart the 83' short block, you will be amazed. The main caps are almost twice as beefy on the 83. The connecting rods ARE twice as thick. The 83' block quite possibly is the beefiest 200 block made. I know, I did the comparison test while I had both my 67' and 81' blocks sitting side-by-side. I should have taken pictures of the rods sitting next to each other, you would hardly believe it.

You could always slap on some parts and get some extra HP while it's on the stand. Alot easier to put the new Cam and Gear Drive in while it's on the stand 8) .

Cheers MIke

Is it feasible to think that the rods appeared so much heavier because they were cast instead of forged? Just a thought... I haven't even picked my BB 200 up from the machine shop yet.... I think mine is an E1BB block though.

No, I mean they ARE almost twice the size, not weight. Although they (81') do weigh more. As I said, should have taken pics, darn hindsight. The rod bolts are atleast one size up on the 81 block also, can't remember the exact sizes though, again, should've ! I was comparing the 67' and 81' blocks. I assume the 83' is the same as the 81'. I'll try to find some parts to compare...

That's exactly what I mean. They "appear" beefier, but they weigh less. Forged steel is more dense than cast. There's the reason why they are bigger - they aren't forged. Advantage? Probably not. I spin the cast rods in my 250 up to 5,000, but I cringe when I do it. I'd rather have some nice forged rods any day.

Earlier blocks use 5/16 rod bolts. These are 3/8"? Now you've got me wondering about my '81. I'm gonna have to go get that block out of the machine shop next week. As for the mains, the 200 used a similar bearing from '65-'83. They went to a tighter tolerance in '77, but why would Ford used wider caps and not increased the bearing surface?

you answered your own pondering thoughts

but why would Ford used wider caps and not increased the bearing surface?
answer: FORD

alright so the bb 200 is the block to build, i guess i'll just use my stock 68 engine to peter the car around the yard so i can load it onto a trailer.

I've read that HSC tempo pistons or 255 v8 pistons work in a 200 block, do any of these pistons come in hyperutectic, forged, or just cast? it doesn't really matter, this thing isn't going to be a street terror, just something mild and fun.

Also what would be a decent cam that would wake it up, after i do something about that stock intake? Is the Intake still integral on the 81 BB i have? Is it any better than the "log" on the 68?

I might be having to use the carb from the 81 on the 68 to get it going, will this have any problems?

Next big question is would porting the exhaust help by itself or would i need a header?
the head of the 83 will give you more power I would get a carb of a 79 F100 pick up truck withe a 300 that will help with power too
They may have beefed up sections of the block to improve NVH characteristics. They probably kept the bearing width the same so that they wouldn't have to change the crank casting (big $$$).

I've seen the later cast rods and the early forged rods side by side and the late ones are larger, but the early ones are lighter and probably stronger. I'm not sure if the BB rods had bigger 3/8" bolts (that would be a plus) but if they are heavier it would negate that advantage.
So its Technically possible to use the early forged rods in the later block, thats good news :)

Im thinking of porting the head, and seeing about getting a carb adapter made for the intake, so that i can at least run a larger 1bbl or a 2bbl carb.
68coupe, To answer your question on the pistons, If you see my signature, you will see that I used Ford Tempo 2.3 hsc pistons and I decked the block so that the pistons actually poke out of the block by .010", (by mistake, it's a long story), I have no problems running this way with a newer head gasket, I actually had to mill the head to get the CR I wanted, even with the pistons coming out. You can't use the 255 V8 pistons in the 200 unless you want them to really poke out, you can use them in a 250 and probably should if you want to raise the CR of the 250. And guys when I tore my E1BB apart, it had D8 connecting rods with 5/16" rod bolts in it. Using up parts I guess.