The 289 High Performance

The HiPo came with an ordinary cast iron 4V intake, an Autolite carb, stamped steel valve covers, and standard 289 oil pan without a windage tray. Most of the HiPos you see nowadays have the Ford or Shelby dress-up kit with the cast aluminum valve covers and intake.

289 High Performance Engines


Ford 289 High Performance. This is a 1964 model with generator, timing cover oil fill, and plugged vacuum advance.


Cutaway view of a HiPo. You can make out the spring cups in the heads, the screw-in studs, open-element air filter, and the swept exhaust manifolds.

289 High Performance Specifications

289 High Performance Heads


You can't see it here, but the HiPo heads have screw-in studs. They did not have guide plates; Ford used "close-tolerance slots" in the head castings to guide the pushrods. This meant they could use ordinary non-hardened pushrods. Screw-in vs. push-in studs was just a matter of machining the casting.


This and the picture above show the Hi-Po heads' only unique feature - the "cup" that holds the valve spring. If you see the cup, they're HiPo heads. The valve cover studs aren't stock.


Other than the cup the castings were absolutely ordinary 289 4V heads. Same combustion chambers, same ports, same valves, same everything.

289 High Performance Intakes


The HP came with a perfectly ordinary cast iron 4V intake - the exact same one used on the plain old 4V engine.

289 High Performance Oiling System


Finger is pointing in the general direction of the oil galleries. The HiPos had threaded plugs in the oil galleries... but so did some of the ordinary low-po engines.

289 High Performance Blocks


Here's a 289 High Performance block from underneath. Other than the main caps there's nothing to distinguish it from an ordinary 289.


Indeed, the HiPo block has the same casting number as an ordinary 289; the same one as the low-compression 2V block in my car.


Top view of the famous HiPo main caps. Some purists warn against the possibility HiPo caps might have been retrofitted to an ordinary block, but the HiPo block *is* an ordinary block; only the caps make it a HiPo.

Some '70s Mexican-cast 302s have the same caps, by the way.



Front view of the HiPo main caps. Yes, they're beefier than the standard caps, but main cap failure doesn't seem to be a problem with the small Fords anyway, even with stroked 5.0s with blowers or nitrous.

289 High Performance Reciprocating Assembly


Another special HiPo part - the connecting rods were machined to take 3/8" bolts instead of 5/16" bolts. The only other small Ford with this rod was the BOSS 302.


Here's a HiPo part - the thick harmonic balancer. It's supposed to be unique to the HiPo, but it looks a whole lot like the early '70s 302 thick damper or the BOSS 302 damper. I can't tell them apart by eye; I'm not even sure they're all different. Ford also sold the HiPo balancer over the counter. So did Shelby American, who'd mark it in 1-degree increments all the way around for a small additional fee.


Now this is a unique HiPo part - the front bobweight. The HiPo used a timing chain with a unique thin lower sprocket to provide room for the bobweight. If you have a real HiPo with the bobweight, no other sprocket will work! The bobweight listed for $2.70 in Ford's 1969 Muscle Parts catalog.

The weight is a minor mystery. Ford says the external weighting on the HiPo is 28.2 oz-in, just like the ordinary 289. They also sold the HiPo damper to use on an ordinary 289, and they did *not* specify the use of the HiPo bob weight with the HiPo damper! It seemed to work fine. The HiPo crankshaft was an ordinary cast iron 289 crank, no special machining was claimed.


289 High Performance Exhaust Manifolds


The HiPo exhaust manifolds were unique. Many owners of original HiPos dumped them in favor of headers, so the manifolds are rare and expensive nowadays. Oddly enough, they're virtually identical to early 351W manifolds. The 351W parts aren't quite so streamlined and have various knobs and bumps, but they're a practical substitute if you don't insist on absolute originality.

289 High Performance Miscellaneous Bits


289 HiPos used this dual-point, centrifugal-only distributor. Ford made a zillion of them, sold them dirt cheap, and marketed them through their performance parts program. Tuners like Shelby also sold hop-up kits including the distributor, so it's not a reliable indication of a HiPo.