View Full Version : 1960 352 With Red Valve Covers and Heads?

01-12-2015, 12:53 PM
I recently purchased a 1960 Thunderbird and the valve covers and heads are painted red over the yellow and black. The car is relatively untouched and I was hoping to find out why. There does not seem to be any over-spray on the engine so it makes me wonder if they were removed and some head work done during its life.

Did dealerships/Ford ever paint them red when doing warranty or service work on the heads?



01-12-2015, 01:13 PM
Hi Tim, it is not likely that a Ford dealership or Ford would have painted those valve covers red. As you can see, they were painted Goldenrod Yellow originally. As stated in Our Rides, the '60 Squarebirds with the 352 engine were painted Goldenrod Yellow at the factory. Some previous owner must have decided to paint them red for whatever reason. Now... that being said, you paid the money and you get to paint them whatever color you want to, or do to the car what you want to. Some people like to keep them as original as they can get them. Other on here, like myself, decided to modernize them to one extent or another. Some, like me, replaced the generator with an alternator, put disk brakes on up front, swapped out the single master cylinder for a dual MC, installed an aftermarket dual 8" power booster under the hood, both the MC and booster chrome. I also added the engine chrome kit, with chromed valve covers with Thunderbird on them, from a Bulletbird. I chromed the air cleaner, VR box, oil cap and added the external chrome kit to the car. Chromed air scoop, rear tailfin pieces, eyebrows over the tail lights, and even chromed the grill. If you look at my '59, you will see that she has the Corvette paint treatment, complete with white tail feathers. There is a matching customized interior inside her with long stem yellow roses on the seat side panels, and in the center console. There are Tbirds sewn into the seat covers, and those long aluminum pieces at the bottom of the C Column have been chromed and there are long winged Tbirds mounted on them... Sooo, as I said, you get to make her YOUR Tbird in whatever way you desire..

01-12-2015, 03:27 PM
Red was an engine color that Ford used on "Y" blocks (292's, 312's) in the 50's and 60's. Most likely someone replaced the valve cover gaskets and decided that the valve covers needed repainting. Since yellow wasn't readily available they probably used what they could find at the local auto store.


01-12-2015, 03:41 PM
Couldn't see any red paint on the heads in those pics?

01-12-2015, 03:56 PM
X2 with Ray.

Did the same thing as far as adding my personal touch to the car.

My Dad bought my car new so it was about as untouched as they get (except for he and I). I have a bunch of receipts from when it was new and all through the years. Mom always said it missed really bad one time and had to have a piston replaced at the dealership. She said the car only had about 1500 miles on it at the time. Mom was pretty sharp a seldom got things wrong but I never found any evidence or receipts that the engine had been apart and no red valve covers or head. That would have been 30 years or so before I started working on it regularly though.

My yellow valve covers had seen their better days so I took them off and repainted them. I drive mine more than I show it so I wasn't too concerned about the exact shade of yellow. Found Sunburst Yellow at Lowes and it looked close enough so just used that.
I did notice someone has removed your road draft tube and installed a type of EGR system. You can see the original road draft tube in this pic.


Pic from when I was working on the radiator (it was out) but you can see how the Sunburst Yellow valve covers turned out.


Pic below is just before I replaced the engine.
Note the flared end on the air cleaner snorkel - used a replacement from a 430 engine as I had added an EGR system and didn't want to cut up the original air cleaner. The 352 air cleaners do not have a flared end on the snorkel (there's also a disc brake master cyl - one of the first and best things I modified on the car)


Replacement engine (kept the old one). The old one only had about 105K but the rear main seal went bad and also needed head work. Found an already rebuilt 352 cheaper than I could buy the kit to rebuild my original so just made the decision to replace it and keep driving. This replacement engine had a proper EGR or PCV system so rather than cutting up my original valve covers I opted for some bling. Added the older TBird 312 valve cover stickers to the chrome valve covers just because I liked them. Re-installed the original air cleaner because I didn't need the one I had modified any longer with this EGR/PCV system. Folks laugh when they see the parts that have been replaced or cleaned but I haven't touched the old original expansion tank. :D The paint in the engine compartment is original although I have waxed it a few times.


Keeping all the info in a document so the next owner can tell what I changed and put it all back original if that's how they like.

Looking forward to seeing the progress on you car - glad to hear you have it running and got to drive it a bit. These are great cars!


01-12-2015, 04:46 PM
Eric, I like your chrome valve covers and I like the Y-Block sticker. It's a nice combination that says, 'mildly custom but still Ford Thunderbird.'

If folks laugh at that, I've seen some valve covers that people drill two holes and put bolts and nuts in each cover, to make it look like a Y-Block. By far, most people identify a Y-Block by those two valve cover nuts. They should notice the valley pan and over/under intake manifold runners. - Dave

01-12-2015, 06:16 PM
Thank you all for the help. The red head color is hard to see with all of the oil on it. I will get a better picture when I get home. What is the easiest way to tell a head type? Are there markings on it when I pull the valve covers?

I plan on getting it back to original as much as possible. I have new hoses, wires, harness, PP battery (soon), oil breather and the paint for the valve covers, fan and air cleaner. Other than that it just needs a good cleaning. About $500 and it will look as good as new inside the engine compartment.

In lieu of the draft tube it does have a few extra PCV things on it that I will work out.


01-12-2015, 06:41 PM
Is the battery tray always painted the same as the firewall?

http://media10.dropshots.com/photos/260234/20110217/b_192901.jpg cars!


01-12-2015, 06:50 PM
I think I posted this information in your other thread. Go to the Tbird Ranch website, and scroll down the left side to the Concours Specs, to '58-'60. You might want to print that information out so you have it to refer back to. It tells you what should be what color... I think the battery tray was painted the same color as the body, engine bay, firewall, etc.. at the factory...


01-12-2015, 07:09 PM
I think I posted this information in your other thread. Go to the Tbird Ranch website, and scroll down the left side to the Concours Specs, to '58-'60. You might want to print that information out so you have it to refer back to. It tells you what should be what color... I think the battery tray was painted the same color as the body, engine bay, firewall, etc.. at the factory...


I have a print out of it. It does not cover the battery tray and all repop replacement trays are black.

01-12-2015, 07:24 PM
My original heads has these markings between the center 2 spark plugs. COAE 3090


Yes - the battery tray is body color along with the firewall/engine compartment. In that pic mine had a little rust from the years of battery replacement so I had finally decided to wire brush it and painted it with rust converter. I shot a can of off the shelf white over it and oversprayed on the fender a bit. The overspray waxed off when I cleaned up the compartment.

My plastic wiring harness holders had become brittle. When I was waxing the engine compartment a couple of them broke. Found them at Mustangs Unlimited if you need some (just fyi). They are very close to the originals.



01-12-2015, 07:30 PM
I have a print out of it. It does not cover the battery tray and all repop replacement trays are black.

The repro 58-60 battery trays I've seen are black primer so you can paint them the correct color.


01-12-2015, 07:41 PM
May have mentioned it before but - if you need a few original parts during the resto like the draft tube - contact Carl Heller ( partsetal ) here on the forum. He has quite a few parts cars and prices are very reasonable. Top notch fellow.:D


01-12-2015, 11:49 PM
I took a picture of the head markings and took it out for a short drive tonight. I am really liking this bird.



01-13-2015, 12:46 PM
My markings could definitely be the same 8090? couldn't find the cyl head listed in the parts book. My engine is stored at a relatives garage an hour away so just had to use a pic I took a while back.

Just wait until you can get it out for a nice drive - oh they ride nice - even by today's standards.:D