PARTS TO LOOK FOR
Blocks: Almost any 272, 292, or 312 block can be used for performance use. 272 blocks can be bored to standard 292 and since all other internal components are the same this gives you a 292. 292 pistons are easier to find, cheaper and have a better ring selection.
292 blocks from 55-64 are fairly easy to find. Slight improvements were made in 1959 with deeper drilled main cap threads. 61-64 C1AE and C2AE blocks have additional material in the main webs. These blocks typically don't sonic test as thick as earlier blocks. Therefore if a good early block is found drill and tap the main cap threads deeper and use the early block. Base your decision on cylinder wall thickness over added material in main webs.
312 blocks have the advantage of use of 312 crankshaft without modification. The down side is 312 blocks are difficult to find, expensive and have often been bored .040' or .060" oversize. These block typically sonic test thin at these bore sizes. 312 blocks are often cracked near the main cap bolt holes.
For most purposes a good 292 block is your best bet. A 312 crankshaft must be modified to fit in a 272 or 292 block. Do not attempt to use 292 pistons with 312 crank and rods. The piston skirt will contact the crankshaft counterweights.
Heads: The most desirable heads for high compression use are the 1957-early 58 ECZ-G. Intake valves are 1.927". Combustion chamber is approximately 69cc's.
For slightly lower compression a good choice is the 1958-59 5752-113. These heads have the same intake valves and slightly larger chamber. A good choice.
For low compression engines the 1959 5750-471 truck head is a good choice. 1.927" intake valve and 80cc chamber. Same casting as EDB Supercharger head, different number.
Intake manifold: With the introduction of the new aluminum single 4 barrel intake we're expecting a big improvement in the power potential of the Y-Block.
The best Ford intake is the 1957 ECZ 9425-B single 4 barrel. This manifold accepts late style Holley and Carter 4 barrel carburetors. It can be produce up to 325HP and readily modified up to 360HP with 650-750cfm Holley Double pumpers.
Best 3-2 intake: The Edelbrock #573 is the best 3-2 intake made for the Y-Block. Accepts most 3 bolt carburetors. Holley/Ford style range from 94's (15/16" or .94" venturi) to 1" venturi up to 1-1/16" venturi. Largest carbs found on 55-56 Fords with 272 engine.
Edelbrock #553 is the second best 3-2 intake. The last of the 553's made had improved internal runners
Weiand 436 is a very good 3-2 intake manifold but hard to find.
Best 2-4 intake: The Edelbrock #257 is the best 2-4 intake made for the Y-Block. The Carter WCFB is the best direct fit carburetor. The Carter ( Edelbrock) 500cfm AFB can be installed with adapter kits.
Rocker arms: 1956 and 1957 Y-Blocks had 1.54:1 rocker arms. These are identified by the letters ECG on the side. Low ratio are marked EAN or 5751066.
Connecting rods: For 272 and 292 use the best rods are the 1962-1964 C2AE. For 312 use the 1961-1964 C1TE Heavy Duty Truck rods are the best.
Pushrods: Improved tubular pushrods were introduced about 1960. Use these or tubular replacements.
Distributors: 1954-1956 distributors used vacuum only advance. This was replaced with vacuum/centrifugal advance in 1957. Although the FEK, FEH have centrifugal advance they have too much advance for performance use. Look for distributors with B9AF, C0AF, C1AF C2AF, B9TF, C0TF, C1TF, C2TF, C3TF. Note that vacuum advance units for the FEK & FEH distributors are hard to find. 1959 and later distributors use the same tune-up parts as other Ford V8's through the late 70's.