Barry Rabotnick is a survivor. From starting out as a Detroit street racer back in the day, to a long and varied career working for the big names in the automotive aftermarket like Holley and Speed-Pro, to finally ending up on his own with his aptly named Survival Motorsports, Barry's seen it all. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, and worn holes in it. As much history as he's seen and been a part of, he's never been one to sit out and let a challenge pass, so when he was once again accepted to participate in the Popular Hot Rodding Engine Masters Challenge in 2009, he jumped in with both feet. Since Survival Motorsports' specialty is building high-output Ford engines, it was no surprise that he and friend, Tim Young, chose a race-inspired 433-cube FE engine as the basis for their pump-gas performer. Unfortunately, that decision was forced after their "Plan A" 427 SOHC engine ran into a minor issue with an excess amount of H2O entering the exhaust ports through a pinhole in one of the runners. Time for "Plan B," a high-riser FE made with leftovers, shelf parts, and very little sleep in the short time leading up to the Challenge.

The first Ford FE engine came to life in 1958, along with the MEL engine family-kind of like Ford's version of a Chevy 409-as the big-blocks that would propel the larger, higher-end members of the Ford family. While the MEL (Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln) enjoyed a modest life most popular in the early '60s Lincoln Continentals, they quickly bowed out to leave the FE as the premier Ford engine. The FE and its heavy-duty truck brother, the FT, eventually found their way into everything from high-end Cobra Jet Mustangs, down to lowly dump trucks and the infamous Edsels. In fact, the moniker FE is derived from the names Ford-Edsel. The engines had one of the widest varieties of bore and stroke combinations of any engine family, from any brand. Displacements of 332, 352, 360, 361, 390, 391, 406, 410, 427, and 428 ci were possible. The blocks carried over some cues from their uncle, the Y-block family, that gained fame pushing the mid-'50s T-birds down the local cruise, à la Suzanne Somers in American Graffiti. Fully skirted blocks that rigidly supported the crankshaft, and shaft-mounted rockers were the most obvious connections between the two families.