Mustang Engine Codes

If you’re looking for a classic Mustang of your own, chances are you’ve seen cars listed as A Code, C Code, and others.

But what does all of that mean?

Ford 289 'K Code' engine in 1968 Mustang GT350 (© Stephen Foskett)

Ford 289 'K Code' engine in 1968 Mustang GT350 (credit: Stephen Foskett)

The code refers to the fifth character of the car’s VIN (vehicle identification number), and denotes the engine the car was fitted with when it left the factory.

The most common are C and A, both of which refer to the 289 cu in (4.7-litre) V8 engine with either a two- or four-barrel carburettor.

Particularly appealing are K Code cars, as they made use of an optional High Performance version of the 289 V8 with many upgraded components such as stronger bearings, re-profiled crankshaft and camshafts, high-flow water and fuel pumps, and free-flowing exhaust manifolds, among others.

However, only around 13,000 K Code Mustangs were produced making them something of a collector's item.

A new 302 V8 began replacing the venerable 289 from '68 onwards and most of these were known as F Code cars, confusingly re-using a code that was used for a short time for a smaller V8 in the very first Mustangs.

The 289 HiPo engine was effectively replaced by the more powerful S Code 390 V8 with 320hp, while '68 and '69 also saw the arrival of the monster V8s such as the 427, 428 and 429 Boss.

Code Engine Year Power (hp) Torque (lb/ft)
A 289 4bbl V8 1965 225 305
1966 225 305
1967 225 305
C 289 2bbl V8 1965 200 282
1966 200 282
1967 200 282
1968 195 288
D 289 4bbl V8 1964½ 210 300
F 260 2bbl V8 1964½ 164 258
F 302 2bbl V8 1968 210 300
1969 210 300
G 302 4bbl V8 Boss 1969 290 290
H 351 2bbl V8 1969 250 355
J 302 4bbl V8 1968 230 310
K 289 4bbl V8 HiPo 1964½ 271 312
1965 271 312
1966 271 312
1967 271 312
L 250 1bbl V8 1969 155 240
M 351 4bbl V8 1969 290 385
Q 428 4bbl V8 1969 335 440
R 428 CJ 4bbl V8 1968 335 440
1969 335 440
S 390 4bbl V8 1967 320 427
1968 325 427
1969 320 427
T 200 1bbl 6-cyl 1965 120 190
1966 120 190
1967 120 190
1968 115 190
1969 115 190
U 170 1bbl 6-cyl 1964½ 105 156
W 427 4bbl V8 1968 390 460
X 390 2bbl V8 1968 280 401
Z 429 4bbl V8 Boss 1969 375 450

In case you're wondering, the 1964½ model year refers to the first six months of Mustang production which technically took place prior to the 1965 model year starting. Although the VIN of these early cars identifies them as a '65 model and Ford referred to them as such, they do feature subtle differences to those produced after the '65 model year officially began so are informally known as '64½ cars.

Bbl denotes the carburettor type, i.e. 4bbl is a four-barrel carb.