289 blocks are excellent blocks. Have a higher nickel content than the later stuff, plus thicker walls (so I'm told). Ford went to the 302 basically to keep up with the trend toward more cubic inches. Bottom line, there are no essential differences between a 289/302 block. More cubes were the result of a longer stroke crank. Put a 302 crank in a 289 block and you've got a 302.
about the only weakness in a 289 is the lack of displacement, but I have seen them rev to rather high numbers even with stock equipment that they made the same power if not slightly more than a 302. Just not as much torque.
Right on about the torque.
We had one on the engine dyno down at JBA
back in the eighties that was a real hi-zoot
screamer. Made 425hp but only 330lbft for
torque. Sounded like an electric shaver on
steroids- the dyno guys ran it all the way
to 9500 rpm during one of the pulls!
Yeah, thats one advantage, the smaller displacement allows for higher revs w/ less stress because of less moving mass, cylinders being so much smaller and whatnot. Thats why you have these tiny rubberband motors making more than 1 hp per CI, they rev to insane numbers. Get a 289 doing that and its bound to be fun.
Awesome rod ratio, stronger rods, block can be bored to .060" (mine runs great!)- only down side is size. Replace the rod bolts w/ ARP, shot peen the rods, good pistons (hypereutectic or light weight forged), an excellent balance job and spin that puppy to 7 grand. Not a lot of factory V8's that can do that safely- even with the same mods. I love the way mine sounds, especially after adding an X-pipe. I still have a '66 shortblock in the garage and it will be used eventually- never gonna let it go!
the 289 is most desirable because of its strength, not from thicker walls, however from the alloy used to make them. with the exception of a few 302 productions which had shorter bottoms on the cylinder walls themselves, the 289 is identical in measurements.
i recently swapped the 289 out of my 65 and wont consider getting rid of it...no matter how much the woman complains...hehe.
the blocks are even good out to .060", but don't expect to race it too long if you take it that thin.