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Ford Numbers

The Ford numbering system is unique within the automotive industry. Basically Ford numbers are designed to encode various information about the part concerned. All numbers from the beginning basically are composed of three parts: Prefix (VEHICLE & DIVISION), BASIC PART NUMBER, and Suffix (specific VARIETY of the part).

To sum up we have the following example:
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C4/C5 Nomenclature

When I stumbled into the transmission business in 1979, one of the hottest sellers was the C5 transmission. I could get $25 for every one I could find. Now, I know what you are thinking if you entered the transmission industry in the eighties or nineties, "HOW in the world is that possible, especially since Ford did not start making the C5 until 1982?" Therein lies a story of the REAL C5, the one that became confusing for many in the industry once Ford added a converter clutch to the C4 and then called IT a "C5!" For us old-timers, this has been a source of confusion ever since.

The story starts in 1964 when Ford introduced the C4. Every visible casting number on its parts started with "C4AP." Naturally, it was a logical short step to naming the transmission as a "C4." This transmission had the dipstick in the case behind the bell, making this a case-fill transmission. The bell attached to the case by using the pump bolts. Everything was just hunky-dory. New transmission, new name, no confusion.

Then in 1965 Ford decided to beef up the C4 for use behind bigger motors, like the 351 Windsor. So, they beefed up the bell, case, and some of the internal parts to withstand the extra torque of these bigger engines. This design made the case heavier at the bell. To strengthen the transmission the bell was attached to the case using separate bolts, instead of the pump bolts. They added more bolts around the pump specifically to attach the bell to the case. This redesign also required moving the dipstick to another location. So, the dipstick was moved to the pan, creating a pan-fill transmission. In keeping with ancient Ford policy, this redesigning required new casting numbers on the redesigned parts, especially the bell and the case. The new numbers all started with "C5," which naturally led to this being called a "C5." Again, everything was hunky-dory. We now have a case-fill transmission called a "C4" and a pan-fill one called a "C5." No confusion, no problem.

Fast forward to 1979. This was the final year of manufacture for this C5 transmission, but the C4 continued for another four years until 1983. In 1982, Ford did another redesign by adding a converter clutch to the C4. This again required redesigning many parts and again required a new series of casting numbers. So, now we have casting numbers starting with "E2." No problem there. Then some wise-ass at Ford had to gum up everything by naming this transmission a "C5!" Nothing but confusion ever since!!!! Now WHY in the world wasn't this transmission named an "E2," the MOST logical name available, and the one which would NOT add confusion to the industry???

To sum up we have the following possibilities along with BELL HOUSING casting prefixes:
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C4/C5 Message Board

A very comprehensive message board concerning all aspects of C4s and C5s can be found at fordmuscle.com


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